By Harry McLusky
After a year of empty football calendars, the U16C team returned to the field against Alleyn’s School U18E team. Hopes were high, however the gulf in physicality was certainly going to offer a different challenge in our first game of the season.
Unfazed by the intimidating appearance of the opposition, bursting out of the blocks, Saganan Thuraisingham darted down the right wing, squaring the ball to Monty Robb, who coolly slotted it home within the first two minutes of the match. From then, Hampton looked to play on the counter-attack; our defence bravely handling the bombardment of the opposition, forcing Matthew Barkus into some great saves. Just before half time, Robb looped in a threatening free-kick from the right, before the towering Leo Hartley beat the opposition goalkeeper to the ball, heading Hampton into a 2-0 half time lead.
So far, the match had been very stop-start, with the opposition’s aggression resulting in a yellow card.
This theme continued into the second half, with the wet and windy Saturday morning reflecting the feisty atmosphere of the match.
Hampton’s resilient defence was finally broken 15 minutes into the second half, with an Alleyn’s free kick finding its way through a sea of players, culminating in a simple tap-in, to drag the visitors back into the game. Set-pieces were our weakness: Alleyn’s scored from a poorly-cleared corner- their right-winger getting his second of the game. A soft yellow card for captain Navik Mendis left gaping holes on the left-flank. With minutes left, a deflected pass from the Alleyn’s midfield into this vacant space, allowed their striker to outmuscle the Hampton defender, slotting home the winner in the dying seconds.
From the side-lines, Mr Knibbs praised the team’s “display of Hampton Spirit”, against combative opposition. Despite the 3-2 loss, there were many positives to be taken from the game, and the team will bounce back.