Games between these two sides are always high quality, passionate and committed affairs, usually full of goals and incident, this game was no exception! A crowd of 92 enjoying an exciting match, with Henley’s James Watling the hero, scoring all four goals in a 4-3 victory.

Our Watty has a habit of scoring against Halesworth, when the final whistle blew, a message appeared from our Chairman, currently holidaying in the USA, simply stating “Halesworth must hate Watty”. We were all unaware at the time that another striker, some fella called Erling Haaland would mirror his performance later that evening, also with 4 goals, including 2 from the penalty spot and one header.

Halesworth were quickest out of the box, opening the scoring with a break down the left and a neat finish from Chenery for 0-1 after only 36 seconds. Their lead didn’t last long, Van Oene released down the middle, he was clipped as he rounded visiting keeper Anderson, although unbalanced, he stayed on his feet and got his shot off, which went wide. Referee Mr Holman, correctly bringing play back pointed at the spot, Watling stepping up to slot home the penalty for 1-1 after 5 minutes.

Halesworth break on 16 minutes, Chenery just squeezing the ball past Spurling to put them 1-2 up. But yet again Henley were straight back in the game, when only 2 minutes later a great team goal saw Henley level at 2-2. Passed through the middle of the pitch between Van Oene, Tejano and Cowan out to Ablitt, his cross was unselfishly nodded back across goal by Field for Watling to finish at the back post. The excitement continued within 2 minutes Backhouse hitting the post for Halesworth, then seeing his follow up shot blocked on the line by Tejano. On 42 minutes Henley take the lead for the first time, Ablitt fouled by keeper Anderson as he rounded him, Watling smashing home the subsequent penalty for 3-2 and a 1st half hat trick.

The pace continued into the 2nd half, Halesworth getting a lucky let off on 48 minutes as Ablitt rounded the keeper only to blaze over with the goal at his mercy, he then saw another effort whistle narrowly over the bar. Henley’s attacking play was rewarded on 52 minutes, Watling rising to head in a cross, which Anderson appeared to have clawed away, Field diving in to head in the rebound, which again Anderson seemed to block. However well-placed Assistant Referee Gooch, flagged to advise Mr Holman that Watling’s initial header had crossed the line taking the score to 4-2.

On 68 minutes White broke down the right, Anderson pulling off a great save to tip his top corner bound effort over the bar. But up the other end, Halesworth’s never say die attitude saw rewards, Goldspink’s low drive going in off the post to make it 4-3.  Henley were under further pressure on 77 minutes when they were reduced to 10 men after Cowan received a 2nd yellow card. On 85 minutes only a heroic block prevented a certain Halesworth equaliser, Collins bravely throwing himself in font of a close range shot from Chenery. As Henley battled on, Bruce saw his shot bounce kindly into the arms of Anderson after hitting the post, whilst at the other end, Henley bodies were yet again on the line to keep Goldspink’s effort out, leaving the game to finish in a 4-3 home win.

A typically breathless and at times fractious encounter, with both sides playing their part in a real humdinger of a game for the assembled spectators. Some lovely football on display from all involved, both attacking and defending. Having secured the league early and with the pressure off, Henley have been playing some lovely, flowing football in the last few games, today being now exception.

With a striker scoring all four goals in a 4-3 win, MOTM was a foregone conclusion for Watling, but all the team played their part in a tremendous victory.