Saturday saw the AFC Henley Hurricanes U11s return to league action, hosting Reading-based academy side Procision Sambas at Jubilee Park. The morning was bright and sunny, and the Hurricanes started with the strengthening wind on their backs. Maybe this spurred them on as they had the first chance; Will G’s shot was saved by had Sambas’ keeper.
The game became quite open. The Sambas had some strong, pacy forwards who forced a save from Harrison. At the other end, the Hurricanes were passing well, Jack C, Luca, captain Oscar and Will G moving the ball down the pitch. Will L beat two defenders on the left wing.
It was the Hurricanes who broke the deadlock. Oscar’s cross found Will G in the box, who made no mistake on the volley into the net. However, the Sambas had an immediate response. A powerful run down the left and an accurate cross in found a striker. The first attempt was parried but the rebound was unstoppable.
Both sides continued to create opportunities. The Hurricanes defended several corners: Nicolas, Luca and Dominic were busy holding the fort. In particular, Procision were a threat from the left through the whole game. Jack T defended wholeheartedly, bravely committed to the tackles needed to cut out promising attacks. At the other end, the Sambas’ keeper made a brilliant fingertip save to deny Will G, and Shiva’s long shot was narrowly over the bar.
The first half concluded with the Hurricanes in the ascendancy. The wind behind them had strengthened along with the passing in their midfield. Oscar was constantly pressing the Procision defence, whilst Jack T won the ball from defence and took it the length of the pitch.
The Hurricanes picked up after the resumption in the same form. Dominic won the ball on the left, and Oscar, Jack C, Luca and man of the match Nicolas moved it well through midfield. Shiva hit the bar whilst Will L hit the post. However, the follow up cross found Oscar who headed home.
The game opened up again. The Sambas were still taking every opportunity to run with the ball, posing problems with the wind behind them. The Hurricanes were forced to defend, and showed great commitment to race back. The wind was against them now, making long balls and throw ins harder to place accurately.
Suddenly, the Sambas had found their shape and came roaring back at the Hurricanes. Dominic was strong to make the block. A Sambas attacker made a great run through five defenders. For the Hurricanes Jack T put a physics defying corner across the face of goal, and Shiva was on target following some strong work holding the ball by Oscar.
This was another competitive end-to-end encounter at Jubilee Park. Next weekend sees the Hurricanes return to cup action.