Saturday, 23 September 2017

Cottam at double as amber and blues end year in pole position

Cottam at double as amber and blues end year in pole position

HENLEY 1sts slipped to their fourth consecutive Premier Division 1 defeat as they went down 7-1 at high-flying Spencer on Saturday.

Despite good performances from Benji Hetherington and stand-in centre back David Ralph, Henley were second best for much of the match.

Luke Gupta’s well-taken second half goal ended up being a consolation for the away side who conceded four goals in the last four minutes of the match.

The amber and blues now find themselves in a relegation scrap heading into the second half of the season.

HOSTS Henley 2nds made it back-to-back MBBO League Division 1 wins as they defeated South Berkshire 2nds 6-3 to cement their sixth position in the table and give them a plus goal difference for the first time this campaign.

Woolfrey put his team ahead with two goals in quick succession. With Henley playing well nothing appeared to signal a comeback from a South Berkshire that has mustered just three points this season. Their tactic was to soak up pressure and hit Henley on the break and exploit overloads, which they managed to do successfully once from open play and once from a penalty corner to level the scores.

In the second half the visitors piled on the pressure in order to force Henley into making mistakes, and initially this seemed to pay off. However, Henley exploited the resulting gaps behind the visitors’ midfield and created a clear opening for Woolfrey who saw his short range effort find a South Berkshire foot on the line to deny his hat-trick, though Newbold coolly slotted the ensuing penalty stroke.

Normal service was resumed with Henley dominating the play with both Harmer and Cheesman dispatching crosses from right with conviction. Slay closed the scoring with a well taken flick high into the visitors’ net from a penalty corner.

Henley 2nds: D Bowyer, R Blair, S Hall, I Roberts, A Slay, D Herbert, J Ruggiero, J Hughes-Burne, F Newbold, N Cheesman, R Woolfrey, T Pollard, G Harmer, J Measures.

HENLEY 3rds ran out winners in their derby clash with Reading 3rds at Sonning in their MBBO Division 4 encounter.

Starting with pace and movement, Reading looked dangerous from the start playing with a style and intensity that belied their mid-table league position, the visitors at first struggling to retain possession and maintain control on a bouncy pitch.

Regaining composure Henley started to play higher up the pitch and were duly rewarded by a goal from John-Joe Cottam, finishing strongly after his own rampaging run from a slick pass delivered by Ian Rechner.

However, Henley were struck by injuries which could have cost them the match. After just five minutes, instrumental centre half James Baker was sidelined with a hamstring injury. Reduced to a bare 11 and missing striker Tim Barrass from the starting line-up, Henley looked vulnerable. To make matters worse, midfielder Cottam then suffered a thigh injury and was consigned to playing a stationary holding role up front.

In spite of the injury crisis, Henley went into the break 1-0 up, and in the second half started to take more control of the game. This was down to commanding performances at the back from Tom Bodeker and Ed Newbold, supported by sterling and combative efforts from Jack Draycott and Leo Packham in the midfield.

With more space and composure Henley started to create more chances. Several goal-front tap-ins were squandered, but one resulted in a penalty corner. With penalty corner specialist Baker off the pitch, Cottam stepped up and threaded a clever ball back to injector Draycott, who finished resoundingly. Harry Wray then finished powerfully with a slap from the edge of the area to take the score to 3-0.

Reading still looked dangerous with their robust midfield linking in with a fast forward line who were relentless in making intelligent runs into the Henley area. The home side crept back into the game, with a glove-height penalty corner flick defeating Cordrey. This was quickly followed by a speculative aerial ball which was picked up by a Reading forward to take the score to 3-2.

The Reading comeback was snuffed out with a move inspired by man-of-the-match Rechner, which sealed victory for Henley. A move through Newbold and Draycott found Rechner on the right, who skipped past the Reading defence and drove powerfully along the byline, delivering a good final ball to Cottam in front of goal who this time made no mistake. The amber and blues now go into the Christmas break at the top of the league, having only dropped three points and scoring an impressive 50 goals so far – averaging five per game.

Henley 3rds: M Cordrey, R Austin, T Bodeker, E Newbold, L Packham, J
Draycott, J Baker, W McCreery, J-J Cottam, J Herbert, H Wray, J Rechner, I Rechner.

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