Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Pressure mounts for Henley

HENLEY travelled to Milton Keynes on the back of a disappointing defeat to Old Cranleighans,

HENLEY travelled to Milton Keynes on the back of a disappointing defeat to Old Cranleighans, looking to boost their chances of survival in Southern Premier division, and with a possible four teams being relegated from the league, they knew a win would be vital.

Henley had the better of the opening stages, applying good pressure to the hosts’ defence but it was them who managed to grab the opening goal against the run of play, coming from a neat short corner routine.

The remainder of the half continued with Henley creating chances but it was a familiar tale for Henley, as they were unable to capitalise on some good build-up play, and the half finished a close 1-0.

A half-time dressing down saw the Henley press hard after the restart to try to overturn the deficit, but Milton Keynes were able to withstand the heavy pressure and they hit a quick-fire treble. Each came from a counter attack which gave the visitors a mountain to climb.

Henley, feeling they now had nothing to lose went all out attack, leading to a late revival which saw them reply with three goals.

The first reply came courtesy of a Rhys Joyce penalty flick, given after a nice short corner routine struck a defender’s body on the line.

The second saw a tidy finish from Geoff Joseph after some slick build-up play, and the third coming from a short corner drag flick from Ed Foster.

After this spirited fightback the away team would have felt like they were in with a chance of snatching something from the game.

However, it was in trying to chase an equalising goal late in the game, that Henley were once more hit on the break, leading to another goal from a short corner, halting the comeback, and ending the tie, with the score 5-3.

Henley host bottom side Staines on Saturday 19th knowing that they cannot afford anything other than three points from all of their remaining games.

OBJECTIVE number one was achieved on Saturday after a combination of an emphatic home victory over local rivals Sonning and a draw between the teams placed second and third in the Middx, Berks, Bucks & Oxon Division 2 meant that one of the two promotion spots was assured for league leaders Henley.

The victory at the weekend was not an inevitability as Sonning were fighting for their league survival, however the 11-1 in the equivalent fixture in the first half of the season might have been an indicator of the gulf in quality between the two teams.

In the event, goals came thick, fast and early, underlining Henley’s dominance in the fixture and securing a large goal difference into the bargain.

Among the pick of the goals in the first half was a neatly taken reverse stick strike from Fred Newbold, a penalty stroke by the league’s top goal scorer Richard Woolfrey after a deflected short corner shot by Guy Harmer forced an error on the Sonning goal line, and Jody Measures slotting home an inch perfect cross by debutant Harry Wray.

Some defensive lapses by Sonning and some clinical finishing by Henley saw them seven goals to the good at half-time.

The home team carried on from where they left off after the restart and quickly notched up goal eight.

However, a swathe of personnel changes slightly delayed any addition to the total for about 20 minutes before Measures broke through on the left and drove all the way to the goal line for a near post flick for his hat-trick.

This sparked another goal frenzy among which was the team’s 100th goal of the season, fittingly scored by captain Dan Herbert after latching on to Woolfrey’s cross, who in turn then chalked up his 31st of the season minutes later.

To their credit Sonning never gave up and made the encounter competitive at times, and friendly and enjoyable throughout.

With such a large goal difference, just another point from the one of the last two games of the season would likely seal the league title. Henley 2nds: D.Herbert, J.Clarke, I.Roberts, A.Slay, J.Ruggiero, S.Hall, H.Wray, R.Woolfrey, J.Measures, G.Harmer, F.Newbold, J.Draycott, D.Bowyer.

A FIVE-GAME losing streak was put to bed when Henley ran out deserved winners in a tight victory against Bracknell 2nds. This gave the side hope in their relegation battle in the Middx, Berks, Bucks & Oxon Division 4.

Henley started with incisive pace and crisp passing from the push back, with the 3-4-3 formation helping excellent interplay between defence, midfield and the forward line.

Against the run of play, Bracknell took the lead with a goal on the break. But Ian Rechner soon responded for the visitors with a reverse stick strike, before Tim Barrass took Henley into the lead with a neat finish from a tight angle.

After half-time, Henley continued dominating. Nico Cheesman executed a skilful finish, and then Tim Barrass pouched another with his typical unconventional style to take the score to 4-1.

Bracknell’s confidence looked to be waning, but Henley legs started to tire. and the midfield struggled to control the game without the pace and dynamism of Mike Woolfrey, who was sidelined through injury.

Struggling to regain composure as the match descended into scrappiness, Bracknell took advantage to score two sharp finishes to take the score to 4-3.

Aided by a superb reaction save from goalkeeper Ed Earl, the visitors managed to close out the nervous final minutes to secure a precious three points. Henley lie in ninth place in the division with 19 points, six points ahead of Witney 2nds in 10th.

Henley 3rds: E Earl, R Austin, E Newbold, S Ward, J-J Cottam, J Baker, J Herbert, N Cheesman, T Barrass, T Herbert, J Rechner, I Rechner.

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