Hurricane Hotshot Shoots Down League Leaders!

The U14 AFC Henley Hurricanes recorded one of their best ever victories as they beat unbeaten league leaders Maidenhead United 6-4 in a pulsating match at Jubilee Park.

In a replay of the EBFA Division 1 Cup Final postponed during Lockdown 1 it was the Hurricanes, buoyed by a boisterous home contingent, who started the brighter.

Striker Harvey Herbert was on fire and wasted no time in stretching his legs away from the Maidenhead keeper who had no choice but to bring him down with the goal gaping. For the second week running Herbert dispatched the penalty to give the Hurricanes an early lead.

However, you don’t go through the whole of 2020 unbeaten for no reason as Maidenhead responded well.

A run down the Maidenhead right resulted in a far post cross that was headed into the back of the net to make it 1-1.

Ben Horner was now the busier keeper and he had to pull off a number of good saves to keep the scores level. He was being ably assisted by Matthew Dippenaar who was having another great game at full back, making crucial interceptions and well timed tackles.

Maidenhead were on a roll though and just before half time they went into the lead after the Hurricanes missed ample opportunities to clear their lines before Maidenhead thumped the ball into the back of the net.

At half time it looked like Maidenhead would be recording their 19th consecutive victory as they led 2-1 and appeared full of confidence.

The Henley management team were not flustered though as they knew the strength of reserves the squad had and with their words of encouragement ringing in their ears the hosts took to the field with a renewed sense of optimism.

They say out of darkness cometh light and the light was certainly to shine on the Hurricanes in the second half.

Key to the comeback was the midfield trio of Tom Yeoman, Joe Turner and Max Stokes. They allowed Maidenhead no time in the middle of the park with no time on the ball and locked down the dangerous Maidenhead number 11 with the results our Prime Minister can only dream of. Having won the ball back they were then alert enough to release the dangerous Hurricanes attack.

Tom Bonser has had a very progressive season at right back and was on the charge down the right side before cutting the ball back for Sam Winters who made no mistake from 10 yards out as he left the Maidenhead keeper with no chance.

The hosts were then slightly unlucky to find themselves behind again as a deflected shot left them 3-2 down.

Captain Oliver Saunders encapsulated the Hurricanes spirit though and he gave his best performance of the season at left back as he encouraged the team to keep at it. His long clearances were also beneficial in clearing the Hurricanes lines.

Luca Thomson was also having a great game as he was proving what an invaluable asset he is at centre back. His physicality in the tackle and sheer strength against opponents made him very difficult to pass.

Henry Mendelssohn was next to assist Herbert as Mendelssohn carved his way down the right with an amazing run leaving Maidenhead defenders in his wake. He then squared the ball for Herbert who placed the ball calmly into the net to get the scores level again at 3-3.

The Hurricanes were not going to give their supporters an easy ride though and a controversially awarded penalty saw Maidenhead go in front again as they led 4-3.

Sam Archibald responded brilliantly and he played a lovely one two with Herbert who left the visiting keeper grappling at thin air as the Hurricanes again hauled themselves level at 4-4.

The game was up for grabs now and Herbert was in no mood to let the match slip from his grasp. He set off on a glorious solo run from his own half before letting fly from 30 yards. The ball soared into the top right corner of the goal as the Hurricanes hit the front in what was to prove a decisive move.

The Hurricanes were now well on top as Tom Atkinson let fly from 20 yards and Christian Rowbotham was unlucky to see a shot fly wide as the hosts tried to put the match to bed.

This was left to Herbert however as he notched his fifth goal of the game after good work by Rowbotham down the right left Herbert with a tap in from close range.

The 6-4 scoreline was by no means flattering to the Hurricanes as they ended the game well on top in what was a performance full of character and inspirational play.

Managers Turner and Atkinson were said to be absolutely thrilled with the performance and said it was the best Christmas present they could ever have wished for.



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