A season high crowd of 153 basked in both the sunshine and the glory of seeing Henley claim their third consecutive Senior Division Championship, with a 5-0 victory over a determined Ransome Sports. With 5 games remaining this is by far the earliest win of their 4 Senior titles to date, This sees Henley join the illustrious list of Leiston FC, Orwell Works FC, Waterside Works FC and East Bergholt Utd, by becoming only the 5th club to ever win the Senior Division three times in a row in the 128 year history of the Suffolk and Ipswich League.

Henley started well against a Ransomes side rightly committed to spoiling the party, Cole snaking his way down the left, his venomous strike going just over. Tensions rose with Field being sinbinned after 12 minutes as Ransomes continued to frustrate. After 25 minutes, Bruce and Ransomes keeper Langham collided, both bravely committed to winning the ball from Cole’s cross, Langham got a hand to it, but did even better to repel Tejano’s fierce drive of the rebound. A feat even more impressive, considering he’d landed awkwardly and required a period of treatment afterwards.

Henley continued to press, a fine ball from Ablitt picked out Bruce, who’s 1st touch was sublime, but his shot grazed the top of the bar from 8 yards. Ransomes keeper Langham was now struggling with his earlier injury and had to be replaced by Buckle off the bench after 31 minutes, all at Henley wish Langham well for a speedy recovery. The breakthrough finally came after 39 minutes, Bruce’s corner was only half cleared and Field rifled home off the underside of the bar to make it 1-0. Ransomes were still fully in the game though and Spurling had to be at his best to palm away a terrific drive from Double, leaving the score 1-0 at HT.

Ransomes briefly threatened early in the second half, but miscommunication at the front saw a promising move come to naught. Henley however continued to push, and in typical Henley style, exploded into action in the second half. On 63 minutes Bruce was released wide right, he drove in a low cross, Field’s first effort was blocked by Buckle, but he could do nothing as Field poked home the rebound for 2-0. Henley put the result beyond reasonable doubt on 69 minutes, a precise through ball from Hammond picked out Hillyard on the edge of the box, with a coolness belying his years, he picked his spot with a low crisp finish for 3-0.

To their credit Ransomes still kept pushing, Gerald bringing another fine save out of Spurling low to his right. But almost immediately Henley extended their lead to 4-0, on 75 minutes, a great individual goal from Ablitt, flicking the ball round his marker and racing through, lifting his shot over the advancing Buckle, Hillyard showing his class by just escorting the ball into the goal, rather than touching it to claim it himself. Ablitt made it 5-0 on 80 minutes, a lovely curling effort into the top corner. Field was denied a hat trick by a fantastic reflex save from Buckle and Hillyard saw an effort clip the bar before Referee Flaherty blew his whistle to commence to celebrations both on and off the pitch.

A word or two in praise of Ransomes today, although depleted and incurring injuries during the game, they put up a strong and determined opposition throughout, they were gracious in defeat and stayed to watch the trophy presentations and enjoy the post-match hospitality. Also, thanks to our team of officials today, led by Irvin Flaherty, an easy uncontroversial game to control, but well managed and enjoyed by them, (nearly as much as Irv enjoyed the BBQ)

But this Henley side know how to win and keep doing it, to win the league with 5 games to go, and having only suffered one league defeat is a remarkable achievement, especially adding on the pressure of winning it 3 times in a row. The managers knew how today would play out, letting Ransomes chase the ball and pressurise in the first half, before pouncing ruthlessly in the second to get the job done. The whole squad play their part, every week, which is why this week’s Ultra’s MOTM goes to the whole team (This may also be due to your correspondent incurring alcohol/celebratory related amnesia and forgetting to ask for votes)

We now move on to seeing the season out in the right manner, we’ve still five games to go, starting with a visit to Debenham on Tuesday evening.