Thursday, 19 July 2018

Hickman’s late strike enough to defeat league leaders

A LATE Serena Hickman strike was enough to give fourth-placed Henley Ladies 2nds all three points against South Club’s League

A LATE Serena Hickman strike was enough to give fourth-placed Henley Ladies 2nds all three points against South Club’s League Division 2 leaders Phoenix and Ranelagh at Jubilee Park on Saturday.

With the home advantage, and a superior pitch to boot, Henley were determined to make up for what had been a game of two halves earlier in the season — the first in which they dominated but in the second 35 minutes falling foul of poor fitness and tactical decisions coupled with the standard of the pitch.

Henley started shakily and spent the first 10 minutes under pressure as the defensive line adjusted their marking to respond to their opposition’s style of play. Amber Pocock played a crucial role at fullback to great effect and the tide soon turned for the Henley team. Tireless running from Caz Shaw and Sophy Rogers resulted in wave upon wave of attacks into the opposition’s 25 and this was soon rewarded when Hickman managed to get a strike towards the goal, pretty much from the baseline of the D. Given the tight angle, the ball looked set to fly across the goal, but the keeper misjudged and managed to deflect the ball into the net.

The rest of the first half was an even affair but a lapse in Henley’s concentration gave Phoenix and Ranelagh all they needed to even the score just before the half-time whistle.

Henley retook the lead early in the second half following another good teamwork move as the players worked the ball up the pitch, with Hannah Rowlands beating the keeper but Rogers ensuring the ball got over the line.

Despite some valiant defending from Karen Walker, Shaw and Kat Green, and some vital saves from keeper Hannah Lavis, Phoenix responded with two goals of their own to take the lead for the first time in the game.

Henley equalised when a goalmouth scramble led to an own goal from the visitors.

With 10 minutes remaining Henley were awarded a short corner which they scored as the ball was slipped left and a disguised pass by Green to the far right post where Hickman was waiting to tip the ball over the line.

Despite some final efforts from the visiting team, Henley held on to their lead to secure all three points.

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