AFC Henley Hurricanes U11s played another tough league fixture, a home game against Hawley Raiders.
March, so the saying goes, comes in like a lion but goes out like a lamb. If that is true, then the lion was baring its claws at the latest AFC Henley Hurricanes U11s match. A keen wind whipped across Jubilee Park, chilling spectators, coaches and players alike.
The Raiders were the first to bring any heat to proceedings, surging up the hill and forcing goalkeeper Harrison to make an early save. The early part of the game saw some excellent Hurricanes passing. One particularly impressive move involved Dominic, Nicholas, Oscar, Jack C and Shiva and took the ball down and across the field.
The Hurricanes were seeing a lot of the ball. Captain Nicholas was winning the ball in midfield, and Shiva showed great commitment with a sliding stop to keep the ball in. Will L had the first shot for the Hurricanes which was narrowly wide.
At the other end, the Raiders continued to look dangerous on the break. Both Jack T and Dominic made important tackles. The game was mainly being played in midfield, but suddenly the Raiders burst through to shoot.
Harrison saved the first shot but the follow up found the back of the net.
The goal appeared to galvanise the Raiders, who had the upper hand for the rest of the half. The Hurricanes had to work hard to defend. They had some opportunities to break, though: Zico’s shot was saved whilst Oscar’s goal from close range was adjudged offside by the narrowest of margins. The half ended with the Hurricanes defending yet another Raiders corner.
The Hurricanes began the second half positively, looking to get forward through Dominic, Will L and Will G. The approach paid dividends too: Luca was winning the ball on the right and both Zico and Will G had shots. The Raiders, however, were able to move the ball down the slope rapidly. One shot hit the post, and man-of-the-match Harrison caught the follow up. Another ball passed right across the face of the Hurricanes’ goal, but no striker was there to put it away.
The game continued to be quite open, with both teams trying to create opportunities. Luca continued to be effective on the right. Will G’s powerful strike went over the bar, and Dominic chanced his arm with a long range effort. A great passing move between Zico and Will G set up Will L, but his shot was saved; Oscar did well to collect the rebound but couldn’t find the target.
A feature of the game was the better communication between the defence and goalkeeper, just one of a number of signs of their continued development as a team in this highly competitive league.