Henley Athletic FC

Henley Athletic FC

Henley reached the semi-finals of the Suffolk FA Senior Cup for the 1st time in their history with a 1-2 away victory at an in-form Bourne Vale Utd.
Vale applied the pressure early on, trying to stop Henley’s passing game. But it was Henley that had the better of the opening exchanges as the excellent, firm but fair referee put a quick stop to any excess physicality. The visitors took a deserved lead after 30 minutes when a lobbed ball forward from Smythe split the home defence, Cowan read it well and raced through to hook it over the advancing Walden for 0-1.
Henley came close again when White’s thunderous close range volley was cleared off the line, albeit with a strong suspicion of handball. Loud appeals followed, but the sheer venom of the shot would have made it very difficult to spot the infringement. Vale’s best effort came as Webb stung Jones’ hands with a 20 yard drive as the half drew to a close.
Early in the 2nd half a fine free-kick from Mallardo was well saved by Jones, who caught a knee to the face also saving the follow up. At the other end a deft flick by Tejano from a Bruce corner was cleared off the line, however Henley weren’t to be denied for long. On 60 minutes Bruce’s incessant pressing brought reward as he won possession deep in the Vale half, under pressure he patiently waited to play the perfect ball to the overlapping White who crossed for Caraccio, he cleverly used the existing pace on the ball and guided it into the bottom corner from 8 yards for 0-2.
This spurred Vale on to their best period of the game and they pulled one back as Oxbrow’s shot from the edge of the area took a wicked deflection to wrong foot Jones for 1-2 on 65 minutes. The home side gamely tried to find a way back into the game, with the four S’s of the Henley defence Storey, Sheppard, Shore and Smythe called repeatedly into action to challenge and block as they held on for the 1-2 win.
Although a tense game for supporters of either side, this must have been a belter to watch for the neutral. Lots of quality was on display, combined with terrific pace and intensity, with every ball being competed for with 100% commitment for the full 90 minutes. For the 2nd game and 2nd quarter final running, we were blessed to have a firm, no nonsense official, this week Mr Kent from Lakenheath, who set his stall out early and communicated his decisions clearly, any player on either side, who were carded only has themselves to blame.
It was tough for the Ultras to pick their MOTM, such a good all round team performance made it seem almost harsh to select one, with the vote split amongst 6 candidates. As it was another dynamite Cowan showing saw him come out on top, but Caraccio, back in full “Kante” mode ran him close. All four defenders and keeper Jones were flawless, Bruce worked so hard and created problems all game, whilst George always wanted the ball with White and Tejano always happy to take it off him.
A word or two of praise for the travelling Ultras, in a crowd of 69, 36 were Henley supporters and they made themselves heard throughout, the lads on the pitch love to hear them and really appreciate the support, let’s keep it going!
You can see why Bourne Vale have developed into a top 6 side, they have quality throughout the side and absolutely no shortage of commitment. Despite a fierce encounter on the pitch, once the whistle blew it was handshakes, congratulations and best wishes all round, with manager Pete Gorham 1st in line. Tough competitors, but, just as it should be, sporting in defeat. We also thank them for their hospitality, which we all took advantage of, indeed when I left at 5.50p.m it was only Henley lads left in the clubhouse.
The Ressies turned up at the Community Centre with only ten players after three late call offs. Manager Ling had no choice but to pull the boots on again despite carrying an injury!
We started the game on the front foot and had more of the possession in the early exchanges, but Westerfield scored two goals in quick succession to go 2-0 up. A third soon followed but we did pull a goal back through the returning Jimmy Dunham. However Westerfield added a fourth to make the score 1-4 at HT. The team fought bravely in the second half, but Westerfield managed to score two more goals before we did pull another one back through Steve Colwill from a corner.
The final Score was 2-6, but the club should be proud of the lads who turned out yesterday, a loss admittedly, but considering we had no subs and a 53 year old injured left back, it was a brave performance.
Next week sees the 1st team visiting Achilles FC whilst the Ressies welcome Bacton Utd to the Community Centre. Both KO at 2.30.
The Hat

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Posted: Monday, February 11 2019 by Tony Stone

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

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