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Season Review: U16As break records and reach ESFA final

By Sam Colvine |

Having spent the previous two years gelling as a team, the U16As quality finally rose to magnificent heights in the 2019/20 season, culminating in a hugely successful year of football including fantastic cup runs in the ESFA and County competitions and several memorable victories: proof of the team’s astounding skill and composure.

Although their season was prematurely ended by the Covid-19 pandemic, the team will take their triumphs into their first season of Senior football in the Lower Sixth next year, seeking to build on their already stellar achievements.

After a win and draw in a useful preseason period, the U16As began their campaign in promising fashion securing battling victories against Hampton & Richmond and Eton College. Throughout the year, the team took on a variety of U18 sides as well as teams of their own age group; these games always posed a challenge and this was particularly true against St George’s First XI, where the team succumbed to a gutting 5-4 loss.

Nonetheless, the U16As brushed this lacklustre display aside with prowess beyond their years eliciting a three game winning run prior to their first game in round two of the ESFA cup after a bye in the previous round. They started in style completing a convincing 10-2 rout against the Marlborough Science Academy with braces from Jack Da Costa, Patrick Helm and Louis Middleton taking them up to the half term break. After some much-needed rest, they tackled their second cup competition of the year, the County Cup, with typical aplomb beating Ashcombe School 3-0.

Next, brimming with confidence following two elementary cup victories, the team faced one of their toughest adversaries so far in the form of Moulsham High School in the third round of ESFA. 2-0 down at half-time and facing elimination, the team regrouped under Mr Mills’ ardent stewardship and netted twice to take the game to full time with Nat Woolaghan and Alex Dinan scoring. With the end of extra time approaching and penalties looming, Hampton finally took the lead as Da Costa found the winner.

In round four, they faced Ravens Wood School and as the competition progressed the games became tougher. Again, the team found themselves 2-0 down after a very ordinary first 45 minutes. However, their resilience shone through as they completed an encouraging comeback as Rohan Sahota, Dinan and Da Costa completed a satisfying victory.

Now approaching the latter stages of the competition, round five saw a brilliant performance against Charters School who fell to a 4-1 defeat against the U16As. Cup games were coming thick and fast and Lealands High School were their next opponents in ESFA round six. However they were no match for the Hampton U16As as goals from Joe O’Pray and Da Costa either side of the interval brought about a comfortable 2-0 victory.

Hampton were now nearing the final stages of the ESFA competition, each match becoming even more important, and round seven saw take on St Peter’s Catholic School. The U16As found themselves in the familiar position of being 2-0 down at the break but, yet again, they mounted a valiant comeback to make it 2-2 at the full-time whistle. Into extra time and Hampton took the lead as Rohan Sahota struck home, yet soon after the team found themselves pegged back and the game went to penalties.

As the teams stood level on four scored spot kicks each, it was up to Sam Evans to take the crucial penalty after the opposition had missed an earlier attempt. The captain showed magnificent composure to arrow the ball into the top corner, beyond the ‘keeper’s reach, sending the Hampton support crazy, securing the win for his team.

Following a 7-1 hammering of Wilson’s U18B team, the team’s ESFA run was interspersed with another instalment of the County Cup as Saint Cecilia CofE School sought to overpower the U16As. However, Hampton were able to replicate their performance against Lealands as they achieved another resounding 4-1 win.

Only one week later, the U16As were focused on ESFA again as the quarter final arrived but it proved to be an uncomplicated and straightforwad victory against St Peter’s CofE Aided School, with a final score line of 3-0 as a result of brace from Dinan and Da Costa continued his scoring run.

What proved to be their final game of the season was certainly their most important: the ESFA semi-final. The 3G was the setting, Ark Alexandra Academy the opponents.

Despite falling behind early, as had become the norm for the team, Hampton fought-back extremely well, with captain Sam Evans’ long-range thunderbolt the highlight as the U16As surged to a 3-1 lead, before Ark Alexandra’s eventual consolation left the final score 3-2.

Alas, there was to be no final as the coronavirus nullified any chance of such an occasion occurring. However, it was an astounding season for the U16A team who finished with 22 wins and a solitary loss for the season; a feat any team in the world would be proud of.

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