Giants 2012 - 2013

Langton Green Giants end of season stats (all competitions)

Played: 79 Won: 55 Drew: 19 Lost: 5 Scored: 177 Conceded: 55

For: 172 Against: 58

Scorers: Bertie (41) Brodie (34) Sid (33) Tom (31) Jack (10) Sam (9) Henry (8) Nicholas (4) William (3) James (1) O.G (3)

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Saturday 22nd June 2013 – Tunbridge Wells Ridgewaye Fiesta

The final fiesta of the season saw us travel just round the corner to Ridgewaye, this week short of superstar goalkeeper James and the energy and skill of Jack. We also found ourselves pitted in the toughest possible group, making the task even harder, but also more fun.

Wadhurst Rovers 0 – 1 Langton Giants
Bertie

The Giants have often started slowly in fiestas and we knew that we couldn’t let that happen today with there being be no room for error given the toughness of the group we were in. The boys clearly realised this and pushed forward from the off, Tom getting two early shots in, one which was blocked and the other just going over, followed by a Bertie effort which just missed the post. The Giants were firmly on top but felt relieved when Bertie smashed home a left foot volley to give us a 1 nil lead just before half time. After Henry’s defensive stability in the first half, Nicholas came on and maintained the high level of strength at the back. Sam was our goalkeeper for the day and started the day strongly with a good solid save to secure the win after Sid, Tom and Brodie all went close but were unable to grab a second goal which would have allowed us to relax a bit more!

Sevenoaks Town Dynamos 0 – 0 Langton Giants

There is usually at least one frustrating game at a Fiesta due to the short nature of the matches, and this was today’s! Against a very strong Sevenoaks team who we’ve had some very tough matches with several times this season it is fair to say we totally dominated this one, but were unable to convert our possession and territorial advantage into goals. Brodie’s passing from centre midfield was opening up chances galore, Sid going close on three occasions, the closest of which came back off the post after he controlled a ball beautifully. The second half saw much of the same, Brodie breaking through and hitting a fine pass from distance which also came back off the post and Bertie’s follow up was blocked. Bertie and Tom both went close a couple more times and Brodie went agonisingly close with a header in the final moments, but it wasn’t to be.

Hastings Town 0 – 2 Langton Giants
Bertie, O.G.

There was no breaks in the tough games, with our next encounter against a physically strong side from Hastings. The Giants passing was too much for the bigger boys though and this was another one where we were able to dominate possession. Brodie’s great passing continued, setting Sid up who went close to opening the scoring early on. Henry was continuing to be dominant in defence and on the occasion Hastings did get through, Sam showed great positional sense to make a fine save. Just before the break Tom whipped in a dangerous ball that was put into the back of the net by an unfortunate Hastings defender. Brodie had to come off injured at half time thanks to a nice 4 stud mark on his knee. Much of the same in the second half though Sam was called upon to make another good stop, and Nicholas was putting in some fine tackles at the back, one of which left him limping with a bruised toe, but with Brodie unavailable to return, he soldiered on bravely . Bertie continued his fine goalscoring form in recent weeks, helping himself to another one with a great finish with a firm strike, and a big important win was secured.

Chipstead Falcons 0 – 1 Langton Giants
Sid

Another tough opponent, another fine performance and another hard earned victory. Sam continued to impress in goal, claiming a tough ball high above his head, and Henry was pushing the team forward with his tackling and smart passing from the back. Sid grabbed the win for the team with a well struck shot low into the corner of the net and generally had his best game of the day so far, working his socks off and causing the Chipstead defence all sorts of problems the whole match. Brodie and Bertie both went close, but we were pleased with single goal victory.

TW Foresters 1 – 0 Langton Giants

The final group game of the day, and another showdown with the very strong Foresters team who had won all their games so far. A closely fought contest throughout, Tom hitting a fine volley which was well saved, and Bertie having two shots blocked from close in at one end, and Sid making an amazing goal line clearance with a header from a Foresters corner at the other. 0-0 at H/T and all to play for. Foresters grabbed a goal in the second half that we probably should have cleared, and despite the best efforts, we were unable to find an equaliser in a match we probably didn’t deserve to lose.

So 10 points from 5 games in the toughest group of the tournament, was a great achievement, though thanks to the slightly unusual format of the tournament we found ourselves qualifying for the quarter final of the shield competition.

1/4 Final – Langton Eagles 0 – 2 Langton Giants
Sid x 2

The quarter-final saw us take on our great friends the Eagles who had done an incredible job to progress from their group, bearing in mind they didn’t even exist a year ago! The Giants knew they were in for a tough match against the rapidly improving Eagles and so it proved. Brodie went close from a Bertie corner but was denied by an excellent point blank save and Bertie himself sent a volley just over. The opening goal was brilliant, Brodie sending a perfect ball through to Sid, who showed great technique in controlling first time and scoring with a delectable finish. Sid saw another shot well saved and the score was 1 nil at half time, still all to play for. The second half saw some really good football from both sides, lots of good passing and movement. Sid grabbed a second for the team and himself, powering home a fine header from Tom’s cross, with Nicholas coming on to add real energy to the midfield and help secure the hard fought victory.

1/2 Final – Rusthall Lions 0 – 1 Langton Giants
Bertie

This semi-final almost got off to the greatest possible start, Brodie putting another great pass through to Sid who went agonisingly close to opening the scoring within 5 seconds of the kick-off! Sam showed great awareness and reactions in intercepting a long ball before the Rusthall striker could get to it, and Sid went close again, this time thwarted by a good save. Henry was playing so well at the back it was ridiculous, a one man defence. At the start of the second half Sam made a fine close range stop from a corner, with the follow up cleared by Brodie. Time for one more great Brodie pass, with Sid on the receiving end and laying off to Bertie who smashed home the winning goal with a controlled drive into the far corner. It was the winning goal though only due to yet another heroic last ditch sliding tackle from Tom in the dying seconds, almost identical to the one he pulled out at the same stage of last weeks tournament. In recent weeks Tom has taken on a sweeper type role on occasions and has excelled, today was no different, just stunning.

Final – Footscray Lions Black 0 – 1 Langton Giants (after extra-time)
Bertie

So for the second week in a row these magnificent boys had fought their way into a final, for their last game of the season. This was to be the last match with Nicholas as part of the team and all the boys were determined to win this one for him.The first half was a bit of a nothing to be honest, as both teams started nervously and no real chances of note being created. The second half saw the Giants get on top though, Brodie shooting wide and Sid having a shot blocked close in, as the boys won a succession of corners but were unable to grab a goal. Thankfully, this tournament doesn’t go straight to pens, rather playing 4 minutes extra time, with the golden goal rule applying. It was tense, exciting, heart stopping at times as the boys fought their way forward at every opportunity against a very accomplished opponent. Perhaps the winning goal was the perfect example of the day itself. Brodie once again pulling out a sumptuous pass to put the goalscoring machine Bertie away one-on-one with the goalkeeper. The on-watching parents and manager held their breath, but the calmest boy on the pitch tucked it away like he was simply having a kick about in the garden with his mates… cue huge celebrations.

So they’d done it, they’d won one, and boy did they deserve it after a summer of so many close shaves. Special mention to Sam, who stepped into goal in James absence and was brilliant all day long, conceding only a single goal in 8 matches and was awarded with the player of the week award. A huge congratulations to all the boys, including James and Jack who were just as deserving for their performances all season, it wasn’t just about today. That’s it, another wonderfully successful and enjoyable season with such an amazing set of lads. A break is needed and will be enjoyed, but roll on next season, can’t wait.

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Saturday 15th June 2013 – Ringmer Rovers Fiesta

Our penultimate fiesta of the season saw us near the sea-side on an extremely windy, and what turned out to be, long but exciting day without our superstar defender Henry.

Southwich Rangers 0-0 Langton Giants

Not much to say about this one really, a slightly frustrating but typical opening game to a fiesta. James our goalkeeper didn’t touch the ball all match, defender Jack touched it just twice, as the ball spent the entire match in the Southwich half but despite numerous efforts and some brilliant passing the cutting edge wasn’t there and in the blink of an eye the game had finished in a disappointing nil-nil draw.

Rottingdean Village 1–2 Langton Giants
Brodie, Sid

If the first game was disappointing the start the second one was worrying, as in the first minute James was forced into a brilliant save from a free kick, and then we were caught on the break and conceded a soft goal to go one behind. Thankfully, this proved to be the alarm clock for the boys and suddenly they were Giants again, Brodie splitting the defence with a great ball that Sid tucked away with his left foot to level the scores before Bertie saw a well struck shot deflected onto the post as the team started to get on top. Tom saw a good shot saved after some great work from Sid and Brodie went close from a tight angle. Jack was defending resolutely and won a tackle which broke to Brodie who rode two tackles before letting fly with a firm shot which the keeper couldn’t hold allowing Brodie to tuck home the rebound to give the Giants a deserved lead. Sam came on to shore up the defence, producing two fine blocks and victory was secured.

Coldean Colts 1 – 4 Langton Giants
Brodie, Tom, Sid, Nicholas

The start of this match was like a mirror image of the previous one, the Giants conceding a soft goal on the breakaway to put themselves right up against it, despite what was initially a great save from James. Confidence was high though and the football was brilliant at times as they came roaring back. Tom saw a good shot saved and Brodie was on hand to tap in the rebound and Bertie let fly with a shot which just went over the bar. Tom put us in the lead with a very tidy finish into the bottom corner before Sid stretched the lead to 3-1 with a good finish of his own. Nicholas was having a tremendous match and helped himself to a deserved goal with a firmly struck shot from distance to make it 4-1, with Sam and Jack both going to close to extending the lead further with shots that went narrowly high and wide.

Lewes Bridge View Orange 1-1 Langton Giants
Bertie

Scores in the group up until this point strongly suggested this was likely to be the toughest game of the afternoon so far, and so it proved. Jack had needed to depart early, so a new formation saw Tom assume a sweeper role which he went on to perform like he’d played there all his life, with Nicholas and Sam taking it in turns to play the last line of defence behind him, both doing the role impeccably. A 50/50 tackle in the middle of the park was won by a crunching tackle from Brodie, the sound of shin pad on shin pad was heard around the pitch, but Brodie managed to break free and send a sumptuous ball through to Bertie who finished beautifully with the outside of his foot to give the boys the lead. For the next few minutes the Giants were passing their opponents off the pitch, moving the ball effortlessly and creating chances, only thwarted by some good saves, with Sid, Brodie and Tom all being denied. It looked like a decisive win was on the cards when a shot from a Lewes Bridge player took a wicked deflection and flew into the top corner of our net giving James no chance. 1-1 draw it was then, with a sense of bad luck was in the air as the boys trudged off the pitch.

West Hove Wanderers 0 – 1 Langton Giants
Bertie

To secure progress out of the group a win was needed against a team who were in the same position, so all to play for. This was a real clash of styles, as the pass-and-move Giants were faced with big strong boys who’s only tactic appeared to be taking advantage of having one boy who possessed an unfeasibly long throw in which in the near hurricane winds was always going to prove problematic. An in-drect free kick saw Brodie find Bertie who’s well struck shot was saved onto the post, and Sid went close shortly after with a shot across the goalkeeper. Sam, Nicholas, Tom and James all stood firm in the face of a barrage of long throws with Brodie coming back to win a number of headers to help out. Thankfully with a couple of minutes remaining, the Giants passed their way the length of the pitch with a stunning move involving four players to set Bertie away to finish expertly into the bottom corner… a fabulous team goal. The last couple of minutes saw more long throws raining in, but once again the boys stood firm and victory was ours… as was qualification from the group.

1/4 Final – Eastbourne Borough 0 – 3 Langton Giants
Bertie x 2, Sid

After a bit of a scare caused by the referee of the last group match incorrectly recording the result as a draw, we took the field to play a quarter final against our 6th new opponents of the day, Eastbourne Borough. The boys looked well up for this one and it was obvious from the first minute this match was very winnable, Sid hitting the post and a Bertie shot which appeared to cross the line after coming down from the underside of the crossbar, but no goal given. Not to be deterred though, the Giants continued to push forward and were rewarded for their attacking endeavours when some fine passing between Bertie & Brodie saw Sid put through who finished with ease to open the scoring. A minute later the lead was doubled, Sid floating in a lovely corner which Bertie rose wonderfully to smash home with a brilliant header. The game was all over minutes later when Bertie took aim from distance and found the top corner with a stunning strike. The Nicholas/Sam and Tom axis at the back continued to prove commanding, with the only time Eastbourne broke through James coming to the rescue with an excellent double save.

1/2 Final – Hove Park Colts 0 – 0 Langton Giants
Langton Giants win on penalties

Onto the semi-final then, with the boys buzzing from their performance in the previous round. Tom was playing out of his skin, controlling the game from his sweeper position like Franz Beckenbaur in his pomp, ably supported by Sam and later Nicholas behind him. Bertie shot just wide twice, both from Brodie passes and then Brodie almost scored the most outrageous of individual goals when he performed a double drag back before chipping the keeper who just managed to tip the ball over with his finger tips. James made a very good stop with his feet, and Bertie saw a good shot well saved. In the dying seconds it looked all over, the ball broke to a Hove Park player with just James to beat from just a couple of yards out, he pulled his foot back to smash it home when suddenly Tom appeared from nowhere to put in a simply amazing last ditch tackle, saving a certain winning goal. From Beckenbaur to Moore in the same match. Brilliant.

So it was onto the dreaded penalty shoot out again. To be honest my mind is a bit of a scramble about what exactly happened, but I recall Tom scoring, James saving one they had to win it, it going to sudden death, Sid scoring, Nicholas bravely stepping up to slot home the crucial penalty expertly into the bottom corner with James brilliantly saving the next one and we’d done it.. Somewhat stunned that we’d actually won a penalty shoot-out, we realised we were in a final! We felt for the Hove Park boys though, we’ve been there, and they were very magnanimous after the shoot out, even staying behind to support us in the final.

Hollingbury Hawks Youth 1 – 1 Langton Giants
Bertie

Hollingbury Hawks Youth win on penalties

After a very long wait due to some controversy that had nothing to do with Langton the final eventually kicked off just before 8pm (6 hours since we’d started our first match!). It is fair to say both teams looked completely knackered, but boy did they fight for it. Tackles were flying in, determination was evident all over the pitch and no lack of quality from both teams. Brodie saw a good shot saved, and James was forced into a couple of his own. The Hawks took the lead just after half time with a well worked goal and nobody was sure the Giants would have the energy left to come back up the steep hill, but these boys never roll over. Sid was the victim of an awful thigh high tackle and was forced to leave the final as a result, as was the manager, but still they wouldn’t give in, despite now missing Henry, Jack and Sid! Sam and Nicholas fought like warriors, Tom continued to be utterly brilliant with Brodie and Bertie fighting through their exhaustion to push the boys forward with James clearly not in the mood to be beaten again when called upon. With seconds remaining a free kick was awarded on the right hand side of the box and the ball flew gloriously into the back of the net from Bertie’s left foot…. these kids are unbelievable.

Sadly we’d used up our penalty shoot-out luck in the semi-final and it wasn’t to be a second time around…. but it didn’t matter, they’d performed amazingly. Unbeaten, under manned, limping and practically dead on their feet the boys proudly collected their runners up trophy.

Proud doesn’t even come close.

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Saturday 1st June 2013 – Langton Green Fiesta

Our own clubs annual fiesta is one of the biggest in the South East and always great fun. We were pitched in a very competitive group, 8 matches with only the group winners qualifying for the quarter finals meant things were going to be very tight.

Langton Giants 2 – 0 Langton Redhawks
Brodie, Bertie

For the second successive fiesta the Giants were up against their good friends the Redhawks, this time in the opening game. In past events the Giants have tended to start slowly and against the accomplished Redhawks this could have caused us a problem but thankfully this wasn’t the case this week as the boys were on the front foot from the start, Tom bringing out a fine save from the Redhawks ‘keeper almost immediately and then Bertie opening the scoring with a well struck shot. Sid whipped in a firm cross shot which Tom was inches away from making contact with at the back post. Henry was proving to be as reliable as ever at the back, with James looking safe as houses between the sticks, to ensure a tight 1 nil lead at the half. The second half started with a great team goal, goalkeeper James starting it with a ball to the feet of Sid who played a neat ball into Tom who in turn found Brodie to smash home a volley into the top corner. Jack was now firmly in charge at the back and Sam made an instant impression by winning a bouncing ball from James which put Bertie in only to see his well hit shot saved. Final score 2 nil.

Langton Giants 1 – 1 TW Foresters
Brodie

In what is always a bit of a grudge match, the Giants played some brilliant football, passing and moving in attack and defending resolutely when needed, all as a team. James pulled off a great save with his feet, but other than that was pretty much untroubled for the rest of the half, thanks as always to the strength and commitment of Henry. Tom found some space on the left and pulled it across the box for Brodie to pounce on and drive home a great finish to give the boys a deserved lead. Just before half time we were treated to an excellent save from James down low to his right and a crunching tackle from Brodie which earned him an stray elbow to the head for his troubles. Bertie was working his socks off down the left hand side, with Sid causing a constant problem for the Foresters defence up front. It looked like the game was won, we were standing strong so it was a little disappointing to concede a soft equaliser right at the death, but at least we hadn’t lost.

Langton Giants 4 – 0 Broad Oak & Horam
Bertie x 3, Tom

No time to wallow in conceding a late equaliser, straight back on it with goals aplenty in the next one. Sid almost got us up and running, showing great determination in chasing down a seemingly lost cause before shooting just wide. Tom & Bertie both saw shots well saved, before the latter smashed home a great shot from a tight angle to open the scoring just before half time. Nicholas put in a faultless performance in defence, tackling strongly and stopping any Broad Oak attacks in their steps. We then witnessed a bit of a wonder goal from the super talented Tom. Bertie showed great awareness, taking a quick thrown in the set Tom through who performed a couple of keepy-uppies before lofting a chipped volley over the ‘keepers head, 2 nil – great goal. We were then treated to the Sam & Bertie show for the last few minutes. Sam holding the ball up and playing in wing-wizard Bertie several times in a short space of time. Two of them resulting in goals, both of them brilliantly finished off by Bertie to make the final score 4 nil.

Langton Giants 1 – 1 Wadhurst
Brodie

The good attacking play continued for the start of the next game, Sid playing in Tom who’s shot flew just wide of the post, before Brodie poked home Bertie’s corner from close range to give us an early lead. Jack and Henry took it in turns to control things at the back, both doing so with great effect, and James continued to shine, with his goal-kicks proving to be a fine offensive weapon on several occasions. The second half was a bit flat, the boys started to look a bit tired to be honest, understandably as they’d all worked so hard. They conceded an equaliser with a few minutes left but in true Giants style pushed forward trying to get a winner, slightly hindered by Sid going off injured from a heavy challenge. Not to worry though, Nicholas came on and put himself about up front and was so unlucky not to secure a later winner when making great contact with a Tom cross only to see the Wadhurst ‘keeper pull off a wonder save.

Langton Giants 0 – 0 Ashurst Wood

By far the most disappointing game of the day, where despite every effort being made and plenty of chances, we were unable to find the back of the net. Brodie saw a shot saved, Sid just missed the near post with one effort and the far post with another and Tom shot wide from a Sid corner. The second half was much the same, Tom, Brodie, Bertie and Sid all going close but it wasn’t meant to be. Thankfully, Nicholas, Henry and Jack all contributed towards a clean sheet which at least meant we didn’t lose.

Langton Giants 1-0 Tonbridge Junior Ferrari
Sid

The boys were showing great attitude and commitment, fighting through their disappointment of drawing the last two winnable games and tiredness to grind out another win. Sid grabbing the winner when following up a Brodie saved shot. James made a couple of terrific saves, and Sam again proved to be a handful when coming on up front.

Langton Giants 2 – 0 Chipstead Eagles
Sid, Tom

The performance and result of the day, without a doubt. Those watching were treated to some brilliant attacking play as the Giants totally passed the eventual group winners off the park. The first goal came directly as a result of this passing, with Bertie, Brodie and Tom combining beautifully to set up Sid to stab home, Tom adding a well taken second moments later. The second half saw the boys dig deeper than ever, Brodie going close, Tom shooting just wide and Jack and Henry pushing the team forward. Chipstead nearly broke through just once, but were thwarted by James showing great alertness and coming out to claim the ball. Unfortunately the Chipstead striker decided that two hands on the ball wasn’t enough for him and proceeded to put his two feet into the hands of our brilliant shot stopper. St Johns Ambulance were called upon to see to James, Sam was called upon to take over his duties in goal, something he did with the minimum of fuss. In the closing minutes, Brodie showed great bravery by trying a diving header a corner only to be on the receiving end of a volley to the head! To be fair, this one was entirely accidental, but still ended up with a visit to the good people at the St Johns Ambulance.

Langton Giants 1 – 0 Jarvis Brook
Jack

A somewhat depleted Giants (James & Brodie both restricted to holding ice packs on various parts of their anatomy) took to the field for the 8th and last game of the day. Sam continued in goal and put in another fine performance, commanding his goal and penalty area throughout. Jack pushed forward to replace Brodie in midfield and put in a brilliant performance, duly rewarded with an expertly taken goal, firing home a Bertie cross. The second half saw more chances come and go, Sid going closest when hitting the bar and again when shooting narrowly wide after a great pass from Jack. Nicholas and Henry were in total control at the back as we saw out our third consecutive 1 nil win.

Unfortunately the two draws in the middle of the day cost us a place in the semi-finals, as we missed out by the narrowest of margins and the for the second fiesta in a row we went home unbeaten. Frustrating of course, but a significant achievement all the same. Well done boys, better luck next time!

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Saturday 25th May 2013 – Rusthall Fiesta

The second fiesta saw us travel to our very close neighbours, Rusthall, with at least 7 group matches to look forward to.

Sevenoaks Hawks 0 – 2 Langton Giants
Tom, Bertie

An early start and it is fair to say the Giants boys weren’t quite awake yet, sleepwalking their way through the first half and in danger of getting off to a disappointing start. James was a virtual bystander between the sticks, and despite dominating possession chances were proving to be few and far between. Thankfully, the alarm clocks went off at half time and the second half saw a significant improvement, Tom opening the scoring from a lovely cross from Bertie, with Bertie himself firing home a good shot from the edge of the box to double the lead. Both Nicholas and Sam did a great job of shoring up the defence to ensure a winning start.

Tonbridge Junior Ferrari 1 – 1 Langton Giants
Brodie

The boys knew they needed to improve in the second match against much tougher opponents, and they certainly did, carrying the attack forward as a team. Henry was doing a great job as the defensive linchpin, with Jack and Brodie working tirelessly in the midfield. James was called upon to make a good early save, but the Giants in general were on top. In the desire to push forward though we were caught on the break, with Tonbridge scoring a good goal that gave James no chance. Brodie saw a well hit shot saved, and at HT the score stood at 0-1. The second half saw the Giants create more and more chances, Jack shooting wide with his left foot, Bertie bringing out an excellent save and Tom going close twice. Another good save from a Jack shot saw us win a corner. Tom whipped it in and Brodie leapt like a salmon to head home a brilliant header into the roof of the net to equalise. In the dying moments Brodie had a chance to win it but again was foiled by a stunning save, leaving the result at 1-1.

Chipstead Eagles 0 – 1 Langton Giants
Tom

Given our leagues matches against Chipstead this season, we were expecting this to be a very tough match and so it proved. The boys upped their game though, again being the team creating the majority of the chances, Tom going close early on before then opening the scoring with a well struck left footed shot. It looked nailed on that we were going to concede an immediate equaliser but James had different ideas, pulling off a stunning save from close range to keep the score at 1 nil at the break. The Giants showed great defensive discipline in the second half, with Henry and Jack particularly strong, but we were again grateful to James for making an excellent save to see the victory through.

Langton Green Devils 1 – 1 Langton Giants
Tom

Our 4th game of the day was against our good friends the Devils, a team who have improved hugely over the last year, and it showed in a really good match. Tom poked home Jack’s excellent cross to open the scoring as the Giants had the better of the early chances. Brodie went close to grabbing a second, and Bertie was unlucky to see his shot just miss the far post. As the game went on though the Devils grew into the game and in the second half had the better chances. They took one, with a fine finish and by the end of the game the Giants were grateful for the point. The energy levels and team work of the Devils was great to see, and no lack of quality either.

Ridgewaye Rockets 1 – 2 Langton Giants
Tom, o.g.

For the umpteenth time this season we faced up against Ridgewaye, and another closely fought match was played out. Tom delivered a very dangerous corner which flew in off the head on an unfortunate Ridgewaye defender to put the Giants in front. The lead was short lived though, Ridgewaye equalising with a header directly from a throw-in. Not to worry, Jack won a strong tackle and broke down the right wing before playing Tom in with a beautiful pass from which the striker made no mistake to reinstate the Giants lead. The second half again saw the Giants defend resolutely, Nicholas putting in several strong tackles, including one crunching effort on Ridgewaye’s star player! Brodie went close late on, beating the keeper only for the shot to be cleared off the line at the last second, but the game was seen out with little drama for a 2-1 victory.

Rusthall Henry 0 – 3 Langton Giants
Tom, Brodie, Sam

The games were coming thick and fast, this one against one of the host teams, and the Giants kept the momentum going from the previous match by gaining an early lead when Tom dinked a little chip over the keeper from a great cross from Bertie. Jack saw a good shot well saved before Brodie tucked home a neat finish to double the lead just before half time. At the start of the second half James made a terrific save, showing great bravery diving at the feet of an attacking player. Nicholas was working very hard down the right wing, and was unlucky not to score when his well hit shot just went wide of the post and Henry was enjoying a stint in central midfield, tackling everyone and pushing the team forward. Sam was causing problems for the Rusthall defence in his new attacking role, bringing a fine save out of the keeper. The highlight of the day though came from Sam’s smile following a brilliantly taken goal. Bertie was the creator sending Sam clear who controlled the pass, spun and sent an unstoppable shot into the corner of the net, great goal, great celebration.

TW Foresters 0 – 2 Langton Giants
Brodie, Bertie

In the final group game there was the opportunity to avenge the defeat suffered in the quarter-finals of the previous fiesta against Foresters, and the boys took the chance with both hands. The first goal was the goal of the day, Brodie receiving the ball on the edge of the box, nutmegging the defender with an audacious drag back before planting the ball into the bottom corner. Henry was brilliant in defence, allowing the Giants to push forward confident they were secure at the back when Foresters did break. Lots more chances but not lots more goals, the only one coming from the cultured left foot of Bertie, finishing with aplomb to secure the 2 nil win.

All this meant the Giants had topped their group handsomely with 17 points, a clear 5 points ahead of the rest of the group.

1/4 Final – Langton Green Redhawks 0 – 0 Langton Giants
Redhawks win 2-1 on penalties

The quarter final saw us matched up against another set of friends from Langton Green, the Redhawks. These teams know each other very well, training together most weeks and the match reflected this somewhat, as there is very little to report! Lots of effort, some good moments from both teams, half chances for the Redhawks, half chances for the Giants but nothing clear cut. It felt from the first minute that it would end up nil nil and so it proved, leaving the result to be decided by the dreaded penalty shoot-out. Sadly for the Giants, the result went against them for the second successive penalty shoot-out and despite remaining unbeaten in 8 matches saw us going home early, but not before cheering on the Redhawks in the semi-final of course!

So another successful day in terms of results, 5 wins and 3 draws, but another one tinged with a sense of what could have been. Next stop…. our home fiesta in a week…. just please no more penalties!!

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Sunday 12th May 2013 – Pembury Fiesta

The first fiesta of the year took place in the lovely grounds of the Schools of Somerhill, great pitches, sun shining (on and off) and 36 under 9 teams raring to go. The Giants arrived to find themselves in a tough group, with only the group winners guaranteed of progressing to the quarter-finals.

Ridgewaye Rockets 0 – 1 Langton Giants
Sid

Our first match saw us up against familiar opponents and good friends from Ridgewaye. In these short games it is important to get off to a positive start and we did just that, getting on the front foot from the off. Tom went close to scoring early with a fine shot that hit the top of the post, and Sid and Bertie both saw shots saved. The only time Ridgewaye broke clear James was as reliable as ever and made a good save. The second half saw us push forward in search for a winner, Brodie saw a shot deflected just wide and Bertie had another attempt saved so it came with great relief when Sid sent a rocket shot flying into the top corner with his left foot. His reward for this piece of brilliance was to be subbed off, allowing Sam to enter the fray to shore things up at the back alongside Jack, making two fine blocks and we’d got off to the perfect start.

Tonbridge Sharks 0 – 2 Langton Giants
Brodie, Sid

We’d had an unfortunate experience at this fiesta last season against this opponent, so were keen to do well, and we did, very well in fact, against an accomplished and physical side. Bertie and Tom both saw shots well saved and then James was called upon to do likewise at the other end. We won a corner which Sid delivered with his usual accuracy, Brodie controlling with his first touch and slotting up into the roof of the net with his left foot to give us a lead, which was soon doubled by Sid himself when he followed up his own saved shot after a good cross from Tom. Henry was doing his usual impression of an impassable wall, with Jack and Sam taking it in turn to continue the good defensive effort in the second half. A good win, we enjoyed that one.

Pembury Athletic Youth FC 1 -1 Langton Giants
Brodie

Our 3rd game of the day came against one of the host teams and we were keen to keep the winning run going. We started well, Bertie going on a weaving run before passing to Sid who saw his shot very well saved, Brodie shot wide and Bertie went close with his weaker right foot after some great work from Sid. They kept pushing forward and just before half-time they found the break through, Bertie putting in a fine tackle which set Sid away who passed to Brodie to slam home into the top corner from around the penalty spot. We were 1 up and coasting, more and more chances came and we were pretty much camped in the Pembury half, but then were on the receiving end of a lesson in Fiesta football. A hopeful ball was lofted into the area, we failed to clear it and Pembury fired home a good shot with no time left for us to respond. A win thrown away in an instant, but hopefully a valuable lesson learned.

Maidstone United 1 – 1 Langton Giants
Sid

At this fiesta last year we lost to a very good Maidstone team and it was obvious straight away this was the same side, as the Giants were given the run around in the first half. The slick inter passing and movement from Maidstone was impressive to watch and perhaps the Giants were a little bit guilty of spending too much time admiring it than trying to stop it! Thankfully we have the likes of Henry, Sam and Jack to keep us in games with their brilliant defending when we are under pressure and of course our magnificent goalkeeper James. Maidstone deservedly opened the scoring just before the break, James making an excellent save only for their player to follow up and tuck home the rebound. For the first time in forever the boys were “reminded of their responsibilities” at half time and as expected, responded to it perfectly, coming out as a totally different side in the second half. Maidstone suddenly found they didn’t have so much time on the ball and were having to do some defending. Brodie started to get hold of the game from central midfield, ably assisted by Tom and Bertie. Sid’s movement up front was causing problems and he went close with a good shot, as did Brodie with a fine effort just over. It looked like the improved performance wasn’t going to bring just reward, but it did, right at the end when the excellent Sid smashed home a deserved equaliser. A great result against a very good team.

Chatham Corinthians 0 – 4 Langton Giants
Tom, Brodie x 3

The boys were sent out for this match with a clear instruction, score as many goals as possible. We were tied with Maidstone at the top of the group, and the winners would therefore be decided on goals scored. Maidstone were due to play their final match after ours, so it meant we needed to put the pressure on them, we started the match a solitary goal ahead of them. In the first half things weren’t going according to plan, but not for the want of trying. Sid hit the post, Bertie and Tom both saw shots saved and Brodie sent a header agonisingly over the bar after a brilliant cross from Bertie. No goals at the half wasn’t ideal, but the boys soon made amends in style. Tom started the ball rolling, smashing a great strike into the top corner and then set up Brodie to finish into the bottom corner with his left foot to make it 2 nil. We were then treated to the Sid & Brodie show as the former selflessly set up the latter for two more goals to make the final score 4 nil. This was Brodie’s first ever hatrick for the team and it came at the perfect time, really putting the pressure on Maidstone to respond in kind. They were unable to do so, winning their last match 2-1, and thus the Giants duly qualified for the quarter-finals as group winners. A fine achievement.

1/4 Final – TW Foresters 2 – 1 Langton Giants
Sid

In the quarter finals we were up against a Foresters side who had qualified as runners up from another group and it is fair to say the Giants dominated the first half. Tom made a great pass to Sid who scored yet another cracking goal to give the boys an early lead. Henry was dominating at the back, and James was required to make a good save. Brodie, Bertie, Tom and Sid all had chances to double the lead, but at half-time we still felt confident. The relative control of the match stayed firmly in place, but was shattered somewhat in the last couple of minutes, conceding a very well struck shot into the bottom corner which gave James no chance. In a desperate attempt to avoid penalties after last weeks heartbreak, the boys pushed forward looking for a late winner but unfortunately were exposed to how cruel a game football can be when a good old fashioned lump out of defence caught us out and resulted in a second goal for Foresters. The Giants boys looked crushed, but fought on bravely in the dying seconds, with both Sid and Bertie going close to equalising, but it wasn’t to be. Another significant lesson in the teams development, one they’ll be better for next time round.

A great team effort all day long, with Sid & Jack sharing the Player-of-The-Week award for their team ethic and first class performances. Well done to both, roll on the next one in two weeks.

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Monday 6th May 2013 – Charlton Athletic Tournament, The Valley

In the bank holiday sunshine the Giants travelled to play at the home of Charlton Athletic, The Valley, a magnificent stadium which holds 27,000 spectators. It wasn’t quite a sell out, but the boys were certainly playing in front of the biggest crowd they ever had. On such an occasion the focus was to be solely on enjoyment and the experience, which they all got in abundance. They entered through the players entrance, put their boots on in the home dressing room and walked out on to the pitch through the players tunnel, announced over the loud speaker as they arrived.

Snodland Nomads 0 – 1 Langton Giants
Brodie

Still buzzing from the excitement of the entrance, the first match was against a well organised Snodland team from the Maidstone League. If the boys were nervous though it didn’t show as they got on top of their opponents from the kick-off, Sid getting two early shots in on goal, one just going wide, the other well saved. From the ensuing corner, Brodie showed great footwork to fire home into the top corner at the second attempt after his first effort came back off the bar (the fact it actually appeared to come back off the back of the net on the first shot was a moot point given he smashed in the rebound anyway!). Jack and Sid played a lovely one-two down the right wing with Jack’s firm shot just missing the corner. Sid crossed for Brodie to head just wide, then Brodie again, this time a left foot strike just over the bar, and then again with a header which hit the post. It was all Giants at this stage, but in the final few minutes Snodland came back into it, and we were grateful for the excellent defensive efforts of Sam, Nicholas and Henry to ensure James was untroubled in goal to see the win out, 1 nil. Good start.

Northwood FC 0 – 2 Langton Giants
Sam, Jack

Northwood are an academy side from the Watford area, and after seeing them trounce their opponents in their first match we were expecting some real problems in this one. In all honesty though, this was never the case as the boys carried on their fine form from the first match, dominating possession and creating the better chances. A lovely bit of interplay between Sam and Brodie saw Bertie have a chance which was very well saved, but a minute later Bertie returned the compliment, crossing to Sam who swept home a great finish with his left foot to give us an early lead. James showed his usual excellent handling in goal, and Tom was proving to be very influential in this match, tackling everyone and breaking forward at will. Nicholas put in a good tackle and we were in the counter attack, Bertie was only half tackled and the ball broke to Jack who slammed home a brilliant shot into the top corner to put us 2 up and ensure a second win.

Dulwich Village 2 – 1 Langton Giants
Bertie

Unlike the previous one, this game was as hard as we expected, against a strong team who sit top of the SE London First Division, but it is fair to say that the Giants more than held their own. Sam took a turn in goal and performed admirably, make two good saves in the opening minutes, but had no chance of stopping a well struck shot from close range after we failed to clear a corner, putting us 1 nil down. The Giants fought back immediately though, Brodie going on a brilliant weaving run down the left before passing to Bertie who finished expertly across the keeper to level the match, 1-1. It was end to end now, it looked like Bertie had given us the lead with a firmly hit shot that the ‘keeper kept out at the very last second, then Sam made a great save to deny Dulwich. Sadly in the last minute we conceded a corner and the ball ended up in the back of the net, somewhat unluckily off a Langton defender to gift Dulwich the victory. Not to worry, we knew we had matched them stride for stride so remained confident.

Footscray Yellows 1 – 1 Langton Giants
Henry

Another tough match up, against a team also from the SE London First Division, they were coming thick and fast. James was in goal, with Sam, Nicholas and Henry continuing to keep things secure at the back. The Giants were in control of this one in the early stages, Sid seeing a shot charged down, Tom had one saved and Jack went very close with a header from a Sid cross. James made an excellent save, but was helpless when a great shot was fired through the crowd from distance to give Footscray the lead somewhat against the run of play. The Giants pushed forward more, Brodie and Bertie going close, but it looked like we might slip to successive defeats before Henry tipped up at the back post to poke home a deserved equaliser from a Brodie cross. 1-1.

Sevenoaks Dynamos 0 – 1 Langton Giants
Brodie

For our final group match we were up against familiar faces, Sevenoaks are in the same league as us, and after playing out a thrilling 3-3 draw away earlier in the season we already new this one would be close, and so it proved. The boys confidence was firmly in tact, playing attacking football from the off and having the better of the opening exchanges. We won a corner, which Bertie swept in for Brodie to head home expertly in the crowd. Tom was unlucky not to double the lead when he hit the post with a great shot and Sid went close too. In the last few minutes as Sevenoaks came looking for an equaliser, Henry and Jack stood firm to secure and excellent victory. This win meant with a record of 3 wins, 1 draw and 1 loss, the Giants had qualified for the semi-finals!!

Semi- Final

DulwichVillage 0 – 0 Langton Giants
Dulwich win 2-1 on penalties

It is fair to say that the Giants saved their best to last, completely dominating the semi-final against the team they’d narrowly lost to earlier in the day. Bertie went on a fine early run but shot wide, then sent in a cross shot which went agonisingly between post and Sid’s outstretched foot, Tom hit the post after some brilliant build up play from Brodie, Bertie and Sid, Sid himself breaking clear to face the ‘keeper 1 on 1, with the strong goalkeeper making an excellent save, which he then followed up with further brilliant saves from Tom, Sid and Bertie. All the while the defensive strength of Henry and Jack meant James was practically a spectator in goal, but it true James style, the one time he was asked to make a save, he did, and a good one at that, low down to his right.

So it was on to the dreaded penalty shoot-out for a place in the final, which thanks to two fine saves from the Dulwich ‘keeper we came out on the wrong side of. No tears or tantrums though from the boys (or the manager, honest), they sportingly congratulated the Dulwich boys and wished them well for the final, which incidently they narrowly lost to Sevenoaks, the team we’d beaten in the group stages (aaaagh!),.

What a day, what an experience, what an effort…. what a team.

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Langton Green Giants Statistics

Crowborough Junior District Football League Under 9′s

Played: 26 Won: 21 Drew: 3 Lost: 2 Scored: 100 Conceded: 32
Scorers: Bertie (23) Sid (19) Tom (19) Brodie (14) Jack (7) Sam (7) Henry (6) Nicholas (3) James (1) o.g (1)

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Saturday 4th May 2013

Chipstead Eagles 3 – 3 Langton Giants
Bertie, Jack, Henry

Chipstead Falcons 0 – 5 Langton Giants
Brodie x 2, Bertie x 2, Jack

The last league games of the season saw us travel for an early kick-off to Chipstead to face two good teams, one of whom we’d lost to in last years fixtures so we were fully expecting some strong competition. The first match was against the very strong Eagles and the Giants really had to battle. The pitches were in good condition, if a little small, which allowed the Giants to use their passing game to the full. They started as the stronger side, Bertie breaking free and sending across a great ball which Jack was inches away from converting and then Brodie showed some great skill and vision to find Jack again, who was unlucky to see his volley go narrowly wide. Henry and Sam were proving to be solid at the back, so when the impressive Chipstead attacking players got on the ball James was well protected. Nicholas too was continuing he recent fine form, and won a header in the middle of the park before passing to Tom who went on a great run down the left hand side, crossing to the darting Bertie who clipped home a great finish from a tight angle over the ‘keepers head to give the Giants a deserved early lead. Tom then went close with a good shot with his left foot following a great lay-off from Bertie. Chipstead were growing in stature as the game went on and we were grateful to James for making an excellent save down low, Sam doing brilliantly to clear the rebound. From the ensuing throw in however, we weren’t able to clear our lines and a Chipstead player scored with a great strike into the bottom corner to make the score 1-1 at half time. If the first half was good, the second half was incredible, a real joy to witness as two good teams played some great football in the right spirit. Brodie started us off with a great mazy run and powerful shot that was well saved, but that was nothing compared to what we were about to witness. A good cross from the left found the Chipstead striker unmarked 5 yards out, with just James to beat. The striker made a great connection, arrowing the ball with pace and power into the top corner, but somehow the Giants super-keeper flung his hand up to tip it over the bar. It made Gordon Banks save from Pele look like he was picking up a back-pass, simply stunning goalkeeping that brought applause from players, coaches and parents from both sides. A minute later though Chipstead did find the back of the net, a sublime turn from the striker and smart finish putting them 2-1 up, but not for long, Bertie winning a great tackle, Tom breaking free and sending a cross over for Jack to volley home from close range, 2-2, game on. Brodie went close with a near post flick from a Bertie corner and then went close again from long range, just missing the top corner. Chipstead continued to press too, with Sam, Henry and Nicholas standing strong. Nicholas passed to Henry who strode out of defence and was not to be stopped, bursting through numerous tackles and smashing the ball home from just inside the box to give the Giants a 3-2 lead with seconds remaining, it was a brilliant individual effort from the majestic centre half. Chipstead are like the Giants though and don’t know when they are beaten, and worked their way through the Giants defence straight from the kick-off to equalise with the very last kick of the game. It was well deserved as neither team deserved to lose this one, so both teams were able to walk off happy, which is at it should be after such a good game.

The second game was a bit more one sided, although credit to the Falcons team for playing some good passing football despite the final scoreline. An early goal nearly came when Bertie went on a good run, passing cleverly to Brodie whose effort went just past the post, but we didn’t have to wait much longer, Brodie intercepting a pass and curling a lovely shot into the top corner from outside the box, 1 nil. James’ goal-kicks were proving to be problematic for Chipstead on the small pitches and one or two nearly put the Giants in. One resulted in a corner which Bertie crossed, was never cleared, with Brodie pouncing to smash home his second goal to put the boys 2 nil up. Although he had less to do in terms of saves, it was great to see James organising his defenders at corners and then effortlessly plucking the ball out of the sky. In the second half, the Giants were clearly buoyed by the early goals, passing the ball confidently and moving intelligently, one move created a chance for Tom whose shot was well saved. Brodie sent a free kick over the bar from distance and Jack was continuing to cause problems down the right wing. Chipstead did manage to create some chances of their own which were mostly cleared by the dominant Henry, Nicholas and Sam. Sam won a strong tackle before sending Brodie forward, he passed the ball onto Tom who held it up and played in Bertie beautifully who clinically found the bottom corner to make the score 3 nil. James again showed his goalkeeping prowess, getting a hand to a Chipstead corner to clear the danger. The 4th goal came from the head of Bertie, with a well taken close range header from a great cross from Jack, with Jack himself grabbing the 5th goal from a tight angle, this was also the teams 100th league goal of the season, so well done Jack!. In the last few minutes Sam really shone in a stint up front, firstly by trapping the ball out of the sky from a goal kick in a style Dennis Bergkamp would have been proud of (and I don’t say THAT lightly!) and then spun and shot in the box, bringing out a good save from the Chipstead ‘keeper. Henry went close at the end, as did Tom on a couple of occasions but the game came to an end with no more goals added.

Such a good mornings football, well done to all the lads, everyone of them enjoyed themselves and played great. James had to win the player of the week award for a consistent performance throughout but most importantly for THAT save. Well done James.

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Saturday 27th April 2013

Ridgewaye Rockets 0 – 2 Langton Giants
Tom x 2

Ridgewaye Galaxy 2 – 3 Langton Giants
Bertie x 2, Sid

For our penultimate league games of the season we had the short trip to our good friends at Ridgewaye. We always enjoy competitive matches against Ridgewaye, played in the right spirit, and today was no exception. The first match saw us take on the Rockets, and despite missing two key players in Henry & Nicholas, we played some of our best football of the season, with an exhibition of passing and moving from every boy, creating a ton of chances along the way. The first chance came directly from the kick-off, Sid sliding in to beat the keeper to the ball only for his shot to just miss the post. At the back Sam and Jack were looking unbeatable, closing down any threat on the Giants goal, with James showing great positional sense to stop any balls from being lofted over the top. Tom shot just wide, Sam put in a crunching tackle and found Bertie who saw his well hit shot saved, Sid went close again and after Brodie trapped the ball out of the sky from a goal kick only to see his lovely bending shot just miss the upright, it was beginning to look like the opening goal was never going to appear. A minute later almost saw the Giants score their greatest ever goal. It started with a James goal kick which was played short to Brodie who then exchanged several one-two passes with Bertie the length of the pitch down the left wing from which Bertie floated in a beautiful cross that Sid met with an almighty diving header which unluckily came crashing back off the post with the ‘keeper well beaten. It was breathtaking football for such young boys and deserved to end in a goal. We didn’t have long to wait after that though, and it also started with a short goal kick from James. Brodie dribbled forward and sent Bertie away who’s cross wasn’t cleared allowing Tom to smash the ball into the roof of the net. Cue much relief! Bertie, Sid and Tom all went close again, but at half-time we were just the one goal ahead. The second half was practically a replay of the first, with the Giants on top, passing majestically and creating chance after chance but not taking them, either due to excellent goalkeeping, bad luck or not quite good enough finishing. Another thing that stayed the same was the strong performance at the back from Jack and Sam, with James continuing to look as safe as houses in goal, including one excellent save with his feet from a hard hit shot. Berties saw one shot saved, another fly just over the bar and Brodie was unlucky to see his effort hit the post after great work from Sid had sent him free. Bertie crossed for Brodie who’s volley was well saved and Sid hit the side netting from a tight angle. Finally the second goal came, and again it was down to Tom, who beat a player on the edge of the box to make himself the space he needed to hit an accurate shot into the bottom corner with his left foot. In the closing minutes both Bertie and Brodie went close again and James was called upon to make a smart save high above his head. A good win, albeit by a narrower margin than it could have been.

The second match saw the high level of performance continue, but the opposition strengthen. A great start from Bertie, slamming an unstoppable shot from a long way out right into the top corner to give the boys an early lead, which was soon doubled by the same player, slotting home after some incredibly self-less play from Tom, passing to Bertie who was in a better position instead of taking on a shot himself, great team work. There was to be no relaxing though, as the Galaxy team pulled one back with a brilliantly struck free kick, 2-1 but only momentarily as Sid tucked a very smart volley home from a Tom cross to re-establish the two goal cushion at 3-1. Sid then took a fine corner which somehow missed everyone except for Jack, who was cleverly loitering at the back post but saw his well struck shot go over the bar. That was Sid’s last contribution of the half as he took a nasty whack on the ankle (a proper stud mark was left to prove the point) which left us down to 6 boys for the remaining 6 or 7 minutes of the half. The lad who had struck the free-kick then let fly with another long range thunder strike which brought a stunning save from the brilliant James in goal. Sid bravely reappeared for the second half and showed no ill effects, throwing himself into the match and showing great character. More chances came and went, Bertie hit a sweet volley which the Ridgewaye ‘keeper did brilliantly to tip over the bar, and then our own fantastic keeper made an equally excellent save, low down to his left. Ridgewaye were starting to create half chances, mostly from distance though, and were unlucky to see a shot rebound off the cross bar. One of the long range efforts really paid off though, with them earning a second goal with probably the best goal we’ve ever been on the conceding end of. A volley, about a yard in our half that travelled like a rocket over the head of a helpless James into the top corner. To coin a popular Under 9 phrase, it was epic, we could only applaud. Bertie and Sid both went close again in the closing stages, with the defensive brilliance of Jack and Sam securing a victory that was tighter than it probably should have been, but well earned all the same.

All 7 were great today, special mention to Sid for keeping going despite not feeling well and getting a few knocks, and for Jack for being a real leader in defence. The player of the week trophy had to go to the magnificent Sam though who didn’t put a foot wrong all day and stopped numerous counter attacks in both matches, well done Sam.

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Saturday 20th April 2013

Tunbridge Wells Foresters Gold 3 – 1 Langton Giants
Bertie

Sevenoaks Town United 1 – 3 Langton Giants
Bertie, Nicholas, Brodie

Back to league games and for the first time in an age we were playing in sunshine on dry pitches! We knew we were in for two tough matches against teams both with a reputation for being very strong, and so it proved. The first match was against Foresters and it wasn’t without controversy. The Giants were on top from the first minute, battling hard and fighting for every ball to earn the right to play. It is fair to say that throughout the match the Giants created the most, and the best chances, with Brodie and Tom dominating the centre of midfield. It started when Sid sent Bertie through who’s shot just flashed past the post, Tom then having a firm shot blocked, Bertie bringing out a top draw save from the Foresters ‘keeper before Brodie sent over a great free-kick which Sid was inches away from converting. All the while, Henry, Jack and Sam were strong at the back, keeping the Foresters chances to a minimum with James excellent positioning meaning he handled everything with ease that came his way. Nicholas was adding some real bite on the wing and at half time we felt unfortunate not to be in a comfortable lead. The second half continued in much the same way, Henry winning a crunching tackle and passing to Sid who hit a viscous shot which just brilliantly tipped over the bar by the Foresters keeper, then against the run of play we conceded a scrambled goal to go behind. Feeling more than a tad unlucky, the boys pushed forward yet more and created more chances. Bertie took a quick and well thought out throw in to give Brodie a sight on goal but his firmly struck left footed shot was well saved. Brodie and Sid worked well together on the right hand side of the box, with Sid crossing for Bertie to slam home a thoroughly deserved equaliser with the outside of his foot, a very classy finish. Sid saw another shot saved, Henry amazingly nearly scored from within his own half (!) but was denied by yet another great save, and Tom went close twice as the boys were really turning the screw. Then the moment which changed the game. Brodie was fouled in the corner just outside our box, a whistle was blown, the Giants players bent over their injured team mate, as did the referee. Whilst this was happening the Foresters players took the ball and put it in the back of the net. Polite clarification was sought, with the outcome being the Foresters managers (one of whom was the referee) were happy that the goal stood and we found ourselves 2-1 down in a game we’d been in control of, and more than a little bit aggrieved. There was only a couple of minutes to go so we went for it, pushing more players forward and sadly were hit on the break with a very well struck shot to finish the game off with a 3-1 defeat.

A set of somewhat bewildered boys trudged of the pitch feeling quite hard done by, but with strong opposition waiting for them in the next game they had no time to cry about it, and responded brilliantly. Brodie did a smart turn on the edge of the box and sent the bright pink ball flying inches past the top corner, before Bertie opened the scoring with a shot which confused defender and ‘keeper before settling in the bottom corner. James was looking very confident in goal, showing great handling, and with Henry and Jack in imperious form at the back we were looking very secure defensively. Nicholas was having a great day, tackling strongly on the right wing and passing the ball well. Just before half time he found some space on the edge of the box and let fly with a fantastic shot which cannoned off the bar, the follow up deflecting back to him and he smashed it into the far corner to make the score 2 nil. There was still time for Sid to go close and Henry saw a well hit shot smartly saved. In the second half, Sam went in goal with James stepping in to defence, and the Giants stayed on top. Several chances to extend the lead were created, Brodie found the side netting, Bertie went close again and Brodie saw a well hot volley saved. Sevenoaks were causing more of a threat as the game went on, and scored a deserved goal which gave Sam no chance. Any fears of losing the lead however were settled shortly after when Sid hit the post then crossed the rebound to Brodie to volley home from close range to settle nerves and finish the match 3-1.

The boys all deserve huge credit for responding to disappointment in such a positive way and putting on two excellent performances. A special well done to Nicholas for winning the player of the week trophy, thoroughly deserved.

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Saturday 13th April 2013 – Crowborough League Jamboree

The annual league jamboree saw the Giants pitted against some tough opponents and went into the matches without our two top goalscorers in Sid & Tom. However, we were able to call upon Will from the Under 8′s to help us out and what an addition he turned out to be!

East Grinstead Meads AC 0 – 2 Langton Giants
Will, Brodie

The first match saw us play our friends from East Grinstead and it was obvious from the first minute that this would be a tough game to win. Sam was putting himself about up front and with the defence of Henry and Nicholas standing strong in front of the unflappable James in goal, it allowed for the midfield trio of Bertie, Brodie and Jack to get a grip on the game. A few half chances came and went at either end, but nothing clear cut came about until Will entered the game. Brodie broke clear and sent a perfectly weighted pass through to the fast moving Will who slammed the ball home off the underside of the bar to open the scoring with his very first touch!! This gave the boys a lift and they dominated the rest of match, with Jack playing particularly impressively down the right wing and we scored a second goal through Brodie who finished well after some quick thinking from Bertie with a well taken throw-in which caught the East Grinstead defence and goalkeeper out. A good start to the day.

Paddock Wood Warriors 0 – 2 Langton Giants
Jack, Bertie

Another strong performance against a well organised Paddock Wood team. Jack was continuing his fine wing play with some strong running and excellent crossing, one of which was very nearly headed home by a leaping Brodie who saw his header just go over the bar. Jack got the goal his performances deserved though a minute or so later when he stabbed home a Bertie corner from close range to put the boys 1 up. James’ goal-kicks were proving something of an attacking weapon on the short pitch and one of them very nearly provided a goal for Sam who was unlucky his feet aren’t a couple of shoe size’s bigger or he would have doubled the lead for sure. That honour went to Bertie who struck a lovely shot into the top corner following a clever pass from Henry.

Crowborough Athletic Wolves 0 – 1 Langton Giants
Will

This turned out to be the toughest game of them all against possible the most physically diverse Under 9 team anywhere in the world (think Giant Haystacks at the back, Mini-Me up front) and had an excellent goalkeeper, so good in fact he was nearly half as good as James. We got the first sight of his quality in the first minute when Jack sent yet another brilliant cross over which Bertie met with a sweet volley which was brilliantly saved. Brodie hit the post from a tight angle after following up on another well saved Bertie shot and we were beginning to wonder if a goal was ever going to come. Fortunately we had Nicholas and Henry dominating in defence and James made two very smart stops to remind everyone just who was the top Number 1 on the pitch. Jack’s strength took him into the penalty box and following a bit of a commotion Will stepped up and smashed the ball home with a powerful strike and stood to accept his team mates congratulations like it was nothing, a real Balotelli moment, the only thing that was missing was the “Why always me?” t-shirt. James made another good save, this time above his head to secure the clean sheet and narrow victory.

Ashurst Wood Tigers 0 – 3 Langton Giants
Bertie, Will, Henry

A great performance to wrap up a great mornings football. Sam took a turn in goal and put in a fautless display, with James stepping forward into defence and putting in several crunching tackles to ensure the strong defending of the day stayed firmly in tact. This game contained a superb goal and a special goal. The superb goal came courtesy of Bertie’s brilliant left foot, following a lovely pass from Nicholas. He took one touch to the left, was fully a couple of meters out side the box at an angle but somehow found the very top corner with a simply stunning strike, a contender for goal of the season without a doubt. He then followed that up with a fine corner kick which Brodie again got his head to, this time seeing it fly narrowly past the post. The Ashurst ‘keeper stopped Bertie repeating his earlier trick with a very good save before a couple of sublime bits of skill from Brodie, neither of which ended up in a goal but both warrant a mention. First came an overhead kick which was cleared off the line, but that was topped by a bit of control which saw him lob the ball over a defender, do a pair of keepy-ups between his head and knee before sending a finely hit volley over the bar with his left foot. It had been a least a few seconds since Will had scored a goal, but he soon corrected that when grabbing his third goal of the morning with a proper strikers goal, stabbing home when following up a saved Bertie shot after good work from Jack. I said there was a special goal in this one, and it came from a slightly unpredictable source… a Henry header!! Another great corner from Bertie saw the young Tony Adams (trust me Henry, that’s a HUGE compliment coming from me) rose above everyone and headed home the Giants ONE HUNDREDTH goal of the season… what an achievement from such a cracking group of lads, coming in just 30 short-length matches.

A big well done to everyone, thanks to Chris for refereeing, super Will for helping out so brilliantly and congratulations to Jack for being the player of the week.

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Saturday 16th March 2013

Tonbridge Juniors Sharks 3 – 5 Langton Giants
Tom x2, Bertie x2, Brodie

Tonbridge Juniors Piranhas 2 – 2 Langton Giants
Bertie, Jack

Wow….. what a morning’s football! In absolutely atrocious conditions the Giants showed they are more than just a good football side, they can mix it in the mud when called upon too. Missing top scorer Sid, a new striker-less formation was given a try (well if it’s good enough for Barcelona) and the extra man in midfield proved to be very useful when playing on a mud bath. Despite this there were more than a few flashes of the Giants passing style and some wonderful creative play. The first match was against a very strong opponent, and was probably the game of the season. The Giants created a couple of early openings and were slowly getting on top in midfield. Jack was going on some barn-storming runs down the right wing, with Henry and Nicholas standing firm at the back. Bertie showed some smart thinking, taking a throw in quickly allow Tom to run free and smash home a well taken and deserved opener. The rest of the half was a real midfield battle, with Bertie going close to doubling the lead. On several occasions Tonbridge broke through but were thwarted by Sam, who was in a “tackle everyone” mood. James made a couple of very smart saves but was generally well protected. So well protected in fact he was totally frozen solid by half-time so switched with Sam for the second half. The second half was a classic, enjoyed by everyone who witnessed it. Tonbridge were level immediately with a well struck shot into the top of the net when following up an excellent save from Sam. The Giants pushed forward and were pinning the Tonbridge defence back and controlling the match. We won a corner which was well delivered, but also well cleared and the Tonbridge striker ran clear and finished well to put the Giants 2-1 down. No panic, back we fought, Tom passed to Bertie who finished expertly across the goalkeeper to provide an immediate response, 2-2. Again we pushed forward, James, Nicholas and Henry all showing great determination and Jack playing like a man possessed. Tonbridge came forward again, a ricochet fell at the feet of their striker who blasted home to make the score 3-2 to the home side. The Giants players looked cold, tired and deflated, the rain was falling heavier than ever and their strong opponents looked like they were ready to put them to the sword. These boys never know when they are beaten though, rolled up their sleeves, dismissed any negative thoughts and went out and played some of their finest football of the season. Brodie broke through the midfield and let fly with a stunning shot which almost broke the cross-bar, then Tom found Bertie who smashed home to level the match at 3 all. Suddenly the boys had a spring in their step and looked dangerous every time they went forward. Brodie found Jack down the right hand side who sent in a wonderful cross which Tom volleyed home to give the boys the lead, and there was still time for Brodie to sweep home a 5th from the edge of the box with a running half-volley following more good work from Tom. A truly remarkable comeback and performance earning a very hard earned but thoroughly deserved win.

By now the boys were dropping like flies. Tom’s exertions in the first half had left him an unusual shade of green and feeling sick, ruling him out for the first half and several of the boys looked practically dead on their feet. It was agreed the match would be shortened before anyone developed hypothermia. Sam carried on his great work in goal, Nicholas was really putting himself about and Henry was showing great leadership and strength. Brodie sent Bertie away with a great pass and he finished with aplomb to give the Giants the lead. Bertie was having a great morning, with his next involvement being the highlight. He set off from deep inside his own half on a mazy run that showed great skill and determination, riding several tackles and carrying the ball almost the length of the field before pulling it back for Jack to stab home and double the lead. At half time the boys were firmly on top, but the weather was taking its toll. James has been poorly in recent weeks and finally succumbed to the conditions, sensibly going home for some home comforts! Sam needed to come out of goal before he froze to the spot, with Bertie demonstrating great team spirit by offering to step in despite his own ailments! Henry went forward…. to warm up, Sam did too and everyone worked their socks off, even Tom fought through his sickness to reappear and performed admirably. Unfortunately the conditions eventually took their toll and we conceded twice late on, both times as a result of the ball getting stuck in the mud at inconvenient times and both sides agreed to blow up early to get the players into the warm as quickly as possible (not to mention the manager, ref and parents!).

The manager has never been prouder, what a heroic effort from a fabulous set of lads who showed great spirit and character. All of them deserved it, but Sam was rightly awarded the player-of-the-Week trophy for his selflessness, effort and all round great play all morning.

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Saturday 2nd March 2013

Langton Giants 2 -0 Uckfield Grasshoppers Rockets
Tom x2

Langton Giants 5 -0 Jarvis Brook Griffins
Sid, Bertie, Nicholas, Jack, o.g

Finally, the miracle happened…… we had home games!! Our first home matches of any kind since the first week of September and the first home matches at our own age group all season, saw us welcome teams from Uckfied Grasshoppers and Jarvis Brook. The first match was against a physically strong, hard working and well organised Uckfield team. The Giants were on top right from the first whistle though with some lovely interplay and good ball movement. The defence was as solid as a rock and ensured the large majority of play was taking place in the Uckfield half. Brodie, Tom and Bertie all went close but a combination of good goalkeeping, last ditch defending and unlucky finishing saw the score at 0-0 at half time. The message to the boys was simple, carry on just as you are and be patient, the goals would come. One of the features of the day was Sid’s corner taking, time and time again he sent it brilliant balls that various Giants players were a fraction away from stabbing home. Despite the domination it was with some relief when Tom opened the scoring as it was beginning to feel like one of those days, and what an excellent goal it was. A very impressive turn on the edge of the box, skipped past the defender and slammed the ball home to give the ‘keeper no chance. Finally one of Sid’s corners paid off a few minutes later, Tom again bagging the goal, this time from close range when Uckfield failed to clear the ball. Nicholas and Sam were continuing to close the door at the back, with Bertie showing great ball control and passing down the left hand side. In the last few minutes Uckfield broke clear for the first time in the match and hit a great shot which rattled the bar, the ball fell at the feet of one of their players who looked certain to roll the ball into the empty net only for goal keeper James to appear out of thin air and launch himself across the goal to pull off a stunning save. Even by his high standards, this was a save of the highest quality and brought applause from all in attendance. A minute later he plucked a direct free kick out of the sky and the clean sheet and win was secured.

The second match was remarkably similar to the first, with again the boys getting on top early but again being frustrated by good defending and goalkeeping. Brodie saw an effort at the near post cleared off the line from another Sid corner, Bertie went on a great run and hit a firm shot just wide and both Tom and Sid had shots blocked. Jack was putting in some great tackles and with Henry his usual commanding self it meant James was mostly untroubled. The one time he was called into action he made another fine save and then leaped on the loose ball to stop any Jarvis Brook player stabbing home the rebound. The highlight of the first half was a run from Brodie where he pirouetted through the midfield like Billy Elliot in boots and sent a sublime through ball to Tom who’s shot was charged down. 0-0 at half time and the team talk was the same as in the first match, just keep doing what you’re doing, the goals will come, and they really did. No surprise that the first one came from another Sid corner which was poked home by a Jarvis Brook player under pressure from Brodie. It was close to 2 nil a minute later when Brodie burst through the midfield and let fly with a shot that brought a brilliant save out of the Jarvis Brook goal keeper, but we didn’t have long to wait as Sid swept home a beautiful left footed volley, demonstrating excellent technique from Brodie’s cross. Bertie was continuing his forrays down the left hand side and he got the goal his work rate and skills deserved when Brodie sent him through to finish expertly into the bottom corner. Sam had taken over in goal and showed great handling and positional sense, with James proving to be a defensive rock as a outfield player. The 4th goal was the goal of the day, Jack winning a tackle and passing to Henry who showed great strength, skill and awareness by holding off two defenders and flicking the ball onto Nicholas who smashed the ball into the net via the inside of the post…. great build up, great finish. There was still time for Jack to score a fine individual effort, breaking down the right wing and hitting a powerful shot into the corner of the net from a tight angle to wrap the game up.

Another successful morning for the Giants then, with Sid’s consistently brilliant corner taking and all round play earning him the player of the week accolade.

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Saturday 9th February 2013

Rusthall Lions 3 – 5 Langton Giants
Tom x2, Sid x2, Brodie

Rusthall Tigers 0 – 4 Langton Giants
Bertie, Jack, Sid, James

The first league games of 2013 saw us visit our local rivals Rusthall on a chilly but dry Saturday morning. The pitches were in very good condition considering the recent weather which was always likely to suit the Giants passing game. The first match was against the very strong Lions side who has beaten us the last time we’d faced them in the league so we knew we were in for a tough challenge, and so it proved in a belter of a game! The Giants started well, getting the ball down and controlling the midfield but Rusthall were always dangerous, with their star player looking lively throughout. In Henry’s absence, Jack, Nicholas and Sam all had to step up to ensure the defence stayed strong and all three of them were magnificent, battling hard and passing the ball out from the back when it was appropriate. A few minutes before the break Bertie broke clear down the left and put in a great cross which Sid tucked into the bottom corner to give the boys a 1 nil lead at half time. The second half saw the Rusthall boys come out fired up and were putting our defence under great pressure, bringing two very smart saves out of James in goal. The pressure did tell in the end though, a well worked move saw the game levelled at 1-1. A minute later and the Giants were really up against it, a cross hit the outstretched hand of Jack (who was wearing bright pink gloves, so it was never likely to go unnoticed!) and a penalty was correctly awarded. James made a great attempt to keep the spot kit out, getting a hand to it, but it just trickled into the corner of the net to give Rusthall a 2-1 advantage. The boys in recent weeks have shown their ability to respond to adversity and so it proved again. Sid went on a determined run down the left wing, finding Tom who banged in an equaliser, before Brodie gave us the lead again by following up a shot that the keeper had saved well. The midfield were now on top of the game, Brodie’s passing from his central midfield role was setting the tone, and Tom and Bertie were working hard down the wings. Yet again the Bertie/Sid combination paid dividends, with the former again the provider from the left hand side, with Sid swivelling on the spot and hitting a smart shot into the bottom corner to make the score 4-2. There was to be no relaxing, as again Rusthall hit back to make it 4-3 with a fine goal of their own to set up a grandstand finish. The defence stood firm though, and there was still time for Tom to slam a shot into the top corner following some great build up play from Brodie to settle the nerves and seal a very hard earned victory against a good side.

The second game started a little bit low key after the excitement of the first, but a tactical switch soon saw the Giants take over with a slightly more attack focused formation towards the end of the half. It paid off almost immediately, with Bertie opening the scoring with a great low finish across the goalkeeper. Sam was now in goal and pulled off a brilliant save to preserve the lead, tipping the ball over the bar as it looked destined for the top corner. The defence of James and Nicholas were proving un-passable and Jack was revelling in his new role on the right wing. The second goal was a lesson in the importance of following in shots. Brodie found space at the top of the box and let fly with a powerful shot which the ‘keeper did well to parry, only for Sid to follow up with an effort that looked like it was going to trickle past the post, but Jack followed it up to tuck home a well deserved goal from a tight angle to make the score 2-0. Jack was really taking over the game at this stage and a strong run and cross found Bertie in lots of space and he was unlucky to see his well struck shot come back off the post. The second half saw more of the same, Bertie again hitting the post with a well hit shot, this time with his right foot from another Jack cross and Brodie went close too. Sid worked hard to wriggle his way through the defence and slot home a very good goal to make the score 3 nil. Nicholas was competing very well in midfield, and saved a certain goal when he cleared brilliantly off the line from a corner. James was having a stint up front and almost connected with an audacious back-heel effort following another Bertie cross, and Tom made a good effort with a header from Sid’s corner. The final goal came when Nicholas won the ball in midfield, before sending an inch perfect pass through the eye of a needle to put James through 1 on 1 against the ‘keeper. You’d never guess James was a goalkeeper by trade the way he took the ball in his stride and stroked it into the bottom corner like he did it every day of his life.

A very successful and enjoyable morning with fine performances from every single boy. Jack thoroughly deserved the player of the week award for his work in defence in the first game and on the wing in the second, so well done Jack.

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Saturday 2nd February 2013 – Ridgeway Tournament

After a 6 week break due to the recent weather the Giants finally took to the pitch again, after being invited to take part in a 6 team tournament hosted by Ridgeway. Everyone would play everyone in 8 minute matches with the top two teams taking part in the final.

Ridgeway Rockets 0 – 1 Langton Giants
Tom

The first game of the day was against a strong and well organised Rockets team. The Giants took control from the start, creating several chances but just couldn’t find the back of the net, mainly down to some fine saves from the Rockets goalkeeper. The Ridgeway team have one especially dangerous player who can score from anywhere, but the defenders of Henry, Jack, Sam and Nicholas managed to keep him quiet from start to finish. The winning goal came from Tom who spun and blasted a great shot past the goalkeeper to get the tournament off to a perfect start.

Ridgeway Galaxy 0 – 0 Langton Giants

As it was to prove later in the morning, the Galaxy were the strongest of the Ridgeway sides, and this was a very hard fought game. Sid went close and was putting in some great corners, and Bertie and Brodie were battling hard in midfield. James made a very good save in goal and was kicking the ball well when called upon too. The Giants had the best chance to win the game with a late penalty that was narrowly missed, but overall it was a fair result.

Ridgeway Jupiter 0 – 2 Langton Giants
Brodie x2

Another hard fought match, a game where Jack was running hard down the right wing and with Bertie doing likewise down the left the Giants were firmly on the offensive. Nicholas continued his fine form of the day with some great tackles and clever passing in midfield. Sam was now in goal and looked calm and assured, just as James did in his new role in defence. Brodie opened the scoring with a well hit shot that went in the top corner despite a great effort from the ‘keeper to keep it out, and then Brodie sealed the victory with another goal, this time into the bottom corner.

Langton Devils 0 – 3 Langton Giants
Sid, Tom x 2

The first match for the Giants against one of their fellow Langton sides, the Devils. Sam continued in goal and was sending some great goal kicks up the field, one of which was latched onto by Sid who finished calmly for his first goal of the day to give the Giants an early lead. The Devils pass the ball well and have some very determined defenders who made life difficult for the Giants, so it was a relief when Tom doubled the lead with a great low strike from outside the box. Henry was showing his strength in both defence and midfield, tackling anyone who dared come near him, firing in a great long shot and really influencing the match. The highlight of the game came when Brodie showed great technique by knocking the ball over a defenders head, before doing a couple of keepy-uppys and sending Tom through with an inch perfect pass which he slotted past the ‘keeper to complete the scoring.

Langton Eagles 0 – 0 Langton Giants

The final group game saw us up against some more of our friends, this time in the form of the Eagles. It was a cracking game of football with both teams working hard and playing some great football. The closest either team came to getting a goal was a direct free kick from Brodie which whistled over the bar, but overall it was a fair result in an enjoyable match. This is the first season for the Eagles and they’re already proving to be a very difficult team to beat.

The good news was that the results in the group stages had seen the Giants end up with the best record and as such had qualified for the final, where they faced a rematch against the strong Galaxy team they’d drawn with earlier in the day.

The Final

Ridgeway Galaxy 1 – 3 Langton Giants
Brodie x2, Sid.

The final was played over two halves of six minutes and was a tight contest from the start. Like all good teams though, the Giants saved their best performance of the day for when they needed it the most, showing great passing and movement throughout. A number of chances were created but none clear cut and Galaxy remained a threat on the break, with Sam putting in several tackles to win the ball back. The first goal went the way of the Giants, and what a goal it was. Brodie taking the ball on the edge of the box before curling a beautiful shot into the top corner which gave the goalkeeper no chance. The Giants were slowly getting on top and it looked as though they would get to half-time with a lead, only to concede a goal with the last kick of the half. It was a well worked goal by the Ridgeway team but the Giants were definitely guilty of switching off. Fortunately they switched back on for the second half, and how! They pushed forward, despite now playing up hill, but remained strong at the back when it was needed. Brodie went close with an audacious overhead kick from yet another great corner from Sid. It was beginning to look like the final might be heading towards a dreaded penalty shoot-out, but the Giants had other ideas. Bertie found some space down the left from where he swept in a stunning cross which Sid brilliantly volleyed home, showing fantastic technique doing so. Could the Giants hold on? The Galaxy fought back and made a real match of it, winning a succession of corners. Their big chance came when one of the corners landed firmly on the forehead of their tallest player but he was unable to keep the header down and the ball sailed over the bar. In the dying moments Brodie wrapped things up by sneaking in a 3rd goal at the near post.

So that was it, the Giants had won their first ever piece of silverware!!!!!!! They were all brilliant and thoroughly deserved to win the trophy for their hard work and great play. Only conceding one goal in 6 matches was an amazing achievement, so a huge well done to the defenders and goalkeepers. Nicholas played great all day in several positions so was the deserved winner of the player of the week trophy.

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Saturday 15th December

Tonbridge Junior Porsche 0 – 5 Langton Giants
Bertie, Tom, Sam, Jack, Henry

Tonbridge Junior Lamborghini 2 – 3 Langton Giants
Sid, Bertie, Brodie

The final matches of 2012 were played at the home pitches of our friends Tonbridge Juniors and saw some excellent performances to see off the year in style. The first match saw the Giants take an early lead through Bertie who finished well from a good pass from Tom, and moments later Tom himself scored a stunning volley from a long way out to give the boys a commanding 2 nil lead. As always the defence strong, with Nicholas, Jack and Henry taking it in turns to snuff out any Tonbridge attacks. Sid was his usual busy self, creating chances for both himself and his team mates with his pace and excellent hold up play. Sam went up front towards the end of the first half and grabbed himself a good goal, finishing well after a great pass from Jack to make it 3 nil at the break. It is fair to say that James didn’t have anything to do in the first half, such was the strength of the defence, so he came outfield for the second half and put in a very good performance, with strong tackling and top notch passing. Bertie went in goal and did a good job, especially with a firmly hit cross. Nicholas played the whole second half up front, working hard and doing a good job of keeping the Tonbridge defenders busy. Brodie slotted in at the back, working hard and Jack was busy on the wing and it was from his hustle and bustle that the ball broke to Tom who passed it back to Jack for him to slot home smartly, 4 nil. Henry was playing strongly in midfield, tackling and pushing the team forward, and got a very good goal of his own late on with a firm strike low into the corner to see the match finish 5 nil.

The second match was a very different contest, against a strong Lamborghini side. Right from the first minute it was obvious the Giants were in for a battle, which meant the boys stayed in their strongest positions for this one. The boys raised their efforts and quality, pushing forward and controlling the match. Brodie, Bertie and Tom were in dominant form in midfield and Sid’s movement was causing all sorts of trouble for the Tonbridge defence, winning a couple of corners in a row. Sid swung one of them in himself, with Brodie unlucky not to score with a powerful header just wide. Roles were reversed a minute later, Brodie sending Sid clear with a fantastic through ball, leaving him with just the ‘keeper to beat. The way he did it demonstrated just how much Sid has improved and how much his confidence has grown, rounding the goalkeeper and slotting home like an international striker, to put the Giants 1 nil up. Henry, Jack, Nicholas and Sam were all defending very strongly, and James was perfect when called upon to be so. More chances were created and the Giants remained in control, that was until just before half time when we gave the ball away cheaply in midfield and were punished with an excellent strike from their most dangerous player, to make it 1-1 at the half. At the start of the second half, the Giants scored a goal that was, in the opinion of the manager, as good as any goal they’ve ever scored. In recent weeks we’ve worked on a new goal kick routine and it was played out to perfection. James played it short to Brodie, who turned and sent the ball down the right to Tom, who pinged it into Sid first time who subsequently did the same to Bertie, who slammed the ball home with his first touch. Box-to-Box, 5 players, 5 touches = goal. Perfect. Unfortunately that good work was undone shortly afterwards when we gave away a very soft goal to see the scoreline levelled again. James was dominant in goal, Henry majestic at the back and Tom worked tirelessly all game on the right hand side. Both Sam and Nicholas fought hard when they came on, and Jack make several really important last ditch tackles. Sid was continuing to cause havoc and won another corner, which again he would take. This time Brodie got the header bang on, rising at the front post and heading the ball into the top corner to give the Giants the 3-2 lead they deserved. Bertie was the hero in the last minute though, showing alertness, determination and athleticism to head the ball off the line to seal the hard earned victory against a good team.

Brodie’s all round performance meant he had to be the player of the week, so well done to him, but all the boys contributed significantly to the two wins today. Incredibly, the Giants have scored 60 goals before Xmas, in just 14 games, I think they’ve all earned a wonderful festive break!

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Saturday 1st December

Raw Skills Albion 2 – 1 Langton Giants
Sid

Raw Skills Rovers 1 – 3 Langton Giants
Brodie, Tom, Bertie

It was with great relief that the Giants matches were able to go ahead this morning, given the heavy overnight frost and recent rain, after the previous weeks matches did fall victim to the elements. It’s fair to say that the lack of recent activity showed in the first match, for despite no lack of effort, the boys just weren’t on their game. Some of the passing was good, and they had enough chances to win the match, but it just felt like a bad day at the office from the word go. It was freezing cold, the pitch was hard and the tackles strong, but the boys gave everything. They conceded a soft goal at the near post, which James was unlucky not to keep out despite his best efforts to go a goal down. Henry, Sam and Nicholas were tackling strongly, with the midfield working hard without ever really getting hold of the game in their usual manner. Sid was putting himself about up front and grabbed a great equaliser just before half time, when a Tom pass was only partially cleared by the head of a Raw Skills player, allowing Sid to volley home over the head of the goalkeeper from outside the box. James then saved the day with a great save, tipping the ball round the post after an athletic dive to his left. The lads came out stronger in the second half, the passing was sharper and the energy levels increased, so it was against the run of play when we gave away a very disappointing goal that we had several opportunities to clear. Sam was in goal now and was at no fault for the goal, putting in a good stint between the sticks, including some great goal kicks. The Giants broke through on several occasions, with Brodie, Bertie, James and Tom all being denied by excellent saves from the accomplished Raw Skills ‘keeper. They kept banging on the door, but it just wouldn’t come, and the wonderful unbeaten run was over as the game ended with a 2-1 victory for Raw Skills Albion. It was a deserved victory for them, they had some good players and were the better team on the day. It was disappointing for the Giants, as they have beaten far better sides this season, but the great thing about mini-soccer is that you get to play again straight away to make things right.

No heads were dropped for the start of the second game, just a determination to get back to winning ways. Unfortunately early in the match, our striker and top scorer, Sid, took a whack on the ankle (not for the first time today) and was forced off, this along with the cold weather and tired legs took its toll, so when Raw Skills took the lead it looked very much like we were going to suffer a second defeat of the day. That said, despite the scoreline we were the better side in the first half but again came up against a very good goalkeeper who somehow kept out all that we threw at him. Henry, Nicholas and James all stood firm in defence, and Sam continued his fine goal kicks. At half time, with the boys 1 nil down, Sid off injured and a team of cold and wet boys, a change was needed. Fortunately this came in the form of the sun making a much needed appearance, which seemed to defrost the boys and give them a lift. There was a tactical change too, with James going back in goal, Brodie slotting in up front and Henry stepping into central midfield. There was a new sense of determination too as they started winning more 50/50 balls and passing the ball better. The tactical switch took a blow when Tom was fouled and also had to depart the field, leaving them team 6 v 7. Amazingly, it was whilst a man down that the Giants equalised, Bertie sending a beautiful pass cross field to Brodie, who finished clinically across the keeper into the far bottom corner. This gave the boys new confidence, they were level, the sun was shining and Tom bravely returned to the fold the even the numbers up. He’ll be glad he did, because a few minutes later, Bertie hit an even better cross field ball which fell at Tom’s feet, with him making no mistake to give the boys a much deserved lead. Henry was thriving in central midfield, and went on a great run before releasing Tom who was unlucky not to get his second of the game. Defending duties were not over yet though, and it was great to see James sprinting off his line to clear the ball from just outside the box and save a certain goal, from the ensuing play Sam also made a great clearance and Nicholas a couple of brave tackles. Bertie was now causing the Raw Skills defenders all sorts of problems, and got the goal his efforts deserved when he weaved his way past 3 defenders before slotting the ball firmly into the bottom corner. Chances came and went for a 4th, Henry particularly unlucky, but after a hard mornings efforts, disappointment and freezing cold conditions the boys were very happy to finish the day with a much deserved 3-1 win.

The team deserve enormous credit for the unbeaten run, which had to come to an end eventually, but also for their reaction and willingness to work hard even when things aren’t going so well. Nobody demonstrated this more than Bertie, who kept going throughout and eventually got the assists and goals his determination warranted, and as such won this weeks player of the week award.

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Saturday 10th November

Sevenoaks Town Rovers 0 – 7 Langton Giants
Sam x 2, Brodie, Tom, Bertie, Henry, Jack

Sevenoaks Town Dynamos 3 - 3 Langton Giants
Brodie, Bertie, Sid

Yet more away games for the Giants, this time at the always well organised and talented Sevenoaks Town. The first match was against the Rovers and The Giants got off to the perfect start, when Sid held the ball up with great strength, rolled his defender and put in a beautiful cross for Brodie who swept the ball across the goalkeeper and into the bottom corner with a first time strike. The second soon followed in almost the exact same fashion, Sid again the supplier, but Tom being the grateful recipient and finishing just as clinically as the first. The whole team were passing beautifully, and moving well. Prior to the matches we’d worked on a new goal-kick routine and the boys replicated it to perfection time and time again during the games, which was so pleasing to see. Henry was controlling defence, with Jack and Sam ensuring James was well protected in goal. Just before half time, James sent a great goal kick down the middle of the pitch for Tom to control and play in Bertie who smashed the ball past the goalkeeper to send the Giants in 3 nil up at the break. It is fair to say though, that the Rovers had played some very neat football of their own with lots of good passing and it still felt very much like a contest…. and so it proved initially, as James was called into making a couple of very smart saves. Nerves were settled a few minutes later though when Sam let fly with a rocket shot that almost brought the goal down (and put the goalkeeper in hospital) to make it 4 nil ! It was an incredible strike. Talking of well hit shots, next it was Brodie’s turn, this time with a direct free-kick which the goalkeeper did great to keep out, only for Jack to slam the rebound home for his first goal of the season, and the Giants 5th of the game. Henry prodded one home from a Sid corner, I think with his knee, and Sam grabbed his second of the game by tucking the ball into the corner after another great cross from Sid. James made a top save in the last minute to keep the clean sheet and the game ended 7 nil, with 6 different goalscorers which underlines what a great team performance this was.

The second game was undoubtedly the Giants toughest of the season to date, against a physically strong team who had one or two exceptional players. Just how tough this was to be was evident very early when their star man weaved through the Giants defence and hit a powerful shot into the top corner to give James no chance, and them a one nil lead. Once again though the Giants were not found wanting though, fighting back and creating a string of chances. Nicholas had kindly helped our friends the Redhawks out in the first match, but was back for the Giants in this one, and he led by example with some powerful tackling and determined play. Although we were creating chances, we were conceding them too, and were grateful to James for about the 726th time this season when he pulled off two stunning saves to keep us in the game. Sid was unlucky not to equalise when clean through, narrowly missing the far post, but made amends like all good strikers do by finishing off a great Bertie cross. Brodie, Tom and Henry were really throwing themselves into tackles, refusing to be intimidated by the larger Sevenoaks boys and were ensuring we were winning the midfield battle. Brodie sent a sumptuous pass through to Bertie, who beat the defender and scored with a very well controlled finish to make the score 2-1 to the Giants at half time. The second half saw their star player score his second brilliant individual effort which you just had to applaud, making it 2-2. For the rest of the half the Giants though were on top, but Sevenoaks defended resolutely and to be fair created more chances of their own, one of which was expertly saved by James, tipping the ball onto the post and then showing great alertness by diving on the ball before it crossed the line. When a well deserved third goal did come, it was a beauty. Tom turning brilliantly on the half way line, racing down the wing and pulling the ball back to Brodie who drove a firm first time shot beyond the diving ‘keeper to make it 3-2. It looked at that stage as though that has won us the game, but a late corner was smashed home to secure a 3-3 draw for Sevenoaks which was probably a fair result between two good sides in a great game of football.

So the 100% win record was gone, but the undefeated run is firmly in place! Any number of the boys could have won the player of the week, but this time it went to Henry for an outstanding display of defending against good attacking players, well done Henry! Also, a special mention of thanks to Sam and Nicholas for helping the Redhawks out today, much appreciated boys.

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Saturday 27th October

Tonbridge Invicta Hurricanes 0 – 5 Langton Giants
Henry x 2, Tom, Sam & Bertie

Tonbridge Invicta Spitfires 2 – 8 Langton Giants
Sid x 5 (FIVE), Bertie x 2, Sam

For the second set of games in a row, the Giants found themselves playing away against teams called Hurricanes & Spitfires, this time the Tonbridge Invicta versions. Back to a full quota of players and on much better pitches, the boys were able to play the way they like to and work extra hard as they knew a rest was just around the corner with the luxury of having two substitutes. From the off the Giants were on top in the first match, Tom sent a lovely ball to Sid on the left wing who pinged a great cross which Bertie slotted under the ‘keeper to give the boys a deserved early lead, which was soon doubled when Tom tapped in a cross from Bertie. As always the boys at the back, Henry, Nicholas and Jack were defending solidly which kept James well protected, with him pulling off a good save the only time Invicta broke through. Sam continued his recent goal scoring exploits, following up a saved shot from Brodie by knocking it in with an audacious flick of the shoulder, very Mario Balotelli! Just before half time, Henry broke through and finished excellently with just the ‘keeper to beat to make the half time score 4-0. For the second half, Bertie took over between the sticks, Brodie and Tom dropped into defence with James, Nicholas, Sam, Jack, Sid and Henry taking it in terms to form the attacking unit. Despite the changes in roles, the Giants continued to control the match, with Sid troubling the defence with what felt like a never ending sequence of corners. Jack was running with pace and purpose and was unlucky not to get on the score sheet, and Bertie pulled off a cracking save when called upon to do so. Another corner was awarded, this time Sid was off the pitch so his right-leg got a break, with Nicholas assuming corner taking duties. He delivered a fine corner straight to Henry, who controlled the ball and hit a great strike into the top corner for his second and the Giants 5th of the match to wrap things up.

In the second match, the Giants got a bit of a wake up call to start with, conceding a very well taken goal in the first minute to go behind in a match for the first time this season. The next couple of minutes were quite uncomfortable as the excellent passing of the Spitfires boys put the defence under quite a bit of pressure. Henry and Jack stood firm and slowly the midfield trio of Bertie-Brodie-Tom started to get hold of the game. Tom’s passing was getting better and better as the day went on, and in this game he put on a bit of a master class. It was his ball that set Bertie away, who saw his first shot blocked, but never one to give up he followed it up with a brilliantly hit shot into the bottom corner to grab an important equaliser. This seemed to inject some confidence into the team and just a few minutes later Sid gave the boys the lead with a chipped finish following another Tom pass. Sid was then sent away with another great pass from….. guess who….. and the super striker selflessly set up Bertie for his second goal with a tidy finish. Just before half time, James pulled off his weekly wonder save to keep the score at 3-1 at the break. That didn’t last long into the second half though, with the Spitfires scoring a goal Brazil would have been proud of, consisting of 4 one touch passes and sublime finish to cut the lead to 3-2. Fortunately it took just a minute or two for the two-goal lead to be re-established, Bertie and Brodie exchanging passes beautifully with the latter setting up Sid to score well with his left foot. Sid then secured his first ever hatrick for the Giants, calmly rounding the goalkeeper like an international striker when through one-on-one. The finish was typical of a striker playing with confidence, so it was no surprise when he get yet another goal, this time from a Bertie through ball, and then a FIFTH a minute later, this time from a Brodie pass. In between the Sid goal-scoring clinic, James was called upon to make a couple of great saves, one from a direct free-kick which was heading for the top corner. Henry, Jack and Nicholas were dominating in defence against a very accomplished passing team. The eighth and final goal came when Sam latched onto a great pass from Nicholas and with just the keeper to beat slammed a shot into the top corner with real power. The Giants have never scored 8 in a match before, and for it come against such a good side was a real sign of the progress the boys are making as a team, and the effort each and everyone of them puts in to improving their play.

It was hard on Sid not to win player of the week after his goal scoring binge, but 5 goals in a game seemed reward enough, so the award went to Tom who’s passing all day was an example to the whole team, so well done Tom, and well done the Giants.

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Saturday 13th October

Broad Oak Spitfires 0 – 5 Langton Giants
Bertie x2, Tom, Sam, Henry

Broad Oak Hurricanes 0 – 4 Langton Giants
Bertie, Sam, Tom, Nicholas

So after a few weeks break as a result of bad weather and opponents being unable to fulfil fixtures, the Giants finally took to the field for their 5&6th games of the season. It was cold, wet and windy and the team were missing two key players in Sid & Jack who were both away on international duty, so with no subs the 7 remaining boys took to the field against the Spitfires with the manager not quite knowing what to expect. What he got was fabulous effort, energy, determination and quality from the off. A few chances came and went before James sent a long goal kick down the middle, which Sam helped on to Tom on the right wing who hit a beautiful cross field ball to Bertie to finish clinically into the bottom corner to give the boys the lead. That lead was soon doubled when Brodie fed a lovely ball through the Broad Oak defence to put Tom in against the keeper and he duly finished with ease. In Sid’s absence, Sam was revelling in his striker role and got the goal his efforts deserved by following up a shot from Brodie that was well saved to put the Giants 3 up before the break. The second half saw more of the same, now with James playing on the wing, Henry and Nicholas having turns up front, and Tom and Brodie assuming defensive duties. Bertie was playing his best football of the season, beating players, tackling back and passing the ball sensibly and helped himself to his second goal of the game with a mazy run past 3 defenders before beating the keeper from close range. Nicholas went close twice, once due to a brilliant save and one just missed, and Henry was unlucky to see a goal disallowed for a foul on the keeper, but showed what a fine young gentleman he is by shaking the opposing players hand despite his disappointment….. can’t help but think a few Premier League players could do with such manners, the manager was very proud. He was also very happy when a few minutes later Henry got the goal he deserved to wrap up the game 5 nil.

The second game was against the clearly stronger of the two Broad Oak teams, but the Giants were fortunate enough to have the assistance of Jack W for this one. Jack is a year younger but this didn’t show and he slotted into the team seamlessly. Sam got the boys off to the best possible start with an excellent goal, turning on the edge of the box and finding the bottom corner, living up to his newly acquired nick-name “Sweet Spot Sam” (try saying that 5 times in a row quickly!). He was clearly gaining confidence as a minute later he hit the post with another fine shot. At the other end, Henry and Nicholas were defending superbly, intercepting, tackling and passing very well. Brodie was continuing to pull the strings in midfield including one moment when he effortlessly trapped the ball out of the sky that brought an audible gasp from the sidelines. Tom was his usual energetic and creative self and worked his socks off getting back when needed. The second goal came when he swung a great corner in, only for everyone to miss it and the ball nestle in the far bottom corner. Jack did brilliantly to get himself free in the box and was unlucky to see his shot just go past the post. Up until this point, over the two games, James (and for a while, Sam) had been required to make a few good saves in goal, but what happened in the next minute was incredible. First of all, James made a great save above his head but the ball wasn’t properly cleared and the oppositions best player was through against James who had only just recovered from the last save. Somehow he saved the first shot low to his right, then the follow up with his legs before scrambling the THIRD shot round the post for a corner. No rest, the corner came in and James AGAIN came to the rescue with another incredible save to keep the score at 2 nil when the half time whistle blew. The second half began with the Giants really on top, Bertie hit the post after receiving a great pass from Sam, Jack saw a good effort charged down and Brodie hit a great shot from distance that was destined for the top corner before a brilliant piece of goalkeeping saw it tipped onto the cross bar and out for a corner. From that corner though came the third goal, this time seeing Nicholas hitting a rocket shot into the roof of the net, a great finish. Broad Oak came back into the game more, and once again the Giants were grateful to the excellent James who made two more fine saves, before Bertie wrapped up the scoring for the game and the day, poking home the follow up when the ‘keeper spilled a firm shot from Brodie.

A great Saturday mornings football then, the first two cleans sheets of the season and Bertie, Sam, Henry and Nicholas all opening their scoring accounts for the season, Jack making a great cameo appearance and James deservedly picking up the player-of-the-week trophy for his stunning performance between the sticks.

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Saturday 15th September

East Grinstead Meads Inter 2 – 4 Langton Giants
Sid x 2, Brodie, Tom

East Grinstead Meads AC 2 – 5 Langton Giants
Tom x 3, Brodie, Sid

So the first outing in our own age group this season and another successful mornings football for the Giants, away against our good friends from East Grinstead Meads. The first match was far more competitive than the score line suggests, this one could have gone either way. The first half saw the Giants struggle to get into the game and were conceding a lot more possession than they are used to, so were thankful to Henry, Jack, Sam and Nicholas for staying strong, with James being his usual reliable self in goal behind them, making a couple of good saves along the way. Half way through the half though, the Giants snatched the lead, and what a fine individual effort it was. Sid received the ball on the edge of the box, and with a sublime drag back created himself the space needed to bend a stunning shot into the top corner from a tight angle. An early contender for goal of the season. Within a few minutes though Meads were level, and it was a deserved equaliser which was well created and taken. Thankfully Sid had his shooting boots on, and regained the lead for the Giants just before half-time with a well struck shot from the edge of the box that found the bottom corner. It looked like Meads were going to equalise again, but Brodie made a last ditch clearance off the line following a goal mouth scramble that ensured the boys went in at half time with a 2-1 lead. The second half got off to a great start when Tom put in a crunching tackle, sent Sid away down the right wing who crossed beautifully for Brodie to smash the ball in first time from near the penalty spot. A fourth goal soon came, Brodie chipped forward, Sid knocked it on and Tom hit a firm shot across the ‘keeper into the bottom corner. In the closing minutes a well struck corner ended up with a Giants own goal, but it was the least the Meads deserved, seeing as they’d hit the woodwork 4 times during the match. The Giants hit the post twice themselves, so it could have easily been an even higher scoring match.

The second game saw the boys get off to a flyer, with Brodie receiving a pass from Sid before sweeping a beautiful bending shot into the top corner from fully 20 yards. Tom & Sid then both managed to hit the post in the same sequence when it looked for certain that we would score again. When the second goal did come, it was a bit more Stoke than Barcelona, with James sending a huge goal-kick forward that beat the defenders, allowing Sid to run clear and slot calmly past the on-rushing ‘keeper. It was a bit route-one, but they all count! The third was much more Giants like, with Tom receiving a good pass from Bertie, before swivelling and hitting a powerful left footed shot in at the near post. Bertie’s passing and crossing were exceptional this morning, and he selflessly created chance after chance for his team mates. Three nil at half-time was soon four, and again it was from the left foot of Tom, this time shooting low to the ‘keepers right. Henry and Jack were really pushing the team forward, and Nicholas was keeping things tight at the back, in front of Sam who was now having a stint in goal, where he did very well. James pushed forward into midfield and passed the ball intelligently Tom was clearly in the mood, and wrapped up an excellent hatrick, this time using his more natural right foot from close range. Meads did grab two goals back in the final minutes, but again they were the least they deserved after they’d played some very neat football throughout.

Tom was the player of the week, thoroughly deserved after his goals, passing and effort. Well done Tom, and well done the Giants.

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Saturday 8th September

Langton Giants 3 – 1 Raw Skills Rovers (u10)
Brodie x 2, Sid

Langton Giants 4 – 1 Raw Skills Rangers (u10)
Sid x2, Brodie, Tom

What a fantastic start to the new season for the Giants. With this season seeing the boys playing under 9 football, their first matches of the season saw them playing up an age group to fill in for one of the clubs under 10 teams who were unable to fulfil the fixture. Never a team to be intimidated, the boys saw it as challenge rather than something to worry about and set about stamping their authority on the game with their brand of pass and move football against the older, bigger and stronger opposition. It only took a couple of minutes to create the first breakthrough, when Bertie pulled the ball back for Brodie to smash home, and just a few minutes later Bertie repeated the trick, this time beating a couple of defenders and crossing an excellent ball to the back post where Sid slid in bravely to grab the second goal. The great passing continued, with Tom setting the tone with some intelligent interplay, bringing the defenders into the game. Henry, Jack, Nicholas and Sam all defended resolutely and joined in brilliantly with the midfield to ensure the Giants dominated possession of the ball. Just before half time the Rovers grabbed a goal and a lifeline, with a well struck shot into the top corner that gave James no chance in goal. Speaking of James, the team were once again indebted to him for a couple of first class saves which kept them on top. The second half saw more of the same, and an early second goal from Brodie, forcing in a well hit shot in at the near post, settled any nerves the Raw Skills goal might have brought. The Giants were now rampant and were unlucky not to extend the score, with Tom hitting the inside of the post and Sid going close with a fine effort. Still, it was as great performance from the whole team.

The start of the second match saw the Giants put under significant pressure from the off. Henry had needed to depart, and the team missed his commanding presence at the back. The midfield wasn’t clicking and as a result, the boys were forced to defend for their lives. Sam, Nicholas and Jack all stepped up their efforts yet further and remained strong throughout. It was clear that this was the stronger of the two Raw Skills teams and the Giants needed to up their game…. and boy how they did! A crunching tackle from Jack saw the ball break to Brodie who strode forward, holding off a couple of tackles before sending a sumptuous and perfectly weighted pass into the path of Sid who was able to hit it first time, arrowing a firm drive across the ‘keeper and into the bottom corner. A little against the run of play, it is fair to say, but it gave the team the confidence to push forward and within a minute they’d doubled their lead. This time, Bertie went on a mazy run before hitting a great shot which the Raw Skills ‘keeper did very well to parry, only to see Sid score the rebound with a delicate left foot chip. The second half was very competitive, with Brodie crunching into tackles, Sid holding the ball up brilliantly, Bertie running at defenders, Tom working his socks off and the defenders continuing to play out of their skin. Once again though, there was a moment where the game could have changed had it not been for the best goalkeeper in the Crowborough League. Somehow, the ball came loose and Raw Skills were through, two attackers against a lone James, who dived superbly to his left to keep out the firmly hit shot, and then scrambled to his feet to save the follow up out too. It was brave, determined and skilled goalkeeping, which was greatly needed. A few moments later, the ball broke to Brodie, who seeing the goalkeeper rushing out to him, calmly passed the ball past him into the bottom corner to extend the lead, which was soon added to by Tom, scoring from close range after an excellent free kick from Bertie. Late on Raw Skills grabbed a consolation that their good play warranted, but the Giants ran out deserved winners.

So a cracking start to the season, with two great victories against strong Under 10 sides. It was such a good performance by everyone that the manager refused to pick out an individual as player of the week, instead choosing to present the award to Nicholas’s little brother Oscar, who deserved it for his great support and behaviour whilst his Daddy kindly refereed the second match for us.