AFC Henley Hurricanes hosted higher league opposition in a cup fixture at Jubilee Park.
The arrival of a team from the next division up always creates a kind of tension. How will they play? Will they be very fast? and so on. AFC Henley Hurricanes U11s felt all this on Saturday morning as they welcomed Old Windsor Tigers to Jubilee Park for a cup fixture. The Tigers had an identical red-and-black kit to AFC Henley, meaning that the Hurricanes were playing in their yellow away strip, despite being the hosts.
The Tigers made a tigerish start, running at the Hurricanes’ goal and showing that there were indeed fast and strong. However, it was the Hurricanes who had most of the early possession and were starting to pass the ball well. Will L and Will G were working together on the left wing, and Jack C and Luca in the centre. The Hurricanes’ early pressure paid dividends when Will L’s cross in was met by Josh in the box, scoring his first goal for the team since joining a few weeks ago.
The game was mainly being played in the Tigers’ half. Luca and Will G combined well on the right, and Shiva’s shot from the edge of the box was just wide. Luca battled hard to keep the ball. Will G played some effective diagonal balls across the pitch, finding Luca or Jack C and cutting across the defence. A Tigers defender made an excellent sliding stop to cut out a Hurricanes attack.
The Tigers were not going to let the Hurricanes dominate, and showed again that they were quick and strong going forward. Goalkeeper Harrison made a great save from a free kick which was heading for the back of the net. The momentum of the game was changing quickly, and the Tigers had their tails up. They were winning the ball in midfield and had several shots on goal, whilst the Hurricanes were defending doggedly. Shiva and Dom both made important tackles, but still the Tigers came.
The half-time change of ends meant that the Tigers were running down the slight slope at Jubilee Park, and this seemed to inspire them. They had the first shot on goal of the half, which was high over the bar, and Harrison made another fingertip save to keep the next shot out. However, the Tigers were playing a strong, physical game and the Hurricanes found it hard to get out of their half. Dom’s long throw-in fell to the Hurricanes’ forwards, but the Tigers’ keeper bravely collected the ball from Will G’s feet.
Still the Tigers roared downhill, and again the Hurricanes were in defensive mode. The Tigers were hungry for goals and passed the ball well whilst the Hurricanes worked hard to keep them at bay.
Gradually, the Hurricanes found their feet again and made some attacking moves of their own. They won a string of corners but the Tigers were defending in numbers and there was no way through. The Tigers were competing too, and defenders Dom and man-of-the-match Jack T were still tracking back.
This was a stern test for the Hurricanes, and to their credit they never gave up. Even at the end of the game they gave their all. The Hurricanes’ final game of the season sees them return to league football next weekend.