A crowd of 107 enjoyed a tight and competitive cup tie, where despite a largely lacklustre showing, Henley had enough strength in depth to overcome a resilient Cops and make their way to the Morrison Freight Cup Final, coming back from 1-0 down to win 1-2 with a stoppage time goal from the returning George Ablitt.

Cops gave Henley an early scare, the ever dangerous Linard, presented an opportunity by an underhit back pass, pulling his effort just wide. The game was an even one, both sides probing for an opportunity, Henley were struggling to get their passing game going and it wasn’t until the 20thminute that they fashioned a chance, which saw Bruce drag his shot across the face of goal. The deadlock was broken in the 29th minute, a long ball bisected the Henley centre halves and Godbold raced onto it, his 1st touch sat it up nicely and he volleyed home spectacularly from just outside the box to make it 1-0.

This seemed to garner some urgency from Henley, who finished the half the stronger, Tejano having a shot cannon back of the foot of the post after 40 minutes and Field saw his effort bravely blocked a minute later, leaving the score at 0-1 at HT.

The second half was largely a game of attack versus defence as Henley pressed from the restart, but it was one the brave and committed Cops defence was winning, led superbly as always by Monaghan, putting their bodies on the line to deny any sniff of a chance for Henley. Home keeper Allison was also in excellent form, but doing little to endear himself to the visitors, both on and off the pitch, as he used every opportunity, within the laws of the game, to eat up the clock. Thankfully referee Stobbart, as efficient as ever, tapping his watch, made it clear that he was adding the time on.

The game began to change when Henley made 4 substitutions on 70 minutes, bringing on Bull, Van Oene, Watling and George Ablitt at the same time. Cops were effectively pinned back in their own box, as corner after corner rained in. This pressure finally told on 85 minutes, Bull’s corner was headed clear, but he recycled the ball, cut inside and whipped in a great cross which was headed home by Captain Storey for the equaliser and 1-1. Henley pressed hard for a winner, but came close to being caught out in the 90th minute, Cops on a rare foray forward forcing a corner and Dixon having to make 2 terrific point blank stops at his back post to maintain the scoreline.

But as the time added on, edged into the 97th minute, George Ablitt was the returning hero, hitting a terrific drive into the top corner from 20 yards to win the game 1-2. The heartbroken Cops somewhat the architects of their own misfortune, the winner coming so late in time added on for their earlier time wasting, their keeper enduring a round of barracking from the travelling Henley support, eager to thank him for the time provided.

So it is Henley that progress to the final on Tuesday 25th April, where we will face either Sporting 87 or Stowupland Falcons, under the lights of Woodbridge Town. Nice to reach a final in a season, where we’ve not had a single home draw in either cup competition.

Not our best performance, by a long way, but the strength in depth of the squad our managers have built, alongside a large amount of character and attitude saw us win through. The substitutions made the difference, causing a wide range of votes for the Ultra’s MOTM, but it was starter Liam Ablitt that edged out his returning brother to take the win. For Cops, although Godbold has a far too common habit of scoring worldies against us, it was keeper Allison who, with his handling and control of his box was Cops MOTM. It’s the 3rd time this season we’ve faced this Cops side, and we meet again in a couple of weeks, whilst we’ve come out on top in every encounter, in the last two, they’ve shown themselves to be formidable opponents, which belies their position in the league.