By Sam Colvine
The U15A team suffered an agonising defeat to Royal Russell School in the ISFA cup semi-final, losing 1-0 in spite of dominating the play in the later stages of the match.
In the early stages, both sides were willing to share possession, with Royal Russell adopting a more direct form of attack.
They tried to target their two tall strikers while Hampton looked to utilise the wings and the pace of their wide men, with Jack Da Costa especially dangerous down the right-hand side.
Both teams had solid, well-organised defenders marshalling their back lines and, as a result, any attacking play was quickly stifled by either set of players.
Right from the beginning of the game, it was clear to see that the physicality of the teams would play a huge role, with powerful tackles flying in all over the pitch.
Suddenly, Royal Russell opened up space just outside the penalty area and, with scintillating passing play, created an opportunity for their player to stroke the ball into the bottom left corner. 1-0 Royal Russell.
In reply, a Hampton free kick, curled in from the edge of the box by Antonio Polleri, was spilled by the goalkeeper and only a plethora of outstretched legs stopped the incoming Jonah Blake from equalising.
The home team continued their courageous response with frequent through-balls to striker Louis Middleton, who challenged the keeper on multiple occasions. The whistle blew for half time.
From the start of the second half, Hampton’s intent to equalise was obvious. From multiple Royal Russell long balls forward, Hampton played swiftly out from the back, launching rapid counter-attacks from the midfield.
This strategy nearly reaped rewards straight away, as a mazy Da Costa run led to a shot which was parried by the keeper.
Chances came frequently for Hampton as the team pushed up the pitch for that crucial goal, the latest being powerful hold-up play by Middleton who laid it off for Polleri who went close again.
Players were being thrown forward allowing Royal Russell to counter, their striker pushing a shot just past the post.
With virtually the last kick of the game, a fantastic cross from Da Costa found the head of Middleton who sent a tantalisingly close glancing effort just wide.
This proved to be Hampton’s final chance of the match as full time arrived. The team had displayed a valiant effort but had been cruelly beaten.
They now look forward to their Elgin League campaign.