Sunday, 14 August 2022

Red Kites chase wins in league and cup

HENLEY TOWN have two games this week and once more, they are both away, writes John Bailey.

Tomorrow (Saturday), in the Premier Division of the Uhlsport Hellenic League, they make their first-ever journey to Longlevens AFC for a 3pm kick-off.

The only previous meeting between the sides was in October, when the visitors won 3-1 at Henley despite the home side scoring first through Dan Davies.

The Gloucestershire club now stand 12th in the table, and, averaging a point per game, look as though that is roughly where they will finish. The Red Kites will need to scrap for a point if they are to come home with any reward.

In view of the hosts’ somewhat woeful league record, it may come as a surprise to find that they are still alive in two cup competitions. Not only that, but the draw has again been kind to them so that they have every chance of proceeding further in both the Bluefin Insurers Hellenic Supplementary Cup and the Reading Invitation Senior Cup.

In the second round of the former event, they travel to Wantage Town Reserves on Tuesday, kick-off 7.45pm. Wantage’s first team play a level above Henley’s, in the Southern League, but both their senior sides have had a difficult season.

The reserves have yet to obtain a point in the Hellenic Division 1 (East) — a worse record than the Town’s at the higher level. The Red Kites will meet up with an old friend, as on January 21 the Freds brought in Ciprian Pintilie to try and turn round the reserve team’s fortunes. “Chippy” was Henley’s reserve team manager two seasons ago.

In the previous round, Henley won 3-0 away to Didcot Reserves. Assuming Wantage’s cup team resembles the one they have been fielding in the league, another victory should be well within the Red Kites’ compass.

Heavy rain mean’t Tuesday’s first team game against Binfield away was called off due to Stubbs Lane being waterlogged to add to the plenty of postponements for their other three sides, though the youths did well to play away to their Wantage counterparts last week, especially bearing mind that Alfredian Park is not renowned as a quick-drying ground. The bad news was that they came home with a 3-1 defeat, Reece Buckett scoring for the Town.

The youths should be able to improve their league position at least a little as their five remaining fixtures are all at home, but they have no match this week.

Like the youth team, the Sunday side play in such a small division that postponements do not lead to massive fixture congestion. Like every other match in the Reading Sunday League, their game against Park Villa last weekend met a watery grave. This week, the Sundays are down to entertain their arch-rivals, Reading United, in a vital league fixture that has already been postponed several times. The kick-off is at 10.30am.

Meanwhile, supporters of the reserve team should note that their fixture list for the rest of the season has been substantially revised.

Last week, the reserves suffered two postponements. Both they and their visitors, Flackwell Heath Reserves, were ready to play in midweek, but the referee ruled the pitch unfit for play. Saturday’s home game against Stokenchurch was called off at breakfast time.

The reserves have two league fixtures this week. Tomorrow (Saturday) they visit Milton Keynes Academy, kick-off 3pm, and on Tuesday they entertain Aston Clinton Development, kick-off 7.45pm.

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