HENLEY Town may have turned the corner despite their latest defeat, according to manager Mark Coles.
The Lilywhites were on the wrong side of a 4-3 scoreline for the second week in a row after a similar result after extra time in the AM Print & Copy Challenge Cup last week.
Whereas they had to come back on two occasions last week, it was Henley who stole a march on Chinnor on Saturday by taking a 3-1 lead before a late surrender at the Triangle ground.
After a worrying run of form that saw them lose their first seven games and accumulate a -39 goal difference, Coles said he was delighted with his team’s response in the past two weeks.
“It’s made a difference having the same players now, even though two were unavailable,” he said.
“We looked pretty solid. Our first aim was to not concede in the first 15 minutes and we did that.
“For the second week running, we’ve had to come up against a big, strong, physical side and we’ve dealt with it okay.
“It wasn’t their physique that won them the game in the end. In the last quarter, we lost our heads a bit. We got four bookings and a couple of players were arguing with each other.
“I can’t fault the performance because we were excellent. To play like we have in the past two weeks is unbelievable considering how we’ve started.”
The Lilywhites took the lead after 30 minutes when man-of-the-match Sam Rolfe followed up a parried shot to scramble home.
Coles’ side were ahead at half-time for the first time in the Uhlsport Hellenic League Division 1 East this season when Danny Blatchford converted Craig Sinclair’s cross with a back heel moments before the break. Chinnor pulled a goal back on the hour mark but Henley looked to be cruising towards their first three points after captain Ray Harrison bagged an instant reply.
Coles admitted the game changed for the worse when he brought off centre midfielder Chris Appleby after 65 minutes.
Indiscipline set in amongst the Henley ranks and Chinnor scored three goals, including a winner four minutes from time, to seal the victory.
“It sort of upset our rhythm,” Coles said about his decision to bring off Appleby.
“Maybe I shouldn’t make substitutions if I don’t need to and I put my hands up to that one. Even the manager makes mistakes.
“I thought one or two players were getting tired and at 3-1 up I didn’t think we were going to throw it away so I made the substitution.”
Coles said the atmosphere at half-time was “buzzing”, adding: “It was a great changing room to be in. We were cruising and playing really nice football and the opposition were getting frustrated. There were plenty of chances to win the game throughout but unfortunately it wasn’t to be.”