A season high attendance of 174 watched an enthralling clash, a terrific advertisement for the SIL, which ended in a well deserved 2-2 draw, between two top sides.

Henley started on the front foot, a rocket of a drive from Cowan, blocked whilst Anderson was struggling to adjust his feet, within minutes of kick off. Despite the home side’s early pressure, the visitors came into the game, having the better of the opening 45 minutes, as both sides played some fine football. Defences were on top though, with some terrific last ditch tackles and blocks going in at either end. Despite the quality on display, the opener was scruffy to say the least, a Halesworth corner was flicked on at the near post, amidst suspicions of handball and bundled home by Payne from a yard out, to give Halesworth a lead after 40 minutes. Henley were undaunted though and on the stroke of halftime Anderson had to tip over a Liam Ablitt header from a Storey cross. Leaving the visitors 0-1 up at the break.

Henley were straight out of the blocks in the 2nd half, streaming forward and pinning Halesworth back. An impudent free kick from Bruce hitting the junction of bar and post, scrambled to safety by Anderson after 48 minutes. Claims of handball came minutes later as a fierce shot from substitute George Ablitt looked to have hit a defender’s arm, but referee Stobbard, indicated it had hit his chest and waved play on.

Henley were back in the game after 57 minutes, Liam Ablitt felled after breaking through on the right and the Halesworth defender carded. Substitute Bradlaugh, fired in the free kick which was met with a bullet header from Hammond into the top corner for 1-1. Five minutes later Henley looked to have scored again, a 50 yard drive from Hammond catching Anderson of his line, hitting the underside of the bar, bouncing down and then out to safety. It’ll be interesting to see the video, but only the most ardent Henley fan could blame the officials for not awarding it, even Usain Bolt would’ve been unable to be able to get in line to make a decision.

At the other end Payne was through and only a fantastic save from Dixon, prevented the visitors taking a lead again. Henley took the lead after 80 minutes with a move of real quality, a precise diagonal ball from Bradlaugh picked out Van Oene’s well timed run, taking the all to the goal line he crossed for George Ablitt to slot into the empty net from two yards out to make it 2-1.

To their credit Halesworth didn’t drop their heads, as both sides still continued to push forward, but it was Halesworth who saw their determination rewarded in the final minutes. Garrard latching onto a Anderson clearance and hitting a belter of a looping shot over Dixon for the equaliser and a final score of 2-2.

All in all, a great game to watch, albeit probably better for the neutral! Two sides, full of quality, commitment and effort, going at it at 100 mph for the full 90 minutes. Not a bad challenge in a game played between two sides that respect, but do not fear, each other. The game played in the right way, with the right attitude throughout.

For Halesworth, it was Payne and his hold up play that impressed the Henley faithful, but it was Hammond whose all action, high quality performance won him Ultra’s MOTM. Although in truth, every player, in both sides, could be proud of their efforts today.