Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Back-to-back wins edge men’s first team away from relegation zone

HENLEY made it two wins from two to keep their dreams of South Premier League 1 survival intact.

HENLEY made it two wins from two to keep their dreams of South Premier League 1 survival intact.

They started the match at Banbury, where the hosts had lost just three times all season, in furious tempo. After just 90 seconds, Rhys Joyce played a floated aerial down the right touchline to captain Ed Foster, who drilled the ball across the Banbury D for Ross Hibberd, to deflect the ball home.

Determined to push on, the Amber and Blues deservedly doubled their lead after 20 minutes. A sweet team move resulted in Luke Gupta squaring the ball to Foster, who played a reverse stick pass to Tom Walter, who lifted the ball effortlessly over the onrushing Banbury goalkeeper.

The hosts replied on the half-hour mark, after some good work down their right wing resulted in a pinpoint cross and a well-dispatched slap past Cox in goal to make it 2-1 at half-time.

In balmy conditions, and with a game under their belt the previous day, Henley began to tire and Banbury looked dangerous. But with 15 minutes left Luke Gupta was played through one-on-one by Foster only to miss the target. With three minutes remaining Henley goalkeeper Roy Cox was replaced with an additional outfield player to try and force a late winner.

Banbury then won a penalty corner with two minutes left but in a stroke of unbelievable fortune their drag-out did not reach the top of the D because of the excess sand on the pitch, so failed to convert and Henley bombed forward with 11 outfield players with 30 seconds remaining.

With 10 seconds to go, Benji Hetherington played a raking ball down the left wing to Tom Walter. Walter turned on a sixpence and found Foster in the Banbury D. Foster held the ball up and managed to find the little toe of a Banbury defender to win a penalty corner on the stroke of the full time whistle but the penalty corner was still to be played out.

The 11 outfield players of Henley circled the Banbury D. The dragout was accurate, Hibberd trapped the ball and Foster’s delivery was accurate, Taylor then deflected the ball through the goalkeeper’s sprawled legs for the 3-2 victory.

After the Easter break, Henley travel to Lewes with a chance to secure automatic safety in the league if results in the Havant and London Wayfarers match go their way.

CAPTAIN Ed Foster scored a hat-trick to help keep Henley’s league survival hopes alive.

Henley started brightly and asserted their authority on the game from the outset, controlling possession and territory. The first opening came from a penalty corner, Ed Foster passed to Gupta who duly dispatched. Soon after, another penalty corner followed and Foster doubled the lead with a trademark three-quarter pace push.

The game continued with Henley in the ascendancy. Well marshalled by Rob Mortimer and Rob Rowe at the back, the midfield held possession well. Another penalty corner was awarded after good work by Hibberd, Foster and Green. Foster’s shot was then saved but Joyce was first to react with the rebound.

After the break, Staines had a couple of penalty corner opportunities but they came to nothing. Then, in the last 15 minutes, a swift counterattack saw Foster score his second. Minutes later, good interplay by Joyce and Hibberd culminated in a reverse stick cross pass to Green. Green’s deflection was well saved by the keeper but Foster was on hand to calmly slot in the rebound for his third and Henley’s fifth.

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