Jets 2018 - 2019

Sunday April 7th, CDJF U18 Cup Final, Jockey Farm Stadium, Rusthall

Langton Green Jets 3- 0 Wadhurst (Gallagher, O'Shea, Balcombe)

The perfect season beckoned. Undefeated league champions chasing one more win, to complete the double. As a single season this would in itself be quite something, and a fine way to sign out, but as the last game on a journey from mini soccer through the teenage years, this game was laced with much more meaning for many of the participants, and definitely for the coach. Would it end on a high, or with regrets that would last forever ?

The game was played in front of a flatteringly large and supportive crowd at Jockey Farm. The pitch was surprisingly hard and bobbly, and less conducive to tidy football than the Jets might have liked, but you play the cards you are dealt. Sadly captain Ben's broken wrist meant he was out for the final, and so lined up in the coaching area - he had been voted Player of the Season by his team-mates, had led them to the league title in his final game, and scored the hat-trick that clinched the semi-final victory, so no-one could complain at his contribution to getting to this point, but he would now have to watch and hope. The other absentee's were Angus, who had contributed some vital goalkeeping duties during the season, and Nathan, who was overseas for the final, but who had scored the 1st round goal that set the cup run in motion.

The good news was that the other broken wrist in the squad was sufficiently healed that Matt lined up in the side for the first time since the league game versus Sedlescombe in February. Having played more games than any other Jet over all their years together the captain's role was deservedly his, but in truth it was and always has been a team full of leaders, all over the pitch. As usual the Jets lined up in a 4-3-3 designed to take advantage of their attacking riches, with both JackG and Anton starting, either side of Declan. Tom lined up in the midfield three, anchored by Alfie and JackO. The centre back pairing was HarryB and Charlie, with Matt and John the attacking full back outlets. Toby took the gloves for the first half, knowing Dan would take over at half time, with HarryN and BenP waiting their moment on the bench. 

Wadhurst started well and the Jets'  3 man midfield looked like a risk for the first few minutes. Trying to feed the strikers was hard with a high bouncing ball, and a pitch that was hard to run on, and Wadhurst's direct approach was putting defenders under pressure not to make an early error. A couple of corners were well dealt with by Toby, and gradually the Jets got into the game. A couple of corners for the Jets were wasted before Matt dinked one that created a scramble. The Wadhurst keeper saved brilliantly from close range but JackO looked to be heading the rebound into an empty net....but the ball came down off the underside of the bar and somehow stayed out.

Then a long through ball from Declan was flicked into Jack G's path. He cut in from the right and shot low into the corner, 1-0. Every opposing team knows he is a threat, but none has found a way to stop him. He almost added a second, but both a free kick and a shot were well saved. Matt almost made it two but pulled the shot just wide, and a couple of other scrambles from corners just wouldnt fall the right way. The balance of play suggested 2-0 was coming, but instead it was very nearly 1-1 as Toby made a stunning save from an equally stunning overhead volley.

The half time talk has been a feature of the season in terms of the side making the adjustments necessary to be better in the second half. It was agreed that the third striker was less needed than more aerial power in midfield, because Wadhurst were increasingly going long down the middle. Declan dropped deeper and he and JackO became a layer of defence in front of the centre backs. It also crowded the territory in the centre circle, supporting Alfie who was putting in an outstanding defensive midfield shift, enabling others around him to push forward.

Sometimes a big game needs a big goal to blow it open, and it was the Jets' day. Neat passing in the final third brough the ball to Declan 25 yards out in the middle of the pitch. He shifted onto his sometimes weaker left foot, but he had the confidence to let fly and smashed the ball over the keeper, and just under the bar. A brilliant goal that inspired his team-mates to believe it would be their day. With a two goal lead there was every reason to fight for every inch of territory. One passage of play epitomised the commitment as Tom's attacking run was thwarted, only to see him chase back 30 yards to block a through ball. Team-mates could not help but follow such an example.

Wadhurst had to gamble, and in pushing forward they became increasingly exposed to a fast break the other way. There were a number of chances that might have made it 3-0 but the Wadhurst keeper made some stunning saves to keep his side in the game. It almost bore fruit when Wadhurst got deep into the Jets' third and a long low shot was saved by Dan, who could not quite hold on. It looked like the rebound would be tapped home but Dan smothered the effort, and then was up on his feet to block the third attempt too. An outstanding effort, typical of Dan's season.....long periods of quiet, but then the concentration to produce brilliance at key moments. 

Soon after this the Jets won a corner, Anton floated it into the six yard box, and HarryB yet again proved a centre back with an uncanny knack of getting on the end of a scrambled chance. 3-0 was a mountain for Wadhurst. They tried bravely to climb it, but Charlie was having his best game of the season at the back - error free on the big occasion is like gold dust. BenP was also making all the right interceptions (as he celebrated his 18th birthday - the old man of the team - ) and JohnC was stopping Wadhurst attacks at the same rate that he was starting Langton Green ones. John had a free kick blocked, JackO almost made it 4 but saw yet another great save deny him, and Anton kept coming close.

A penalty to the Jets ought to have made it 4-0. Fortunately Harry's only miss from the spot this season came when the game was essentially over already. The Wadhurst keeper was outstanding all day. He might have been voted man of the match - Declan and Charlie also had strong claims for the honour, but the post-game award went to JackG. At the final whistle it was clear the best team had won. It bears noting that all three keepers who played in the match were outstanding, but the shots on goal count meant the Wadhurst keeper had been far busier.

The final whistle brought the joy and extreme satisfaction that makes a cup final a cup final. The medals were collected, Matt and Ben collected the trophy and raised it to a collective roar. It was all the sweeter that the trophy was named in honour of the sorely missed Mike Bender, who would have been utterly proud of this Langton side. Back in the dressing room the team soaked the coach, who didnt mind in the least, and then everyone headed back to the Langton Pavilion to eat, drink, and enjoy each other's company.

This was a great day, a great season, a great group of lads, who gave everything for each other, and created memories they will always treasure. Nothing lasts forever. But these boys journeyed from starry eyed 5 year old dreamers to battle hardened 17 year old veterans across the last decade and more. They grew up together, and no-one can ever take away these days. They were classy from start to finish, and talented and hard working. Pride isnt always a vice. Sometimes there are real reasons to be proud. These boys were and are the Langton Green Jets, and that is a badge of honour they can wear for the rest of their lives.

Sunday March 24th, CDJFL u18a

Sevenoaks Cobras 3 - 4 Langton Green Jets (Gallagher 3, Bachorski)


Perfect weather, almost a full squad to choose from, and yet the possibility it could be an awful day....or a perfect one. The Jets knew that a single point would clinch the title, and complete an unbeaten season. Everyone who has watched them on their football journey will know they have three times previously had the title on the line on the last day, and three times been obliged to deal with disappointment, twice in what could only be described as freak circumstances. How often does lightning strike in the same place ?

The plan was 4-3-3 and a trust in their ability to always score, and almost always keep clean sheets. Toby, Matt and HarryN were injured, but in the dugout supporting their team-mates. The 3 fit subs were JackO, Anton and Declan - possibly the strongest subs bench in the history of the CDJFL !

In the early skirmishes the Jets flashed the ball across the Cobras' goal but there was no-one to tap in at the far post, after which the pressure was at the other end, as long throws rained in. This was an even contest, albeit one where the potency of the Jets' forward line always meant there was the chance of a goal. Declan was rotated into the game after about 20 minutes, and almost immediated found space on the right side of the box - he dinked his cross to JackG who took a touch, swivelled, and shot home. This was the lead the Jets had hoped would give them room to relax, but it was gone in a flash, as a 30 yard 'worldie' was smashed off the underside of the bar to equalise. That hurt, but the pain went to a whole new level 5 minutes later when the same player did it again. You might not concede a goal like that all year. To do it twice on the last day of the season, with all the mental baggage the Jets drag around was to unleash all the ghosts of seasons past.

But if Sevenoaks had a hero, the Jets had one of their own. JackG had options to pass, but cut in from the right and shot low into the corner to equalise before half time. Anton hit the outside of the post and HarryB had a header cleared off the line, but it was still a relief to hear the half time whistle, with some time to review and adapt. The Jets' have adjusted well at half time through the course of the season, and this was no different. The agreed decision was to sacrifice a striker, and task George with man-marking the Sevenoaks danger-man, leaving it a 10v10 game to win elsewhere. This was tough on the forwards who this left on the bench, but everyone bought in to the plan.

The second half was much more about the Jets putting pressure on the Cobras' goal, with very little to alarm Dan at the other end. Playing only 2 strikers meant each of Tom, Dec, and Anton were partnering Jack on rotation, and fresh. On the hour George slid a ball inside the right full back for Anton to chase in from the beats him in a race, and he slid the ball under the keeper. A precious lead was almost extended when Anton's shot was tipped wide, then Jack's free kick was brilliantly tipped over, before Tom took over from Anton and almost slid home at the end of a neat move. But the attempts to score a decisive winner led to an over-committed attack and a swift Sevenoaks counter, that led to a tap in. 3-3. The Jets couldnt snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, again, could they ?

The pressure was one-way but the cost of conceding again was always the unspoken worry. Alfie floated over a corner from the left that was scrambled away for another corner on the right. JackG collected the ball - it might be argued he should be in the goalmouth heading home corners, not taking them, but he whipped the ball in left footed, and it sailed all the way across and in at the far post. Luck ? Maybe, but this was Jack's 4th hat-trick in 5 games. It's hard to call a serial goal-scorer lucky. 

Sevenoaks were tired, and the Jets were fighting for a title. The midfield of JackO, Alfie, and BenR fought over every inch of territory, while HarryB and Charlie snuffed out every route one approach. Both full backs were hard to pass, and JC and Nutty kept winning possession and launching counter-attacks. The clock ticked down without the alarms a pessimistic coach might have dreaded.

At the whistle there were mixed emotions. Elation for sure, but muted by sheer exhaustion, not to mention a massive dose of relief. The demon of final day agony had been exorcised. Sevenoaks had thrown the kitchen sink, the Jets had thrown it back. To the neutral it must have looked a fantastic contest, though there were not many neutrals, just a lot of cheering supporters. An unbeaten league season, with 72 goals scored, only 8 conceded, from sunshine to gales, from mud to astroturf. Was there a secret to this success ? Strength in depth, and an unselfish attitude go a very long way to explain it. Versatility too, as many found ways to contribute in multiple roles. 14 different players scored goals, and the 3 who didnt all played in goal.

So....great lads, who played great, every week. The cup final beckons to put the icing on an excellent cake.

Sunday March 17th, CDJFL u18a

Tonbridge Junior Thunder 0 - 6 Langton Green Jets (Oatley, Rowe, Gallagher 3, OG)

Four points needed from the last 2 games, and a road trip to Tonbridge after a wet week. The pitch was muddy and slippery, but thankfully the gales of the day before had died down. Both Harrys were missing along with Anton and Matt. Declan was late, so it meant a welcome return for George, in an unfamiliar forward role. Would it be possible to play the game without thinking of what was at stake ?

The pressure was mostly towards the Thunder's goal, although they were having success building down the right wing. JackG skipped through from wide on the left and his dinked shot/cross was scramble away. A number of attacks foundered with the difficulties of playing a non-bobbling final ball. Tom saw a close range shot well saved by the keeper's legs. Was it a matter of time, or one of those days ?

After 15 minutes nerves were soothed when a shot was blocked and the ball span high in the TJ penalty area. JackO got there first and headed down and in to the empty net. Soon after a similar chance looped up to the other Jack but his header spun inches wide of the empty net. The second goal would not come, and then Tonbridge had their moment. A counter-attack was only denied by Toby at full stretch to his right. Moments later another breakway saw a cross from the left turned inches wide at the far post. On either occasion the game might have changed.

The tension was broken, or at least reduced when BenR went into 'beast-mode', powered forward and smashed a shot into the top corner. A brilliant goal. The icing on that cake arrived when Jack then curled an equally brilliant kick into the other top corner to make it 3-0 at half time. It was a scoreline that looked great - the easier chances had not been taken, but that was compensated for by goals of individual excellence. Half way home.

The second half was like the first, except Charlie and Nathan saw to it that there were no breakways, and the advancing full-backs John and BenP were forcing would-be attackers to track back and defend. Several scrambles nearly brought a goal, and Tom kept floating in tasty corners. Finally BenR chipped the ball behind the defence and Jack was pulled down before he could score. He got up to convert the penalty (just) and the game looked over. An own-goal confirmed that, and Jack polished off his 5th hat-trick of the season soon after. It might have been more as George smashed a shot against the under side of the bar, but it didnt matter. The last few minutes saw the Jets passing and spreading the play despite the bobbles, and seeing out time.

This result leaves the team needing 1 point next week to confirm the title. Failing that Sedlescombe might claim a share if they win 3 more games, but what matters is that no-one can overtake the Jets, and the job is theirs to finish next week.

Sunday March 10th, CDJFL u18a

Langton Green Jets 9 - 2 Sevenoaks Diamonds (Balcombe 2, Gallagher 3, Rowe 2, O'Shea, Newman)

Gales, for the second week in a row, not to mention hail, but fortunately it was a home game, and thus a perfect surface at the Bennett 3g, but even so the weather was clearly going to be a factor. Absent Tom, Toby, Matt and Anton the Jets lined up in a 4-4-2, playing into the wind, and ought to have gone ahead early when JackG mised the target when through. Same again when Charlie volleyed over from close range but eventually the lead arrived when HarryB sidefooted home at the back post from Alfie's corner. That might have been enough given the Jets had only conceded in 2 of their 11 league games, but just before half time the clearances were poor, the ball dropped kindly for a Sevenoaks striker and he took full advantage, 1-1.

Rarely this season has the half time talk been about desire and work rate, but this time it was. Opinions varied on the right formation, but with a following wind the decision was made to be more aggressive, 4-3-3, with captain BenR playing up top alongside Jack and Dec. Ten minutes into the second half this paid dividends as Ben cut inside and scored from distance. A great goal that ought to have killed the game, but didnt, because for a second time an unnecessary attack turned into an equaliser. Was this set up to be 'one of those days' ?

Fortunately the Jets have a centre back with a killer instinct, and Harry B made it 11 goals in 11 league games with a dominant header. They couldnt blow it again, surely ? The answer was no, as in quick succession Declan scored a brilliant 4th, and Jack threw in a hat-trick. What had been a really tough game had turned into a blow out. That can happen with quality strikers, but it should not be forgotten that the chances came from hard work and creativity from JackO, Charlie, and JC. Nor should it be forgotten that Dan made a key save somewhere in the mix to squash any thoughts of a fight back. HarryN turned on the dribbling style to jink his way to a gorgeous solo effort, and BenR chipped the stranded keeper to make it 9-2. And that was how it ended.

The Jets in recent weeks seem to have had the knack of keeping the opposition interested for an hour only to kill them off with a burst of goals. It is hard to know if that is a good thing or not. It does keep  the coach and the supporters worrying for a little longer than they would like, but having a powerful kick finish is always a good thing to have in a racer's repertoire. In a blowout it is easy to overlook the consistent solidity that was offered by Nathan and Charlie (who also might have scored as he powered forward). It wasnt a perfect performance, but 9 goals is 9 goals.

The Jets have played their final home game for the season....7/7 wins in the league, with 35 goals scored and 4 against, plus 3 cup wins with 17 scored and 6 against. Their season now hinges on how they perform on the road (where so far they have scored 38 and conceded 8). Opportunity beckons.

Sunday Marchth 3rd, CDJFL u18a

Tonbridge Junior Inter 0 - 10 Langton Green Jets (Rowe 2, Balcombe 3, Croft, Gallagher, O'Shea, Peate, OG)

A total contrast to the weather of the previous week - rain and gales, and a muddy pitch at Tonbridge Rec. A classic 'leveller' of conditions and a lot of banana skins to overcome - Matt's injury last week has him out for several weeks, whilst HarryN couldnt start, and Alfie was also hobbling. Goalkeeping wise both Dan and Toby were absent but that was much less of an issue, with Angus a quality stand-in. Then John and Tom were delayed in traffic, which meant Alfie instead of spectating was asked to limp around up front. 

All of this was almost forgotten when Anton (back after missing the last 4 games) burst through but sliced a left footed shot wide. To compound matters Anton then also limped out of the game. Fortunately by then John and Tom had arrived which meant Alfie could resume spectating duties. The wind was wild, making good football very hard. TJ Inter had a lot of fast break threat and Angus needed to be safe and reliable with his handling on a day when it would be easy to spill shots and offer up rebound morsels.

Finally the game broke open when BenR drove forward, through tackles and into the box, finishing brilliantly as he held off two defenders. A Captain Marvel of a goal. Pressure on the TJ goal grew and Tom sent in three teasing corners using the wind - twice a goal almost resulted, the third time it took a foul to keep the Jets out, and HarryB continued his reliable penalty streak to double the lead. In awful conditions a 2 goal lead was excellent, and the Jets ran for shelter at the Tonbridge clubhouse.

The second half had two distinct phases. Initially it remained a game that might swing either way, depending on who scored next. Tom set JackG up and his shot was inches over. Then Declan produced a moment of skill to flick the ball over the defender and force his way into a shooting chance, only to be upended. A clear penalty, and again Harry was accurate. Not long after this John Croft scored a screamer running on to a ball pulled back from the by-line. 4-0 up, and having only conceded in 2 of 11 league games this season the Jets looked home and dry (or not so dry). If there was any doubt it was eradicated as Tonbridge picked up 2 red cards in short order. The referee was quick with cards on a day where conditions might have encouraged cutting some slack, and the home side paid the price. With a two man advantage the Jets took full advantage, and in the last 15 minutes the goals poured in - JackG and BenR added one each, Declan got the goal his all round contribution deserved, BenP slid in at the far post, TJ contributed an own goal, and finally Harry shot well on the turn to complete his first ever hat-trick.

There was an air of unreality about the final minutes. TJ were despondent at playing short-handed, and with so much space the Jets were almost scoring at will, which rather deflected focus from how hard a battle it had been for the first hour. Charlie, Ben, and JackO had neded to be tenacious in the midfield, and Charlie's step up into a CDM role filled a need perfectly. You can only deal with what is set before you, and that was done with clinical determination, to keep the points rolling in. Job well done.

Sunday Feb 24th, CDJFL u18a

Langton Green Jets 3 - 0 Sedlescombe (Gallagher 3)

Three months ago, on a muddy windy day in Sedlescombe the Jets dropped their only points of the season when conceding a last-kick-of-the-match equaliser. That pain has lingered, and haunted every viewing of the league table - other rivals for the title have one by one fallen away, but not Sedlescombe who have never given up tracking the Jets' every move through the season. Today was 1st vs 2nd, the biggest game of the season.

Sunshine and a perfect day at the 3g - the Jets were missing Anton and Dec, but had a solid look about them. In the first 5 minutes Sedlescombe saw enough of the ball for it to be clear this would be a true test. As usual with Jack up front the Jets always had the ability to turn defence into lethal attack, so possession %'s were not the be all and end all. The first golden chance of the game fell to Tom at close range in the middle, but unaware of the time he had he dragged his shot wide. No-one knew if this would be significant in the final reckoning. The Jets defence was giving no chances up as Nathan Harry Charlie and Crofty dealt with everything in front of them. As usual the bigger danger was set plays from free kicks, and Daniel did very well to parry at the back post, to preserve what would be a 7th league clean sheet for him.

On 25 minutes Charlie cut out a through ball and stepped forward into the centre circle. His pass was into BenR's stride down the left and he advanced before squaring to JackG. Twice Jack looked to shoot but feinted and moved on, before poking home from close range. A key lead in a big game. Sedlescombe didnt back down and kept coming, but a lethal blow was delivered when BenR made it down the left wing and delivered a perfect cross, matched by Jack's header into the far top corner. Unstoppable quality. 

Half time saw hot tired players gulping down liquids, and steeling themselves for the battle they knew awaited. Everyone knew their job and knew that heart would be a key ingredient.

Sometimes in the second half the heart-factor overwhelmed the head and the football wasnt pretty, but a 2-0 lead affords that luxury. Tom and Matt looked less and less like strikers supporting Jack and more like trench-buddies alongside JackO Alfie and BenR who were refusing to give ground in the midfield, and with the Jets so deep Sedlescombe increasingly went high and long. Their doing so played into the hands (or onto the heads) of Harry and Charlie who very rarely saw anything go by them. One difficulty was that they were looking straight into the sun, and on the occasions this became a factor there were anxious moments. Twice Sedlescombe got the ball in the net, but only from offside positions, once a striker got through and round Dan but the angle was too tight for the finish, and a couple of shots from distance caused heart tremors for spectators but not the keeper.

As the defence absorbed the pressure the fast breaks became ever more dangerous. Three chances a tthe back post might have killed the game. Matt headed against the defender on the line, whilst JackO twice volleyed inches wide. Nathan made the point that attack is an effective form of defence as he pushed forward to good effect. With 10 minutes left JackG curled what looked like a game ender, but hit the inside of the post, then monets later was thwarted by a greart save at point blank range.

With 5 minutes left Matt was injured out the game, and, as it now seems, out of the season with a broken and dislocated wrist. Cruel luck. The pain was temporarily forgotten however as Jack thumped home the hat-trick goal that ended the contest, and the clock ran down. His goals were critical, being the icing on the cake that is built on clean sheets - the Jets have held their opponents goalless 8 times in 10 league games. Today Sedlescombe were the most potent offensive unit faced this season, so to resist such determined pressure was hugely satisfying. With 4 league games to go the Jets own ther own destiny.

Sunday Feb 10th, CDJFL U18 a

Langton Green Jets 7 - 0 Tonbridge Junior Spitfires (Gallagher 2, Balcombe, Wildy, Manuel, Rowe, PEATE

Snow prevented the prior week's game, but rain is no issue at the 3g and Tonbridge Junior Spitfires returned 2 weeks after having pushed the Jets hard in the cup semi final. This time Jack G was fit, and the Spitfires were depleted having had 3 red cards the week before. 

In the early stages the Jets gave away a needless corner and a soft free kick, both high on the pre-game 'dont do it' list. They werent punished but it did offer hope to the opposition, and for as long as chances didnt get converted when the Jets attacked the game was poised. However also on the pre-game list was 'take quick throw ins' and Alfie launched one to Tom, who passed inside for Jack to thump home. Happy team, happy coach.

The rest of the half seemmed to speed by. The balance of play suggested a wider margin but it only happened when a corner was handled in the attempt to clear it, and HarryB slotted home calmly. The half time talk was measured; the performance wasnt great but the score was ok, and it felt like more goals were out there. 

The third goal killed the game and was a moment of high quality as Jack chipped a free kick into the bottom corner - the keeper never moved. Thereafter the damn burst open - Charlie backheeled home from a corner, Tom went clear through and chipped home a fine finish, after which BenR stormed through to do the same. All that was left was the icing on the cake. BenP was sent up top as centre forward, and after 15 seconds playing there he had intercepted a back pass, rounded the keeper and tucked home his first goal for the club - richly deserved and cheered by all. Alfie pulled off a couple of backheels, HarryN weaved spells, but that was it for the goals. Defensively Nathan and John were very solid, but will have to live with being the only defenders who didnt score today ! Similarly the scoresheet wont show the contribution in midfield of JackO and Alfie. But no matter, the points were delivered...

Sunday Jan 27th, CDJFL u18 Cup, Semi final

Langton Green Jets 3 - 2 Tonbridge Junior Spitfires (Rowe 3)

Cold and grey, windy, wet. Perhaps the only thing worth going outside for would be a cup semi final. Both sides knew the Jets started as favourites, but only the Jets were aware they were starting with neither Jack nor Anton for the first time this season, and had a dilemma about options up front.

Langton Green started with Declan accompanied by HarryN and Matt up front, and Declan had an early chance he pulled wide, but TJS also had a very good early opportunity, and were very much in the game. More so still when Toby and Nathan couldnt make up their mind who should deal with a loose ball and an attentive TJS striker got between them. He was adjudged to have fouled Toby, but it was a decision that protected the goalkeeper more than it rewarded his effort. 

The Jets were spluttering so a big change was made. HarryB was pushed up into midfield, and BenR was pushed up as centre forward....after several seasons as a great centre back this was a whole new ball game for him. No goals arrived before half time and what might have been presumed an easy game was clearly going to be anything but.

A good chance went begging soon after the restart, but it seemed not to matter when on the hour Declan flicked Ben through and he slotted home, 1-0. But no sooner had the lead been gained than it was given up, via a too-simple corner that was conceded, and a header in at the back post. Giving the opposition hope in a cup semi final was always going to fire them up. It took a while to quell the storm, and when BenR scored his second from close range with 20 minutes left that ought to have been that. It very nearly was as Declan went through but volleyed inches over the bar. A two goal lead would probably have killed the game. Instead Toby made a brilliant tip-over the bar of a fine shot and the Sptifires kept coming.

It almost felt inevitable when a lack of a decisive clearance saw the ball crossed back in to the Jets' box, and another good finish made it 2-2 with 10 minutes left. Over the years 2-2 has three times meant heartbreak for the Jets, and deja vu was blowing on the wind, or so it seemed. But with 87 minutes on the clock Matt put a corner on Captain Marvel's head and Ben completed his hat-trick. There was still time for some heart stopping chaos as TJS threw in free kicks and corners, and the final whistle was incredibly welcome. This was not vintage Jets, this was blood sweat and tears, but when the boys walk out for the final that will be forgotten.

Sunday Jan 20th, CDJFL u18a

Sevenoaks Diamonds 0- 4 Langton Green Jets (Allen, Rolf, Oatley, Newman)

On the road, and a 10am kick off. And a horrid sloping muddy pitch. And Declan, John, Anton and Dan all unavailable. And then BenR arrives with his am strapped up, and JackO without his boots. Just another dysfunctional Sunday morning ! These were the obvious banana skins, along with any whiff of complacency after last week's result.

These all might have been forgotten had the Jets scored early, but Tom poked the ball just wide, Charlie headed just over, and the Sevenoaks' keeper began what was probably the game of is life with fine saves from both Jacks. The sloping bobbly pitch lent itself to defensive errors, but also to being a hard platform to take a clean shot. BenR, Jack, and Harry N were all having success down the left wing, without the cross ending on the boot of a Jet, but finally a cross fell to Matt who scored from close range. Matt seemed to have added a second as he passed home Ben's pullback from the by-line, but was deemed offside. Then it was back to business as usual in terms of Jack bombarding the goal only to see a collection of fine saves.

At half time it was hard to be dissatisfied with the number of chances created, nor was the finishing particularly bad, nor had Toby been troubled beyond having to deal with free kicks knocked high into the box, but 1-0 never feels like enough, especially on a pitch that made a slip and an error a real possibility.

Sevenoaks battled like a side who still had a sniff of a hope, and for a while the Jets seemed distracted with arguing over refereeing decisions, so it was time to focus. In the next passage of play the 1-0 margin started to feel more and more precarious, not because Sevenoaks threatended much, but because the Jets missed some sitters, and this started to create doubts and anxieties.....Matt and HarryN both cleared the bar from close range, JackG and Ben shot just wide, and time ticked by. Finally Matt dinked a chip to the back post and HarryB headed down; yet again the keeper saved well, but this time Nathan was on hand to pass home calmly, 2-0. Why Nathan was on hand to score isnt clear, but he did, and  where 1-0 felt uncomfortably close, 2-0 felt like a tall cliff of a lead.

Having broken the game open the goals started to come. JackO burst through and his shot found its way to the net via keeper and defender, and then HarryN crossed one in off the back post. JackG tormented the defence from the first to last minute but still could not score as yet another goal bound shot was tipped over the bar. Harry and Charlie stood firm at the back to deliver another clean sheet and it was job done.

In the end all the banana skins were avoided. It wasnt pretty but it was 3 more points, and now thoughts turn to the upcoming cup semi final.

Sunday Jan 13th, CDJFL u18a

Langton Green Jets 10 - 0 Tonbridge Junior Inter (Rowe 3, Gallagher 3, Bachorski, Rolf, Croft, Wildy)

5 weeks between games is too long! Even longer for those returning from absence and injury - Nathan, Charlie, Matt and JackO - their return was welcome, not least because sadly both Harry's dropped out late, unwell. This meant a new centre back pairing of Charlie and Nathan, to face a TJ Inter side who had only lost 2 of 8 league games so far this season.

JackG came close to winning an early lead with several well saved shots. The game was broken open when Tom broke, shimmied, released Anton, and he set up BenR to sidefoot home. Alfie almost scored from a corner, then Jack headed home from point blank range. Ben scored his second with a sweet header from Matt's cross, before Jack overtook him again by scoring two more before the break.

At half time the game was over, but the chance was there to work on things that will matter later in the season. However TJI battled well for the next 20 minutes, while the Jets were over-fancy in the final third, or missed their chances. Finally Anton and BenR smashed home emphatically, and the gates opened wide in the last few minutes. Both Nathan and John C converted penalties, while Charlie scored his debut goal, to cap a fine defensive performance with Nathan. 

Other chances went begging. Tom and JackO will wonder how they didnt score, while at the other end it took a great save by Dan to make sure it was a third straight league clean sheet. It's always likely that a lot of people played well in a 10-0 win, and they did. Complacency lurks if anyone takes things for granted, but the form is good.

Sunday Dec 9th, CDJFL u18 cup, 1/4 final

Sevenoaks Cobras 1 - 5 Langton Green Jets (Gallagher 2, Manuel 2, O'Shea)

The day start tragically with the news of Mike Bender's death. As the man who was there at the start for so many young people's football at the club he has left an irreplaceable void at Langton Green. Would he have wanted football cancelled today because of him ? Never. So the show went on.

For the third time in a row the Jets had the toughest game in the cup draw, this time away to a dangerous Sevenoaks Cobras side boosted by some KYL Tonbridge Angels who had no game today. But for the first time this season each of JackG, Anton and Declan were available at the same time, so it cried out to be bold and play all 3 up front at the same time.

With Nathan, JackO and Charlie adding up to three important absences today, the midfield burden fell on Alfie, BenR and Tom, who knew the tackles would be competitive, not least given the prize of a semi final spot. It would be critical for them to work hard, and hold their shape. The defence had not conceded a goal from open play in over 4 hours, and BenP, HarryB, Toby and JohnC lined up with Dan behind them looking to extend the streak.

The early passages of play were towards the Sevenoaks goal, and HarryB headed just over from a corner, whilst Anton and Jack began to terrify the full backs with direct running. The game was broken open when BenR shot low from outside the box, and the goalkeeper could stop but not hold the ball. Jack was the first on the scene and lifted in the rebound, 1-0. Anton nearly doubled the lead but a brilliant goal-line block denied him. All the while Sevenoaks were making no progress at the other end of the pitch where the aerial dominance of Harry and Toby denied any route 1 attacks, whilst the hard working midfield and full backs thwarted any ground-based forays.

Harry N came on down the left wing, and Jack moved to a central role. Almost immediately Harry's mesmerising feet utterly bamboozled the full back and Harry was into the box, down to the by-line and pulling the ball back. Tom poked it home, but the goal was all about Harry. A 2-0 lead gave room for one error, but the Langton defence made none till half time. If anything a third Jet goal looked most likely but despite Anton's fine set-up play it just wouldnt come - Declan was sent through by a long throw and was clattered from behind for what looked a stone cold penalty...but wasnt given, and the match stayed alive.

The second half saw continued Jet dominance. BenR rampaged from midfield and missed narrowly. A number of corners came and went. There was nothing about the game that suggested Sevenoaks might come back, save that cup ties do funny things to brains. So there was a sense of justice when for a second time Declan was set free by a long throw, and this time he volleyed home. As last week, with a winning margin in the bank the Jets unfolded someof their best stuff, with great interplay between midfield and forwards. Anton had a curling shot well saved, and then Tom shot from distance and the ball squirmed under the keeper...not pretty, but 4-0 meant game over. In case there was any doubt Jack then curled a fantastic free kick into the far top corner. The only blemish was a very late and scruffy goal conceded to make it 5-1. It was a credit to Toby and Harry just how affronted they were by the concession.

So, a semi final beckons on Jan 27th, at home, to last week's opponents, TJ Spitfires. A great opportunity. A Langton legend died today, but his legacy will march on.

Sunday Dec 2nd, CDJFL u18A

Tonbridge Spitfires 0 - 8 Langton Green Jets (Gallagher 2, Manuel 3, Lenton, Rowe, O'Shea)

There arent many places a game might go ahead after a week of rain but Tonbridge Rec is one. The Jets spent the week wondering if to pray for sun or more rain, because they knew Charlie, Anton, JackO and Nathan were all unavailable. But on Saturday Declan's registration came through, and by Sunday there were 11 players grateful the game was still on.

With 11 fit players the team picks itself - what was left was to decide on a formation, and so Dec joined JackG up top with BenR and Alfie anchoring the midfield, with Toby and Harry behind them - a strong spine. Despite not having played for 6 months Declan hit the ground running, and had the ball in the net early on when he was the first to the rebound from JackG's free kick, only to be adjudged off-side. Jack also hit the bar with a header in the early exchanges, before Dec slid him through and he hit the ball low into the corner for a 1-0 lead.

For the rest of the first half the one goal lead kept threatening to be more but a mixture of near misses, woodwork, and good goalkeeping meant it remained a small lead, and one it was easy to imagine slipping away in the mud. There was no need to change anything at half time as the chances were coming, and 10 minutes into the second half Alfie burst the damn with a brilliant goal as he one-two'd with Declan, burst into the box and smashed a left footed shot into the roof of the net. 

Chasing the game TJ Spitfires left more gaps for Jack to exploit, and in short order Tom and BenR had both scored goals that put the game to bed. Tom then bundled another one over the line from Dec's long throw, Jack headed in a corner, and Dec scored the goal his overall play deserved. The icing on the cake was tom's third goal after a beautiful passing move. There was still time for JackG to play left back and allow JohnC some time as centre forward and he almost grabbed his first goal. However by this stage the main event was delivering a second successive clean sheeet, and some fierce tackling by BenR, Harry, Toby and BenP showed how much this mattered to them. To TJS' credit they made two good chances at the end but were denied by a brilliant double save from Dan who had done well to maintain concentration.

The scoreline gives no indication how much hard work went in. It was a well balanced and powerful team performance, setting up next week's cup quarter final.

Sunday Nov 25th, CDJFL  u18A

Langton Green 2 - 0 Sevenoaks Cobras (Gallagher 2)

The last minute goal conceded at Sedlescombe hung over the week like a black cloud. This Sunday brought the chance to put that into the past, as well as bringing grey November clouds on a gloomy afternoon on which the chance to play on the Bennett 3g was most welcome.

Anton was absent at athletics, and JackO succumbed to a rugby injury on Saturday so the Jets reshuffled, putting Nathan alongside Harry at the back, releasing BenR into the midfield. Sevenoaks arrived with their own injury problems, and faced 20 minutes with only 9 players until reinforcements from a KYL match could arrive. It was a huge advantage that the Jets managed to totally waste! 

It might have been very different because in the 2nd minute BenR waltzed through and managed to shoot straight at the keeper with the whole goal to aim at. Then Jack hit the bar with a header from a John C cross, after which BenR also hit the bar from distance, whilst HarryB and Tom both missed from closer in. The chance to kill the game early was wasted with too many rushed attempts and not enough care to dissect an outnumbered side. 

With Sevenoaks boosted by their late but talented arrivals it was a wholly different game. They attacked with pace, and carried a real threat. Ben P had a fine first half on the right side of defence, with key tackles that showed his commitment. And then, after all the chances wasted it toook one long ball over the top, a race that JackG won, and toe poke home to make it 1-0. Goals dont have to be pretty. As half time arrived a one goal lead wasnt looking too bad, though right before the whistle Alfie took a whack to the head which served to take him out of the remainder of the game.

The second half was seriously competitive and very hard work. Toby came on to add to the aerial power in defense, and with BenR and Charlie fighting for every inch of turf (artificial) the route to the Jet goal was well protected. Matt joined Jack up front and the game went from end to end. Several good crosses from John and Toby almost came to something, and HarryN and BenR both came very close to adding to the lead.

Then the key moments....a Sevenoaks cross skidded acros the face of goal without finding a friendly foot. The ensuing corner saw Dan somehow keep out a close range header, then poke the rebound off the toe of a fast-arriving striker, and then HarryN found a way to hook the ball off the line and away from danger. It was a mad scramble, a great save, and HarryN might well admist he is the unlikeliest of defensive saviours. How valuable it was was underlined moments later as Matt sent Jack away down the right, and he played a delightful one-two with Tom to send him clear through, and finished decisively. Brilliant goal, perfect timing. 

The road back was too much for Sevenoaks. The route down the middle required them to get beyond two central midfielders who can also do duty as centre backs, Charlie and Ben, never mind the two centre backs behind them, Harry and Nathan, not to mention the other centre back, Toby who was playing right back! So the attacks were soaked up, and the Langton counter-attacks kept forcing Sevenoaks to chase back. Harry and Matt nearly added a third, as did BenP who somehow found himself in the other six yard box on a break!

It ended 2-0. The better team won, but the game was never over until it was over, and with the experience of the week before there wasnt a moment to relax. Credit to Sevenoaks for fighting so hard in difficult circumstances, they will win many games playing as they did.

Sunday Nov 18th, CDJFL u18A

Sedlescombe 2- 2 Langton Green (Balcombe 2)

The same opposition for the second week in a row, but this time on grass (mud, slopes) rather than 3g, and without Anton, or Dan or Toby. Angus took the gloves. It was also apparent that Sedlescombe had a stronger squad than the week before, and it would be a different kind of game. Just how different was clear early, when an inswinging corner floated on the wind directly into the top corner. On a pitch that would be hard to play on goals would be hard to score, so this was a bad start.

HarryN nearly put things on track but his shot was brilliantly tipped over the bar, then Jack had a header well saved. The third good chance was less about good goalkeeping than about the pitch as the ball bobbled horribly when Jack was clear through. A couple of horror offside decisions brought dangerous attacks to an end so everything was going wrong, and it was tough going.

With the slope going their way in the second half there was time to pressure their way back into the game. Matt came on for his latest injury comeback, to support Jack and chances started to come. Again a corner was a factor in the goal that soon came, as HarryB brilliantly headed home Jack's inswinger. With plenty of time, and the conditions favouring the Jets, momentum was going one way. The Sedlescombe keeper kept adding to his collection of fine saves, tipping a free kick round the post, though he was helpless as Jack headed inches wide. Finally the second goal came, with 20 minutes left as HarryN set up Jack, who was fouled before he could get the shot way. Harry B finished calmly and the comeback looked complete. 

Several times the game might have been killed with a third Langton goal, but it just wouldnt come. As the clock wound down the pressure cranked up, but most of the danger was long ball optimism that was being dealt with by the back four. The Jets cleared one last time, and in a midfield scrap there were a couple of chances to get the ball away downfield, but a Sedlescombe midfielder came away with the ball. Ben and Harry were between him and the goal, but the hunger to stop his run led to a lunging tackling from behind, setting up a free kick.

Inevitably the free kick crept in, and that was the final moment of the game. Gut wrenching, sickening, all the usual emotions the Jets experience when turning a 2-1 lead into a 2-2 draw in injury time, which has happened 3 times now over the years. It's easy to see how to avoid such things after the game, harder to think clearly in the heat of battle. It is worth hanging on to the fact that it was a great fightback, the bulk of the chances were at one end, and so on.....but it still hurts. Football.

Sunday Nov 11th, CDJFL Cup, last 16,

Langton Green 7 - 2 Sedlescombe (Gallagher 3, Bachorski 3, Oatley)

The cup draw has not been kind - most of the top sides in the division are in the top half of the draw. After 24 hours of downpours and high winds the 3g was a good place to host a game, as Sedlescombe came to town. BenR was a late absentee, but the Jets were happy to welcome JackG back - Matt HarryN and BenP made for a full bench of subs - 

In the first 5 minutes the Jets had three good chances to take the lead; not much wrong with the finishing, just good blocks on the line. It was clear that Sedlescombe were good on the ball, but also clear that JackG and Anton were going to be a handful to defend against. The first goal was very route 1, as Dan collected a cross and kicked long and early. Anton provided the flick, and JackG supplied the volley, 1-0. It was soon 2-0 as Anton broke clear and side footed home, but the Jets had a strong wind at their backs, so it was not clear if this was a good score. What was clear was that Dan was having a great game in goal, diving to make a save, and then getting up to block the rebound. A couple of corners proved tough to defend in the wind, and it came as a huge relief when Anton curled a high quality goal from distance, and then JackG passed home a 4th, to complete a great move down the right. The Jets survived a crazy moment just before the half time whistle and made it to the break in a great position.

In the first moments of the second half if was nearly five, as Anton saw a shot well saved, but Sedlescomb went straight down the other end and knocked home a cross from close range. Could this be the start of a fight back, wind assisted? For a few minutes the game teetered, but then Alfie strode onto the ball, and knocked a gorgeous pass through to Anton who lobbed into the empty net. Sedlescomb came back with another goal, but from a corner HarryB knocked the ball down for JackO to volley into the roof of the net, and then Matt curled a left footed pass over the defence and into JackG's path, and like Anton he passed into the empty net for his hat-trick.

The scoreline looked great - the game itself felt much tighter than the margin suggests, and defending into a setting sun was never easy for HarryB and Toby. JC had a fine game, and added an attacking dimension in the second half, and HarryN again showed his fast feet as he danced dangerously into the penalty area.

Overall it was an excellent afternoon as the Jets advanced to the quarter week it is Sedlescomb, again, in the league

Sunday Nov 4th, CDJFL u18A

Langton Green 1- 0 Tonbridge Junior Thunder (Balcombe, pen)

 - TJ Thunder arrived as league leaders, and with a 100% record. The Jets were a bit patched up, and fielding a few lads well below full fitness. The two sides had met a month before, in the cup, and that game had been close, the Jets scraping home, with the same 11 as started this game.

TJT passed well, but were failing to penetrate beyond the centre back pairing of HarryB and BenR, whilst the Jet always looked dangerous when Anton was given a ball to chase. Charlie threaded a lovely dink forwards and Anton rattled the bar. Nathan and Tom linked well and the cross just failed to find an outstretched foot. Up the other end Dan made a fine save from an angled cross shot, but was largely untroubled. The move that unlocked the game was a dribble from HarryN who danced past 3 defenders, and was flattened by the 4th. A clear penalty, and confidently finished by HarryB.

in a tight game 1-0 was a precious lead, and meant the half time discussion was more about preserving defensive shape than about how tocommit more players forward. Frankly, Anton alone up front was enough offense for any side. His speed was a nightmare for defenders. On one break he drew a great save from the TJT keeper, on another he squared for Toby who was inches wide having run the length of the pitch in support. Talking of runs the length of the pitch....not only was BenR awesome at the back, he also went box to box with the ball and was only denied a goal by another fine save.
HarryN was fighting injury, but having created the first half goal he then came back on and set up a golden chance for Tom to close the game out. The shot clattered into a defender on the line. Not for the first time this season the domination just wouldnt turn into goals, which made the last 5-10 minutes anxious as TJT gave it everything. The Jet midfield was packed - Charlie, JackO and Alfie worked hard, BenP, JC Toby and Nathan all made the tackles that needed making, and Dan's handling was impeccable all afternoon. In injury time Anton broke clear and was hacked down from behind - he was as lucky not to be badly hurt as the defender was to only see yellow.

So....1-0. A tough rather than beautiful game, a great result rather than a great performance. But sometimes that is what it takes.

Sunday October 28th, Kent County Cup, last 32

Herne Bay u18 3 -2 Langton Green (Oatley 2)

It doesnt come much worse geographically speaking than Herne Bay away. But it was a chance for the Jets to test themselves against older Kent Youth League opposition. Only 11 made the journey (plus some diehard fans) on a chilly day that felt like winter.

For the first 15 minutes HB passed nicely until they ran into BenR - uphill and against the wind the Jets were holding firm, and then perhaps should have gone ahead as Anton had two chances in short order. However they then shot themselves in the foot as HarryB dwelt on a ball he might have cleared, was robbed, and punished, 0-1. Then everyone missed a corner and it was put in at the back post, 0-2, and then another defensive lapse was punished. Being 0-3 down was and remains very unfamiliar territory for the Jets. Getting punished for every single mistake was a harsh reminder of the level required against good opponents. Wobbling meekly the boys limped to half-time.

It was nice to retreat from the weather, and go behind closed doors for a half time chat. There was much to talk about (at least by the oldest person in the room). The next goal was going to be important. It came from JackO who put in another strong all round performance, a left footed strike from distance. 1-3 and a flicker of hope. It might quickly have become a one goal game as Anton had a great chance that was finger-tipped round the post, then Matt half volleyed just wide from the edge of the box. A couple of corners came and went, and then from another HarryB took 3 goes at bundling the ball home - he finally succeeded via JackO's ankle, so it was cerdit to Harry but a second goal for Jack.

There was time to throw the sink at the game and the effort was admirable. On another day it would have happened. Toby even left his goal to go up for a corner, but there was just guts, no glory. It finished 2-3 but there were plenty of positives from the way the boys responded to adversity. Perhaps the biggest lesson was the need to play error free defensively for a concentration packed 90 minutes. Whether the lesson will be learned.....time will tell.

Sunday October 14th, CDJFL u18A division

Langton Green 3 - 2 Wadhurst (Newman, Balcombe, Bachorski)

The fates dictated a return match against Wadhurst only 2 weeks since the last game, this time at the 3g. Angus made welcome return in goal and Nathan started in midfield after last week's goal-scoring exploits. The traffic was one way in the first half but without many clear cut chances. A number of shots from 20 yards out rained in from Alfie, Anton, Tom, then JohnC hit the bar with a free kick from the same distance. Finally Harry N jinked through on the left, rounded the keeper and passed into the empty net.....all left foot, all quality. Charlie nearly doubled the lead but the Wadhurst keeper saved well. At half time 1-0 was a bigger lead than it looked, but it only takes one mistake.....

Fifteen minutes into the second half, having failed to add to the lead the Jets made that mistake. Possession was lost in a key area, and the Wadhurst player walked into the unguarded territory and smashed home a screamer from 25 yards. Understandably this amped up the opposition and made for a combative period - the Jets knew they should be winning, but werent, and werent happy about it. Tensions were eased when Harry kept up his goal a game record with yet another close range goal from a corner.

The pattern of the game resumed, as the Jets were rarely troubled at the back, but didnt take their chances at the front. Anton ought to have scored, twice, then Matt saw a free kick tipped round the post. Wadhurst won a free kick on the edge of the Jets' box, and all of a sudden it again looked possible that the game could be tied up. The shot deflected off the wall for a corner......from that corner Angus punched clear to the feet of Anton just outside the box. He took the ball and dribbled away to the right. With no-one in green ahead of him, and most of Wadhurst up for the corner he then turned upfield and found top gear. Anton at top speed is an awesome sight, and he covered the length of the field leaving everyone in his wake except centre back BenR who offered an option inside. But Anton only had one thought in mind and went into the box, up to the keeper and passed the ball home. It was an absolutely stunning goal, arguably one of the best anyone at Langton has ever seen.

And that ought to have been that.......except with 3 minutes left the Jets again gave the ball away sloppily in front of their goal and were deservedly and skilfully punished. They really ought not to have been hanging on in a game where they had multiple chances and Wadhurst had but two.....but they had to, and did.

Three points was good, two goals conceded wasnt. In the end the game will be remembered for a goal no-one will forget.

Sunday October 7th, CDJFL Cup, 1st Round

Tonbridge Junior Thunder 2 - 4 Langton Green (OG, Rolf, Newman, Balcombe)

Another beautiful autumn day, and a short trip to Tonbridge for a cup match. TJT arrived with a 100% record in the A division, whilst the Jets arrived looking sleepy. They didnt look like they would need to wake up when gifted an own goal before they had even enjoyed any possession in their opponent's half, but that bonus was quickly squandered by a sleepwalking display that leaked two goals on the break, and almost more, were it not for some athletic goalkeeping by Daniel. Losing 1-2 and misfiring all over the pitch was a bad combination.

Some running repairs were attempted in terms of substitutions, and before the break 3 good chances came and went - JackO, Anton and Harry B all might have scored, but the fact they didnt only added to a sense of frustration and walking nightmare. The half time team talk was not a comfortable one, but did lead to a decision to change formation, aiming to change the game. Nathan pushed up into midfield, and after good work on the right wing by BenP and Alfie, Nathan arrived to meet a cross with a full blooded volley into the roof of the net. A proper good goal. Just in time too, as Nutty then had to dash to catch a train, with Harry N taking the wide left role. 

The direction of play was very much one way, and a number of chances didnt quite lead to a goal, but gave a sense that it was coming. Tom and Charlie came close - many of the dangerous balls through were coming from Ben and Harry at the back, who as well as denying TJT and chances, were also creating chances. With 10 minutes to go Harry N's cross/shot floated over the stranded keeper to make it 3-2 - taking the lead was vital given the Jets knew they would only have 10 players for extra time if the game went that long. Tonbridge pushed hard to equalise, but this left them vulnerable to fast breaks. Anton missed an easy one from John's through ball, but redeeemed himself late in the game as he chased down a clearance, and went to the by-line before delivering the kind of cross he and the squad had sent Tuesday night working on. Tom was flattened as he set himself to score (JackO did put the ball in the net, but the ref had already given the penalty), so up stepped Harry to maintain his goal-a game streak with what proved the last kick of the match.

4-2 looked comfortable. That isnt how it felt at half time. The positives were the second half performance, the lesson was to arrive mentally and physically ready to play, which is a lesson that needs learning before th error is punished.

Sunday September 30th, CDJFL u18 A division

Wadhurst 0 - 3 Langton Green (Manuel, Balcombe, Bachorski)

A gorgeous autumn afternoon, and a first road trip in the division, to unbeaten Wadhurst. With injuries and absences the Jets were cutting it fine. Toby raced back from rugby training in time to be a first half defender and a second half goalkeeper, replacing Dan who was needed elsewhere. 

The Jets started up the slope, and quickly established a dominance of possession. Some crosses came close to serving up an early lead, but the final connection was missing. Having spent much of the last few seasons being a fast counter-attacking side, the knack of breaking down a crowded defence wasnt apparent. A switch was made, putting Tom up front, and he paid his first dividend with a toe poke over the line after a long throw. Scrappy but necessary. The second goal was no beauty either, but it was an intelligently looped header from HarryB after a corner wasnt cleared. Several free kicks in good positions came to nothing. 2-0 wasnt a big score, but with Ben dominating the defence, it was a long way back for Wadhurst.

In the second half the flow of play was one way.....Anton rampaged down the right, HarryN tormented the Wadhurst full back, Alfie prompted with intelligent through balls. Finally Anton broke clear, blazed past everyone and scored a runaway goal. He might have had 3 more from the same template, not to mention golden chances for Charlie, BenR, Tom.....injured Matt limped on for the last 20 minutes and might have had a hat-trick. The Wadhurst keeper was a clear cut man of the match.

So, no dramas, another clean sheet....the team is still getting the hang of how to attack with the weapons they have, but is in a winning habit.

Sunday September 23rd, Kent County Cup u18s, Round 1

Langton Green Jets 7 - 2 Bredhurst Juniors (Balcombe, Gallagher 4, Allen, Bachorski

Incessant rain all morning was made irrelevant by afternoon sunshine at the Bennett 3g. The visitors sit atop the u18 Kent Youth League Premier Division, but may not have been aware of the home team's KYL pedigree across 4 seasons. This was a fixture with giant-killer potential, made all the more possible by Jack G's first game in green this season. Captain BenR was absent from the defence so HarryB took his place alongside Nathan, and Anton and Alfie took on supporting roles behind Jack, having been the strike force in previous games.

It didnt take long for it to be clear this was not going to be a lower league side trying to nick a goal against the KYL side, as most of the attacking play came from the Jets. The first goal came from a penalty as Jack was clipped moving fast inside the Bredhurst box. HarryB calmly slotted home, 1-0. The second goal wasnt long in coming....Jack ran at the defence: 'he's only got a left foot' was the touchline cry. The left foot put the ball in the top corner, 2-0. And a quieter touchline, for a while after.

Bredhurst clawed their way back in a phase where the Jets' clearances were not decisive and the challenges in the box were too frenzied. A penalty was given - Dan got a hand to the shot but not quite enough to keep the ball out, and all of a sudden a one-sided game was back in the balance. The breathing room margin was re-established when Matt turned and drilled a left foot shot intothe far corner for 3-1 and the half time talk became a cry for more of the same in the second half.

The half time talk was also about the need to be smart with penalty area tackles, and to avoid getting dragged into an ugly dogfight....that all seemed to have been forgotten when a second penalty was given to Bredhurst, and scored, and for a while the focus seemed to be on grievances with the decisions given, and the tackles endured. Charlie spent a few minutes on the touchline regaining focus, and the time was well spent, as within moments of returning to the midfield battle he linked with JohnC and lifted a ball over the full back and perfectly into Anton's path. The race was no contest, and Anton had the composure to finish left footed at the near post. 

With a two goal cushion restored it was time for the basics. JackO and Tom chased everything in midfield, Harry and Nathan's partnership at the back was a flashback to season's past, except that both now have substantially increased the quality of their distribution play. Dan's handling was secure behind them, though it was his feet that came to the rescue with Bredhurst's best chance.

What remained was a masterclass. Jack put one in the corner from 35 yards, and then Alfie put a dream pass through for Jack, again, and his left foot (again) curled the ball into the far corner. If he only has one foot it is a good one. Finally Alfie and Jack one-two'd their way through the defence for Jack to slot home......that left foot again...six left-footed goals today. not sure why Harry took the penalty with his right foot ?

This was no one-man show. There were top performances all over the pitch. Matt played in 5 of the 11 positions through the game, reliably in all of them. Anton and Alfie and Harry all adapted to a different role this week with responsible dedication. Those in defined roles all delivered with aplomb. JackG slotted in as if he had never been absent. Carlsberg dont do Sunday afternoons, but if they did......

September 9th 2018, Crowborough League u18 A Division

Langton Green Jets 4 - 0 Tunbridge Wells Youth (Lenton, Manuel, Bachorski, Balcombe)
A new season, a new(ish) squad, and a fresh challenge. School opportunities took several Jets away at the end of the final Kent Youth League campaign, which meant fresh blood was needed. The pre-season went well - thanks to our friends at Wadhurst and Whyteleafe for the much-needed tune-ups. Highlights in those games were Alfie's scissor kit, and amazing goals from BenR and Toby. Yes, that Toby. Both scored as centre backs, from open play, versus Whyteleafe. Miracle.

The first league game of the season was against near neighbours Tunbridge Wells, who won the u16 A division unbeaten last season. The Jets gave debuts to Dan in goal, BenP in defence, JackO, CharlieW and Harry N in midfield, and Alfie up front. The 7 regulars from last season lined up around them. 

It was a hot day and the Bennett 3g had a significant breeze that was nice for spectators, but also impacting on the game as it went straight up and down the pitch. The Jets played into it in the first half and it was clear immediately that TWY were going to fight and scrap, and be hard to break down. An even game with few chances but a lot of hard midfield tackling was almost broken open when Alfie set Anton loose; he raced into the box but the shot skewed wide. Aside from that a few Jet corners almost came to something; Charlie heading just over. The defence kept TWY at arm's length, conceding corners but not shots. At half-time 0-0 was fair; what remained to be seen was whether the change of ends would change things.

Almost immediately things did change. Nathan fed Alfie, who ran aggressively at the defence, and from 20 yards curled a right footer in off the far post. A magical goal had broken the deadlock, and crucially. TWY faced a dilemma - they had hung tough and defended valiantly, but to get back into the game were they going to be willing to push further forward and risk breakaways, exposing their defence to Anton's pace?

It was almost 2-0 soon after. HarryN jinked into the box, and found Anton, whose shot smashed off the underside of the bar and out again. That goal might have settled things, but instead TWY always had a chance to sneak an equaliser if they could stay in the game. HarryB, JackO and CharlieW proved themselves very hard to pass through, whilst BenR and Nathan were calm in defence, and wise in their distribution. JonC and BenP were also getting forward from full back - the traffic was one way. 

The 'breathing room' goal came when Anton sprinted after a long ball that seemed to be destined to go off the end of the pitch. Only he could have caught it - that part comes naturally to him. But having done so he also had the presence of mind to cut in, and pull the ball back into Tom's path to score from 6 yards out. It was hard to see a way back from that. TWY pushed forward but only ended up caught on the break again as Anton again proved himself the fastest guy in Kent, 3-0. HarryB then headed home Alfie's corner, and 4-0 is how it ended. It looked comfortable but the number of bloodied knees and tired players at the end of the game said this win hadnt come easily. 

As a first fixture in a new environment it was a good beginning. Hard work, some flashes of skill, and by the end some signs of a team taking shape.