These two sides have now faced each other 4 times over the last two years, each time only a single goal has divided them, or as today, the game has ended honours even, one ever present constant however has been the presence of the taint of controversy, today yet again proving to be the case. Both teams have a great deal of mutual respect, always battling, albeit without malice, for every ball, as witnessed by today’s crowd of 82 spectators.

After an immaculately observed minute’s silence, Henley dominated possession early on, but it was Sporting who had the better of the early chances, coming close on three occasions in the first ten minutes, Spurling on hand to save the two that were on target. At the other end, visiting keeper Walker had a great first half, twice denying fierce drives from Bruce at his near post and spectacularly tipping over a Van Oene free kick after 30 minutes. Sporting took the lead after 36 minutes, Spurling getting a hand to the initial effort, but Pettit poking home the rebound from what many considered to be an offside position, Mr Coulter consulted with his assistant but allowed the goal to stand. Sporting holding a 0-1 lead over a sluggish and rusty Henley at HT.

Possibly blasted off in the dressing room, Henley came out noticeably rust-free in the second half, pinning Sporting into their own half immediately. In the opening minute, George Ablitt’s shot bewilderingly coming back off the inside of the post to safety, when all present though it was in. But Henley weren’t to be denied for long, a long throw from Hammond causing mayhem in the Sporting box and Bruce crashing home into the top corner for the equaliser, amidst appeals from Sporting for a handball in the preceding scramble. Again Mr Coulter consulted his assistant and the goal stood, 1-1 after 53 minutes.

Within a minute Henley came close yet again, Walker getting fingertips on Liam Ablitt’s curling effort to tip it onto the bar. Controversy reigned again less than 3 minutes later, Sporting thinking they had scored, but the assistant adjudging that Spurling had got enough behind it to stop all of the ball from crossing the line.

On 69 minutes, Sporting did take the lead, a cross headed clear, only to be rifled home into the bottom corner, from the edge of the box by McKeown, a fine finish making it 1-2. But Henley were far from finished and after 83 minutes Bell was on hand to force the ball home from close range to make it 2-2. Liam Ablitt, nicking the top of the bar yet again shortly after. There was still time for more controversy, as in the final minute Liam Ablitt was clearly clipped as he weaved into the box, but it can only be assumed the officials can only have been unsighted, as Henley’s vociferous appeals were waved away, the game finishing 2-2.

In all fairness a draw was the right result, both sides worthy of their point, Sporting, their defence expertly marshalled, as always, by the impressive Steed, getting bodies behind the ball throughout were hard to break down, it’s easy to see how they’ve had so many draws this season. But they looked good going forward too, breaking quickly at every opportunity. Henley had a poor 1st half by their high standards, last week’s postponement seemingly interrupting their rhythm, but they were much better in the second half and on another day, with different decisions, could’ve nicked a win as they did last year in the same fixture. It’s safe to say that both sides will be looking forward to the video highlights!

The Ultra’s MOTM vote went to Gavin Van Oene, who was at the heart of everything good Henley did on the day. Also great to see stalwarts Shore and Cowan come off the bench to get some minutes as they return from injury, the former having been out of action for two months.