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ESFA: Road to the final

By James Dowden, Magazine Editor

Sports Chronicle Magazine Editor James Dowden reports on the First XI’s historic cup run to the English Football Schools Cup Final as the side becomes the first Hampton team ever to reach this stage of the competition.

Round 1

Hampton School 5-0 Kingston Grammar School

Hampton kicked off their ESFA national cup run with a convincing 5-0 victory against local rivals Kingston Grammar. Hampton took an early lead through a Rohan Hobbs goal following good play from Louis Rhodes. Second half goals from Rhodes together with further strikes from Noah Hanley, Freddy Hodgson and fifth year Sami Omaar ensured a safe passage for Hampton into the next round after a clinical second half performance.

Round 2

Hampton School 6-0 St Bernard’s School

On a day when the Villarreal U23 squad had come to train at Hampton, the First XI produced a sublime display of passing football on the 3G to overcome St Bernard’s School. Two first half goals from Hobbs and one apiece from Omaar and Tim Sweeny gave Hampton a 4-0 cushion heading into half time. Goals from James Hunter-Young and Louis Instrall saw Hampton come though unscathed in the second half and a second consecutive clean sheet for the defence demonstrated the defensive resolve of the side.

Round 3

St Thomas the Apostle School 0-10 Hampton School

A ruthless display from Hampton in round 3 saw St Thomas the Apostle School & Sixth Form College swept aside 10-0 to take Hampton through to round 4. Braces from Rhodes and Sweeney, a strike from Instrall and an outrageous five goal haul from Shaun-Chris Joash proved to be the difference on a chilly November afternoon.

Round 4

The Palmer Catholic Academy 0-5 Hampton School

Having knocked out St Thomas in the previous round it was next the turn of fellow catholic school, the Palmer Catholic Academy, to be vanquished by Hampton on their national cup run.  A disciplined performance saw Hampton record a 5-0 victory with QPR U18 midfielder Stathis Kalathias grabbing his first goal of the cup run.

Round 5

Stoke Newington School & Sixth Form 2-8 Hampton School

Hampton then faced a second successive away trip across London, this time to face Stoke Newington School & Sixth Form, in round 5 of the ESFA competition. A tight opening first half saw Hampton concede their first goal of the cup run but they went into the break 2-1 ahead. A brilliant second half performance saw Hampton put 6 past the Stoke Newington keeper with Rhodes claiming the match ball following a hat-trick of impressive strikes.

Round 6

Southend High School for Boys 0-2 Hampton School

A long road trip to the Essex coast was the reward for Hampton in the last 16 stage with a tie against Southend High School. Hampton began by dominating the match and creating a number of early chances, yet the side struggled to convert the opportunities into meaningful attempts on goal, with the Southend goalkeeper making a series of comfortable saves. Southend began to gain a foothold in the game, with a spell of extended pressure and possession approaching the end of the first half.

Following the half time interval, it was Hampton who took the upper hand and were rewarded early in the second half with the opening goal of the game, Rhodes sliding the ball through to Joash, who beat the keeper with a powerful finish into the top left hand corner of the goal from a narrow angle. In goal Hampton’s Tim Wallace pulled off some brilliant saves to deny Southend a way back into the match.

Hampton then doubled their lead following a classic piece of free flowing passing football. Hobbs found the head of Omaar with a dangerously whipped in cross, and Omaar duly provided a calm finish to give Hampton clear daylight for the first time in the match. Despite later Southend pressure Hampton held firm to book their place in the quarter final draw of the competition.

Quarter-Final

The Bishop’s Stortford High School 0-6 Hampton School

Another round and another away game for Hampton, this time their travels taking them to Bishop Stortford High School in the final eight of the tournament. In front of a vociferous home support in Hertfordshire Hampton took a quick 2-0 lead inside the opening half of the match. Despite a long pre-match journey Hampton managed to control the majority of the play, and Freddy Hodgson finished the match with 4 goals to complement further strikes from Instrall and Denil Manuel, giving Hampton a resounding 6-0 victory.

Semi-Final

Gordon’s School 4-5 Hampton School

The 2018/19 ESFA cup semi-final will go down in Hamptonian footballing folklore with a large travelling contingent of Hampton fans being treated to a classic tie away against Gordon’s School of Woking.

A tightly contested opening period was the result of difficult conditions with both sides struggling to adapt to the bounce of the pitch and the wind conditions. Gordon’s took the early lead with a ricocheted ball falling kindly to their midfield on the edge of the area, who calmly rolled the ball into the bottom corner of the net.

A free kick delivered into the box by Harry Short gave Hampton their equaliser, following a majestic piece of control and then a powerful finish inside the Gordon’s penalty area from right winger Freddy Hodgson.

On the stroke of half time Gordon’s were awarded a corner with just minutes to play. A floated delivery caught the flight of the wind and the ball fell invitingly to their player who made no mistake from inside the six-yard box.

In a pulsating cup tie that edged back and forth, Hampton equalised soon after the restart. Another free kick was flighted into the Gordon’s penalty area and it was vice-captain Noah Hanley who escaped from his marker to unleash a powerful header into the roof of the net.

A penalty was then awarded to Gordon’s following a defensive mix-up inside the Hampton penalty area. However, in the heat of the moment Gordon’s striker blazed his penalty over the bar and Hampton was still level.

Hampton then took the lead for the first time in the match following a skilful piece of dribbling by Joash. Picking the ball up on the edge of the area, he drove past the Gordon’s defenders until he was fouled inside the penalty area. Instrall stepped up to strike the ball right footed into the bottom left hand corner, sending the keeper the wrong way.

Instrall then doubled both his individual goals tally and Hampton’s lead just minutes later. Left back Omaar broke dangerously from his full back into the box before pulling the ball back to Instrall, who ruthlessly dispatched his shot to give Hampton a two goal cushion.

Two late goals from Gordon’s School wrestled them back into the match and forced extra-time. The first a curving free kick out of the reach of goalkeeper Tim Wallace, the second a deflected strike falling kindly for yet another headed goal in a frenetic closing period.

It was a bitter pill for Hampton to swallow but both the players and fans regrouped for the subsequent extra-time period. Breaking down the right hand side, substitute Denil Manuel skipped past his opposing fullback and delivered a tantalising ball into the penalty area. Breaking into the box was Harry Short whose headed effort sailed into the net to put Hampton 5-4 up heading into the closing stages of extra-time.

Standing on the touchline the Hampton fans watched with baited breath as the ball was clipped in. As soon as the ball was in, both the players and fans set off towards the corner flag with both coming together in scenes of mass jubilation to celebrate together a truly remarkable climax to the cup tie.

Hampton held on resolutely for the remaining period to book their place in the ESFA cup final for the first time ever. From 364 teams and 8 intense rounds, Hampton face defending champions Repton School at New Meadow Stadium, home of League One Shrewsbury Town FC. Set to be backed by over seven hundred travelling Hampton supporters the occasion looks set to go down in the annals

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