Hilltop participated in their second-ever Emirates FA Cup Match, with their opening encounter of the season against Redhill hosted at London Colney FC. Hilltop had a tough opponent due to Redhill’s strong preseason performance and their frequent participation in the FA Cup. Both teams were nervous; however, the anxiety of both teams allowed for a clear view of the fierce competition ahead.
Alongside the jitters, unfortunately, the bad weather was not favouring anyone, with heavy rains throughout the day. Despite the rain, the morale was high at kickoff as the Hilltop community showed up to support the boys. The high morale was also highlighted by Hilltop’s captain Hussein Hussein raising the team’s spirits before the match. Although it was Hussein’s first time captaining a FA Cup match, he performed a remarkable job of boosting the morale of his teammates, easing pregame jitters and nervousness.
In the first half, with the boy’s renewed confidence, they played strong and put up a good competition. However, Redhill displayed an exceptional performance, emphasised as Hilltop, alas, conceded a soft goal by Tom Harland-Goodard at the 46’ minute.
During the halftime break, the players of Hilltop were encouraged by their management to help restore their confidence. Also, led by their manager Abdullahi they were given tips on how to perform better, which sparked their motivation to unlock their potential back to the game and further improve their overall performance. However, despite the feedback, individual mistakes cost them as Redhill dominated the pitch. Adam Grant at 56’ minutes scored the next goal, which was assisted by a header by Andrew Herring. Furthermore, at 62’ minutes Reuben Duncan scored a penalty goal for Redhill because of a foul in the box. Due to the errors as seen by the foul, Hilltop FC was falling short. Unfortunately for the Hilltop boys, Tyrese Sutherland saw an opportunity to score then went on to bring the goal count to 4-0 at the 69’ minute.
Although Hilltop were 4 goals down and spirits were low, they won back control by scoring two goals towards the last quarter. This can be attributed to the double substitution made which brought in Mohamed Ali and Jordy Mubangu. The change helped inspire the Hilltop boys as they scored two goals within 6 minutes. Ali Mohamed scored the first goal ever for Hilltop in the FA Cup at 75’ minutes. This accomplishment is not surprising given that Mohamed is a seasoned football player and currently competes for the Somali National Football team. Hussein Mahdi who is described a the youngest most underrated player for Hilltop went on to showcase his skills and scored a goal shortly after at 78 minutes’. Despite their best efforts apparent as Hilltop took back control towards the last quarter of the game, it was not enough as Redhill were the stronger opponent. This was evident as Redhill used their skills to create disarray by creating fouls and delaying time until the final whistle; this destroyed the momentum of the Hilltop boys.
Although Hilltop did not win, a key takeaway from this game was their resilience. This was displayed by their performance at the end, as they made every effort to gain back control despite the setbacks.