Newbury suffer penalty shootout heartache against higher level opposition but Wickens backs side to build on positive performance in bid to win promotion
Newbury were knocked out of the Berkshire Trophy Centre Senior Cup on penalties despite a battling effort against higher level opposition under the lights last Friday.
After five previous attempts to play the game had been postponed, it was almost sixth time lucky for a spirited Newbury as Ben Wickens’ side held Thames Valley Premier League outfit Henley, who came into the game unbeaten in their last four, to a 2-2 draw before suffering a heartbreaking 7-6 penalty shootout defeat.
The Division 1 side were rewarded for a bright start and took the lead after seven minutes when George Mowat’s cross found player-manager Ben Wickens, who continued his fine scoring form by heading in the opener at the back post.
It took Henley, who were founded in 1871 and as such are recognised as Oxfordshire’s oldest football club, just a minute to equalise when Bertie Gingell fired home a powerful strike from the edge of the box.
Newbury, who were causing the hosts problems with their high press, restored their lead in the 17th minute when Dean Stockwell scored his fourth goal in three games.
The hosts were back level 10 minutes before the break when frontman Charlie Douglas struck, beating Newbury goalkeeper Donny Burke with the help of a deflection.
Both teams had chances to win the game in the second half but neither was able to force the issue, meaning the contest went to penalties; both sides scored all five of their initial spot-kicks and, after the shootout went to sudden death, Henley goalkeeper Isaac Aitchison saved Newbury’s seventh effort to leave teenage full-back Ashley Field to step up and convert the winner.
Despite the disappointment of missing out on the quarter-finals, Ben Wickens and assistant James O’Doherty were impressed with their side’s determined display.
“We’ve been a bit up and down lately but the standard has now been set and we have no excuses not to take that performance into our next round of games and challenge for the title,” Wickens said.
O’Doherty added: “It was a good solid performance and the game could have gone either way. Everyone involved showed a great attitude and we were unlucky not to make it through.”
Newbury, who are three points off league leaders Binfield Development with a game in hand, return to league action on February 17 when they host bottom club Woodley United Development, who have lost 11 of their 12 league games this term.