Finchampstead 2, Henley Town 3 (after extra time)
HENLEY TOWN came from two goals behind to grind out a win in their first competitive fixture this year, in this Bluefin Sports Challenge Cup second round match on Saturday.
The two sides were evenly matched for the first 20 minutes. The hostsí Richard Evans received a yellow card for a clumsy challenge on Louis Howell.
Karl Sims, playing on the wing for the Red Kites, came close with a searing shot just past the post. Soon after Henley's Ben Clark was booked for a foul on Adam Barnard.
Disaster struck for Henley after 26 minutes when a ball from the right was turned into the net by Kitesí defender John Donegan.
Minutes later Kites keeper Andrew Nunn made a fine save at the feet of Kylo Atkinson. Lively forward Sean Cahill ran through the Kites defence to score a second for Finchampstead after 34 minutes.
A minute before half time a Graham Sims free kick penetrated the home defence and broke loose for Clark to score to make it 2-1 at the interval.
A bitter wind prevailed throughout the second half, making accuracy on the field difficult. Henley defenders scrambled the ball away on the goal-line after Cahill found space with a dangerous header.
Louis Howell equalised for Henley five minutes into the second half with a well taken goal. Both sides pushed forward to score a winner before the home forwards Steve Ryan and Harry Swabey were booked and Kitesí Graham Sims shown a yellow card in separate incidents.
Finchampstead had a goal disallowed late in the game and at 2-2 at full time, two red kites hovered over the pich at the start of extra time - a good omen for the visiting side.
Conditions were visibly deteriorating, Henley called on their substitutes Billy Gordon and Jordan Tollet, for Karl Sims and Matt Godwin.
The referee turned down an appeal for a goal when Kites keeper Nunn caught the ball on or over the line from a corner.
Ten minutes into extra time Graham Sims found space and drove the ball into the net to put the Red Kites through to the next round.
Henley Town: Nunn, Faherty, Thomas, G Sims, Baxter, Donegan, Clark, Witt, Howell, Godwin, K Sims, Tollett, Gordon.