HENLEY 1sts moved up to second place in Division 1 of the MBBO League after winning by the odd goal in seven at Wallingford on Saturday.
On the back of a big win at home to Wycombe the previous weekend, it was vital that Henley maintained the momentum as they sought to keep up the pressure in the promotion race.
Henley started by far the brighter of the two sides, dominating possession and field position for much of the first half. The home side struggled to cope with Henley’s tempo, intensity and fast paced attacking game.
Benji Hetherington produced a dominant display in the middle of the park, allowing Rhys Joyce and Ed Foster to apply pressure higher up the field forcing a succession of turnover ball, and with Ross Hibberd, Johnny Taylor and Rob Mortimer providing width and quality down both flanks, Henley looked on top for much of the first half.
Despite their early dominance the front duo of Chris Green and Geoff Joseph found themselves thwarted several times in the first 10 minutes by a Wallingford keeper in fine form who produced a number of reflex saves.
Following a double change up front, Henley took the lead on 12 minutes with a good move finished off by a pass which bypassed the keeper and Richard Woolfrey had the simplest of tasks to deflect the ball in with his first touch of the game.
Goals from Green and Hibberd extended the lead to 3-0 by half-time and had it not been for the home keeper Henley would have been out of sight.
At the other end Ryan Foggoa, making his first team debut, looked untroubled and dealt with everything that came his way.
Despite being outplayed in the first half, the hosts came out with determination at the start of the second half and gained a foothold in the match. Henley’s quality and intensity dropped, and for a long period of the second half the visitors struggled to rediscover their first-half form.
Going forward Wallingford began to look more threatening and having forced a couple of short corners eventually managed to convert one to make it 3-1 with 20 minutes to go.
The visitors soon restored their three goal advantage when Henley converted a slick routine of their own with Rhys Joyce deflecting in an Ed Foster drag flick. The goal looked like it had finally settled matters, but when Tony Gaze was shown a yellow card with 10 minutes to go, and Wallingford converted the resultant short corner to make it 4-2, there was a frantic few minutes as Wallingford sensed an opportunity.
Henley weathered the storm and even with 10 men started to look composed and threatening on the break, and when Wallingford were also reduced to 10 men with less than five minutes to go, the intensity seemed to dissipate from the game.
Wallingford earned a short corner right on the final whistle which they converted to make it 4-3.
Henley 1sts: R Foggoa, R Mortimer, E Hughes-Burne, T Gaze, D Herbert, R Hibberd, R Joyce, B Hetherington, J Taylor, E Foster, J Measures, G Joseph, R Woolfrey, C Green.