Nico Cheesman returns in seven goal extravaganza!
Goals from Bear (2), Barrass and the mighty Jules in a thriller at Jubilee Park
A magnificent performance by the talented Nico Cheesman inspired Henley 3rd team to victory at Jubilee Park against West Hampstead 4ths, in a thrilling game featuring seven goals.
Looking to respond to the uncharacteristic 10-1 defeat of the previous week at the hands of Oxford 4s, with key players returning Henley reverted to the tried and tested 3-4-3 formation, and quickly found their groove.
Jack Draycott and Alex Price dominated the central midfield, with John-Joe Cottam driving forward on the right. The backs switched the ball quickly across the field, enabling the midfield to create dangerous attacking opportunities through the pace, skill and power of the forward line of Tim Barrass, Julian Herbert and Ian Heggie.
But it was Nico Cheesman who stood out at left half, combining strength, composure and sublime skill to excellent effect, with West Hampstead struggling to contain him throughout the match.
The visitors picked up the pace and quality of their own hockey. Pouncing on any loose play and fighting hard for possession, they took the lead when an innocuous penalty corner strike found the backboard of the Henley goal.
Undaunted by this, Henley continued to press forward enthusiastically. An excellent move down the right through Woolfrey, Heggie and Cottam ended with Woolfrey delivering a superb cross of pin-point accuracy to the stick of the gifted Barrass, who had expertly evaded his marker. Barrass slammed the ball home with a formidable strike.
The pace of the game continued unabated, with Woolfrey taking Henley into the lead from a penalty corner, following a well-worked move with Heggie.
Leading 2-1 at half time, Henley knew that West Hampstead would come hunting hard after the interval. Pushing hard and taking advantage of a shaky five minutes from the home side, the visitors equalised.
However, Henley dug deep to add another of their own. The forward line worked hard to retain possession and force defensive errors, and a West Hampstead defender delivered a scything tackle to concede a penalty corner. Woolfrey stepped up and took Henley to a 3-2 lead with a rasping strike.
West Hampstead responded quickly to equalise at 3-3 with another penalty corner strike.
As aging legs started to slow, Henley faced an onslaught as the more youthful West Hampstead accelerated and sought to steal the game. Midfield enforcer Draycott exhorted his team-mates to greater effort, and with just 10 minutes remaining Price won another penalty corner. The first strike was parried by the goalkeeper, but Herbert made no mistake in finishing to take Henley into the lead.
Tiring fast, Henley reverted to a more defensive formation to close out the remaining minutes of a thrilling game, to secure a hard-fought and well deserved victory.