Henley 5s defeat Abingdon 3s
Henley 5s secure a convincing win in their best team performance of the season to date
Henley Mens 5th XI played against Abingdon 3rds on Saturday 26th January over at Tilsley Park, Abingdon.
Despite the early start time and the cold, blustery weather, the game started off brightly for Henley who passed the ball confidently, accurately and with great energy. The first goal shortly ensued when John Grocock breezed past 3 Abingdon players, drove into the right side of the D. Grocock headed to the by-line and then drew the ball back to an eagerly awaiting and well-positioned Josh Batty, who pushed it past an outstretched keeper. It was a great bit of team play and individual brilliance that got scoreboard ticking.
Henley continued to pass the ball around and stretch the game wide and to the side-lines and the second goal came very soon after the first. Another misplaced pass was picked off and the ball made its way to Mike McAllister, who danced through the defence and unleashed a powerful shot across goal. His effort was saved, but luckily for Henley, not beaten away. Young Louis Poundall showed great instincts by following in Mike's effort for an easy tap in. 2-0 Henley.
The rest of the first half continued in the same fashion with width being made and great off ball runs. The defence also held strong with Nick, Piers and Fergus controlling any loose hits and dealing with some strong penetrating balls from Abingdon. Unfortunately a third goal was not added to the scoreline before the half time whistle, despite some great team play.
The second half resumed just as the first had finished. Henley continued to pepper the goal with some amazing runs and clinical passing to unlock the struggling defence. Despite Mike McAllister’s efforts being denied in the first half, he certainly was not going to let that discourage him in the second. He was soon rewarded with his first of 4 on the day. Ben Williams dribbled beautifully into the area from the left wing, dispatching a brilliant pass to Mike, who clinically hit the ball into the bottom corner of the goal, leaving the keeper with no chase.
It was not long after, that Mike McAllister, again, added to his tally. A free hit on the 23 was released, by Jez Clarke (the team’s coach), perfectly to a wide open Jon Grocock, who released a venomous shot on goal. The effort was deflected but Mike McAllister reacted quickest to slot home his 2nd. Again, Henley's selfless runs off the ball were instrumental to this wonderful goal.
It was at 4-0, that Abingdon found a second wind. They began to string some good passes together and complete some weaving dribbles. Henley's defence continued to hold strong, with Nick cutting off multiple dangerous attacks with some fantastic interceptions. Fergus was also up and down his side-line supporting and starting attacks as well as tracking back to nullify Abingdon's pressure. The opposition managed to work a few charges into Henley's area but a well positioned Tom G pulled of some fantastic saves to deny Abingdon their first. He knew when to stand tall and when to attack the ball – for such a young keeper, he has a bright future ahead of him. Abingdon finally got their break through though: they worked a ball through the defence and managed to round the phenomenon Tom Grocock in goal, and get a shot off... Only for a big Nick foot to get in the way... Penalty flick awarded. Abingdon did convert. 4-1
Despite the goal, Henley didn't let it phase them. They pushed on to score two more. The man of the match, Mike McAllister, got the final two. The 3rd came from a great off ball run which looped behind the dumbfounded defender. Josh Batty, who was driving forward spotted the run and placed a perfectly weighted ball into his path for Mike McAllister to slam home. Although Mike scored it, a special note should be made about the other support runs: David Clarke held his marker out wide which created the space for the pass and likewise did Louis Poundall on the opposite flank.
The half dozen was completed after an awe-inspiring run from the Captain himself, Piers Edgell. After intercepting a misplaced long ball, he drifted through the midfield and defence (from his own 23 to his opponents 23) with his trademark one handed reverse dribble. Piers catapulted the ball to the clinical Mike, who calmly slotted home in is favourite bottom left corner.
The result was well deserved and Henley really showed that training regularly pays off. The goal keeper, Tom Grocock was superb, the defence of Nick Shuttleworth, Piers Edgell and Furgus Heggie were mobile and held strong throughout. The midfield had a fantastic anchor in Jez Clarke. His experience was instrumental in the team’s success and he distributed the ball accurately and mopped up any loose play. His sliding tackle was a personal highlight, late in the second half. Jon Grocock and Ben Williams controlled the ball well, when in possession, and intelligently held the width and pulled in when needed. John's attacking nature certainly out Abingdon on the back foot. At the top of the diamond, Josh Batty relentlessly advanced the game forwards keeping Abingdon’s midfield and defence under pressure throughout.
Up top, the youth of the team shown through. Louis Poundall and Eddie Williams made selfless attacking runs to create space for the midfield to drive and they also demonstrated some fantastic stick work by keeping the defenders constantly guessing where they were going. Both came very close to scoring on multiple occasions which showed their intelligent positioning. David Clarke, made his debut in Men's hockey too. He worked hard for the team and helped to spread the defence constantly. This extra space was greatly received by the entire team and his efforts should not go unnoticed. Finally, our Man of the Match, Mike McAllister, was unstoppable for most of the match. His experience and control of the ball was truly great to watch and really showed the youth how to play attacking hockey. It was a fantastic team performance that the entire club should be proud of.
Final school Henley 5s (6 – 1) Abingdon 3s and congratulations to Mike McAllister who was unanimously voted man of the match. Thanks to Josh Batty for writing the match report.
Team: Tom Grocock, Jon Grocock, Nick Shuttleworth, Fergus Heggie, Jeremy Clarke, David Clarke, Ben Williams, Eddie Williams, Louis Poundall, Josh Batty, Mike McAllister, Piers Edgell (Captain)