Hampton’s 1st XI make history
A nail biting, sizzling semi-final encounter against Gordon’s School ended in a 5-4 last minute victory, booking Hampton a place in the English Schools’ Football Association Final for the first time in the School’s history. Fifth Year pupil reporter, Josh Bartholomew, was there:
A total of 364 teams from across the land entered the ESFA Cup competition, and now only two remain. Hampton is one of them.
Reaching the ESFA semi-final was already a first for Hampton, but Mr Mills’ 2018/19 squad will now be written into Hampton folklore after winning a tumultuous, nervy encounter against Gordon’s School.
An uneven pitch and fearsome wind meant that the opening stages were tightly fought with both teams misplacing passes. Before this match, Gordon’s had lost only two games on their home turf all season – and it showed. They coped admirably with the conditions and went ahead after 11 minutes, with their central midfielder taking advantage of a bouncing ball outside the area to hammer his side ahead.
The Hampton players were growing into the game, and began to threaten the Gordon’s defence, with Shaun-Chris Joash looking particularly dangerous with the ball at his feet. It was Shaun-Chris who won the vital free-kick which led to Hampton’s opener. Attacking midfielder Harry Short took the subsequent set piece and delivered it perfectly to Freddy Hodgson, whose fantastic turn-and-finish hit the back of the net.
The Hamptonians were now dominating possession but the Gordon’s team were admirably clinical and scored their second goal, heading home from a corner to reinstate their lead.
With Mr Mills and Mr Ritchie in typically rousing form during the half-time interval, Hampton came out a different side – more precise, more energetic and dealing with Gordon’s threat with tenacity. It took only a minute for the home team’s lead to be eradicated, as centre-back Noah Hanley headed home from a free-kick.
A Gordon’s penalty missed the net and fifteen minutes later, Hampton had a penalty of their own. Picking up the ball in midfield, Shaun-Chris Joash drove forward with typical pace and skill, only missing out on a shooting opportunity after an opposition foul. Midfielder Louis Instrall calmly stepped in to stroke the ball home and give Hampton a 3-2 lead.
Almost instantly, Hampton added another goal as Fifth Year Sami Omaar spun brilliantly past an opposition defender, scythed into the box and crossed to Louis Instrall, who provided the perfect finish.
A Hampton victory was looking promising but Gordon’s, buoyed by vocal home support, struck back from a free-kick. Their attacker swung the ball in and the wind powered it past goalkeeper Tim Wallace’s outstretched arm.
Gordon’s were now intensely energetic, screaming forward as Hampton sought to protect their lead. As they broke on the right, Sami Omaar brilliantly stopped the cross, but an unfortunate deflection flew straight up in the air and Gordon’s headed the ball home to force extra time.
Understandably, the extra time period was hard-fought and fervent, but this plucky and pugnacious Hampton side is a force to be reckoned with. After dealing with Gordon’s attacking threat well, Denil Manuel supplied a tantalising ball for Harry Short to head home and ensure Hampton’s place in next month’s final, where they will meet Repton School at Shrewsbury Town Football Club.
Director of Sport, Mr Carlos Mills, was delighted with the team’s performance:
It was an incredible match. Both teams fought extremely hard and we’re proud and delighted to achieve this historic win. The Hampton players and coaches are thrilled and excited at the prospect of a great ESFA final.