A fierce contest, with some fine football on display from both sides was enjoyed by a crowd of 83 at the Community Centre. At 14.20 we were still without a referee due to an administrative mix up, but by sterling work from Keith Norton and Daryl Butcher of the SIL, saw an official wing his way over to us for a late KO at 15.00.

Henley started the brighter of the two sides, coming close on a couple of occasions before taking a lead after 18 minutes, a through ball was adjudged to have hit a defender’s hand and Bruce stepped up to rifle home the penalty for 1-0. Within two minutes it was 2-0, some fine work on the edge of the area saw Hammond’s ball find Tejano, he found Bruce who laid the ball off into the path of Liam Ablitt to smash it in off the foot of the post. Bergholt were stung into action and started to have a lot more of the ball, but it was Henley who once again came close after 30 minutes, a fine through ball from Van Oene picking out Cole, whose curling effort went just over the bar. On 45 minutes Bergholt found a route back into the game, the ball fired at Tejano from close range and striking his hand, the penalty was awarded and Jay just squeezed it under Spurling’s dive to bring the score to 2-1 at the break.

The goal inspired Bergholt to greater efforts and the early part of the 2nd half saw them in the ascendancy, having plenty of possession and playing some nice passing football. However they were profligate with the chances they did create, firing high and wide, and Spurling was on hand to stop any that were on target. At the other end Bruce hit the crossbar after 65 minutes, but almost immediately Spurling was called into action to make a great save at his near post to prevent the equaliser.

As Henley weathered the Bergholt storm, they were looking more and more dangerous and on 69 minutes increased their lead, a high ball in from Liam Ablitt was met at the back post by Cole, who looped his header over both defender and keeper to make it 3-1. Within a minute Bergholt looked sure to score, as Greenwood burst through one on one, but Spurling spread himself and saved brilliantly. But on 77 minutes there was nothing that Spurling could do as Alexander took a cross on his chest and superbly volleyed into the top corner to make it 3-2, a goal of real quality that drew applause from the assembled Henley Ultras. On 83 minutes Bergholt were aggrieved not to be awarded a 2nd penalty, as the ball dropped over the head of an attacker and bounced onto an unsighted Bull’s arm. On 86 minutes the points were secured for Henley, a Hammond throw in, hooked in by George Ablitt and powered home with a thumping header from the edge of the six yard box by Bruce (yes the rarity that is a headed goal from Bruce) to bring the final score to 4-2.

A great game to watch with some real quality on display from both sides, Bergholt look much stronger than last season and play some neat, organised and dangerous football, certainly the best passing team we’ve faced this season to date. Henley had to work hard for their win, injuries again playing their part in team selection, with Cowan and Watling also now missing, but again we were able to call on our excellent reserve side which saw a cameo coming off the bench for Leeks. The Ultra’s vote for MOTM went to Cole, not only for his attacking contribution, but for his hard work, tracking back and shutting down all game, the fact that keeper “Big Jack” Spurling was second in the vote, should provide an indication of what a tight game this was. But, as we all know, football is all about taking your chances, and on the day Henley did and that proved the difference between the sides.
Many thanks from all at the club to Eddie and Cheryl of LRS Engineering for their generous sponsorship to provide our striking new goal nets. Thanks also to Tom and Johanna for their hard work providing a very welcome BBQ at the game too.