AFC Henley Hurricanes U11s played a tough fixture against Reading-based rivals Eldon Celtic.
Following two warm Bank Holidays, it was a shock to the system to arrive at Cintra Park with a keen easterly wind strafing the rain across the pitch. Plenty of coats and umbrellas were on show, with only the hardiest staying in shorts. The opposition, Eldon Celtic, played in their familiar green strip, whilst the Hurricanes were again in yellow.
It was not a surprise that the game started competitively. Jack C and Gabriel worked the ball down the right to win a corner for the Hurricanes. Eldon were soon into their stride too. Nicholas blocked one attack, and Ethan another. The Hurricanes defended a ball just outside the box, but Eldon caught the rebound and one of their strikers ran through the defence and put the ball powerfully into the goal.
Having taken the first clear opportunity created by either side, Eldon were in the ascendancy and the pressure was on the Hurricanes. Dominic made another important tackle in defence, and goalkeeper Harrison a fingertip save. Eldon’s attacks were quick and uncompromising. Dominic made another tackle, and his ball forward found Gabriel. Gabriel and Jack C worked their way through the defence and Jack C put the ball cleanly past the keeper.
The game had become more even. Eldon were still quick to break, and a handful for the Hurricanes’ defence. Nicholas and Dominic dealt crunching tackles. However, the Hurricanes’ attack were also quick, Jack C again working the ball down the right side whilst Will L’s cross from the left found Oscar, but his headed shot was saved. Oscar had another shot saved. Ethan’s long range shot was also saved, whilst a similar attempt from Gabriel was narrowly wide.
The Hurricanes had the upper hand, good work from Will L and Oscar up front backed up by Ed and Nicholas in midfield. Oscar made a great run down the left, but Will L’s shot was saved.
At the end of the half, Eldon provided a reminder of their strength, muscling forward in numbers and finding a way through to score again.
The second half began in a similar vein. Eldon’s latest surge forward was cut out by some good defending from Casper. The Hurricanes pushed forward and were awarded a penalty, which was coolly converted by Oscar.
Almost immediately, another chance fell to Eldon, charging forward at pace. Harrison made a calm save under pressure, Casper making a brave challenge to slow the attack.
The game see-sawed, as both teams sought the advantage. The Hurricanes’ forwards were looking to create chances. Will L and Ed pushed forward quickly on the left, looking for Oscar and Gabriel. Eldon were still pushing hard too. Ethan was committed in defence, as one Eldon shot flew wide and another was calmly saved by Harrison. The game ended with man-of-the-match Dominic slowing another Eldon attack, with Oscar running back to make the final tackle.
As always, the game against Eldon Celtic was highly competitive. Next weekend sees the Hurricanes return to Cintra Park for another summer league fixture.