Henley Athletic FC

Henley Athletic FC

Henley made their 1st trip to Bacton for over 3 years for a quarter final in the Bob Coleman Cup, as always the travelling Ultras were met with a warm welcome and hot coffee, on a bitterly cold day, from the ever knowledgeable and friendly home support. It’s always a pleasure to chat to their fans, they had a lot of questions and opinions on the contrast between Junior and Senior football.
As anticipated, a highly charged Bacton started energetically, applying pressure and trying to disrupt Henley’s passing game, forcing a great early chance which Smith somehow contrived to loop high over the bar from close range. Apart from this it was a series of fouls and yellow cards for both sides that were the highlights of the opening exchanges. For the home side Mortimer saw yellow for a cynical pull back on White, whilst George found his way into the book for an overtly robust challenge, as referee Mr Stobbart set his stall out early to quite rightly prioritise football over foul play.
Bruce had a fierce drive well saved after 15 minutes, Cowan both forced a save and shot narrowly wide, Jackson and White also came close, as Henley started to flow. At the other end, Bacton were pretty much restricted to longer range efforts, with as usual Taylor Holt looking dangerous. Henley took the lead on the 25 minute mark when another foul saw Bruce fire a precise free kick around the wall and into the bottom corner from 20 yards for 0-1. Just 5 minutes later, Cowan wriggled and tricked his way through the Bacton defence, only to be heavily fouled in the box, with Bruce rifling home the subsequent penalty for 0-2. The Henley period of dominance continued and 5 minutes before the break it was effectively all over as Sheppard rose highest to head home a Bruce corner at the back post for 0-3 at HT.
10 minutes into the 2nd half it really was all over after a rather bizarre goal. A Bacton striker was flagged for offside just inside the Henley half, quitting his run; the ball ran to Sheppard, as Henley had possession the referee waved play on. Henley reacted the quicker, whilst Bacton literally didn’t react at all, the visitors passing through the static home defence finishing with White drawing the keeper before rolling the ball across the box for Cowan to slot home for 0-4.
Henley made their substitutions, giving speed merchants Cowan and White a break, replacing them with Golding and Caraccio. With the game seemingly in the bag, Henley wrongly took their foot off the pedal, thus allowing a committed Bacton their best spell of the game. Within 10 minutes they pulled back a goal with a neat move following an interception. I was directly in line with the final finish, but sadly behind it, thus giving me the worst possible view as Smith, despite being sandwiched firmly between Sheppard and Smythe, managed to lift the ball on the run over the oncoming Jones for 1-4.
Bacton had another fine chance but sent it well wide, whilst an offside flag denied a one on one for them. At the other end a similar flag denied Golding a similar chance and Bruce saw an effort go wide as did Jackson. There was a lengthy delay as Kastrati collided with the immovable object that is Henley keeper Jones and had to be replaced, we’ve since discovered he sadly sustained a broken jaw in the incident. All at Henley send the skilful former Henley man our very best for a speedy and full recovery. Bacton never dropped their heads, as both sides kept looking to add to the scoreline with only a great save keeping MOTM Bruce from completing his hat trick with the very last kick of the game.
Bacton gave it their all throughout and should take pride in their performance; they have quality throughout the side with young full back Benham, catching the eye of the travelling Henley support in particular. Just an observation, but maybe Bacton were a little too wound up in the 1st half? Giving away too many silly free kicks, which cost them dearly, rather than playing the football they’re certainly capable of. A good bunch of lads, we wish them well in their Junior Cup QF next week and in the season ahead.
A good showing from referee Darren Stobbart and his team, quick to act, decisive and with good player management throughout, his communication in particular, being excellent. He wasn’t prepared to tolerate foul play anywhere on the pitch and is clearly a fan of proper football, well done.
A better performance all round from Henley, Bruce rightly claiming the Ultra’s MOTM award for a gutsy showing, including much more than his brace of goals. Strong games from Shore and White ran him close in the votes, with Big Shep also back to his best and back amongst the goals to boot, a mention also for Smythe whose stability and solidity were crucial. George, pre Superbowl, was in full quarterback mode, metronomically instigating and directing Henley’s play. With the challenges on different fronts ahead of us, the whole squad will need to be at their best. Today’s win saw us earn a home draw in the semi-final against my old pal Scoop and his Coplestonians in early March.
Thanks to all at Bacton for the excellent post match hospitality and their best wishes going forward, the chilli was especially appreciated as the lads sought to thaw out. To explain any confusion caused by the Henley players table being totally covered in cakes, it was Henley stalwart Tejano’s 30th Birthday so he was obligated to bring them in.
The Ressies welcomed back club old boys Jimmy Dunham, Danny Page and Martin Williams for the home game against East Bergholt. Unfortunately it was not a happy return for the trio, as we suffered a very heavy defeat against a very impressive Bergholt team.
The final score was 2-15, with our consolation goals scored by Prentice and Garwood. A harsh lesson for the lads but they all kept plugging away and gave their all for the club. Our young side will learn from this and move on to the next game against Westerfield.
Its another quarter final for the 1st team next week, with the challenge of a visit to Bourne Vale Utd in the Suffolk FA Senior Cup on Saturday, KO 2.00. Back at the Community Centre the ressies welcome Westerfield Utd, KO 14.30.

Club profile

Posted: Monday, February 4 2019 by Tony Stone

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

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