Hampton were looking to get a result yesterday afternoon against Northfield Town at New Mill Lane. The hosts are more than capable of going on a cup run in the Les James Challenge cup this season and were runners-up last season where they lost to Knowle at the Bescot Stadium. The Solihull club were in good form going into this match with seven points from their last three matches in division two.
Northfield Town were entering the Les James Challenge cup in good form and had the opportunity to test themselves against higher opposition. The visitors had picked up seven points from their three matches competing in division three. They had recorded notable away wins over Wake Green Amateur and Meadow Park and were playing well with 9 goals in those three matches.
The weather throughout Sutton Coldfield and Tamworth was unpredictable throughout the day with the occasional rainstorm followed by clear skies and sun. The conditions at New Mill Lane were mostly clear and sunny throughout the afternoon with the odd sprinkle of rain. The atmosphere around the ground was friendly and welcoming prior to kick off and both teams went through their warmups between 2:15-2:45pm.
Starting Line ups
Hampton’s starting line up featured Jack Slevin leading the team as the skipper and playing alongside James Morris in central defence. Matthew Allely was the goalkeeper and the formation looked like a 4-2-3-1 with prolific striker Ciaran Lawless leading the front line. Hayden Dickinson and Marcus Brooke played on the wings with James Mudie being the number ten.
There were three changes from the team that started against Fairfield Villa last weekend with Hayden Dickinson and James Mudie coming into the team after impressing from the bench last Saturday.
Northfield’s line up included Ashley Tullett leading the team as the skipper and starting at right-back. Matthew Horton was the goalkeeper and Ethan Green and Tyler Stevens played in central defence. The formation looked like a 4-2-3-1 with striker Patrick Behan leading the line and being supported by Nelson Mateus and Kielan Naughton on the wings.
There were three changes from the team that started against Wake Green Amateur last weekend with Tom Allen coming into the team and playing in holding midfield.
The pattern of play throughout the first half resembled a traditional cup match with Hampton looking to break Northfield Town down and the visitors looking to play incisive counter attacking football on the break. The opening ten minutes involved both teams settling into the match and working each other out. Hampton shaded the early stages of the half and took the lead following a mistake at the back from Northfield Town.
The visitors were trying to play it out from the back but were caught on the ball. Ciaran Lawless played an excellent ball to James Mudie who finished well into the bottom left corner to make it 1-0 to Hampton in the 15th minute.
The hosts had further chances to increase their lead and take control of the match near the half hour mark with Ciaran Lawless having a good chance from a corner in the 26th minute. There was an injury to Tyler Stevens on the half hour mark for the visitors who had to go off and leave the pitch.
Northfield made a key tactical change following the injury which helped them grow into the match in the latter stages of the half. Ashley Tullett was moved to central defence with Lewis Brade dropping into right-back. Substitute Joel Harrison came on and played as the main striker, with Patrick Behan playing a bit deeper and playing as the number ten.
This helped the visitors build a bit of momentum for a good 20 minutes of the first half and they managed to find an equaliser in the 32nd minute. Ashley Prince played an excellent ball through to Kielan Naughton who ran off the shoulder of Bradley Hall before finishing well into the bottom right corner.
At the end of the first half, Northfield had a few good chances to take the lead in a key stage of the match. Joel Harrison was causing a lot of trouble for the Hampton defence and made some clever runs. He had a huge chance one on one with Matthew Allely who saved well. Kielan Naughton also got in a good position before shooting wide at the end of the half.
The second half was mainly controlled by Hampton who showed their quality throughout and managed to take control of the match in the last 20 minutes. The opening 15 minutes of the half were a bit cagey with Northfield looking to hold on and catch the hosts on the counter.
It was not quite clicking for the visitors going forward like it did in the first half with Hampton having more sustained periods of pressure, especially in the last half an hour. James Mudie had a good chance for Hampton near the edge of the box on the hour mark but shot wide.
The pressure eventually told, and Hampton took a deserved lead in the 70th minute. Ciaran Lawless got into a good position on the right-hand side of the box, worked the ball well to create an opportunity and finished clinically to make it 2-1 to Hampton.
Hampton never looked back from then on and were gradually getting more confident in front of goal near the end of the match. Substitute Hayden Froggatt scored from a header at the near post to make it 3-1 in the 76th minute and effectively seal the match.
Northfield had a few chances to get back into it with substitute Joel Harrison heading wide from a corner and substitute Ellis Riley rounding the keeper before having a shot that hit the post.
Hampton also had some good chances to increase their lead late on with substitute Delcio Neto having a shot that went over the bar. The match finished moments later with Hampton being worthy winners and progressing to the second round.
Hampton showed their quality throughout this match. They were tested by Northfield at the end of the first half but managed to regroup and take control of the match in the second half.
Jack Slevin really impressed from central defence and made some key headers throughout the match to withstand the Northfield pressure. Ciaran Lawless had an excellent game and was linking up play effectively for the hosts. He works well as the number nine and creates good opportunities to score from.
Jason Albini had an underrated game from left back and managed to make some big clearances from Northfield attacks. The bench also impressed with Delcio Neto and Hayden Froggatt playing well in the second half and creating good opportunities in front of goal.
Despite the defeat, there were plenty of positives from Northfield Town and they performed admirably against higher opposition. Matthew Horton was brilliant in goal and kept the visitors in it with some big saves from corners and set pieces in the first half. Kai Brookes had an underrated game from left back and managed to block the ball well to stop crosses getting into the box.
Overall, it was a positive performance from the visitors as they looked good going forward and defended well from the back. They showed a lot of effort and character to get back into which is a huge plus and should serve them well throughout the season.
Both teams are worth following throughout the season and both are set for interesting seasons from now until the end of April.
FT score: Hampton 3-1 Northfield Town
Man of the Match: Ciaran Lawless
Match report written by Rhys Beardmore for the Midland Football League
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