A crowd of 58 gathered on a cold sunny afternoon in Stowupland and were treated to a terrific, competitive match with some fine goals, as Henley came from behind to continue their incredible season, winning 3-4 against a very good Stowupland side.

Henley had to survive an early scare, Spurling diving low to his right to tip round the post, when caught on the break. But it was Henley who took a lead in the 3rd minute, a precise cross field ball from Van Oene picking out Ablitt. He jinked his way into the box where he was brought down, Bruce stepping up and cleanly despatching the penalty into the bottom corner for 0-1.  Henley should have extended their lead further, playing some incisive football, but were denied two clear one on ones by, what can only be charitably described as controversial offside flags, Cole’s Cobra like reactions, clearly catching out the assistant.

As is oft the case in these instances, Stowupland went up the other end and equalised, a good finish tucked neatly under Spurling by Roman Rampley for 1-1 after 18 minutes. Henley kept pressing and were rewarded after 30 minutes, a great through ball from Cole, Bruce getting there first to poke it past the onrushing keeper for 1-2. Henley were playing well now, but a silly error after 40 minutes gave away possession and allowed a Falcons attack, the first effort was blocked but Ryan Rampley reacted quickest to slot home for 2-2 at HT.

Again Stowupland threatened early, Spurling having to make another good stop 3 minutes into the second half. Minutes later Bruce was inches away from a hat-trick, hitting the post after a clever, quick freekick released him.  But it was Falcons that took the lead after 62 minutes, a corner from Hart clipping off someone and finding it’s way into the net for 3-2.

However Henley heads didn’t drop for a second, they were patient and played their passing game, confident they could create opportunities. They were right, as on 72 minutes a great diagonal ball from Ablitt was met on the edge of the box by Van Oene who drilled the equaliser home into the bottom corner for 3-3. Shortly after Watling came close to giving Henley the lead, just beating the keeper to the ball, only to see it agonisingly hit the foot of the post and roll to safety. But this Henley side keeps coming and on 80 minutes an intricate interchange between Van Oene and Tejano saw the latter hit a crisp, low drive into the corner for 3-4 and the three points for Henley.

A really good game to watch as a spectator, with both sides fully committed and both playing good, passing football. Stowupland are clearly well set up and coached and provided a real threat throughout.

Thanks also to all at Falcons for the classy guard of honour and the great hospitality.

As for Henley, they played some of their best passing football of the season and gave the home defence a torrid time. Whilst MOTM went to Smythe in defence, who has really rolled back the years over the last few months, Much credit has to go to our midfield of Van Oene, Tejano and Cowan, especially Van Oene who was so influential on the day. Bruce and Ablitt looked deadly, as did Cole in the first half prior to being withdrawn as a precautionary measure after feeling some tightness. But all in all a great team display.

Thanks also to our referee today Mr Barrack, always good to see a real game manager in the middle, unfussy, unobtrusive, he seemed to enjoy refereeing the match as much as we enjoyed watching it.