AFC Henley Hurricanes U11s took on a new opponent, Tilehurst-based Centre Skills U11 Gold, in an end-to-end game at Cintra Park.
The match kicked off on a much sunnier day than last week’s game with Eldon Celtic. The wind was still keenly felt, and large clouds bustled their way across the sky. Jumpers or sunhats? Nobody really knew.
The Hurricanes started the game most brightly. An early shot for Ed was saved by the Gold keeper. The Hurricanes were soon prowling around the Gold goal, but the Gold defence was resolute and the Hurricanes could not get a shot away.
As the sun broke through, Gold were warming up too. The match was being played in midfield with both teams striving to create an opportunity. A super run and cross in by Jack C on the right was picked up by Ed and calmly put into the goal.
The game settled into a rhythm. The Hurricanes saw most of the possession, but found it hard to break down the well-organised Gold defence. Will L and Gabriel both had shots from distance saved. The Gold strikers were quick: the Hurricanes’ defence had to be on their guard.
A corner from Jack C sped across the box. Jack T picked it up and, with captain Dominic, worked it forward to Oscar who made no mistake from short range.
The Gold forwards were a constant threat. A long goal kick looped over all the players, and the Gold forwards won the race to get it. They passed the ball quickly between them and then into the net.
A period of pressure from Gold followed. Another shot fairly flew over the crossbar, and the Hurricanes defended more than one corner. Will L broke the spell with some magic footwork on the left, finding Jack C who shot was accurate.
The second half began with the supporters, both human and canine, enjoying the warm sunshine. The game opened up with both teams looking to attack. Gold worked the ball forward, but goalkeeper Adam calmly caught the shot. At the other end, a couple of chances fell to striker Will G, the best of which ran just wide. It was Gold who broke the deadlock, finding a way through the Hurricanes defence for a simple tap-in.
The game became quite open again, with both teams creating chances. Both were guilty of profligacy as shots were over or wide. Will G showed the way, picking up a good ball forward and muscling through the defence to score from an acute angle.
At the other end the defence was in action. Ethan, Casper and Dominic were all needed to keep the Gold forwards in check.
The Hurricanes kept going forward. Oscar drove through the middle, and there was more good work from Ethan and man-of-the-match Will L on the left. Both Ed and Ethan had chances in the closing stages of the game. The match ended with a fine save from new goalkeeper Gabriel when one-on-one with the Gold striker.
Next week sees a return to Cintra Park for more league action!