Alcester Town Reserves faced Henley Forest in a top of the table clash on Saturday. Town were without several key players in Cox, Taylor, Law, Daniels, Blundell, Blewett due to injuries and other engagements. They welcomed back Greasley, Beach, Hands, Henstone, Downey and new signing Chris Rowberry.
Both sides struggled to get going in the first half, mainly due to the severe weather conditions, which made it difficult for both teams and spoiled an afternoon of what was to be really good football. Neither team managed to threaten the keepers in the first half and the score was 0-0 going into half time.
Town started brightly in the second half, trying to pass and move where possible. An opening came 15 minutes into the second half when some tidy play from Town led to a nice one two between young George Davis and Mani Singh, which led to Davis having to just beat the Henley stopper one on one, but the Henley stopper stood his ground well and saved from close range. This seemed to spark Town into life and they continued to probe the Henley defence. A shot from Kieran Downey from the edge of the box rattled the woodwork. With Town pushing a lapse in concentration led to a counter attack by Forest who were awarded a penalty when Rowberry on his first competitive start for club hauled down the Forest marksman. Forest took the lead from the spot to make it 1-0. Town made a few changes to try and have more of an impact in front of goal. It took Town a little while to adjust, when young stopper Morgan pulled off a great save down low, for the ball to loop just over the cross bar. Town pushed and pushed for the equaliser and this came 5 minutes before the end of the game. Some good football in the build-up found Downey on the edge of the area who already had a sighter earlier in the half, managed to bend the equaliser in the top corner, leaving the Forest stopper stranded. Town pushed for the winner but couldn’t find a way through. Final score 1-1.
Hodgetts said following the draw, “It was a tough day today. The conditions ruined what was going to be a really good football game. There weren’t many chances created, but overall I thought we were the better side and I would have been gutted if we didn’t come away with something. On another day we could have won the game with the clear cut chances we had. We are a little light up top at the moment, with Tom and Leon being out injured. However, the lads dug in and got a point from the game. Last season we may have not had the character to go and keep playing the way we have to get something out of the game. We had to make various changes today due to people being injured and unavailable, but the lads who came in did a great job. Grass roots football is always difficult as people do get injured and have other commitments. We will be a better side if we could try and have the same 16 week in, week out but it’s not always possible and we won’t be the only team who has to deal with this throughout the season. That is why we have such a big squad. We had 6 away this week but still had 15 available to us. Henley are a good side, they have been together for a while now and know each other inside and out. I am pleased with the point. We have stuttered the last 3 weeks, so we need to get back to winning ways on Saturday when we face Wickhamford. It will be another tough test for the lads as they are a bit of a bogey side. We will have to be at it to get the three points. Overall we are in a good position, so hopefully we can put a string of results together as its tight at the top.”