Monday, 15 October 2018

Red Kites get off the mark with home matches

HENLEY TOWN have two home matches in the Premier Division of the Uhlsport Hellenic League over

HENLEY TOWN have two home matches in the Premier Division of the Uhlsport Hellenic League over the Bank holiday weekend, writes John Bailey.

Tomorrow (Saturday) they entertain Burnham, kick-off 3pm. Both teams have got off to worrying starts to the season and filled the bottom two positions in the table after last weekend’s games. Each had lost all its league fixtures and made the earliest possible departure from the FA Cup. While a draw may be on the cards, a win or a defeat for either team could prove absolutely vital come the end of the season.

The match was also keenly anticipated as it would have brought former Town manager Dave Tuttle back to the Invesco Perpetual Triangle for the first time. However, it was announced on Monday that Tuttle had resigned as manager of Burnham.

Former England international Luther Blissett and Paul Thomas will be jointly in charge there pending a permanent appointment.

Four players who appeared under Tuttle at the Triangle are currently on Burnham’s books, though David Hoar, arguably the best, will be suspended for tomorrow’s game. The others are Trannell Richardson, Seve Mayberry and Paul Abbott. All the seven previous meetings between Henley and Burnham’s first teams came between 1952 and 1955, when both were members of the Great Western Combination. The Blues had a fine side at the time, winning six of these games. In more recent times, Burnham’s reserves spent a couple of seasons in Division 1 East of the Hellenic, with Henley’s seniors again registering only one victory.

The Red Kites’ visitors on Bank Holiday Monday are Flackwell Heath. In the hope of avoiding traffic congestion in the car park, this will be an evening game, kicking off at 7.45pm.

Flackwell are the only other team Henley played in the Great Western Combination and now oppose in the Hellenic League. In addition, they are another of the few clubs whose first and second teams have both opposed Henley’s senior side in competitive games.

They were almost the equal of Burnham in the Great Western days and have kept a consistently strong team over the years, getting the better of the Town more often than not. Having finished third in the Premier Division last season , they look set for another successful campaign. In the FA Cup, they have beaten Baldock Town 6-3 at home and then Coggenhoe United 5-1 away.

When Asa Povey signed on for Henley but moved to Binfield after one match and Richard Bennett joined the Berkshire club in the summer only to return to the Triangle, the part of a third player to star in the Reading Senior Cup final was almost overlooked, for, though Sean Moore signed for Binfield some time back, he had not taken the field for them till coming on as a substitute on Saturday.

Elsewhere at the Triangle the club are looking to the future. Not only has the youth team been restarted, but the reserves and Sunday team will also be putting the emphasis on young players.

An exception was provided on Saturday by last season’s first team captain, Richard Thomas, whose retirement has been quickly rescinded. That may have been the decisive factor when Thomas had his first run out of the season as the reserves entertained their counterparts from Chalfont Wasps. After only seven minutes, Thomas came up from his defensive position for a shot the goalkeeper could only help into the net. Wasps equalised only eight minutes later, and the score stood at 1-1 until Bailey Curtis was brought down in the box in the 70th minute, Sam Williams scoring from the spot to bring Henley victory.

The reserves have no game tomorrow but visit Holyport Reserves for a league fixture on Tuesday, kick-off 7.45pm. On Thursday, the youth team also have an away game in the league, making the short trip to Highmoor Ibis, also kicking off at 7.45pm.

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