By Omer Olcer and Alex Watson
Round 5 – Hampton School 5 vs Ravens Wood School 1
With a spot in the round of 32 in their sights, Hampton U13As hosted Ravens Wood School in round 5 of the ESFA competition.
A disciplined and physical side, Ravens Wood posed a tough challenge for Hampton, breaking forward several times in the opening stages with extreme pace, though the attacks did not amount to anything.
However, as they settled into the game, Hampton began to take control, and opened the scoring when a cross found Balti Birts at the back post, who cut inside and rifled home.
The lead was doubled when Marcus Solomon pounced on a defensive mistake from Ravens Wood and finished clinically, with Hampton putting their opponents to the sword with their pressure; this was their hard-earned reward.
The U13As continued to press relentlessly, and while their opponents were able to fashion a few attacks, mainly down the left hand side, they were somewhat ruffled by the hounding of the Hampton forwards.
The Hamptonians once again broke through, with Solomon adding to his earlier goal, showing great composure to fake a shot before moving the ball onto his weaker left foot and slotting home.
Coming into the break, and Hampton were looking in a strong position, three goals to the good at half time, though Ravens Wood were still definitely threatening on the counter and the game was far from over.
However, the U13As maintained their relentless pressure in the second half, and a looping through ball from Alex Watson was controlled brilliantly by Rio Felonov-Tzanev who burst through and thumped home to make it 4-0.
Despite Ravens Wood pulling a goal back thanks to a great free kick on the edge of the box which skidded into the bottom corner, Hampton kept playing their football and were rewarded when the doggedly determined Felonov-Tzanev did well to reach a hopeful long ball from Finley Milner and slide the ball under the helpless goalkeeper, his 25th goal of the season for Hampton.
Overall, a very convincing and impressive victory against strong opposition, with the Hampton U13As marching through to the Round of 32 in ESFA.
By Alex Watson
Round of 32- Hampton School 4 vs Woolwich Polytechnic School 2
The U13A team played at home in the sixth round of the ESFA campaign. Hampton faced a physical and strong Woolwich Polytechnic side that pressed hard throughout the match.
Woolwich started the game off with a good spell of 5 minutes with various chances.
Thankfully, Seb Rautenberg stepped up to the task with a string of saves. Nonetheless, Hampton’s Rio Felonov-Tzanev scored the opening goal by catching out the Woolwich defence and slotting the ball calmly into the back of the net.
Unfortunately, Woolwich equalised shortly after due to a miscommunication between the Hampton back four. The scoreboard read 1-1 at half time.
Heading into the second half, Freddie Thwaite conceded an unlucky penalty which Woolwich cooly converted.
However, Hampton fought hard and battled strong. In the end the hard work paid off when Felonov-Tzanev made a fabulous run and was played through by Balti Birts. Woolwich then committed a foul inside the box which resulted in a penalty and so Alessandro Cardinale stepped forward and smashed it into the top corner. Hampton were back in the game.
Soon after Felonov-Tzanev capitalised on a poor goal kick from the Woolwich keeper and slotted into an empty net to send the Hampton faithful into hysterics. And when the ball was played to him again on the edge of the box, he did not disappoint and converted a spectacular effort which secured his hat-trick for the game.
Overall, Hampton played extremely well against a tough and strong side. We kept our spirit and won with a comeback. Hampton’s U13As now progress to the round of 16 of the ESFA tournament.
By Omer Olcer
Next week Hampton have an ISFA quarter final fixture against Alleyn’s School and will face either Kingsdale Foundation School or Beths Grammar School in the ESFA round of 16. With a busy few weeks ahead, the U13A squad are looking forward to their next ISFA and ESFA matches.