It was a bit of a case of “after the lord mayor’s show” for Henley yesterday, who despite a committed performance, lacked their usual flair and flow and were well beaten 4-2 by a good Cops side. This was only their second league defeat of the season and their first away league defeat since February 2020, an amazing run of 44 unbeaten, comprising of 39 wins and 5 draws.

Both sides started smartly, Watling coming close with a header and Cops defending well, but it was Cops who took an early lead, Spurling unable to hold a cross, where Monaghan was on hand to rifle home for 1-0 after only 8 minutes. The lead was short lived though, the equaliser coming after 14 minutes, Ablitt’s corner firmly headed home by Watling for 1-1.

Both keepers were having trouble with erratic bounces from the rock hard surface, resulting in a 2nd goal for Cops after 40 minutes, a freekick from Linard, taking a horrible bobble leaving Spurling helpless and taking the score to 2-1. Linard was again influential shortly after, some good work down the left and a fine cross was well finished by Mackay for 3-1. Henley came agonisingly close to pulling one back just before the halftime whistle, but Ablitt’s long range effort was superbly tipped onto the bar by Riddlestone.

Cops should’ve put the game out of reach in the opening minute of the 2nd half, Spurling making a fantastic save, but Woollard could only hit the bar with the open goal at his mercy. Henley kept pushing hard to find a way back in, Ablitt and Field coming close, before Henley were handed a harsh penalty for an adjudged handball on 75 minutes, but Bruce could only hit the foot of the post. In view of the stonewall handball penalty missed by the officials for Cops in the first half, few at Henley could complain.

Henley found themselves caught on the break in the dying minutes Godbold scoring to make it 4-1, but in typical Henley style, they kept coming, Ultra’s MOTM Ablitt scoring a well taken consolation in time added on to bring the final score to 4-2.

Although disappointing to finish the season with a loss, it’s more important to reflect on, yet again,  what a season for the club it’s been, made even better by the news filtering through from Henley that our Reserves had won Division 4, their 2nd consecutive championship. Added to the first team’s 3rd consecutive Senior title, it really has been a magnificent season.

Also a record breaking one, the first team achieving the highest ever winning margin in the Senior Division, our 18 points eclipsing the previous record held by the now sadly defunct, Cranes Sports FC side from 2014/15 of 17 points, despite us having played two fewer games. Interestingly, Ross “Gussy” White, who made his 200th Henley appearance in this match, is the only player to feature in both sides.