Henley Town won a thrilling Reading Senior Cup Final at Reading’s Madejski Stadium defeating Binfield 5-3 after extra time.
Roger Herridge’s side were left to rue the sending off of Jack Broome as they looked on top whilst eleven vs. eleven but Town fought back incredibly well showing great character to claim the trophy for the second time since their first victory in 1922.
Binfield started very brightly as you would expect the higher division side to do and Josh Howell’s excellent swinging free-kick nearly beat goalkeeper Andrew Nunn who was forced to punch clear off his line.
Nunn was then rounded outside the penalty area by Liam Ferdinand who had to check back inside and his curling effort was headed off the line by Jordan Goddard.
Richard Bennett opened the scoring for Henley in the eighth minute. Sean Moore was out on the right side and he sent over a deep, hanging cross which was beyond goalkeeper Nathan Silver allowing Bennett a simple header at the far post.
The lead lasted only four minutes before Moles golden boot winner Ferdinand was nicely picked out by Alex Luis and the striker raced in before slotting beyond an onrushing Nunn.
On seventeen minutes, it looked like Moore might be in but Binfield defender Lewis Leonetti made a great last ditch sliding clearance.
Howell – lively throughout – kept posing questions and Nunn tipped over his free-kick before another Howell free-kick after Ferdinand was bought down by Warren Baxter, struck the wall in the 23rd minute.
Town worked hard despite being on the back foot and Bennett’s free-kick was met by Ben Clark who could only toe the ball to Silver.
With it looking like the sides would enter the interval on level terms the returning Jemel Johnson had other ideas to head the Moles in front on 43 minutes. Howell’s cross was blocked but the ball came back to him and he volleyed first time towards the far post where Johnson was gratefully waiting to head in.
Half Time: Henley Town 1 – 1 Binfield
The opening twelve minutes of the second period were very quiet before the game had a major flashpoint. Moles full-back Broome was shown a straight red card for a stamp on Grant Kemp.
Moore then had a shot beaten away by Silver who did brilliantly to smother Bennett’s follow-up effort after the ball was sent back into the penalty area.
Johnson maybe could have extended the lead on 59 minutes when he should have shot first time but he took a touch and the opportunity had gone.
However, Howell and Ferdinand combined in the 61st minute to give Binfield a two goal cushion. It was another deep free-kick from the winger and Ferdinand controlled, turned and fired high into the left hand corner.
The eleven men of Henley rallied and reduced the deficit on 68 minutes as Moore drilled low and hard from sixteen yards. Although Silver – diving to his left – got an arm to it, he couldn’t stop it hitting the back of the net.
Warren Baxter climbed high soon after as he headed substitute Dave Stevens’ free-kick onto the roof of the net as Town looked to press.
In the 78th minute, Asa Povey was unmarked in the area with more time than he realised and he headed over a glorious chance to draw his side level.
It matters not as three minutes later Clark does made the scores level. Inside the box on the right, he coolly fires beyond Silver into the far left hand corner.
The Moles nearly won it in the ninetieth minute when Ferdinand did well to beat two players but Jack Thomson-Wheeler headed away before Clark blocked Johnson’s follow-up effort and Thomson-Wheeler cleared the next shot.
Seconds later and substitute JC Etienne headed at Nunn before Bennett shot wide whilst off balance at the other end as extra time was signalled.
Full Time: Henley Town 3 – 3 Binfield
What a chance Henley had six minutes into extra time as Bennett danced through, rounded Silver only to see Reid Brown block on the line with the ball falling back to Bennett who headed onto the crossbar.
On 101 minutes, a great right sided cross was sent over by Moore with Povey unmarked at the far post to head in at the near corner and put Henley ahead at this crucial time and for the first time since the eighth minute.
Binfield were restricted to half chances in the opening extra time period with Etienne drilling wide left from 25 yards before Ferdinand shot over from outside the box whilst in space.
HT in Extra Time: Henley Town 4 – 3 Binfield
The Moles started the final fifteen minutes brightly with Ferdinand’s ball just evading Etienne at the far post before going close immediately after.
Ferdinand who covered a lot of ground today went from making a block at one end to crossing from the right for Johnson but he could not find the target from twenty yards in the 112th minute.
There was controversy on 115 minutes as Ferdinand’s ball struck Goddard on the arm but the vociferous penalty appeals were waved away. It looked a penalty to me.
Etienne got on the end of a beautifully floated ball but Nunn did well to stop it before Ferdinand headed onto the roof of the net when three Moles players went for it. Another glorious chance begging for Binfield who you would not think had a man less.
However, with Herridge’s side pushing for a late leveller to force penalties, substitute Liam Tindell scored in the final minute from a quick Henley counter to make the game safe. Moore’s initial effort was blocked but Tindell coolly fired home to ensure the trophy returned to Henley.
It was heartbreak for the Moles losing in the final for the second successive year but it was a very entertaining final and both sides can be proud of their efforts.
FT in Extra Time: Henley Town 5 – 3 Binfield
Henley Town: Nunn, Thomson-Wheeler (Cripps 90+3), Goddard, New (Tindell 77), Baxter, Thomas, Kemp (Stevens 65), Povey, Bennett, Clark, Moore. Subs not used: Malone, Cooper.
Binfield: Silver, Broome, Luis, McCarthy (Carlisle 60), R Brown, Leonetti, Howell (Etienne 80), Gibbs (Dean 71), Ferdinand, Johnson, Knight. Subs not used: B Brown, Adams.
Goals: Binfield – Ferdinand (2), Johnson
Henley – Bennett, Moore, Clark, Povey, Tindell