By Omer Demiral
The previous two meetings between these sides saw a mixture of results with Hampton winning 2-1 away at Eton’s grounds, followed by a 0-5 loss in the return fixture at home. Hampton were looking to interrupt this trend of away victories as they hoped to get one over their rivals, hosting Eton on the renewed 3G facility.
The two sides started the match in sharp fashion, creating chances at both ends of the pitch. James Queen was electric from the get-go, as he wreaked havoc down the left-hand side, posing a threat to the opposition every single time he received the ball. It was through him that Hampton found their first goal. A sublime stepover followed by a fierce strike across goal, placed masterfully into the side netting, provided Hampton the lead. Truly excellent play from the in-form winger.
Eton were quick to respond and a low cross from their right winger was not cleared quickly enough by the Hampton defence. A subsequent goalmouth scramble resulted in the Eton left winger nudging it into the back of the net. 1-1. Half-time. Absolutely exhilarating.
After an exhausting first half, the teams lined up on opposite sides once more, and an even more thrilling second half ensued.
Soon after the whistle blew, Hampton’s striker Rudy Mills reacted first and pounced onto a loose ball, blasting it past the keeper’s reach, providing Hampton with their second lead of the match.
Eton’s resilience however, came to the fore as they replied swiftly and their left winger guided another fabulous cross by the right winger into the bottom corner of the Hampton goal.
Only a few minutes later, Eton’s creative midfield forces combined to produce a fine passage of play. They found the intelligent run of their centre forward who finished his chance clinically, rifling his shot across the goal. Eton’s lead was well deserved, yet Hampton never looked like giving up.
Hampton’s coach, Mr Carlos Mills, looked to his bench to bring on some fresh legs and change the dynamic of the match. Two players returning from injury, Jay Cairnes and Michael Azoo were sent out to get the team back in the game – and so they did.
Hampton’s star Queen went on another incredible run down the line, cutting into the box as the right back tripped him up. Queen’s rapid pace had proved too much for the Eton defence who were desperate to find a solution to contain him. The referee did not hesitate for a second as he pointed firmly to the spot, ignoring the complaints of the Etonian players. Ben Moffatt, another standout player in the fixture stepped up to the penalty spot, unfazed by the pressure. As he placed the ball firmly into the corner, a roar went up from the Hampton crowd, it was their game to win.
Hampton proceeded to suffocate Eton, pressing with a relentless work-rate. Sam Bond and Moffatt in the holding midfield roles plugged the gaps as the likes of Charlie Helm, Cairnes, Azoo, Ed Knott and Gabriel Fouche fought with every ounce of energy they had to defend from the front. It was a truly exemplary response from Hampton.
Eventually, they got what they had earned. A long ball breaking through the lines ended up at Azoo’s feet, and the player, referred to by some as a ‘football connoisseur’, dribbled – in composed fashion – round the keeper, rolling the ball gently past the goal line. It was a truly delightful winner on Azoo’s first game back from injury.
With only a few minutes left on the clock, Eton threw everything they had to clinch yet another equaliser. A rash challenge on the edge of the box from Omer Demiral earned him a yellow card and Eton a free kick. With the last kick of the game, Eton’s free kick taker floated in a cross, which was met by their towering centre back who headered it narrowly over the bar.
An enchanting fixture ended 4-3 in Hampton’s favour, extending their unbeaten run to six games in a row. Mr Mills had high praise for his team after the match stating that it was an “excellent performance” and a “match to remember”.