Thursday, 18 October 2018

Easington Sports hit back to deny Lilywhites

A THIRD Hellenic League Division 1 East point of the season was picked up by Henley Town on Tuesday following

A THIRD Hellenic League Division 1 East point of the season was picked up by Henley Town on Tuesday following their 2-2 draw at home to Easington Sports.

The Lilywhites looked on course for their first league win of the campaign after leading 2-0 at half time but a second half comeback by the visitors meant they had to settle for a draw.

Liam Ratcliffe gave the home side the lead after 15 minutes when he converted an in-swinging free kick delivery from close range. Omari Edward-Holmes doubled Henley’s lead with a 20-yard strike after being fed by Craig Sinclair on the half hour mark.

Henley were the victim of two referee decisions that saw the match turn on its head.

Sinclair had a third goal chalked off before a controversial penalty was awarded for handball to Easington, who duly converted, a minute into the second period.

The visitors equalised on the hour mark following a free kick.

In the final 20 minutes Henley rallied as they sought a first win but chances for Ratcliffe, Graham Sims and Tom Sheppard were all passed up.

Speaking after the game, Henley manager Roy Hanley said: “It looked like it was going to end as one of these 5-5 draws because there were so many chances. A draw was probably fair as it was pretty even.

“Again the work rate and the effort was absolutely superb. After the second goal we conceded we were resilient.

“That said, it was a little bit disappointing to draw when you’re two goals up and we had the chances to win it.”

With seven games remaining, including a double header against second-bottom Thatcham Town Reserves, Hanley said he can see the first three point on the horizon.

He added: “We’re going into every game expecting to get something out of it.”

HENLEY TOWN once again gave a top Division 1 East side a scare as they were beaten 2-1 away to third-placed Chinnor on Saturday.

After drawing 3-3 with league leaders Rayners Lane in January and losing 4-3 to Headington Amateurs, who sit a place below, Henley once more lost out by the narrowest of margins.

The visitors, who named manager Hanley amongst the substitutes such was the struggle for numbers, couldn’t get going in the first half as Chinnor looked the brighter team from the start. After 12 minutes, the home side took the lead when Braun headed home from close range. Henley’s only chance in the first half was a Sheppard shot that went wide.

The Lilywhites created more chances in the second half and Prince Alozi was denied by a last-ditch tackle after 70 minutes.

They fell further behind with 10 minutes remaining when Jamie Essex cut inside his man before finishing into the bottom corner.

In injury time, Ratcliffe fed Sheppard, who forced the ball home following a goalmouth scramble. Henley tried to salvage a point at the death when Sims forced a good save from a free kick but Chinnor held on for the win. Hanley said he had been disappointed by his side’s initial reaction to the previous week’s 7-1 home defeat to AFC Hinksey but was happy with the upturn in their second half showing.

He said: “We were really sloppy in the first 10 minutes and we hadn’t woken up at all. I was thinking ‘this wasn’t the response we wanted from the previous game’.

“We were on the back foot for most of the half and we didn’t create much but we brightened up after that.

“You can’t keep repeating the same message but I felt there was something in the game for us in the second half and we improved.” Hanley said he had been impressed with the way his side had performed since January against teams at the top of the table.

“I think it’s because we’ve managed to add a little bit of quality and experience to the squad, especially in defence.

“If we go into any game with a strong defence, I think that gives us a fighting chance.

“We’ve picked up some defenders with experience who have helped the younger lads dig out a result or keep us in the game at least.

“It’s been a massive learning curve for these guys but the way they keep battling to the very end is the main thing.”

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