By Alex Watson
Round of 16:
Hampton School 1 v Kingsdale Foundation 0
On a cold, blustery Monday afternoon Hampton and Kingsdale Foundation’s U13A teams took to the pitch knowing a win would see them move into the last eight of the competition. Both sides were ready; ready for one of the biggest games of their seasons.
Chances were few and far between early on, with Hampton creating little and Kingsdale struggling to break through a defence marshalled by Alessandro Cardinale and Sooho Jin with Felix Burt and Freddie Thwaite working hard as the two full backs.
Rio Felonov-Tzanev looked dangerous as ever, though, and on a couple of occasions his strength and speed allowed him to break through the Kingsdale backline, though it took a while for him to have any shots on goal.
However, when one chance came, more followed, the floodgates beginning to open for Hampton, with Caspar Strouts and Felonov-Tzanev both going close. And it was indeed Felonov-Tzanev who opened the scoring as, despite his first couple of efforts being saved by the Kingsdale goalkeeper, Hampton’s ever clinical striker latched onto a cross from Strouts and fired home into the bottom corner to give the U13As a deserved lead, as they dug in before half-time to secure the same scoreline at the break.
Kingsdale weren’t without their chances; Hampton keeper Seb Rautenberg had little to do throughout the course of the game, but he was called into action shortly before the end of the opening half, smothering a swerving free kick to ensure the U13As remained one up. They continued to remain in this strong position throughout the encounter, though late on they were tested as Kingsdale roamed forward searching hungrily for an equaliser.
Despite creating little in the second thirty five minutes, a superb defensive display from Hampton saw them through to the end of the game, and the quarter finals of the prestigious ESFA Cup, in an impressive performance.
A thoroughly professional showing from the Hampton U13As, as they prepared to take on Torquay Boys’ Grammar School in the quarter-final.
ESFA Quarter Final:
Hampton School 6 v Torquay Boys’ Grammar School 1
After a three hour plus coach ride to Devon, the Hampton U13As were slightly stiff but overall raring to go as they stepped out onto the 3G pitch of Devon FA, knowing a place in the ESFA semi-final was at stake. Kicking from right to left in the opening half, Hampton were kitted out in yellow, with their opponents Torquay Boys’ in blue. The game was underway.
Hampton started the stronger team in the opening exchanges, and could’ve gone in front if it wasn’t for chances spurned by Rio Felonov-Tzanev and Caspar Strouts.
However, the U13As continued to push resolutely forward, and did indeed draw first blood when a powerful half volley just inside the box from Marcus Solomon nestled into the bottom corner.
Not long after, and the lead was doubled for the boys in yellow, with Felonov-Tzanev twisting and turning on the edge of the box and rifling a weak footed shot home. After this early success Hampton continued to push forward and a great ball over the top from Balti Birts was controlled well by Solomon. His first shot was parried away but he didn’t miss on the second occasion, passing the ball into an empty net.
Torquay were down but not out, however, as they fought back with vengeance before half-time. The electric pace of the Torquay striker proved too much to handle for Sooho Jin and Alessandro Cardinale on this particular occasion as he burst through and was brought down for a penalty to the opposition. The penalty in question was calmly converted, and it threw the hosts a lifeline coming into the break.
Hampton were unperturbed by this however, as they continued to play attractive passing football and control the game. Balti Birts chalked up a fourth for the U13A team with a stunning strike, snapping up a loose pass from a Torquay midfielder and letting fly a long range rocket which flew into the roof of the net.
A fifth soon followed, with substitute Omer Olcer doing well to control a beautiful over the top through ball from Felix Burt and finishing clinically underneath the keeper.
And, in the dying embers of the game, the win was sealed. A speculative long range effort from Burt tested the keeper, with sub Alex Watson anticipating the parry straight to his feet and running in to tap home.
A dominant performance from Hampton, and a great win, seeing them move on to the semi-finals of the ESFA, of which the draw will be streamed live on 7 February.
Next up for the team is a tough fixture against Dulwich College in the semi-finals of ISFA on the 5 February.