By Tom Scrimshaw
Hampton’s U13A team began their ESFA Cup campaign, away against ACS Cobham international school last Thursday. They were looking to match the incredible run of last year’s U13s squad, who went on to win the trophy.
With the sun beating down on the Astro pitch at ACS Cobham, Hampton were certainly fired up for the occasion. Having won their last game by an incredible 6 goals to nil, the team were not short of confidence heading into what was looking like a difficult tie.
Hampton kicked off the first half confidently, dominating possession and passing the ball around their back line, looking to tire the opposition early on. After a handful of attempts on goal, which didn’t result in anything, Hampton’s focus started to drop off.
Just as it had looked like Hampton were fully in control of the game, ACS Cobham started to develop their own possession, due to a spell of poor passing by the away side. After 20 minutes of play, both sides had enjoyed their respective spells of positivity but nothing stood between them as of yet.
Hampton were creating lots of chances through the midfield, but never really looked like scoring, and kept giving the ball away freely. After a chance that came from nothing, Ben Whitely gathered the ball on the edge of the box, and just as it looked like he was going to pull the trigger, was brought to the ground by an opposition player. This was a great opportunity for Hampton. Ollie Khaksar placed the ball down on the edge of the box, took a deep breath, and with a powerful strike, sent the ball looping over the goalie into the net, to break the deadlock and put Hampton in the lead.
Now that Hampton had the advantage, their confidence went through the roof. With only a few minutes left before the break, the focus turned to keeping the lead. ACS Cobham pushed until half-time to get level, but Hampton stayed strong and maintained their advantage.
Half time: Hampton 1-0 ACS Cobham
Goalscorers: Ollie Khaksar
Hampton started the second half well, looking to prevent any ACS Cobham goals and score more themselves. For the first ten minutes of the half, neither team had many chances to score, until Hampton’s centre back Tolu Idowu played a great through ball to striker Ben Whitely to set him away on goal. With only a few touches needed, Ben Whitely took the ball around the goalie and slotted it into the open net, to put Hampton 2-0 up and strengthen their lead.
However, Hampton knew that the game was not over. ACS Cobham were not finished yet, and showed a change in mindset, that resulted in them challenging the Hampton defence. After several attacks that payed little in the way of meaningful returns, Hampton won the ball in defence and launched a counterattack at the ACS Cobham goal.
With Noah Rasi de Mel sprinting at the opposition defence, Hampton knew this was a good opportunity to score. After a quick one – two, Noah collected the ball, cut inside one of the ACS Cobham defenders, and moments before taking on the shot, was tripped by an opposition defender. With a blow of the whistle from the referee, Hampton had a penalty. The ball was picked up by the man who won it, Rasi de Mel, and placed on the penalty spot. After a brief spell of possession by ACS Cobham, it looked like Hampton could try to finish the game here. Noah stepped up and placed it brilliantly in the bottom corner, to give the goalie no chance.
Hampton were now 3-0 up and well in command of the game. Sitting comfortably in their 4-3-3 formation, they looked to keep possession for the rest of the half. Despite their 3-0 lead, Hampton still managed to get forward when they won the ball. Upon winning a great tackle in defence, Tom Scrimshaw played a great through ball to Brennan Coletta who sprang out of the traps down the wing. With a great cross into the box, Tristan Drake tapped in from close range to extend Hampton’s lead yet again.
At this point in the game, Hampton started to drop off into their own half, knowing that they were firmly in control. As far as ACS Cobham were concerned though, the game was still on. After a great dribble at the Hampton defence by one of the ACS Cobham players, he was brought to the ground to prevent a shot getting away. This was a great chance for ACS Cobham to pull one back. With a powerful strike from the free kick into the top corner, ACS Cobham had their goal.
Although Hampton didn’t seem phased by conceding, the ACS players developed more confidence and once again strode forward into the Hampton half. With a great through ball, the opposition striker was sent away one on one with the Hampton goalie, and with a composed finish, the opposition had reduced the deficit.
Looking to keep their lead, which had looked so strong for a large portion of the game, Hampton dug deep. Upon the referee’s whistle, the Hampton players erupted into celebration, knowing that they had won a hard-fought battle and booked their place in the next round of the ESFA Cup.
Full time: Hampton 4-2 ACS Cobham
Goalscorers: Ben Whitely, Noah Rasi De Mel, Tristan Drake