A crowd of 97, watched a very rusty looking Henley grab a point, with an equaliser in time added on, to finish 2-2 against a determined Bildeston Rangers, in the first of seven games, in twenty days for the home side.

Covid cancellations made this Henley’s first game in three weeks, and it certainly showed as they struggled throughout, to both find their usual flow and to deal with the ever-dangerous Lorimer. Bildeston took the lead after only 7 minutes when Lorimer was adjudged to have been impeded by a combination of Smythe and Holland. Lorimer stepped up and fired home low into the bottom corner for 0-1, Henley keeper Holland managing to get fingertips to it, but to no avail.

Bildeston were good value for their lead and looked continually dangerous, especially Lorimer, who was in fine form. Despite this, it was Henley who equalised after 15 minutes, Thrower picking out Bruce with a precise 50 yard diagonal ball, an exquisite first touch and a quick finish saw the score at 1-1. Henley came close again on 30 minutes when Storey saw his bullet header cleared off the line to safety. A couple of minutes later Lorimer raced clear but put his lobbed effort a little too high and over the bar. Henley should’ve heeded the warning as on 35 minutes, in almost a carbon copy of his previous chance, Lorimer again broke clear and made no mistake this time, chipping the advancing Holland for 1-2. Time wasting and gamesmanship from the visitors keeper saw 5 minutes added on in the 1st half alone, but at HT the score remained 1-2

The 2nd half was a real battle, with both sides working hard throughout, but chances were at a premium, with defences in the ascendancy for both the home side and visitors alike. It wasn’t until the 5th minute of time added on when Henley grabbed an unlikely point with an equaliser, Van Oene breaking clear on the left and firing in a low cross which was finished neatly by Watling for 2-2. With another 4 minutes of time remaining, Henley came close to what would have frankly been an undeserved winner, the Bildeston defence hacking the ball clear and bravely blocking in a goalmouth melee, before the final whistle drew a close to proceedings at 2-2. Sadly the characterful visiting keeper, who had, had a terrific game, had a moment of madness after the whistle, raising his hands and receiving a silly red card.

A stuttering showing from Henley, their lack of match play clearly evident, however there was plenty of character on display, epitomised by MOTM Storey, who drove his team forward throughout and saw them scrap as a unit to grab a vital point from a losing scenario. The visitors, Bildeston, were excellent, organised, determined and committed, Lorimer on absolutely top form, looking like he was going to score every time he touched the ball. Post game, he showed his class as a manager too, in addition to his ability to sink a pint! The Bildeston lads enjoyed a drink or two and contributed to a great atmosphere in the clubhouse, we wish them well for the rest of the season.

A word of praise to for referee Irvin Flaherty and his team, who managed the game superbly and with a smile.

Hopefully, today’s game will serve to get the football flowing again ready for our next match against Achilles on Tuesday.