M6 3 : 4 Henley
The scoreline in the reverse fixture was 8 : 2 in Henley's favour. There was a little wishful thinking before the game that maybe they'd be a little complacent, perhaps they would underestimate us. There was also a recognition that last time the score was misleading, that it was skewed by them scoring four goals in a short space of time. And, in a way, that's what happened this time, except the short space of time went by the name of "the second half".
I don't believe they did underestimate us at all, we just played better than we did last time. They had possession - lots of it - in the early stages but we repelled them and after a while they got rattled. They were crashing the ball up and we were hitting them on the break and creating some good chances. Eventually one of them was taken. The initial shot was blocked. There followed a comical goalmouth scramble and then, or so it seemed, the ball was lost. Everyone from both sides stopped playing. Except Michael, who never stops, ever. He rescued the ball, jinked, shot and it was in. Even he couldn't quite believe it. But there we were, one nil up and so it stayed to half time.
The second half started much as the first did. So much so that after absorbing more pressure we scored another goal. A quick break wrought confusion in the opposition, their goalie off on a hike and Josh put away the slowest finish from the edge of the D.
This is where things started to go wrong - they were upset and their senior players - one in particular - pulled some new strings. They converted one, two, three, three-and-a-half, four goals. By the time we'd figured out the tactical changes the damage was done. Josh got another late on from a short corner - one extreme to the other, this one fired in at escape velocity - but it turned out to be too little too late.
Never mind, another good performance against organised and skillful opposition. We have two more home games in Feb against teams closer to us in the league. If we take this much endeavour and heart into those games we can get some joy.
Bring it on.
MoM - got to be Josh for the two goals, but Matthew also deserves a mention for more excellent defensive work