DESPITE their good performances in the first half of the year, Henley Town will not be sorry to see the back of 2016, which ended with a big defeat that was also their ninth successive loss in the Premier Division of the Uhlsport Hellenic League, writes John Bailey.
The Red Kites start the New Year with back-to-back home matches tomorrow (Saturday, kick-off 3pm) and on Tuesday.
Brimscombe and Thrupp will be the visitors for tomorrow’s league fixture, which is also the first ever league match between the sides, though they clashed in the FA Cup at the start of the current season, when Brimscombe, with ground advantage, won 3-1.
Brimscombe and Thrupp are two villages near Stroud that are able to compete at such a high level partly because the only clubs in the town itself play at a much lower level. Currently 11th in the table, Brimscombe have games in hand over every other club and look a good bet for a top-half finish.
Tuesday’s game is against Thame United in the fourth round of the Oxfordshire Senior Cup, kick-off 7.45pm. Up until now the draw had been kind to the Town, but it has made up for it by pitting them against the strongest possible opponents.
The five clubs, including Oxford United, who play above Hellenic League level all make their entrance at the fifth round. The Red Kites’ lost in the league 2-0 loss at Thame in October 25 when the second goal came from the penalty spot late in the game.
Whilst Thame have a majority of victories over Henley in all their meetings over the years, this is far from the case in the Senior Cup, where the Town lead 10-5, reaching the final in 1912/13 by beating them at the penultimate stage. The last county cup clash between the sides was also in the fourth round five years ago when Thame, playing at home, won 2-1.
A large number of Henley players has moved to Binfield this season, though not all of them have stayed there. Now Moles goalkeeper Garry Aulsberry, who was preferred to Matt Hill at Flackwell Heath on Friday, has been transferred in the other direction. He has made 18 first-team appearances for Binfield this season and has been on the bench six times.
The Town Reserves visit Penn and Tylers Green Reserves tomorrow for a league fixture, kicking off at 2.15pm. The next day sees the Sunday team at home to Reading United in a game that may play a big part in deciding the championship of Division 3 East. The kick-off is at 10.30am. On Wednesday, the youth team entertain Chesham United Youth, also with league points at stake, kicking off at 7.45pm.