For any neutrals amongst the 63 spectators, this must’ve been a terrific watch, a profligate Henley initially ceding a two goal deficit, before digging deep into their seemingly bottomless reserves of character in the final minutes, to pull the game level

Henley had the worst possible of starts, Shore going down with a nasty ankle injury and needing to be replaced after only 2 minutes, necessitating a tactical rejig and positional changes. Even so, Henley had the better of the opening exchanges, after 10 minutes Liam Ablitt hitting a 30 yard strike that crashed back of the crossbar, at the other end Spurling was forced to dive low to his right to push Rankin’s effort around the post. On 25 minutes Henley should have taken the lead, Watling rounding Mallett in the home goal and sliding the ball into what appeared an empty net, but he was denied by a fantastic, sliding, last ditch goal line clearance.

Perhaps inspired by the let off, Debenham attacked, a fine run by Golding down the left and a good cut back was well finished by Regan to make it 1-0 after 30 minutes. Almost immediately Mallett was called into action to athletically tip over a Bradlaugh freekick. Bruce also came close, shooting narrowly wide, Storey also uncharacteristically inaccurate with a header from a Ablitt corner. Bell and Storey did well in defence, snuffing out breaks from the ever dangerous Golding and at HT the score remained 1-0.

The heavens opened early into the 2nd half, the rain, at times torrential, as thunder rumbled and the pitch became slick. A touch of controversy on 50 minutes, with Rankin appearing to foul Van Oene twice to steal the ball whilst Henley attacked, before finding Golding wide right, who did brilliantly to find a way past Bell and fired into the bottom corner to make it 2-0 to Debenham, despite Henley protests the goal standing. Bell should’ve pulled one back almost immediately, but headed over with the goal at his mercy. Henley were pushing hard now and were rewarded after 65 minutes, Storey firing home through a crowded penalty area from a Bruce corner for 2-1. Tejano flashed a header narrowly wide, then on 75 minutes Bull cut in and unleashed a rocket of a shot which left the crossbar shaking. Both Ablitt brothers saw efforts blocked or narrowly wide, again Tejano seeing a header skip past the post as Henley laid siege to the home goal.

After 90 minutes their resolve and commitment were justly rewarded, Van Oene’s low free kick skimming off the wet surface, was too much for Mallett to handle and Watling was quickest to react to smash home the rebound for 2-2. In time added on Henley pushed for the winner, but a determined Debenham kept their nerve and held out for the draw.

A frustrating game for Henley, who, had we taken our chances, would have run out winners, but on the day a draw was probably the right result. Debenham are a strong, well organised side and in Golding and Rankin, have a front two that will cause many teams issues this season. On a positive for Henley, yet again, this team showed grit, courage and bucket loads of character, again demonstrating almost Trumpian levels of refusal to admit defeat. Driven on by Captain Storey and MOTM Tejano, together the heart and soul of the club, they found a way back to earn, what I’m sure will prove to be a valuable point.

We sadly discovered in the evening that Dave Shore has a badly swollen ankle and possible ligament damage, all at the club send him our best wishes for a speedy and full recovery.