By Omer Demiral
Hampton were looking to bounce back from their disappointing ESFA Cup second round exit earlier on in the week in this challenging friendly fixture against Alleyn’s School; they did exactly that, winning 4-1 in brilliant fashion.
There were several changes to the Hampton side including a first appearance for right sided player Ed Knott as a defensive midfielder and also a full debut for Michael Azoo at striker following his impressive substitute appearance against Forest School.
It was a quick paced start from both sides, the Hamptonian’s usual incessant pressing was countered by sharp build up play from the Alleyn’s defence and midfield.
However, the relentless pressure applied eventually proved too much and Hampton started finding real joy down the flanks with James Queen on the left and Charlie Helm on the right.
Helm especially was causing nightmares for the Alleyn’s left back and one of his crosses found the leaping Azoo inside the box. The initial headed attempt was saved but not held on to by the keeper. Azoo, rapid with his reaction, leaped at the rebound and gave Hampton the lead, tapping in from inside the six-yard box. A well-deserved goal for Hampton’s attacking efforts.
Alleyn’s responded well, looking comfortable in midfield and dangerous through their striker. Soon, they won a corner which was whipped in with pace. After a weak initial header from Hampton and Joe Downham’s second goal line clearance of the season, the ball dropped to the Alleyn’s winger who volleyed home from close range.
Alleyn’s continued to threaten from set-pieces, forcing some truly incredible saves from the Hampton goalkeeper Sam Ellis. Hampton’s defence managed to hold on for the rest of the half, which ended 1-1.
As the sides went into the second half, Hampton looked like a refreshed, revamped and renewed side. Each pass seemed to have zest and zip, with Sam Bond’s introduction in midfield resulting in a significant reduction in the possession rates of Alleyn’s.
Josh King dazzled in the second half, battling hard and playing some exquisite football. He went on one of his trademark solo runs at the start of the second half, winning himself a free kick in a dangerous position. He stood in front of the ball with confidence, dispatching the free kick expertly and giving Hampton the lead.
From then on Hampton pulled away, winning corners, free kicks and creating an endless amount of chances in and around the box.
Hampton’s third goal from a throw-in. The side’s intelligence showed as Queen threw a sublime ball straight into the path of Azoo who got his second and Hampton’s third with a clever chip over the keeper. A well-deserved assist for Queen’s fantastic performance.
Azoo’s brilliant display concluded when he was subbed off for Nic Herrero who had an instant impact, using his abundant pace to run onto a perfectly timed through ball by the midfield maestro King.
Hamton could have had a fifth and Olly Spray could have got his first ever Hampton A team goal; he connected well with a delightful cross from Queen but only managed to nod the ball onto the post.
Overall, it was a thrilling performance from the Hampton side and a much needed, morale boosting win. At the end of the game, coach Mr Carlos Mills commented: “We reacted really well to the cup fixture earlier on this week and this was a brilliant win. There were several outstanding performances all around and I hope we can carry this on to our ISFA cup match on Tuesday against St John’s Enfield.”