HENLEY VETS secured a place in the last eight of the HA Trophy Masters Over 40s national knockout competition on Sunday with victory at Worthing.
The amber and blues, made up of a team with a Henley core but supplemented by a couple of Sonning and Wycombe players, went into the game on the back of big wins against Milton Keynes and Lansdown.
From the start Henley’s greater energy and pace proved difficult for the home side to handle and a pattern of possession and territory dominance was established by the visitors which was to last for most of the match.
Paul Chedzey and David Painter led the line with good movement and Henley regularly moved the ball forward to them high up the pitch with ease. Worthing defended well and made it difficult for Henley to break them down. Despite having plenty of the ball and getting the ball forward quickly, Henley found it difficult to get numbers from midfield to support the front two quick enough to create many clear-cut openings.
At the back the four-man defence of Steve King, Jeremy Clarke, Tony Gaze and Ian Heggie were rarely troubled in the opening quarter. With Worthing defending deep they struggled to get the ball to their front players and Henley’s back four in the main dealt with any forays forward with ease.
Richard Owen and Dominic Day controlled the middle of the park whilst Dan Herbert provided trickery down the right flank, and Dan Anderson and latterly Gordon Merritt provided width and pace down the left flank.
With clear-cut chances hard to come by, Henley’s best opportunities of the first half came from short corners, but with the England vets’ keeper in goal for Worthing, Henley were frustrated throughout the half.
Henley’s hopes received a knock back on 22 minutes when a rare spell of pressure from the hosts resulted in a free hit outside the 25 somehow managing to find its way to an unmarked player stood right in front of Feasey in the Henley goal. The attacker attempted a reverse stick flick but his attempt caught Feasey off balance and the ball slipped through his legs and across the line. In the second half the tempo increased along with the quality of passing and movement, as Henley started to rattle up the short corner count and look more threatening from open play.
On 47 minutes the visitors drew level. A short corner routine was blocked on the line by a Worthing foot and Tony Gaze despatched the resultant flick. Eight minutes later the visitors led, when Dave Painter neatly deflected another short corner routine past the home keeper.
The second goal changed the pattern of the game dramatically as Worthing were forced to finally throw men forward themselves and the game became much more open.
Almost immediately Henley extended their lead when a quick break found Chedzey isolated and seemingly drifting nowhere wide into the circle. The resultant flailing reverse stick slap found its way into the opposite corner past an the aghast Worthing keeper.
Henley relaxed and Worthing were soon back in it after some sloppy defending allowed a home attacker to round Feasey and finish neatly from a narrow angle.
The visitors soon established control in the middle of the park again and as the clock ticked on the home side failed to threaten the Henley goal any further.
Henley will now face Bournemouth at Jubilee Park in the quarter-finals on March 23.
Henley Vets: R Feasey, I Heggie, J Clarke, T Gaze, S King, D Herbert, R Owen, D Day, D Anderson, G Merrit, D Painter, P Chedzey.