Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Red Kites sparkle as season starts on high

A SPARKLING first-half performance saw Henley Town 2-0 ahead by the 36th minute when they entertained

A SPARKLING first-half performance saw Henley Town 2-0 ahead by the 36th minute when they entertained Finchampstead in Division 1 East of the Uhlsport Hellenic League on Saturday.

The second period provided slightly more ordinary fare, but a Henley victory never looked less than assured.

Their win was the more creditable as their absentees included the injured Sean Moore and Asa Povey, as well as the unavailable Warren Baxter and Steven Fairchild, all of whom are among the Red Kites’ chief luminaries.

They must surely be able to build a formidable side when they have their full squad available all on the same day, and there will hard decisions to make when that happens.

A workmanlike but uninspired Finchampstead included former Town players Paul Abbott and Danny Blatchford, while another, Graham Pickersgill, was sitting in the dugout as their assistant manager.

The Red Kites’ football in the first half, which featured a three-man front line, was full of constructive and cultured moves, helped by the admirable surface at the Invesco Perpetual Triangle. A feature of Henley’s play was the understanding between  midfielder Grant Kemp and Richard Bennett, the leader of the attack.

On one such occasion, Bennett was unceremoniously felled in the box when Kemp played him in and, fittingly, it was Kemp who converted the penalty in style on the half-hour.

Six minutes later, Bennett made a solo run down the left, cut in and placed the ball past the advancing Josh Baker.

Louis Howell also made an opening for Bennett, but Baker did well to turn the shot round the post.

After the interval, Finch had more of the ball but  seldom looked really threatening near goal.

While Dimitrios Kyratzis, who was deputising for Fairchild as goalkeeper, was not put under much pressure, he looked remarkably confident for a 16-year-old making his debut.

Kane Slocombe, Richard Thomas, Gary Smith and Matthew Belcher made a sound back-line.

Bennett created a chance for Howell, who took too long to reap the benefit.

Thomas’s header was turned round the post with some difficulty. Later, Abbott fouled Bennett on the very edge of the penalty area, an action that brought him a booking.

The visitors brought on three substitutes in turn, while Henley, as though satisfied the points were safe, pulled off their two goal-scorers to give runs to two young substitutes. None of these moves managed to change the course of the game.

• Henley Town: Kyratzis; Slocombe, Thomas, Smith, Belcher; Kemp (Cuthbert 75 mins), Bygrave. Thomson-Wheeler; Clark, Bennett (Brady 80 mins), Howell.

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