Henley Athletic seal SIL Senior Division title after beating champions Cranes Sports
PUBLISHED: 11:21 07 May 2017 | UPDATED: 11:21 07 May 2017
Henley Athletic created history on Saturday by winning the SIL Senior Division.
In their first-ever season at this level, following promotion from Division One, Athletic sealed the title with an entertaining 2-0 home win over Crane Sports.
In truth, this game could have quite easily finished 6-6, with more than 250 people enjoying a footballing feast.
Athletic got off to the perfect start when Cranes’ Mark Van Oene looped a header into his own net after just seven minutes.
However, seven minutes later, Athletic were very fortunate not to conceded a penalty. After captain Mark Storey under-hit a back-pass, Tye Webb was brought down by goalkeeper Kevin Holland, but somehow a spot-kick was not given.
In an end-to-end encounter, Henley’s Storey and Arran Sheppard consecutively blocked well from Mo Fike, before Fike’s Cranes team-mate, Lyndon Dowson-Alexander, headed on to the top of the crossbar from Ali Brett’s cross.
Henley’s Clark Bruce then fired an effort over in a move he started, before Dowson-Alexander hit the woodwork again moments before the break, after Holland’s clearance struck Storey.
Van Oene almost made amends for his early misfortune, but Liam Bevis cleared off the goal-line just before half-time.
The experienced Danny George was a handful all afternoon in Henley’s attack, and he set up Bruce moments into the second half, but the striker could only fire wide, before finding Ryan Bedingfield in the way moments later.
Two pieces of excellent defending from Jon Ince thwarted Athletic, but the home side grabbed their second in the 57th minute when George took his time finishing off Bruce’s cross, with Cranes incensed at the linesman.
Chris Pratt kneed over from close range for Cranes, before Bruce should have put the result beyond doubt when he went clean through twice, only to fail to score.
Van Oene almost caught Holland out with a 35-yard shot, while burly striker Dean Cooper headed onto the crossbar as nerves jangled round the pitch.
Unbelievably, Cranes hit the woodwork for a fourth time in the final moments when Storey’s block, from Ross Rands, clipped the post, but Henley held on.