By Tom Scrimshaw
Hampton’s U14 A-team began their 2023-24 County Cup campaign at home against Harris Academy Merton on Thursday afternoon. The team were looking to kick off their cup run in style after their excellent start to the new season under new coach Mr Harry Hooper. After a resounding 7-0 win on the weekend, Hampton were certainly fired up for the occasion. With new additions to the squad playing their first cup game for the school, everyone was looking to impress, whilst also working as a team to ensure the team a place in the next round.
Hampton kicked off the first half confidently, dominating possession and passing the ball around their back line, looking to tire out the opposition early on. After a handful of attempts on goal, which didn’t trouble the ‘keeper massively, Hampton started to pick up the pace of the game.
After 15 minutes of play, Hampton had enjoyed the majority of the possession, but nothing stood between the two sides as of yet.
Hampton were creating lots of chances through the wingers, but never really looked like scoring due to the opposition’s defensive compactness. After a chance that came from an interception in midfield, Leo Nishida gathered the ball in the middle of the park before looking up, and expertly dinking the ball over the helpless Harris Academy goalkeeper.
Now that Hampton had the advantage, their confidence went through the roof. With only a few minutes left before the break, Hampton looked to capitalise on the opposition’s misplaced passes and score another. As the possession was regained by the Hampton defence, Hampton centre-half Toluwanimi Idowu looked up and floated a ball over the opposition back line into the feet of Noah RDM. With only a few touches needed, the Hampton winger perfectly placed the ball into the bottom corner to extend Hampton’s lead before the break.
Half Time: 2-0
First half Goalscorer(s): Leo Nishida, Noah RDM
First half Assist(s): Toluwanimi Idowu
Hampton came out for the second half with all guns blazing. For the first ten minutes of the half, neither team had many chances to score, until an opportunity cropped up for Hampton. After the team’s back-four battled hard to regain the ball, play was switched out to Rufus Lawson on the right – wing, who controlled the ball calmly before bursting off down the flank towards the by-line. After a neat skill move to take the ball past the opposing left-back, Rufus looked up and fired a cross into the box, onto the accelerating head of Noah RDM who finished brilliantly to give Hampton a 3-0 lead.
Now that Hampton had a comfortable lead, they looked to retain possession, whilst also looking to add another to the goal tally at the right opportunity. After a few late attacks by Harris Academy that payed little in the way of meaningful returns, the opposition failed to score a consolation and started to lose energy, allowing Hampton to counter-attack.
In the dying seconds, Hampton showed their determination to go for another and after a few close chances for the team, the final whistle was blown to confirm Hampton a place in the next round of the County Cup.
After the game had come to a conclusion, Hampton proudly celebrated their brilliant performance in a physical but nevertheless rewarding game with the parents playing a crucial role through their unwavering support on the side-lines. However, focus would soon be turned to a crunch clash with Bradfield College in the Elgin Schools League on the weekend.
Full Time: 3-0
Second half Goalscorer(s): Noah RDM
Second half assist(s): Rufus Lawson