Henley impress at home
Henley buck the trend with a superb win
With fixtures against Newbury usually tense affairs which Henley would come off worse, it was a welcome change in fortune that saw Henley eventual run-away winners at home. A strong line up and some experimental position changes came together well, something that has been long overdue this season, and Henley capitalised on a slow start from the visitors by dominating the midfield match-ups. New central midfielder Matt Herbert was excellent both in his defensive and his attacking roles, by linking up well with James Baker to make progress difficult for Newbury to create anything meaningful but also to provide a platform for Henley to build opportunities up front.
The home team always looked the more likely to score first, and it came from a penalty corner won and converted by Doyle, at last regaining form after a recent goal drought. This lifted the team's confidence and they started to play with real flair and ambition which paid dividends soon after when skipper Dan Herbert drove down the right to win another penalty corner, again scored by Doyle from the top.
Two goals to the good at half time, and advice had to be to maintain form in the face of a predictable Newbury onslaught, which duly came as they pushed players higher to try and exploit weaknesses in the Henley defence. Slay at centre back rode his luck a couple of times after bing double-teamed by the Newbury forwards, but he used his skill and experience to get himself out of trouble. Frustrations at some umpiring decisions rose to the surface for Newbury as they found their extra pressure not turning into goals, and indeed Henley had enough chances of their own to close the game out as they drove into space behind the high Newbury defence. The pressure was relieved for Henley when James Rechner latched onto parried save to see his team 3 in front, however the joy was short lived as their defence were finally unlocked by Newbury down the left. Off the mark and with their tails up, the visitors then launched an all-out offensive, only narrowly missing a few times and finding captain Herbert on the goal line to clear wide after keeper Bowyer was beaten.
On balance, this was a win that was 4 weeks in the making, after some impressive though largely unsuccessful performances since Christmas. The emphasis now has to be on consolidating this win at Bicester this week.