Crane Sports

Crane Sports

A visit to table topping Henley Athletic started with a cup of tea and a chat with the enigmatic Hat, who informed me that the homesters had a full squad to choose from and on a pitch conducive to quick passing free flowing football we knew that we were in for a tough afternoon, especially as we had a few lads missing and coming off the back of a home defeat last weekend.
Nevertheless the lads that turned out were a credit to the Cranes shirt and competed well from the start against their star studded opponents. An early goal is always welcome and after fine work by Danny Thrower on the left where he showed great determination to hit the goal line and deliver an inch perfect cross, the on rushing Mo Fike acrobatically flicked home a fine finish past the hapless Jones to put us one up. With Coops and Bucky bossing the midfield we created a few decent chances and then on the half hour James Blades bulldozed his way into the Henley area only to be brought down by Shore and Teon Leggett expertly dispatched the resultant spot kick. Henley then had a great chance to reduce the arrears when full back Francis (who was fortunate to still be on the pitch) missed a golden opportunity narrowly heading wide from a good position. So 0-2 at the break and the large crowd had seen some fine football from both sides.
Henley started the second half at a pace clearly having had a rollicking from their new management team, but we stood firm with Ash Smith keeping the dangerous Bruce well under control and forcing him into long range speculative efforts that did not trouble Jack Foster. With the introduction of Chris Williams, Henley adopted a more direct approach and the speedy attacker came very close to scoring but for an amazing save from Foster and an equally amazing goal line clearance from Mark Van Oene, who showed great courage and commitment to just reach the ball before it crossed the line and clear the ball to safety. We also forced their keeper into a couple of fine stops and had one effort hacked off the line as the play continued end to end. In the last quarter Henley became increasingly frustrated as we seemed to have weathered the storm and we comfortably managed the rest of the game with some excellent possession retention which saw us run down the clock and record a fine victory to end the year and also Henley’s unbeaten run.
So a great team performance by all the lads. Bucky was superb in the first half picking up every second ball and frustrating the opposing midfielders. Mo Fike scored a fantastic goal and worked his socks off for 90 minutes always chasing back and helping out. The back four were solid with Yarpy back in his favourite position and back to his best, Ash Smith coming in and doing a great job on Bruce and Bladsey was always a handful up front along with the mercurial Thrower who seems to be thoroughly enjoying his football again. Jack Foster in goal was in fine form with some clean handling, one miraculous save and excellent kicking and distribution all afternoon.
My man of the match though had to be Mo Fike for an all action display and a superb goal.
Henley will be there or thereabouts and with Achilles rather surprisingly losing at home against Claydon there was a silver lining to their cloud as they remained at the top of the league. They have a very talented squad and in Arran Shepherd an outstanding footballer who oozes class when he is on the ball and inspires his teammates throughout the game. For me he was Henley’s best player by far.
All three officials had fine games.
Next week Haughley who are on a great run visit Greshams for what will undoubtedly be a tough game.
On behalf of all at Crane Sports FC we wish all involved in local football a Happy and Healthy 2019.
EARL OF UFFORD

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Posted: Monday, December 31 2018 by Andy Pearce

The views expressed in club/league notes are not necessarily those of Archant Suffolk

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