Henley Men’s 2s have enjoyed a good return to form before and after the Christmas period. The team was bolstered this week by the return of wingers Maidlow and Harmer, as well as stalwart Draycott.
Both teams needed 3 points from this game to apply pressure to the top of the table. The hockey on display was more akin to a relegation scrap than of two teams battling to push on from mid-table mediocrity. Henley enjoyed a handful of powerful phases in the first half; Draycott, Herbert and Pollard working hard in central midfield to supply forwards Hughes-Burn and Newbold. Maidlow pressed hard from the left to combine well with Hughes-Burn, but his first time keeper-nutmeg was cleared off the line by a sliding defender.
A clear head on Hughes-Burn won Henley a penalty-corner midway through the half; Draycott sweeping in a loose ball from a tight angle to go 1-0 up. The goal was a catalyst for a poor hockey onslaught from the home team. Instead of utilising confidence to push on for a second, the team appeared to panic that the away team had the ball. All players across the pitch were guilty of poor passing and selfish dribbling. Too many balls were fired right up the middle, and few to the wings.
It appeared inevitable that Henley would concede to a weak equaliser, slotted in by an opportunist opposition forward. The midfield battle raged for the remainder of the game. Henley came very close several times, but a draw seemed appropriate for such a display of sporadic, patchy hockey. The match remained 1-1; helping neither team.
Next week is Abingdon away, who find themselves fighting for promotion. Henley should see this a must-win. The push for promotion starts Saturday 30th January.