Early Bird Hurricanes on Song

The start of the new league season has been tinged with frustration for the AFC Henley Hurricanes U11s. Following a pre-season tournament at Bracknell and a midweek friendly they were ready to begin. However, illness and withdrawals have left them without a league game so far this season. The manager has been working hard to align opposition and pitches, and three friendlies have played against local friends and rivals AFC Caversham.

This game was also a friendly, on home turf at Jubilee Park against Berkshire Elite Diamonds from the top division. They are also a familiar opposition, and always field a strong team. Pitch availability meant an 8.30am kick off; nonetheless at the appointed time both teams were there and ready to go.

The first action was provided by the Diamonds, goalkeeper Shiva Vadhoolan making a fine early save. But it was the Hurricanes who built the first pressure, winning the early exchanges in midfield and providing the forwards with delivery that many of the local petrol stations could only dream of. Oscar Robinson’s shot from Kyuss Green’s accurate cross was blocked by the Diamonds’ keeper, but Luca Currie swooped on the rebound and made no mistake.

A feature of the Hurricanes’ play was the good passing between the players, an important quality on the larger nine-a-side pitch. It was a good passing move by Oscar Robinson and Will Lindsay from a long Dominic Ellis throw in which led to Kyuss Green’s headed goal.

The game settled into a rhythm with the Hurricanes having much of the possession and a number of shots on goal. Oscar Robinson scored with a chipped shot over the Diamonds’ defence; a brave stop by the Diamonds’ keeper denied another opportunity. Nicolas Hernandez St Clair was also in the thick of the action in midfield. Will Lindsay’s cross in from the right found man-of-the-match Nicolas Hernandez St Clair who put the ball into the back of the net.

The Hurricanes didn’t have everything their own way, as the Diamonds continued to ask questions of the defence too. Jack Tookey and Dominic Ellis worked hard to cut out their attacks, supported well by Kyuss Green, whilst Shiva Vadhoolan made a string of eye-catching saves in goal.

In the second half, the momentum gradually shifted back towards the Diamonds. They were able to exert some pressure on the Hurricanes, who defended robustly but eventually the Diamonds found a way through. Shiva Vadhoolan saved the first shot, but a Diamonds striker was alert to the rebound and fired it into the goal. This period of pressure led to a few nervy minutes for the Hurricanes, but they gradually regrouped and rediscovered their passes. Jack Callaway was scrapping hard on the right, winning the ball and finding a pass or a cross. For a time the Hurricanes lay siege to the Diamonds’ goal, raining in shots but the Diamonds’ defence were equal to the task and there was no way through.