Going into the festive period, Henley Hockey Men’s 2nd XI were the only team in the league with an unbeaten record. Owed greatly to the stoic defence, the team had also only conceded 7 goals in 10 games.
After a weary journey to London’s North Circular, Henley 2’s bare 11 de-camped at Brent Cross, West Hampstead. Skipper Alex Price gave a fiery team talk in the school changing rooms and a thorough warm-up on a basketball court, straight out of Compton, or West Philadelphia. Price’s Amber Army started with urgency and commitment that has been lacking in recent weeks. West Hampstead looked nervous against the undefeated, solid Henley 2’s. However, late in the first half West Hampstead penetrated the away defence with a freak goal. A low-percentage through-ball took a huge deflection off a West Hampstead stick, and cruelly looped over ‘keeper Foggoa into the top left corner. The Hampstead forward was very gracious in his sportsmanship, apologising to Henley for scoring.
The goal was very much against the run of play in the first half. Both forwards Hughes-Burne and Maidlow had come close with one-on-ones, the latter hit the post with a swivelling reverse-stick shot.
Instead of frustrating Henley into a corner, the goal brought about a determined display in the second half. With 15mins to go, Price rallied his troops brilliantly. Richardson and man of the match Matt Herbert combined well to provide Maidlow an opportunity to dink the ball on to an opponent’s foot. A pin-point Draycott short corner expertly stopped by the Captain was accurately slapped by Roberts towards a flash of Maidlow’s amber at the far post, who wrong footed the opposition, and the ball was in the back of the goal.
With heads held high, Henley set out for the win. Richardson provided a cutting through-ball for Hughes-Burne to latch on to. The forward’s dazzling footwork in the area left himself and the opposition defence in disarray. Such is the self-confidence of Hughes-Burne this season that he went for goal. The forward unleashed a viscous cannonball just inside the near-post that the keeper could only watch as it flew past him. Hughes-Burne had brought home 3 points as an early Christmas present and the undefeated season marches on!
Team: Alex Price (C), Matt Herbert, Jack Draycott, Jeremy Hughes-Burne, Chris Maidlow, Ryan Foggoa (GK), Cass Cheeseman, Harvey Richardson, Ian Roberts, Rowan Austin, James Wood