Atkinson Winner Gives Aldershot the Blues!

The U15 AFC Henley Hurricanes stormed to a 3-2 away victory against the Junior Shots Blues from Aldershot in this fiercely contested end of season clash.

The visitors, kicking downhill in the first half, got off to a great start as flying left winger, Finnbar Scott, raced down the left before finding Max Stokes with a pinpoint cross. Stokes was fastest to react inside the six-yard box and fired past the Shots’ keeper to make it 1-0.

At the back the Hurricanes were looking strong as Mickael Vaisset was having a particularly good game at right back to cement what has been a really good season for the defender. Jasper Quinnell was likewise proving great cover on the opposite flank of the defence and he had to make one key interception down the left as the Shots looked to break through and score the equaliser.

They did so in controversial circumstances as a goal that was originally flagged as offside was overturned to give the hosts a lifeline back into the game.

Tom Yeoman was proving a real threat down the right however and forced a corner mid-way through the first half after a good shot. Stokes took the corner and floated it dangerously into the six-yard box where the Hurricanes attack put the Shots defence under so much pressure they had no chance but to turn the ball into their own net.

The Hurricanes were now looking to get into half time with their 2 1 lead intact but it was only due to the brave and instinctive reactions of Joe Hybert in the visitors’ goal that they did so. Faced with a one-on-one situation just before the break, Hybert stood tall and strong and took a ball flush to the face but managed to turn it away for a corner to send the Hurricanes into the interval still with their one goal advantage.

With the managers’ half-time message of keeping things tight at the start of the second half ringing in their ears the Hurricanes immediately conceded. The hosts were now under extreme pressure but the centre back pairing of Max Cranstoun and Luca Thomson were magnificent in their resistance as they tackled and blocked everything that came their way to maintain parity.

Josh Livesey was proving a real threat for the Hurricanes up front with his searing pace and eye for goal and he went close to wrestling the game back for the Hurricanes as he flashed a drive wide.

Next to go close was Joe Turner as he timed his run to perfection to split the Shots’ defence and create a one-on-one situation for himself. With everyone expecting the net to bulge his left footed effort flew inches wide as the game remained deadlocked.

Pressure was still mounting at the back however for the Hurricanes and it was Sam Archibald whose sure footedness and strength in the tackle was proving key at keeping the Shots out. Fellow defender James Penkethman was also proving vital at the back as his no nonsense style of tackling and ability to read the game was instrumental in keeping the Shots at bay.

Joe Winpenny’s strength and combativeness at the back mirrored his performances throughout the season but it was also his eye for a through ball that was important as he sent Alfie Agar away. Agar was driving the Hurricanes forward from the middle of the park and his burst of pace took him away from the Shots midfield only for him to be brought down deep into the Shots half. From the resulting free kick Agar sent the ball just wide as the pressure was starting to build for the visitors.

This pressure eventually told as the Hurricanes midfield general and captain Christian Rowbotham broke free from his defensive duties to surge into the Shots half to set up the winning attack. Rowbotham, whose control of the game from his deep lying midfield position had been exemplary, saw Scott down the left and threaded the ball through to him. Scott then delivered the ball into the penalty area where Tom Atkinson had ghosted into the box from his wide right position.

Atkinson with the ball bobbling around the hard pitch expertly steered the ball into the top right-hand corner of the goal to send the Hurricanes into a 3-2 lead.

The Hurricanes hung onto the lead in the dying minutes to wrap up the 3 points and finish the season in some style as they rose to 5th in the league table.

Managers Turner and Atkinson were said to be over the moon by the performance and resilience of the squad and were looking forward to their tour of Denmark with the team.