Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Green saves day to give visitors first win of season

HENLEY 1sts recorded their first win of the season as they had the better of a seven-goal clash at Premier Division 1 league leaders Old Cranleighans last Saturday.

The match started at a quick tempo with the ball zipping around the newly laid blue synthetic pitch. Henley were finding some good rhythm through midfield with the trio of Gupta, Joyce and Hetherington controlling the early exchanges.

Henley faced an early setback as new recruit Matt Riches tore his hamstring after stretching for a stray pass. Moments later, things got worse as Old Cranleighans opened the scoring when their centre forward deflected a knee-high cross in off the far post.

Two minutes later the home side doubled their lead through a penalty corner set-piece, leaving Henley with a mountain to climb with just 10 minutes on the clock.

This early setback spurred on the amber and blues and a well-executed penalty corner routine saw Luke Gupta halve the home side’s lead. Five minutes later, Henley were back on level terms, after a raking Rhys Joyce aerial pass found Ed Foster through one-on-one with the Old Cranleighans’ goalkeeper. Foster remained calm and drilled the ball into the bottom corner to equalise.

These two quick fire goals gave Henley some confidence and they started playing some good flowing hockey. On the 25-minute mark some fine interplay between Chris Green and Jeff Goseph saw Steve Harding through on goal. Harding finished the move with a neat backhand strike to give Henley the lead.

Henley doubled their lead through Foster again, scoring his 100th league goal for the club with another reverse stick strike following a pinpoint cross from Harding.

Old Cranleighans came out all guns blazing in the second half and pulled a goal back through a penalty corner, despite the initial effort being saved by Henley goalkeeper Rob Green.

The turning point in the match came when another penalty corner for the home side resulted in a penalty stroke being awarded after Kyle Soulsby was adjudged to have fouled a Old Cranleighans striker in the D. After much discussion from the umpires, the decision stood, but Green was the hero for Henley, after diving to his left to save the resulting flick.

Trailing 4-3 with five minutes remaining Old Cranleighans decided to bring off theor goalkeeper in exchange for another outfield player. This resulted in intense pressure and backs-to-the-wall defending by the amber and blues.

Some last-ditch challenges by Mortimer, Adam Foulds and Tom Walter ensured that Henley were able to see out the final few minutes to secure all three points.

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