Pre match saw the Henley Chairman Wayne Leggatt make a presentation to Byron Tejano, to commemorate his 400th club appearance, which despite the appalling weather was enjoyed by a good sized contingent of travelling Henley Ultras, who actually outnumbered the home support in a small crowd of around 35.

Henley started briskly but quickly ceded control of the game to a driven and committed Bildeston who certainly enjoyed the better of the opening third of the game. Henley keeper Lynch was called into action to brilliantly tip round a freekick after only five minutes, he was called upon to make a couple more good stops and only some fine defending kept Bildeston at bay.

However, the visitors defence was finally breached after 22 minutes, fine work on the right by Buxton fed Brooks, his shot was tipped onto the cross bar by Lynch, but Evans was the quickest to react, slamming the rebound home to give Bildeston a 1-0 lead that their performance deserved. The home side kept pressing hard, and yet again Lynch and the Henley defence were called into action, however, Henley were starting to get their foot on the ball and their passing game began to tell.

Indeed, the game was totally turned on it’s head in a five-minute spell just before the break. On 38 minutes a melee in the home box, first saw Watling hit the post from a Bruce cross and De Lara-Bell saving from Tejano, before Liam Ablitt smashed the ball into the roof of the net to make it 1-1. Within 2 minutes Bruce was felled from behind and, despite amusing attempts to put him off, expertly placed the subsequent penalty into the corner for 1-2. Bildeston were on the back foot now and Henley took full advantage, when on 43 minutes Gavin Van Oene, absolutely rifled a superb left foot drive into the top corner from 20 yards to bring the score to 1-3 at HT.

Henley continued to dominate after the break, Bruce drawing a fine save from De Lara-Bell and Watling hitting the post. But Bildeston always looked capable of finding a way back into the game, Storey making a fine last ditch tackle to stop Wharton-Richardson’s run into the box. On 60 minutes the visitors put the result beyond doubt, Bruce picking the ball up 40 yards out, ghosting past two defenders and firing a left foot shot into the net from 25 yards for 1-4. Ten minutes later Henley further increased their lead, Storey heading home from a Bruce free kick to make it 1-5. Three substitutes combined to make it 1-6 after 80 minutes, Clayton Leeks’ run down the left saw him find Bull, who picked out George Ablitt, he stepped inside his marker and elegantly curled the ball home.

Henley could’ve had more, but De Lara Bell pulled off two smart stops to deny Clayton Leeks, before Bildeston gained a consolation goal in stoppage time, their initial penalty well saved by Lynch but Smith was there to tap home the rebound to make the final score 2-6.

Although slow to start, Henley had enough quality to be deserving of their victory, albeit that Bildeston really put them under the cosh for much of the first half and continued to look dangerous after the break. They are a well organised side, with no little talent and prepared to give their all for their club. The Henley MOTM vote has rarely been tighter, ending in a three way tie between Lynch, Cowan and Liam Ablitt, I had the deciding vote, whilst all would be more than worthy recipients, I gave it to young Liam, purely in respect of the fear he created in the home defence every time he was on the ball.

As a point of interest, I wonder how many other games yesterday had 3 sets of brothers on the pitch? This game had the Ablitts and Van Oenes on the Henley team, whilst there was a Cowan brother on both sides.