Meet the Squad: U18 ESFA Cup Final
By Harry McLusky
Over the course of the 1st XI’s ESFA journey, collectively, they have scored 42 goals in 8 games, conceding just 9 goals in the process. Here is our complete guide to the squad, as we dive deeper into the ins and outs of the players who will feature this Thursday.
Knight’s incredible shot-stopping ability is not the only asset that he brings to the team. His commanding presence in the box solidifies an assured defence, with his pinpoint distribution helping to start countless counter attacks. His tangible talent in goal was proven in a 3-0 win against Ardingly, where Knight picked up a clean sheet and man of the match award for his performance.
Ready and waiting in the wings for Conrad is Will Holden. The keeper’s quick reflexes and excellent agility make him more than a suitable back-up and give Hampton assurance that they are well-covered for all eventualities.
By offering a more defensive option at right-back, Sedgwick’s strength and tackling ability has allowed the team to rely on him on the right side of the defence. Along with his attacking threat, he has further anchored the Hampton back line, locking down left-wingers from across the country.
Harvey’s speed in attack makes him particularly threatening going forward from right-back. His attacking style offers the perfect complement to Sedgwick, giving Hampton flexibility with their chosen playstyle.
His aerial ability is often only matched by his centre-back partner, with Mackenzie consistently dominating 50-50s in the air, quickly regaining possession for his team. Overall, his no-nonsense attitude to defending, offers consistent stability to the defence, further helping Hampton to 15 clean sheets so far this season.
The perfect centre-back partner for Mackenzie, North has utilised his aerial ability in a more attacking manner, scoring five goals during Hampton’s ESFA campaign, including opening the scoring in the all-important semi-final. His height and physical presence add further impetus and rigidity to the backline.
Part of the Woking Academy, Pye’s versatility is one of his most useful traits, along with having cool composure with the ball at his feet. His frequent stints at left-back and defensive-midfield offer talented depth in all positions, as he can often be seen effortlessly switching roles, if necessary.
A cross-country runner, Mills’ stamina keeps the gears turning down the left-wing throughout the game. The left-back offers more attacking impetus compared to his right-sided counterpart, Matt Sedgwick, creating overall balance throughout the team.
Despite being a midfielder, Evans-Hutchinson’s attacking contributions cannot be understated. In the three games leading up to the final, he has scored seven goals in total – a feat it is hoped he can duplicate in Thursday’s showdown!
Alex Di Soccio
Di Soccio started the season in the 2nd XI; however, he has since cemented his place in the 1st XI. This was particularly bolstered by his debut goal against Charterhouse. A creative midfielder, Di Soccio adds further creativity to the ranks, which will likely be optimised on the larger pitch at the Stoke City Stadium.
Together, Walker’s work rate and stamina make him a classic attacking midfielder. When twinned with his dribbling ability, his impact is often instrumental, adding an additional spurt of energy and urgency to the team, as well as driving them forward with his close control.
Matthew Moffat (C)
Captain fantastic and box-to-box midfielder, Matthew Moffatt, has played a pivotal role in guiding Hampton to Thursday’s final, through his clear communication and leadership skills. As well as being a great all-round player, Moffatt’s ability to loft set pieces into the box is always available, providing golden opportunities for the towering centre-backs.
Kyan Soni (VC)
Joining Moffatt in central midfield is the team’s vice-captain, Kyan Soni. Often compared to N’golo Kante by his teammates thanks to his tenacious work rate and vision of the game, his performances this season have led to him being regarded as one of the team’s star players. Soni and Moffatt form a formidable midfield duo, striking the perfect balance between attacking flair and defensive know-how.
Fulham and England youngster, Josh King, has lit up the football field with his wizard-like skill, exhilarating pace, and a deadly right foot. Despite being the youngest in the squad, he certainly does not fail to entertain from attacking midfield, with the Hampton crowd particularly relishing his performance earlier this season against Royal Russell in the ISFA Semi-Final. He is undeniably a very bright talent, and one to watch for the future at Hampton and beyond.
A powerful driving force down the right-hand side, Robinson’s pace and physicality give him opportunity aplenty to burst down the flank and get the ball into the box. His clinical finishing in front of goal makes him a thorn in the side of any opposition, often unstoppable when in form.
Despite a late injury scare following a friendly last week, it seems Suterwalla is back in contention to feature in Thursday’s game. His presence will add crucial creativity from the left-hand side, with his ability to create chances being the key to unlocking the opposition’s defence. His frightening pace is not something to be sniffed at, offering vital runs in behind the defence from his position at left-wing.
A versatile attacker, Wilson’s passion and determination is often an admired attribute. Absent from the ISFA Semi-Final in February, he will be looking to put things right at Stoke – he certainly has the ability to do so! Either playing on the left or up-front, his strength will certainly be utilised to shrug off opposing defenders, with his powerful shooting being enough to beat any goalkeeper.
Fan-favourite, Adam Coombs has been Hampton’s fox in the box throughout the 2022/23 season. Coombs only really cemented himself as a starter in late November, however, the talismanic striker has since proved his worth up front, becoming top scorer, and often popping up with a crucial goal in closer matches. His brace against Forest School in the ESFA semi-final booked Hampton’s ticket to Stoke. From set pieces, he is often lurking, and, when he gets the chance, he is often clinical and unfazed with the goal looming.
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