Henley add an extra attacker in final minutes, but no avail.
Henley 4s came in to this game on a run of 10 consecutive wins that has resulted in them looking strong candidates for promotion. Sitting second in the league and now in a round robin set of fixtures with the other top 5 teams, every game has become a ‘six pointer’. With local rivals Phoenix and Ranelagh sitting in third place some 8 points shy of Henley, a win was, for Pheonix, a necessity.
The first half was played out a frenetic rate with the majority of play in the Phoenix and Ranelagh half but with little goal action and neither team able to break the deadlock. Henley came closest to scoring when a good through ball from Simon Taylor found Ewan Watkins on the penalty spot who just failed in his effort to deflect the ball around the on-rushing keeper.
The second half began in torrential rain which adversely affected the quality and pace of the game as both teams struggled to get to grips with the conditions. Henley were still on the front foot with Richard Nicholson and Rupert Wiseman in particular showing strongly with attacking half back play and putting Phoenix and Ranelagh under continued pressure. Following a concerted phase of attacks from Henley down their right wing, the ball was quickly recycled and spread across to the left from where Piers Edgell injected accurately to Tim Cima who beat the keeper and nudged the ball into the path of Rupert Wiseman to slot the ball home for a deserved lead for the home side.
Phoenix and Ranelagh countered by throwing more players forward and making Henley drop deeper and deeper into defence, with Adam Warner and Simon Ward excelling in the middle of defence it seemed Henley would hold firm. However with 10 minutes to go Phoenix and Ranelagh forced a series of short corners, with one resulting in a strong shot just being cleared off the line by a Henley defender, the onslaught continued and despite numerous appeals from the Henley team for a foul a goal was awarded form another short corner to level the scores.
Rather than sit back and settle for the draw the Henley skipper threw caution to the wind and replaced a defender for an extra attacker. With minutes left this bold move seemed to have paid off when Ewan Watkins broke free down the left and crossed in to the Phoenix and Ranelagh D where Tim Cima collected the ball in front of goal but agonisingly saw it spin from his control and Phoenix and Ranelagh with a huge sigh of relief managed to scramble the ball away and for the umpire to blow for full-time.
A draw keeps Henley on target for promotion with a key game at home next week to top of the table Slough next in their sights.