A crowd of 112 enjoyed a very tight, competitive match, which saw the visitors come back from 1-0 down to take the victory.

The unfortunate demise of Ipswich Vale Exiles created a fixture reshuffle which saw us facing, what is probably our toughest away game of the season, in our opening fixture. Halesworth started quickest, Ling crashing a header off the bar after only 5 minutes, the rebound was blocked, but from the subsequent corner, the home side opened the scoring. The initial shot from Whiteman was blocked but Ling fired home the rebound through a crowded 6-yard box for 1-0. Only 3 minutes later Halesworth should’ve added a 2nd, Summerfield racing clear, rounding Dixon, only to blaze the ball over the bar with the empty net at his mercy, a costly error which Halesworth was to rue later.

Henley’s 1st real chance of the game came after 22 minutes, George Ablitt hitting the byline and crossing for Bradlaugh, whose 1st-time effort went narrowly wide. Summerfield broke free again, one on one with Dixon in the Henley goal, this time the experienced keeper coming out on top with a great save. After 39 minutes George Ablitt went clean through, his run curtailed by what appeared, an impossibly tight offside flag.

Henley didn’t have to wait long, however, as on 40 minutes a precise Bradlaugh free kick found the corridor between the Halesworth defensive line and keeper Anderson, he hesitated, and Tejano was able to twist his neck muscles to lift the ball over the advancing keeper and into the net for the equaliser, making it 1-1 at the break.

Halesworth forced a succession of corners early in the 2nd half, but Dixon and Storey marshalled the defence well to deal with them. Henley was starting the keep the ball better but found themselves temporarily down to 10 men as George took an involuntary rest period in the sin-bin. During this period Henley came close yet again, Bruce’s initial shot was well saved by Anderson but the follow-up was handled, which resulted in a penalty for the visitors. Bruce kept calm during a delay whilst Anderson received treatment and sent the keeper the wrong way with the penalty, only to see it cannon back off the foot of the post, where it was cleared to safety.

A fortunate escape for Henley as a Halesworth corner miraculously bounced to safety after directly hitting the inside of the back post. Henley bring on substitute Watling, who has an incredible scoring record against Halesworth, within a couple of minutes, he did it again, Tejano picking his run out with a fine ball, and Watling outpaced his markers to lift the ball over Anderson and into the corner for 1-2. Five minutes later Watling so nearly added another but is denied by a fantastic save from Anderson.

Halesworth presses hard for an equaliser, but the Henley defence resolutely holds on and it’s Henley who comes close to adding a third as Bull’s effort is well saved, Bruce smashes the rebound but it’s blocked on the line by Bull’s prone body as the game finishes 1-2.

A very tough, tight game that could easily have gone either way, against a very strong Halesworth team, neither side will feel they were at their best, whilst commitment was high, both teams looked to still be finding their rhythm at times, as is to be expected in a season opener. For Henley, the stand-out performances came from the two club stalwarts. Captain Storey back to his imperious best in his 450th club appearance, but it was the guile and dynamism of Tejano that saw him win the travelling Ultra’s MOTM award by a landslide. Despite a less-than-1st class team performance, it was a very valuable 3 points won against a fine Halesworth team, who will doubtless be competing for honours. Many thanks to all at Halesworth for the off-field hospitality and terrific welcome.