By Sam Colvine
Hampton’s U15B football team succumbed to a disappointing 4-0 loss against Sandbach School, after conceding four goals in the first half, despite an impressive show of resilience after the interval.
Buoyed by vocal support from over 100 Fourth Year Hampton fans who travelled to West Bromwich Albion’s Hawthorns Stadium, the team looked to improve on last year’s ESFA final defeat, coincidentally facing the same opposition as the U14Bs.
The game started evenly with both teams looking to obtain that crucial first goal. Hampton came close when Emad Khan nearly converted after a goalmouth scramble. However, Sandbach struck back almost immediately when, after Hampton failed to clear a corner, the ball found its way over the outstretched arms of keeper Xandy Slater.
Barely a minute from the restart, Sandbach stunned Hampton with a second goal after their striker finished well as the defence lost concentration. The fans were convinced the Sandbach player had strayed offside but the linesman ruled the goal legal.
Despite being two goals down, Hampton sought a goal to give them momentum just prior to halftime. The opportunity eventually came when a deep cross found its way to the head of Jude Glasson who glanced his effort over the bar. As Hampton continued to push for a goal, Sandbach were utilising lofted through-balls over the defence to attempt to counter-attack. This gifted them a corner which was powerfully volleyed in. Sandbach added a fourth shortly afterwards to complete a dismal first half for the Hampton team.
As soon as the second half began, it was clearly that one of Mr Burke’s typically rousing team talks had inspired the Hampton outfit. Glasson and James Kerr on the wings looked a dangerous threat to the Sandbach fullbacks, with the former jinking past several defenders and finally being pulled down just inside the box, as he surged through on goal.
The referee pointed to the penalty spot and Glasson stepped up. With a comeback a possibility, he missed by the finest of margins, striking the underside of the crossbar. Hampton valiantly continued to bombard the opposition’s goal, with Theo Back cheekily attempting to chip the keeper but none of the Hampton efforts hit the back of the net.
The travelling Hampton supporters remained vocal throughout the match, attempting to motivate their classmates with a series of chants, but their efforts were not rewarded and the final scoreline finished 4-0.
Despite a fantastic season ending on a disappointing note, the team have reached two national finals in consecutive years and that, in itself, is a remarkable achievement.
As the squad move up to the Senior footballing level at Hampton, they will look forward to next year when they will endeavour to make it to yet another final, and this time hope to win the ultimate prize.