HAMPSHIRE NETS A LATE CLINCHER; YMCA get points in cracking encounter.
HAFC Juniors hit the top-flight of the RCD League's Under 15 age group last year when they finished seventh - and a measure of their continuing progress could be seen when they took on YMCA.
The unbeaten league leaders have also shown a marked improvement on last season and arrived at 'Old Earth' looking for a sixth win from six games.
And they achieved it as YMCA took the Division I spoils with a 3-2 victory thanks to a late George Hampshire winner.
The opening YMCA goal arrived after just five minutes when a throw in from the right caught the home defence napping, allowing Eddie Hemingway the chance to slide the ball into the bottom corner.
Jay Brogan almost doubled YMCA's lead a few minutes later with an audacious lob from 18 yards, but HAFC were able to breathe again when the ball rebounded from the bar.
The miss brought about a change in the direction of the game and YMCA found themselves struggling to cope with the sharp passing of James Sharp and Kyle Reilly, whose tenacity produced an opening for Daniel Siggins to level the scores after 20 minutes.
HAFC continued to pile on the pressure but, after a series of corners came to nothing, they were almost undone when a mix-up in defence allowed Brogan to put the ball into the back of the net - but referee Mark Hinchliffe correctly spotted a bit of shirt pulling and disallowed the goal.
A stroke of luck restored YMCA's lead five minutes into the second half when Harry Dawson's corner floated beyond keeper Adam Mellor's reach and into the top corner.
HAFC were rightly disappointed as defenders Sam Sheard, Isaac Baldwin, Ryan Wadsworth and Henry Downing had done little wrong - yet for all their efforts they were still chasing the game.
With the game now swinging from end to end, chances came and went for both sides until Elliot Harrison fulfilled his threat by smashing home a second and deserved equaliser from 12 yards to make it 2-2. HAFC now looked well placed to be the first side to take any points from YMCA, but the visitors were determined to hold onto their record and almost re-took the lead - Jake Robshaw's header from Dawson's cross flashing just wide of the target.
And the home side were now struggling to get past Luke Roberts, Dawson, Hampshire and Jake Lodge, who were giving nothing away in the YMCA defence.
With the end of the game approaching rapidly, it seemed that the teams would have to settle for a point each but, the introduction of Jonathan Krishnapillai's fresh legs gave YMCA another yard of pace and when another Dawson cross fell into the path of Hampshire, the defender placed the winning goal into the top corner.
HAFC managed to conjure up one last attack and were desperately unlucky when Jack Normanton met Wadsworth's pass but his shot hit the bar.
* GREAT FEELING: George Hampshire celebrates scoring the winning goal for YMCA after, below, Daniel Siggins (blue No2) sends keeper Jamie Burnand the wrong way as he nets HAFC's first equaliser in the clash at Old Earth (zyhudd171011smileker and zyhudd171011siggker) * LEADING THE WAY: YMCA Under 15s top Division I (back, from left) Jake Robshaw, Harry Dawson, George Hampshire, Jem Brogan, Eddie Hemingway, Jay Brogan, Luke Roberts. Front: Jamie Burnand, Jake Lodge, Tom Dunne, Jonathan Krishnapillai, Jack Smith, Ronnie Roberts Pictures by Eric Kershaw (zyhudd171011yemker) * MISSING OUT: HAFC's Division I Under 15s (back, from left) Daniel Siggins, Sam Sheard, James Sharp, Adam Mellor, Leon Hurles-Brook, Lewis Brierley, Elliot Harrison, Tony Sharp (manager). Front: Adam Broadley, Henry Downing, Isaac Baldwin, Ryan Wadsworth, Kyle Reilly, Jack Normanton (zyhudd171011hafker)