Tuesday, 18 December 2018

New captain’s reign starts with a resounding victory

HENLEY 1sts went down to defeat away at Banbury last Saturday, the venue where they pulled

HENLEY 1sts went down to defeat away at Banbury last Saturday, the venue where they pulled off their last-gasp victory last season to fend off relegation.

The match started well for the visitors, soaking up pressure in the early stages before countering quickly and taking the lead through Chris Green.

The lead did not last long as the hosts were afforded too much time and space in the Henley 25, waltzing into the D, before clinically equalising into the bottom corner. The intensity shown by the home side right up until half-time put pressure on the Henley back line, forcing an error which led to the hosts taking a 2-1 lead.

The second half started as the first had ended with Banbury coming out the blocks quickly and after some sustained pressure netting their third goal of the game.

Henley looked to get themselves back into the match before a number of cards was handed out to the away side. This led to some disorganisation at a short corner, allowing the home team to flick into the net to go 4-1 up.

The closing stages saw Green net his second of the match as Henley pulled it back to 4-2. Soon after Gupta went close to reducing the arrears further for the visitors.

HENLEY 2nds started brightly at home to Witney as they built play using skilful midfielders Ruggiero and debutant Warrender as screens to move the whole squad up the pitch.

The hosts piled on the pressure and it wasn’t long before right midfielder, Hughes-Burne, drove into the D, swivelled on his back foot and placed a bobbling ball across the penalty spot to Joseph who slotted the ball home between the keeper’s legs.

Witney struck back imediately with a penetrating counter attack as the visitors managed to overload the D and their centre forward calmly found the corner of the goal, just out of reach of Henley’s keeper to level the score.

More aggressive counter attacks followed and Witney managed to win two penalty corners in quick succession. The first was well saved, but a low-skipping drag flick found a deflection into the goal on the near post for the second time.

Moving into the second half Henley continued to work hard off the ball and keep their structure, but needed to be more clinical in the last 25 yards of the pitch to regain control of the match. Left winger Newbold and striker Woolfrey tried to make the most of opportunities but to no avail. The visitors continued to carry the ball relentlessly in the middle of the park as they distributed the ball wide and high. Henley’s goalkeeper, Dave Bowyer, made a number of reactive saves to keep his side in contention but the game was secured by a third and fourth Witney goal.

Henley 2nds: D Bowyer, D Herbert, I Roberts, S Hall, J Ruggiero, G Warrender, N Cheesman, F Newbold, R Woolfrey, G Harmer, J Hughes-Burne, G Joseph, J Measures.

HENLEY 3rds arrived at Reading University looking to build on their promising start to their league campaign.

Under instruction from new captain, Austin, Henley were tasked with starting sharply and pressing high, as Reading play an aggressive form of attacking hockey supported by 11 outfield players and Henley had to ensure they didn’t succumb to this pressure. The team heeded the call and pushed high and took the lead as Draycott and Cottam combined well to break the initial stalemate after a hard-fought first 15 minutes.

The lead was short lived as Reading broke forward and equalised, but the hosts’ celebrations were curtailed equally quickly as an inspired substitution saw Herbert break from midfield and restore Henley’s lead. However, Reading countered once again and parity was restored at the interval.

The visitors continued to press after the break and some good attacks, supported by Wray, Brown and Barrass, enabled Herbert and Cottam to double their tallies and Newbold to get the first of his brace.

Reading continued to press in an attempt to get back into the game but good defending by Pollard, Austin, Rechner and McCreery, and some solid goalkeeping by Cordrey, kept Reading shut out.

This enabled Henley to push forward and Wray and Newbold ensured Henley took all three points.

Henley 3rds: M Cordrey, T Pollard, R Austin, J Rechner, W McCreery, JJ Cottam, J Herbert, J Draycott, H Wray, S Brown, T Barrass, E Newbold.

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