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Red Kites still grounded as weather wreaks havoc
Published 24/02/14

FOR the second Saturday running, only one scheduled match, whether in league or cup, for clubs in all divisions of the Uhlsport Hellenic League could be played, writes John Bailey.

Conditions were so extreme that all but three games had already been called off by Friday evening amid flooding caused by weeks of torrential rain and a band of storms blowing in from the west.

The only action across all divisions of the entire league was a 1-1 draw in the Premier League Oxfordshire derby between Abingdon Town and Kidlington at Abingdon’s Culham Road ground.

It was the seventh successive Saturday on which a large part of the Hellenic programme has had to be postponed. It was a similar story in the other local leagues, which were also decimated by the weather.

And it should also be remembered that many midweek games have also been called off over the same period.

At the start of the week, Henley Town’s four teams had played just four times between them since December 17.

Although there have been plenty of times in the past when waterlogging has severely affected games at the Invesco Perpetual Triangle and other grounds near rivers, it must be unique in local football for every club to be hindered for such a long continuous period other than through snow and ice. In 1962-63, the hardest winter in the last century, the Town first team was prevented from taking the field between December 22 and March 9.

Although the improvement came too late to help, Saturday and Sunday were both dry, sunny days, and so there must be some hope that we shall see some football this weekend.

The Town first team, in ninth place on 23 points, are down to entertain fifth-placed Rayners Lane in a league fixture tomorrow (Saturday), kicking off at 3pm.

Meetings between the two sides have usually been close and hard-fought and this fixture looks like being no exception with only five points separating them in the league standings. The Lane’s current league position looks impressive but may owe something to them having played more games than all the other clubs, bar Didcot Town Reserves.

That includes two games more than the Red Kites, whose confidence should be buoyed by a 3-2 victory on the Tithe Farm ground when the two side last met in November.

The Reserves are away to Binfield Reserves in the league this week, kick-of is at 3pm.

For the fourth week in succession, the Sunday team will hope, the weather permitting, to play their county cup quarter-final away to Chinnor Exiles, kick-off is scheduled for 10.30am.

The forecast for the weekend is mostly dry but with so much water already on the ground the prospects for a full programme of football remains uncertain.

Published 24/02/14

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