HENLEY TOWN were gunned down by an eight-goal margin for the second week running on Saturday as the club continues to look for its first Hellenic League Division 1 East win of the season.
Manager Mark Coles had a bare-threaded side with only 11 players available against fourth-placed AFC Hinksey.
Defender Craig Berry was a makeshift striker in a 5-4-1 formation and Coles admitted it was a backs-to-the-wall job from the beginning of the game.
He said: “It was just unfortunate we had three players pull out on Friday and Saturday when we had other players unavailable already.
“It was one of them things where we were right down to the bare bones and we had a pretty inexperienced back line. We had no strikers so didn’t really have a hope in hell of scoring a goal.”
Coles, however, insisted it was a better performance than last week’s 10-2 defeat to Chinnor in the Oxfordshire Senior Cup.
Henley trailed by only one goal at half-time after a Kieran Davis cross was deflected into the net off the hand of Lilywhites skipper Chris Appleby.
Coles changed to a more attacking line-up in the second period to try get back in the game but the risk didn’t pay off.
Hinksey defender Toby Webster hit a quick-fire brace, including a 30-yard thunderbolt, to open the floodgates.
Goals followed from Alex Fasoranti, Anaclet Odhiambo, Nigel Swafford, Jelroy Constant and a second from Davis to complete the rout.
Coles said: “Our first-half performance was probably one of the best this season considering our team was full of defenders and maybe only bettered by the first half against Chinnor in the league when we were 2-0 up.
“They had a couple of chances but we actually had more in the first period — we just failed to score.
“Their experience showed in the second half and they passed the ball quicker, tiring us out.”
Coles said he needs to add players but with a number of midweek games and youth team home fixtures coming up preventing the use of the Triangle ground, he would not be able to look at any prospective signings in training. “I’m fighting a losing battle at the minute,” he admitted. “I need to get some players from somewhere desperately.
“My hands are tied for looking at them so either I have to sign them on and put them straight into a game or wait a month until we can train again. But that might be too late.”
Meanwhile, the Lilywhites drew 2-2 against Reading and District Sunday League side YMCA United in their Group A tie of the Henley Charity Cup last Wednesday.
Coles fielded a strong side and they took a two-goal lead with a brace from Danny Blatchford. But YMCA hit back and goalkeeper Matthew Shanahan delivered a man-of-the-match performance to hold on to the point.