U18 AFC Henley Hurricanes 3 – 2 U18 Bracknell United
In this pulsating end of the year match, the U18 AFC Henley Hurricanes performed at their very best to secure their first win of the season.
A committed and energetic display from the entire team saw Henley dominate and control this match throughout against quality opposition.
The home side struck first midway through the first half when Emil Rayfield strode forward from midfield and thumped a shot from range that saw the keeper well beaten just inside the post. Jake Jones almost doubled the lead with a free-kick from outside the area that was heading for the top corner before being turned away by the keeper at full stretch.
The away team then got themselves back into the game when Edward Lawrence was unfortunately adjudged to have pushed the striker in the back when heading away a long throw to concede a penalty. Stand-in keeper, Harry Green was sent the wrong way from the penalty spot and the game was all square at half-time.
Henley picked up the second half where they ended the first. First to the ball, and demonstrating greater desire and urgency from the whistle, Henley launched wave after wave of attacks down the flanks, with surging runs from Ethan Pearce and Harry Roe, and bursts from midfield from the trio of Harman Sondh, Emil and Jake.
Henley did not have to wait long for their second goal of the match, when a powerful header from Harry Roe from Joseph Neighbour’s corner flew past the keeper ten minutes into the half.
Despite spirited attempts from Bracknell to wrestle control of the game, Henley’s domination in midfield and excellent defensive performances from Ed, Joe, Alec Strickson and Jack Lambourne, ensured the momentum remained with the home side. Henley were rewarded with their third goal of the game thanks to Ethan, assisted by James Goulden, who finally got a deserved goal after having a number of close attempts thwarted by the away keeper.
Despite Bracknell immediately bouncing back to pull back the scoreline to 3-2 and having two penalty appeals turned down, Henley dug deep and maintained their concentration, to see out the game for a deserved victory.
Henley Hurricanes were worthy winners, but it took their best quality football, a thoroughly committed team effort, and all-round hard work to achieve this result. So many players could have been awarded man of the match, but it was James Goulden, whose tireless display up front, epitomised the winning mentality of the whole team.