A crowd, boosted by Covid cancellations elsewhere, of 129, saw an entertaining match, played in good spirit, between two teams looking to play the game the right way. The result may demonstrate the difference in quality of players between Senior and Division 3 football, but it does little to highlight the commitment, desire, ethics and style of a Kestrels side, which won many new friends and admirers today.

Henley took an early lead after only 8 minutes, a fine ball from Gavin Van Oene picking out the run of George Ablitt, he beat his man and committed visiting keeper Kingham-Jones, before squaring the ball for Clayton-Leeks, who calmly picked his spot for 1-0. On 14 minutes it was 2-0, Bruce whipping in a viciously curling corner which was over the line before Kingham-Jones could get a glove on it. Henley should have added more, but Reid saw himself denied twice in 10 minutes, once by a reaction save, then by the post. The goal of the game came on 34 minutes, Bruce’s precise diagonal ball releasing Watling, who elegantly lobbed Kingham-Jones from just outside the box, a lovely finish. Despite the scoreline, Kestrels kept pushing forward, Biondi drawing a good save from Lynch before the break.

Henley started the 2nd half brightly, immediately putting the pressure on the visitor’s goal, adding a 4th on 50 minutes. Bruce again finding Watling with a terrific pass, putting him behind the Kestrels defence, once again he lifted the ball over Kingham-Jones, who although he got fingertips to it, couldn’t prevent it finding the net for 4-0. On the 68th minute it was 5-0, a cross field ball finding Smythe, rampaging forward from fullback, who fired home a drive into the roof of the net. Within 2 minutes Kesgrave pulled one back, a drilled in, low cross neatly finished by Hobson for 5-1. Kesgrave broke through twice more, but Reid and Storey were there to sweep up and nullify the threat. Bruce came achingly close, a 30 yard lob, drifting just past the post, but the game finished 5-1.

A solid team showing from Henley, Clayton-Leeks’ tormenting performance, just eclipsing the dynamic Reid in the Ultra’s MOTM vote. Whilst Kingham-Jones made some fine saves to keep the score respectable, it was the skilful and hard-working Yates that attracted a lot of praise and the Henley Ultra’s vote for the Kestrels MOTM. In fact the whole Kestrels set up impressed today, they play attractive football, show real passion and love for their club. They play nice football, defended resolutely and didn’t let their heads drop for a minute, all at Henley wish them well for the rest of the season. If they can consistently produce performances like this, they’ll soon rise up through the divisions, we hope to see them again soon.