84 spectators enjoyed the sun and braved the wind to watch Henley record a 0-4 victory over Ipswich Vale Exiles at Bourne Vale, this afternoon.

Henley started with the wind at their backs and piled the pressure on the home side, their midfield of Gavin Van Oene, Tejano and Bull, snapping into every challenge and getting the ball forward at every opportunity.  Henley had a big shout for a penalty after 15 minutes, when it appeared an arm was used to block a ball in the box, but their appeals were waved away. The breakthrough came in the 25th minute, after a succession of corners, Gavin Van Oene’s strike was deflected in for 0-1. Further pressure ensued and although Vale’s experienced midfield kept the Henley defence on their toes, it was Henley who came closest to increasing their lead, Gavin van Oene’s 45-yard, wind assisted freekick forcing Singh to tip over just before the break.

Vale came out for the 2nd half determined to force a way back into the game, pinning Henley back for the opening 10 minutes, Duka’s deflected shot forcing the returning Henley keeper Lynch into a fine save down to his left. Henley held their shape and found their way back into the game, the management ringing the changes, bringing on substitutes, Thrower, Shore, Reid and Watling during the half. Despite the home pressure, it was Henley who extended their lead after 74 minutes, 2 or 3 initial chances blocked after a corner, before Tejano drove the ball home from 8 yards for 0-2 and his 150th club goal.

Gaps opened up as Vale tried time and again to get back into the game and Henley gladly took advantage, extending their lead further after 85 minutes, with a precision diagonal ball from Bruce found the advancing Thrower who picked his spot with a 12 yard volley for 0-3. There was still time for more though and in the closing minutes, Shore burst down the right and fired in a low cross, which was met superbly and crisply struck home 1st time by Watling from 18 yards for 0-4.

A terrific all round team performance from Henley today, all 15 playing their part, Smythe had a great game, snuffing out any threat from the dangerous Vale wide man, the Ablitt brothers tormented the home defence throughout, Bruce worked hard, chasing back even at the final whistle and Gavin Van Oene was simply everywhere. The defence held firm and was well marshalled by keeper Lynch returning to the squad after his marriage and honeymoon. It was a joy for the assembled Ultra’s to see Bull, coming back from two nasty injuries to make start and complete 90 minutes for the 1st time in 8 months. But it was the dynamism, commitment and sheer determination of Tejano that unanimously won the Ultra’s MOTM vote.

Vale were a tough side to face, especially in such windy conditions, they have talent all over the pitch and no shortage of determination, despite the scoreline, they never stopped competing until the final whistle.

Many thanks to Vale for a great welcome and excellent hospitality, Head Chef Vinny on top form with the post match grub, we’ll look forward to seeing them in the return game on Tuesday.