Henley Town will again be involved in both league and cup competitions this week. As disappointing as was the Town’s 8-3 defeat at Longlevens last weekend, their biggest setback as far as the league is concerned was Oxford City Nomads’ unexpected victory at Tuffley. With only four league games remaining, this makes it improbable that the Town will rise any higher in the table however much improvement they show, and their only realistic target must be to stay above Burnham.
On Saturday the Red Kites travel to Highworth Town in the Premier Division of the Uhlsport Hellenic League for a 3 p.m. kick-off. Highworth are known as the Worthians, and they have certainly provided worthy opposition for Henley down the years. They currently stand in sixth position, and, with two games in hand over Ardley, should rise at least one place higher. When the sides met in November, in the first league match under Robbie Crouch, the Red Kites took a 47th minute lead but, conceding twice in the last eight minutes, eventually went down 3-1.
The two most memorable trips by Henley to The Elms in past years both featured goalkeepers. In February 2004, after Henley had failed to avoid defeat in 11 successive competitive games, they gained a 1-1 draw at Highworth when goalie Stuart Gosby, having made numerous saves, moved to the other end of the pitch and scored from the penalty spot.
Nine months later, Henley had incredibly already used eight different goalkeepers in their senior side by mid-November. David Jenkins, who had missed several games through injury, was recalled for the game at Highworth, and supporters looked forward to a period of stability. After only 11 minutes, however, Jenkins was rushed to a hospital in Swindon with a severe hand injury, outfield player Gary Stevens becoming ’keeper number nine. Henley also had Carlton Mitchell sent off after 33 minutes and lost Matthew Folley through injury. Despite all this, the result was in doubt till the last minutes of a pulsating game, which the high-flying home side were rather flattered to win 5-3.
On Monday, the Red Kites have the rare luxury of a home fixture when they entertain Wokingham and Emmbrook in the third round of the Reading Senior Cup, kick-off 7.45 p.m. These clubs are old friends, their relationship being cemented when Wokingham were ground-sharing at the Invesco Perpetual Triangle. The sides met at Henley in a pre-season friendly, when Wokingham won 2-1. In all, since Wokingham Town amalgamated with Emmbrook Sports in 2004, they have beaten the Town nine times, compared with Henley’s four wins and four draws. When the Satsumas won Division 1 (East) two years ago, they looked a very good side, but, as Henley have done this season, they were soon reminded of the difference in standards between the two divisions, and, following relegation, Wokingham are now going through another difficult season.
Henley are the holders of the Reading Senior Cup, but Wokingham have a proud history in this competition, having won it four times running from 2012.
Henley Town Reserves, who lost 9-0 at Milton Keynes Academy last Saturday, will hope for better luck this weekend when they entertain Stokenchurch in a league fixture, kick-off 3 p.m.
There were further postponements for the youth and Sunday sides last week because of waterlogging at the Triangle. Both teams have home league matches this week. The youths entertain Highmoor/Ibis Youth on Tuesday, kick-off 7.45 p.m., while the Sundays’ opponents are Forest, kicking off at 10.30 a.m.