Giants 2013 - 2014

Langton Green Giants end of season stats (all competitions)

Played: 80 Won: 58 Drew: 15 Lost: 7

For: 172 Against: 58

Goal scorers: Simba 47: Tom 33: Bertie 30: Brodie 21: Sid 16: Jack 9: Joel 6: Sam 2: James 1: Alf 1: OG 6

Team Awards

Kings Hill Football Tournament - WINNERS
Jarvis Brook Football Tournament - WINNERS
Crowborough League Sportsmanship award – WINNERS
Langton Green Football Fiesta – RUNNERS UP
Paddock Wood Football Tournament – RUNNERS UP

Player Awards

Player’s Player of the Season – Jack
Parent’s Player of the Season – Tom & Brodie (joint winners)
Manager’s Dream Player – Sam
Top Goalscorer – Simba
Goal of the Season – Joel
Most Improved Player – James
Top Goal Creator – Bertie
Best Finisher – Sid
Most Determined Player – Henry

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Saturday 5th July 2014 – Jarvis Brook Tournament

The Langton Green Giants WIN the Jarvis Brook Tournament !!!

The final fiesta of the summer and our final set of games as an u10 team saw us have another fantastic day out at the Jarvis Brook tournament.

Jarvis Brook Warriors 0 – 2 Langton Giants
Tom, Bertie

For the first time ever, the Giants turned up at a fiesta to find themselves NOT playing in the first match! This helped us as the extra few minutes to prepare helped us get off to a better start than usual, attacking from the outset, Tom going close with a well struck shot which flew over the bar. He didn’t have to wait long though, following in Bertie’s firm shot to open the scoring and grab his 100th goal for the Giants, joining Brodie, Bertie and Sid in the exclusive ’100 club’, well done Tom. It was clear already that Bertie had come to play today, and soon doubled the lead with a low finish across the goalkeeper after earning the chance himself through a determined run. Jack and then Sam were as solid as ever at the back, James only being called into action once, making a smart save to his right. In the closing stages Simba hit a blistering shot from distance which whistled over the bar, a great strike.

Ridgewaye Galaxy 0 – 1 Langton Giants
Brodie

In what turned out to be the tightest game in our group, the Giants battled hard and played some wonderful football. The Galaxy team had a very big and effective striker, so Jack and Tom had their work cut out for them, but did it brilliantly, ensuring we were able to keep possession and push forward. Brodie played the ball into Simba’s feet who played it back to him first time for a firm shot over the bar. Simba then himself went close with a good header from Bertie’s corner. Sometimes football matches are won and lost by small margins, and this was one of those. Brodie strode forward from midfield, nobody closed him down, so he struck a thunderous shot right into the top corner from fully 20 yards, brilliant. From the kick off Ridgwaye pushed forward determined to find an equaliser, and let fly with an equally brilliant strike, the difference being James, who leapt up and saved to secure an important win. Small margins.

Uckfield Grasshoppers Rockets 1 – 3 Langton Giants
Tom, Simba, Sid

We were in our groove now, and playing with confidence. Tom got us off to the perfect start with a great strike into the top corner to open the scoring early, then went close to grabbing a second with a good shot just over. Simba did double the lead a few moments later though with an excellent finish from a tight angle. Sam was playing the ball very nicely to feet and showing great awareness. A small mishap from a corner at the start of the second half saw Uckfield scramble home a goal to cut the lead to 2-1, but any concerns were soon dissipated when Sid showed superb strikers instincts by bursting forward to stab home another spilled shot from a Bertie strike.

Paddock Wood Warriors 0 – 2 Langton Giants
Bertie, Tom

We’ve had a couple of frustrating games against Paddock Wood at recent fiestas, with two nil nil draws in games we’ve dominated, so we were very keen to break our scoring duck against them. After the first half it appeard like it was going to be a hatrick of frustrations as we did everything but score. Tom spun and hit a good effort just wide, Brodie played Simba in who knocked the ball past the keeper, but unfortunately past the post too and Brodie was inches away sliding in on Berties cross after some great play from Simba. At the start of the second half Sid fired wide, then Bertie saw a one-on-one well saved and the frustration was growing. Not to worry, up stepped Bertie so slam home a great strike into the roof of the net. With Jack and Sam keeping things secure at the back, one goal was always likely to be enough but we were still relieved when Tom grabbed a second goal, he even was close to getting a third when a powerful strike came back off the crossbar. Another good win.

Forrest Row Rovers 0 – 2 Langton Giants
Brodie, Bertie

Once again we got off to the perfect start in the final group game, Brodie scoring with a venomous strike which was far too strong for the goalkeeper to handle. Sid hit a similarly powerful shot a moment later which flew over the bar by no than a foot from distance, Simba volleyed wide and Brodie had another shot from distance well saved. Sam moved up front and showed real quality, a great first touch and awareness, playing in team mates on several occasions. He also had a couple of half chances, and a great strike from distance which the goalkeeper did brilliantly to parry. Then a great goal to finish things off, starting with James in goal, finding Tom who passed to Simba, onto Sid, into Sam who hit the target, Bertie following up to double the lead. Every boy on the pitch getting a touch for that goal, brilliant stuff.

Semi-final: Broad Oak & Horam 0 – 1 Langton Giants
Brodie

So for the 5th fiesta in a row the Giants had won their group, incredible consistency. This time it was straight to semi-finals against the very strong Broad Oak & Horam side who had already won two fiestas this summer. This was a high quality game, between two good sides who like to pass the ball. It is fair to say that Broad Oak started the quicker of the two, pushing the Giants back and edging the possession. The pivotal moment came after a couple minutes when our defence was breached, with Broad Oak’s main threat through one-on-one against James who pulled off a brilliant instinctive save with his outstretched left foot. He then leaped to his feet and shouted “will you mark up” to his team mates, it was excellent to see, proper leadership from the expert stopper. It worked too, suddenly the boys woke up and started to come back more into the match. The second half saw us turn the screw, attacking more and more. Brodie showed great footwork in the penalty box, jinking pased 3 defenders before pulling the ball back for Simba who hit a sweet shot but just wide. No bother, plenty of time left and we pushed on, Jack bursting from defence and forcing a corner. Bertie swept in a beautiful corner which was crying out for somebody to get their head on, and it was Brodie who did. Leaping brilliantly to send a firm header downwards into the back of the net to give us an invaluable lead. Tom and Jack stood firm in the closing minutes as they always do, taking us safely into the 4th final in the last 5 tournaments we’ve played.

Final: Hastings United 0 – 0 Langton Giants (Giants win 2-1 on pens!)

At gone 7pm at night, and after a peculiarly long wait from the end of the semi-final, the boys took to the pitch against Hastings United, looking a bit tired but full of determination. Simba was powerful in his running and his passing was of the highest quality, linking up wonderfully in attack with Bertie and Brodie. Bertie was running their defence ragged at every opportunity, but they were a good side so we were having to fight to keep possession and defend too. Simba went close, his shot being deflected by a last ditch tackle, and then some great team interplay saw him in again, this time saved. The second half stayed the same, tight but we were on top, just. With two minutes remaining Bertie was sent crashing to the ground. When he fell he was accidentally stamped on. The ref missed it and signalled for a throw in to Hastings. When he saw the stud marks raked into Bertie’s thigh though he changed his mind and awarded us a free kick in a dangerous position. This didn’t feel right, the lad from Hastings was genuinely apologetic and clearly didn’t mean it, so staying true to the Giants philosophy the boys simply passed the ball back to the oppositions ‘keeper to great acclaim. That was the last chance of the match gone, so it was onto penalties.

Up stepped Bertie with the first, SCORE! This was matched by the first Hastings taker. Up stepped Simba, SCORE! Then James pulled off a magical save, low down to brilliantly give us the edge. He then took the next one himself and for the first time in living memory missed. Not to worry, Hastings still needed to score, and with James making himself big and leaping full stretch to his left the ball struck the post and the Giants had done it! Unlike some, we won the penalty shootout with dignity, turning to our fallen opponents to offer condolence (we know how it feels!) as a antidote to some very ugly scenes on the neighbouring pitch for the Plate final which had also gone to pens. There’s a reason why these boys won the sportsmanship award!

So a special day to end a special season. From today special mention has to go to the brilliant Bertie who was outstanding all day long and to Jack for pulling off a remarkable tackle with no boot on! The Giants have always played attractive passing football and scored lots of goals, but the improvement at the back this season has to get a mention. As an example, in the 37 matches we’ve played in the last 5 fiestas we’ve conceded just 9 goals, three of them against the exceptional West Ham academy side, the only team to breach our defence more than once during that run. Defending is a team effort, so well done to every one of you.

Next season see’s us take a step up in terms of competition, pitch size, numbers and travel (!) as we enter the Tandridge league, so success might look a bit different from now on, but with these boys anything is possible.

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June 29th 2014 Paddock Wood Fiesta

The penultimate fiesta of the summer saw us make the short journey to Paddock Wood, well I say the summer, you wouldn’t have known it judging by the wind and the rain! Due to player rotation and availability we entered this one without our usual outstanding goalkeeper James and two dependable defenders in Jack and Henry. Not to worry, we had super Sam between the sticks fresh from his penalty saving heroics for the Eagles last week and a shuffle of the pack meant we were confident we could still keep things tight at the back.

Paddock Wood Predators 0 – 0 Langton Giants

A typical first game of a fiesta affair, lots of effort and some very fine build up play, but lacking in clinical finishing when it was needed. Sid went close with a powerful drive over the bar from Brodie’s pass, Tom hit the cross bar and then shot just wide and Bertie saw a powerful shot closed down. Sam was untroubled in goal as first Tom, then Joel marshalled the defence.

Wadhurst United 0 – 1 Langton Giants
Simba

Any fears that we were going to have one of those days where we can’t find the back of the net were soon appeased when Simba struck home a wonderful volley from the edge of the box after pouncing on a defensive slip from a Wadhurst defender. Brodie went close twice to doubling the lead, both tricky efforts which just went wide and Bertie hit the cross bar with a brilliant strike. Sid and Joel were in total command at the back and Sam was showing great footwork. Right at the end of the game we had one of those classic Giants moments where they passed the ball from back to front beautifully, Simba’s shot being well saved. The boys were warming up.

Tonbridge Junior Ferrari 0 – 2 Langton Giants
Simba, Tom

The fast paced passing continued from the off as we attacked the Ferrari team at will. It paid early dividends when Bertie played Simba in to stab past the keeper to open the scoring. We continued to push forward, going close on several occasions to doubling the lead, Sid, Bertie and Brodie all going close before Simba was denied by an unfortunate bobble after breaking through the middle. More of the same in the second half, but the only additional goal came when Tom slammed home a first time screamer from fully 25 yards after a corner was cleared, a simply stunning strike that gave the goalkeeper no chance. Joel showed great footwork and tenacity, going on several mazy runs down the right wing.

Range Rovers 1 - 2 Langton Giants
Bertie, Brodie

In terms of excitement, this was the game of the day! The Range Rovers team were big, strong and direct, so it was a contest of contrasting styles. The Giants were on top, dominating possession, but Range Rovers were a consistent threat on the counter attack, forcing Sam into a good low save, before we started creating chances of our own. Brodie saw a shot well saved from Sid’s pass, then both Bertie and Sid saw shots fly narrowly wide after they both showed great awareness to pinch goal kicks off the feet of defenders. Just after half time we got a bit of a shock, Range Rovers counter attacked and their striker hit a brilliant dipping shot into the bottom corner which gave Sam no chance. We were 1 down in a match we had dominated with only 4 minutes to go. No panic, we continued to play our stuff, Brodie going close with a fine volley and Simba seeing a shot scrambled off the goal line. It was beginning to look like we were going to be frustrated as we entered the last minute, but these boys always play to the final whistle, Simba showing great strength to hold off a defender and slip Bertie in who showed great bravery to nip in and tuck the ball under the out rushing goalkeeper to equalize. Relief turned to ecstasy seconds later when we won a corner, which Brodie took. It was blocked but came back to him, one touch and then smash…. a thunderous strike from an impossible angle right into the top corner to secure the most dramatic victory possible!

Style Soccer 0 – 1 Langton Giants
Bertie

After the drama of the previous match we had to get back on planet earth to concentrate against the side that ultimately ended up progressing from the group along with us, an academy side from the Hastings area who passed the ball very well, which made for an enjoyable and pleasant match to watch. We had the first clear chance, Simba shooting narrowly wide after a fine pass from Bertie. Then came Sam’s finest moment of the day, the outstanding Tom slipped on the wet surface and suddenly Style Soccer were through and their striker hit a seemingly unstoppable volley right into the far corner only for Sam to launch himself at full stretch and pull off a stunning save to keep the scores level. His team mates rushed to congratulate him before defending stoutly against the resulting corner. From the counter attack Sid hit a great strike which smacked against the cross bar before Bertie’s follow up was saved. The winner came in the second half, Tom striding forward and playing in Bertie who finished smartly to secure all three points.

Ridgewaye Galaxy 0 – 3 Langton Giant
Bertie x2, Simba

The Giants entered this match knowing they had qualified for the semi-finals, needing just a draw to win the group. We were never about to go out an defend, but we did adjust the formation to match their two up front approach and that worked as Tom & Joel didn’t give them a look in. Bertie went close when showing great technique with a volley that was brilliantly saved, but he did get the goal he deserved a moment later following a great run and pass from Joel, when he finished beautifully into the bottom corner across the keeper. Sam dealt with a very difficult high bouncing ball, smartly choosing to punch to save the day, before Bertie continued his great goalscoring day when he got on the end of an excellent pass from Simba to get his, and the teams second goal. In the dying moments Simba smashed home a 3rd from a good pass from Sid.

Semi Final: Maidstone United Mavericks 0 – 2 Langton Giants

So for the 4th fiesta in a row we had won our group and the reward for this achievement was a semi-final against a very strong Maidstone United team. This was the Giants performance of the day however as they made the Mavericks look very ordinary with a display of quick passing and closing down. We controlled the first half, but despite good efforts from Bertie, Brodie and Simba we just couldn’t find the killer touch. We decided to go for it second half, moving to a more attacking formation, aware that we were risking being caught on the break for the chance to avoid penalties and it paid off immediately, Simba finishing with aplomb as we counter attacked at pace. Moments later another break and Sid hit the perfect shot across the goalkeeper from some distance right into the bottom corner, it was a simply wonderful strike from a deadly striker. Sensibly we now reverted formation back to tighten up at the back, and we saw out the rest of the match without any alarms to progress to the final.

Final: County Park YFC Hawks 3 – 0 Langton Giants

After a long tiring day in the wind and the rain, the last thing we needed to face in the final was an exceptional team who pass the ball even better than the Giants! We battled hard, we kept our shape and we fought valiantly against a side who had destroyed everyone they’d faced all day. Sam made a great goal line clearance and Tom was nothing short of immense at the back, at times single handedly keeping wave after wave of attacks at bay with last ditch tackles and fiery determination. Every boy was committed and fought hard, but at times it seemed like they had two extra players on the pitch. We got to half time at nil nil, that in itself was a hell of an achievement and we were well in this final. Unfortunately that changed a minute after the restart, when County Park scored an excellent goal which you just had to applaud. We knew it would most likely backfire, but we had to try something, we couldn’t just let this meander to a 1 nil loss, so we went for it with the more attacking formation knowing full well this would leave us exposed at the back, and so it proved as the outstanding County Park boys took full advantage to grab two more goals in the closing minutes, one of them via a huge deflection which felt a bit cruel, but all the same the better team won. In fact I’d go as far to say the best team we’ve ever faced won, and deservedly so. We found out afterwards that their team was made up of West Ham academy boys, which explained why they were quite so proficient, although having seen their mens team play recently perhaps it doesn’t!

Fiesta football is a bit of a lottery, with the 5 mins games often resulting in score lines that don’t reflect the performance of the teams, so for these boys to get into 3 finals in the last 4 fiestas they’ve entered is an incredible achievement, and it would have been 4 out of 4 were it not for last weeks injustice. No injustice this week though, just a great days football and a well deserved deserved runners up finish. They were all great but special mention has to go to Tom who was sensational all day long, a real captains performance.

June 22nd 2014 Ridgewaye Fiesta

After a couple of weeks break to digest the glorious triumph of the previous tournament, the Giants took the field again, this time at the Ridgewaye Fiesta, which ended in a deep felt sense of injustice.

Tonbridge Angels 0 – 0 Langton Giants

Due to a last minute alteration to the schedule we found ourselves starting the day off against the always strong Tonbridge Angels who we had needed a penalty shoot out to beat a few weeks back. It was a decent opening game between two well matched sides. Not many chances in the first half, Bertie stabbing wide with our only effort of note, as Tom & Jack kept things tight at the back. In the second half, twice it looked like the Angels were going to pinch it, but twice James foiled them with great saves, one down to his left from a header which defied belief. In truth, the two teams cancelled each other out and the draw was a fair result.

Yalding & Laddingford 0 – 2 Langton Giants
Tom, Bertie

We started this match quite poorly, despite having all the possession and countless opportunities we just weren’t at the races as we lacked energy and sharpness. Simba, Brodie, Joel and Bertie all had great chances to open the scoring but we were guilty of lacking decisiveness and trying to walk the ball into the net. A few stern words were shared at half time which seemed to do the trick as within 30 seconds of the restart we were in the lead, Tom nutmegging the goalie after a strong run. Joel went on a similar run a few minutes later before playing Bertie in to double the lead and secure the win.

Sevenoaks Town United 0 – 2 Langton Giants
Bertie, Simba

The third match saw us take on our friends from Sevenoaks, and the Giants were starting to get into their stride now. Joel started well, as did Henry who had a very good day overall, and James showed what a good goalkeeper he is by pulling off an excellent save the only time he was required to do so and demonstrating great footwork and passing when the ball was at his feet. Bertie swung a good corner in at the start of the second half which Simba met with a firm header, just over, and then Brodie stretched to reach the ball only for the Sevenoaks keeper to save. The passing was getting better and better which started to bring chances, and thankfully we took two of them, one each for Bertie and Simba, both showing great strength and finishing.

Westerham 0 – 2 Langton Giants
Simba, Joel

Again this game started with Henry impressing, leading from the back showing a great reading of the game and tackling firmly. Jack added some power and pace to the midfield and Joel was his usual high energy self. Twice Jack burst through, twice he chose to pass when a shot was on, difficult to criticise such a selfless attitude, but we needed goals! Thankfully, Simba’s strength again paid dividends, as he burst through to open the scoring with a smart finish. Any concerns were settled early in the second half when Bertie broke free and crossed for Joel to dash in and finish the move off with a really good goal. Joel had a chance to help himself to a second when Simba played him in with a wonderful through ball but his well struck shot narrowly missed the post.

Tonbridge Junior Piranhas 0 – 1 Langton Giants
Bertie

All this meant that we were guaranteed to qualify for the top competition 1/4 finals, all that was left to be decided was who would win the group, which was a straight fight between us and the Piranhas as we had the same amount of points, but with them having a better goal difference by one goal, it meant we needed to win, they just required a draw. This turned out to be our performance of the day from the Giants as we were in control throughout against the team who had won the Crowborough League this season. Jack and Tom were unflappable at the back against the dangerous Piranhas attackers, with Brodie putting in a superb performance in central midfield which set the tone of the match. Simba saw a shot hit the side netting and Brodie hit a dipping effort which just didn’t dip enough. With a few minutes to go Bertie broke free and slammed home a super shot across the keeper to give the Giants a deserved lead, a lead they defended diligently in the last few minutes to see out an impressive and important win against a very good team, meaning we had achieved our first goal of winning the group, doing so without conceding a single goal.

1/4 Final: Rusthall 1 – 1 Langton Giants
Brodie

The boys were now playing with verve and confidence, and set about dominating the quarter final, controlling possession and creating all the chances. Simba went close twice, Tom was in imperious form at the back alongside Jack and we really weren’t looking troubled at all. It was no surprise when the goal came, and it was a beauty. Bertie skipped away brilliantly from two defenders down the left wing before sending in a sumptuous cross which Brodie slid in for, showing fantastic determination to get the very end of his toe to the ball to give the boys the lead just before half time. The second half saw much of the same, no dramas, lots of possession and it felt like we were going to see this one out comfortably enough.

What happened next left a very, very sour taste in the mouth. Under pressure, a Rusthall defender turned and passed the ball back to his goalkeeper from just inside his own half, the goalkeeper bent down and picked the pass up. The rules of this tournament dictate that goalkeepers are not allowed to pick up back passes and when they do, the punishment is a penalty kick to the other side. Sadly, the referee didn’t seem to realise this and confusion reigned as the Rusthall goalkeeper sent the ball the length of the pitch to his teams striker to put the ball in the back of our net, the second it went in he blew the final whistle. The faux pas was pointed out to the official who agreed it was a clear back pass (this was not in debate) but said he wasn’t sure what the rule was so played on. This wasn’t a case of disagreeing with a refereeing decision, this was him not knowing the rules, which has to be considered disappointing and worrying that a paid referee isn’t clear of the rules of a tournament he has been refereeing in for a day and a half. Some what predictably, the footballing gods finished the day for us as we lost out in the penalty shoot out.

A very unsatisfactory end to another day of some fine football, they deserved better. Oh well, that’s football, bring on the next one. A big shout out to our very good friends the Eagles who played superbly well to get to the final of the plate, running the very strong Angels very close before just missing out. Our joy for them was added to of course by our own Sam playing brilliantly in goal for them, not conceding one penalty in TWO penalty shoot outs! Well done Sam, and well done to the Eagles!

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June 8th 2014 Kings Hill Tournament

The Langton Green Giants WIN the Kings Hill Tournament !!!

If last week was wow… this week was double wow.

The summer fiestas continued as we enjoyed an amazing day at the inaugural Kings Hill tournament on the best pitches we’ve ever played on, to find ourselves in the toughest group we’ve ever been placed in.

Kings Hill FC 0 – 2 Langton Giants
Brodie, Simba

The first match of the day saw us take on the host clubs ‘A side’ fresh from their hugely successful season in the very competitive Maidstone Invicta Premier Division who were strongly fancied to be very competitive, and by the end of the day it was very clear what a good side they were. These Giants though, they like to cause a bit of a surprise and that’s exactly what they did when Brodie scored within the first minute with a brilliant dipping strike into the top corner to get the day up and running in style. A minute later the score was doubled when Brodie turned provider, flicking the ball into the path of Simba who finished expertly with the outside of his right boot into the bottom corner, a superb finish from a striker high on confidence. Kings Hill won a corner which was well delivered and met with a thumping header which required a stunning save low to his left for James to keep out. Eddie, the newest Giant, was making his competitive debut for us and set about putting his mark on the game, breaking free and letting a fierce strike go, just missing the far post and the other new boy Alf, tracking back brilliantly when danger loomed. With Tom and Jack proving to be unassailable at the back and Bertie working his socks off down the left wing, we saw out a fine victory against a very strong team, that was put into context when our opponents set about beating everyone else in the group handsomely bar one, which was the draw that saw them surprisingly eliminated on goal difference.

SAFA Select 0 – 0 Langton Giants

SAFA have turned up to a few of the same fiestas as us this summer, but as with any academy side often with a different set of players. After a good showing at our own fiesta last week (reaching the final of the plate) they came into this one in a confident mood. This was a tough match, thankfully James was immense, pulling off two outstanding saves with both Simba and Alf going close to pinching it late on, but in truth a draw was a fair result.

Glebe Panthers 0 – 0 Langton Giants

This was the match we were most looking forward to. We are hoping to join the A division of the Tandridge League next season but we had no idea really whether we were ready for such a step up in quality. Glebe Panthers play in that division, and very successfully, so we knew this was exactly the test we needed. As always seems to be the case, these boys step up big time when faced with a test. It was a great game of football, two very good teams going toe-to-toe and although the draw was a fair result, the Giants definitely came closest to winning it. Simba was denied twice, once by a quite brilliant save and once by a peculiar refereeing decision when he was through on goal 1-on-1 v the keeper, only for the referee to bring the play back for a foul on our player!!! Advantage anyone? Still, we were delighted with the result and the performance, Jack and Tom continuing to be outstanding at the back, James was a virtual bystander for this one.

Chatham Corinthians 0 – 1 Langton Giants
Bertie

The heat was starting to take its toll as we were a little lacklustre in this one, we needed some inspiration and it came in the form of Eddie who put in an excellent performance, what a great addition to the team he and Alf are going to be. Chatham had a very good goalkeeper, that much was obvious early on as he made several smart saves, including a double save from Simba and Bertie which defied belief. From a partially cleared corner, Bertie picked the ball up on the edge of the box and smashed home a superb goal into the top corner to open the scoring, and then a moment later we looked nailed on to double the lead before the second peculiar refereeing moment of the day denied us again, this time the official deciding to halt the game when Simba was about to slot home because a stray ball rolled onto the pitch, even though it was nowhere near the play. Strange. This seemed to affect us a bit as after that Chatham came more into the match, but thankfully some brilliant last ditch defending from Tom, Jack and Alf and the usual exceptional level of goalkeeping from James meant we saw the result home, albeit a bit tighter than it should have been.

Cobham Colts 0 – 4 Langton Giants
Brodie, Simba, Bertie, Tom

The situation was now clear. Win the last match and we win the group, anything else and we were going home. The clarity of the task seemed to focus the minds of the Giants as they set about putting on a master class of pass and move football. Alf was sensational, showing amazing footwork and passing range, linking up with Eddie, Brodie and Simba like he had played with them all his life. Simba went on a great run and played in Brodie to open the scoring with a tidy finish, Alf going to close to doubling the lead a minute later with an audacious effort with the outside of his boot which flew just wide. Simba did double the lead though, thanks to a good pass from Alf and then Bertie made sure with a smart finish across the keeper from Simbas pass. Eddie made a fantastic effort at a diving header at the back post before seeing a well struck shot from distance charged down. Tom wrapped up the scoring with a great strike from the edge of the box after winning the ball himself with a crunching tackle. 4 nil, match won, group won.

1/2 Final MPE 1 – 2 Langton Giants
Bertie, Simba

So having won the group we faced another academy side in the semi-final who had finished runners up in the other group, and another team we knew nothing about. We had the bit between our teeth now though and set about dominating the match. Simba rolled his defender and played Alf in who saw his shot blocked, then Brodie shot wide, as did Simba as we were firmly in control. Our pressure told when Simba played Bertie in to slot home and give us the lead. It felt like it was job done, as up until that point MPE hadn’t really shown much as an attacking force. What happened in the last two minutes though, was just extraordinary. First of all, completely out of the blue, MPE scored an absolute worldy, from about a yard inside our half an MPE player hit an incredible volley that flew over the stranded James’ head, giving him no chance. Incredible goal, probably the best we’ve ever conceded. Suddenly we were facing penalties with next to no time left, but straight from the kick off we attacked, a new sense of determination took over the tired legs, Brodie found Alf, Alf found Simba, Simba fired home with practically the last kick….amazing end to an otherwise straight forward contest. We were in the final of a fiesta for the second Sunday in a row.

Final: Glebe Panthers 0 – 1 Langton Giants
Bertie

Again we found ourselves up against the very strong Glebe team, and again it was a fabulous game of football between two teams who play the game the right way. This time though, the Giants definitely had the edge, albeit a narrow one. Jack won a crunching tackle, and sent a great ball through to play Simba in, just as he was about to pull the trigger a Glebe defender slid in with an amazing last ditch tackle, from the corner Brodie saw a good shot fly wide. Bertie found the side netting and James first smothered a dangerous ball and then showed great calmness and footwork when under pressure from a back pass. Then it happened, Simba released Bertie, the whole world seemed to stand still for a minute, but the wing wizard was the calmest person in Kent as he slotted home to give us the lead with just minutes remaining. Eddie added bite to the midfield and Alf had worked so hard all day long he needed to come off, physically exhausted. Bertie was fouled on the edge of the box. Up stepped Brodie, who hit a stunning thunderous free kick over the wall which smacked against the cross bar, but it didn’t matter, the referee blew his whistle and the job was complete. THE LANGTON GREEN GIANTS HAD WON!!!

An amazing day, an amazing group of lads, they’d deserved a day like this for too long, and its even sweeter knowing it came in the strongest field we’ve ever faced. Well done boys, every single one of you, and that includes the boys who were unable to play today, Sam, Henry, Sid & Joel….. we are in this together whoever is on the pitch on the day, we are all Giants. Special mention to the new boys, Alf for his incredible work rate and footwork and Eddie for his brilliantly developed footballing brain and ability / willingness to play in so many positions (5 of the 6 outfield positions!). Welcome to the Giants.

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June 1st 2014 – Langton Green Fiesta

Wow…. what a difference a couple of weeks can make!

Today was our home fiesta, one of the biggest junior football tournaments in the South of England, with an astonishing 40 teams entered in our age group alone on a blisteringly hot summers day that turned out to be a hugely satisfying one.

Langton Giants 1 – 0 Chipstead Falcons
Simba

In these short format match tournaments it is so important to get off to a good start and thankfully this time around that is exactly what we got against a very good Chipstead team. Tom had our first attempt, firing just wide, as did Simba and Brodie saw a well struck shot tipped over the bar following a strong run and pull back from Simba. With Jack, Joel and James keeping things tight at the back we were looking good, but still looking for a goal. The second half saw the good play continue, with Henry and Sam slotting effortlessly into the back line and what turned out to be the winning goal finally arrived when Sid played a lovely ball into the feet of Simba who showed immense strength and pace to break through and slot home a good finish.

Langton Giants 0 – 0 Sevenoaks Town United

Goalless draws are inevitable in 10 minute matches, so it was no surprise that we had one today, this time against a very good Sevenoaks Town side who we always enjoy good matches against. Simba had a couple of shots saved, as did Sid, but with both Joel and Jack being required to make fine defensive headers and James making two good saves it was a fair result. The highlight undoubtedly being Sams incredible free kick from a full 30 yards that whistled inches past the post, just fantastic.

Langton Giants 2 – 0 Ringmer Rovers
Sid, Simba

It was great having Sid available today, and this was his game. First of all he went close with a shot from a tight angle which he volleyed with great technique before he then opened the scoring with a thumping drive into the back of the net at the second attempt to keep up his remarkable goals-to-games ratio. Ringmer came forward in response, denied by James with a low save, but it was soon the Sid show again, playing a lovely 1-2 with Jack before unleashing a good effort just wide. Unfortunately, the super marksman has been struggling with a dodgy knee in recent weeks and it made an appearance again today, sadly cutting the Sid show short (try sab=ving that quickly after a couple of pints), he was done for the day. The second half saw more chances, Simba spinning and striking a brilliant second goal to secure the points, helped by several timely interceptions from Henry and Joel at the back and a good save at his near post by James from a very hard shot.

Langton Giants 4 – 0 Tonbridge Junior Porsches
Jack x 2, Simba, Joel

Our 4th game of the day came against Tonbridge Junior Porsches and it is fair to say we were starting to find our rhythm, passing the ball beautifully and creating a bucket load of chances. Tom and Simba combined to set up Jack to volley home the opener before Jack unleashed another volley which was more of a danger to any low flying aircraft than the back of the net, he soon made up for that though with a superb pass into Simba to double the lead. This game was particularly special for Joel as it was against his old team, and he looked even more determined than he usually does (if that is possible) to make a good impression, and boy did he. First of all he let fly with a powerful shot that stung the hands of the Porsches goal keeper who was only able to deflect it into the path of Jack to stab home. Then he took a great pass from Simba into his feet with a brilliant first touch giving him the space to rifle home an expert finish into the far corner to make the score 4 nil. Henry had a very strong game, pushing forward and making some strong runs, seeing two very good efforts denied, one with a fine save and another by a last ditch block.

Langton Giants 3 – 0 Ashurstwood Panthers
Tom, Simba, Brodie

After a disappointing goaless draw against this opposition at our previous fiesta we were determined to set the record straight and we did it in style. Tom started the ball rolling with a great strike following a wonderful 1-2 with Simba who was passing the ball unbelievably well all day long, demonstrated by him selflessly playing Brodie in twice in a minute, both efforts just whizzing over the bar. What happened next was inches from perfection as the same two players played an incredible THREE 1-2′s in a row to cut through the Panthers defence only for Simba’s shot to come back off the post, brilliant stuff. Simba was proving unplayable now, and early in the second half he ran through the Panthers defence single handedly, knocking several attempted tackles aside before smashing home a superb shot. After so much team play from him, it was good to get a reminder just was a great individual player Simba can be when called upon. Brodie wrapped up the scoring with a powerful strike from just inside the box that was too strong for the keeper to handle. He deserved that after pulling off countless defensive headers from the somewhat direct approach from the Panthers.

Langton Giants 1 – 1 Paddock Wood Predators
Jack

So qualification was secured with one game to spare, allowing for a bit of rotation. Brodie and Tom were given the game off to rest before the knock out stages, and James had a run outfield with Sam proving to be the ever reliable deputy in goal. Joel was continue to impress, going on a strong run and only being denied by a good save and Henry was tackling everyone and passing calmly and accurately alongside James in defence, where he also excelled. A very good strike from a Predators player looked destined for the top corner before Sam pulled off a stunning save, tipping it onto the cross bar right at the last second. Unfortunately it was a short lived reprieve when we conceded our first goal of the day to a well struck shot that gave Sam no chance in goal. No problem, plenty of time left and we set about on a fight back. Jack and Simba took over the game, passing between themselves and creating chances for each other, several which were missed but one that was taken, by Jack to equalise. The draw was secured by another fine save by Sam, this one down low to his right in the last minute.

1/4 Final: Langton Giants 3 – 0 Sevenoaks Town United
Joel x 2, Tom

With the group won in style, we were through to the main competition and by a quirk of fate we found ourselves up against Sevenoaks Town again as a result of them finishing as the 3rd best runners up across all the groups. After such a tight game in the group stage we knew we needed to up our game a bit and that is exactly what we did. Apart from one brilliant effort from Brodie which hit the inside of the post, it was quite a low key first half where both teams looked too worried about conceding, so we set about going on full attack mode in the second half and it paid off. Joel stepped forward into midfield and the change in formation had an immediate impact, Joel seeing a shot tipped round the post. From the resulting corner, delivered by Brodie, Joel got the vital touch, poking home at the near post. He wasn’t done yet though, storming down the left wing, riding tackles before smashing home an excellent finish to double the lead. There was still time for Tom to break down the right and grab himself a thoroughly deserved goal to see the game end 3 nil, which was a harsh scoreline on the very good Sevenoaks team who had played some very good football themselves.

1/2 Final: Langton Giants 0 – 0 Tonbridge Angels – Giants win 4-3 on penalties!

What a game. By some way the game of the day, as two excellent footballing sides produced a scintillating encounter that was end to end throughout. Both teams had chances, both goalkeepers pulled off magnificent saves and every boy covered themselves in glory. Brodie was running the show in midfield and Simba was giving the Angels defence kittens with his pace and power, with Joel and Jack continuing their brilliant form at the back. Tom has his best game of the day, surging up and down the pitch, and almost winning it when Simba played him in with a truly brilliant through ball, only to be denied by a last ditch save. If that was our best chance, the Angles came just a few seconds later when their striker appeared to be through on goal from a counter attack only for Jack to pull off a ridiculously outstanding tackle from an impossible position….. it was like Bobby Moore on Pele in Mexico ’70! James showed great calmness as always, making several smart saves and some excellent distribution. Don’t be fooled by the nil nil scoreline, this was a belter and it was to be decided by the dreaded penalty kicks, something the Giants haven’t really got the hang of in the past too well. That was about to change. Up stepped Simba to slot home the first, followed by James smashing home the second with great confidence, and Tom doing the same. Unfortunately the Angels had also managed to score their own efforts with great aplomb, so it was on to sudden death. Up stepped Brodie who smashed his home off the inside of the post to give us the edge… then it happened, WE WON A PENALTY SHOOTOUT when the next Angels taker pulled his effort just wide, and we were in the final!

Final: Langton Giants 0 – 1 Foresters Warriors (aka Charlton Athletic Academy!)

So after the emotional roller-coaster of the previous encounter the boys had to raise themselves one more time, against a very strong Foresters side that consisted of 5 Charlton Athletic academy players. They were big, they were physical and they were very good…. but we matched them every step of the way. The football wasn’t as pretty as the semi-final, this was a battle and one we stood up to bravely. The first half only saw half chances for both sides, and we felt confident. The second half was lit up by a moment of brilliance from Simba, surprising everyone with a dipping swerving volley from an impossible angle which hit the post, inches from glory, but a stunning effort either way. Football can be a cruel game at times, often decided by inches, and this was one such an example. Where as our own piece of brilliance was inches from going in, Foresters low shot slipped just inside the post following two deflections in the last minute. Heart breaking.

So we came up short, literally by inches, but they were magnificent, every single one of them. They played the best football in the tournament, and they did it with a smile on their face and without getting involved in any of the… er… tactics… employed by some. We’ll leave it at that. It was almost impossible to give out the player of the week, as they were all so deserving, but Joel just edged it for his brilliance all day long and those wonderful goals that got us into the semi final. Well done Joel!

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May 18th 2014 – Crowborough Fiesta

So after another hugely successful league season came to an end the Giants embark on a summer programme of fiestas, the first one taking place at Crowborough Athletic Football club played in beautiful sunshine on perhaps the smallest pitches we’ve ever played on. Suffice to say, we’ve had better days!

Langton Giants 2 – 1 Langton Yodas
Simba x2

The opening match of our fiesta summer saw us up against our good friends, the Yodas, a fast improving member of the Langton Green family. As happens every summer, every team takes a little while to get used to the 6-a-side format so the match was understandably a bit scrappy to begin with. Jack was at the back on his own and was his usual brilliant self, cancelling out any attacking intent, with Brodie, Bertie and Tom working hard in midfield to create chances for Simba in attack. As the game wore on the Giants started to get on top, Tom breaking free down the right wing and almost playing Bertie in at the back post. When the opening goal did come it was a beauty, a real demonstration of what the Giants are all about. Goalkeeper James started it all with a pass out of goal to the feet of Jack who, despite being under some pressure when receiving the ball, stayed calm and set Bertie away with a quick pass to slipped the ball into the path of Brodie who in turn switched it to the right wing into the path for Tom to instantly cross the ball for Simba to smash home. End to end, one touch each from every player, wonderful. Henry and Joel joined the fray and added security at the back. The Yodas were playing some very fine football of their own and when a good run was halted by a trip, up stepped their star player to smash home a brilliant free kick, with the slight deflection giving James no chance. Wins are vital in these tournaments so it was with some relief we greeted Simba’s second, and ultimately winning goal when he slotted home a great finish into the bottom corner. We had one or two other chances to increase the lead but some good goalkeeping kept us at bay so we were very happy with the three points against a good team.

Ashurst Wood Panthers 0 – 0 Langton Giants

So after a decent enough opening we went into the second game confident we would improve as the day went on, sadly this didn’t prove to be the case. We struggled to get into this game as Ashurst Wood worked hard to close us down and restricted our attacking potency. Brodie & Simba saw shots saved and James stopped one at the other end, showing great agility in doing so. In the second half we started to get on top a bit more and created a couple of openings, both falling to Brodie, the first of which was a brilliant strike destined for the top corner which was matched by an equally impressive save to tip it over the bar, the second coming from the resulting corner which flew just over the bar. The game finished nil nil, which was a fair scoreline as we didn’t do enough to win the game.

Crowborough Youth 0 – 0 Langton Green

By far the most frustrating game of the day…. after an initial period where we struggled to get on top, the second half was as one sided as you can get as the Giants got into their stride and created a ton of chances. Shots rained in on the Crowborough goal, far too many to mention, several of them looked like nailed on goals but we somehow managed to leave the back of the net empty, it wasn’t for the want of trying! We pushed forward so much, desperate for a winning goal that it was inevitable that we would be caught on the break a some point, and we were, but James was his usual superb self and saved bravely. The number of times he’s done that this season must be in triple figures by now. Quite how we didn’t win this game 5 nil, let alone 1 nil, I will never understand.

Broad Oak & Horam 1 – 0 Langton Giants

The frustration continued, if anything grew, as our inability to finish off some excellent build up play cost us once again. Broad Oak are a strong team, but as a result of drawing our previous two games, this was must win match so we had to go for it. Although this wasn’t the one way traffic of the previous game, the Giants were the better side throughout, creating the better chances, several of them clear cut, but again we somehow managed to continue to draw a blank. When the opposition scored with their first attempt it became obvious this just wasn’t going to be our day, getting worse when first Brodie limped off and James and Joel were both stung collecting the ball from nettles (whe your lucks out, your lucks out). We never go down with a whimper though and continued to push forward, practically sacrificing any defending in search for an equaliser and as a result started to concede chances, but thanks to James brilliance and Henry and Jacks determination no more were conceded but sadly none were scored either, Bertie striking the post being the closest we came.

Somehow only managing to score in one of our four matches was never going to be enough for us to escape the group, which was a big disappointment as we knew we should have easily achieved that. It is fair to say that the short format games don’t suit our controlled approach to the game, playing more to the more direct sides who get the ball forward quicker, and without doubt the tiny pitches did us no favours at all, but sometimes you just have days like this, that’s how football is. Never mind, there will be better days and all the boys gave 100% throughout which is all we can ever ask. Roll on the next one… the sooner the better please!

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May 10th 2014

Coney Hall Youth Hawks 1 – 2 Langton Giants
Bertie, Alf

Next season the Giants are moving onwards and upwards to a new league, The Tandridge League, which we are fully expecting to be a very different experience to what we’ve faced to-date in the Crowborough League over the last 4 seasons. In preparation for that move, Coney Hall Youth kindly agreed to give us a friendly match. They are a good side, sitting comfortably in the middle of the B division (there are divisions A to F) so we hoped this would give us a bit of an indication as to which division we would be most suited to. So this was a bit of a journey into the unknown, as we travelled further for a match than we ever had before (better get used to it!) to face a side we knew nothing about. The game started well, the Giants got the ball down and were passing the ball around well. Jack and Tom were at the back, in front of ‘keeper James, all three of them looking determined and focused which was giving us a solid base to build on. With the Crowborough season now completed, Alfred has now officially become a Giant and we were all excited to have him marauding down the right wing, something he did with great effect, showing great feet and a sound passing range. With Bertie, Brodie and Simba in their usual roles and Joel primed and ready to enter the action when called upon. The Giants had the first meaningful efforts of the match, Bertie shooting wide after Simba had turned to play him in and then Simba himself having a shot saved from Brodie’s through ball. Just when it felt like we were getting on top, a set back. We conceded a corner and were unable to stop one of the Coney Hall boys firing home a powerful and well executed header at the back post. To be honest, it was an excellent delivery and very good header, nothing like some of the disappointingly soft goals we’ve conceded from corners in the past, but still we know this is a weakness of ours which we need to continue to work on. No panic though, the longer format match (2×25 mins) meant there was an awful long time to go. For the rest of the half, a good 20 minutes, it was all Giants, with James being a virtual bystander in goal, as the boys dominated possession and chances. The Coney Hall team were very good defensively however, throwing themselves in front of shot after shot as the Giants turned the screw. Bertie took a corner which wasn’t cleared, Brodie connected with it well but the shot was saved, Bertie himself then had three chances in quick succession, all of which went narrowly wide (can’t wait for the bigger goals next season!) and then after some excellent work from Alf, Simba also saw a shot fly wide of the post. All throughout this, any time Coney Hall counter attacked Jack and Tom dealt with it brilliantly, and more often than not kept possession when doing so, ensuring we could build another attack. Joel entered the fray and picked up the pace of the game immediately, reading the game as well as he always does to keep things tight and push the team forward. More chances came, one following a great run and pull back from Alf down the right side, with Brodie’s stabbed effort just going wide. It felt like only a matter of time, and it was, a minute later Simba showed fantastic pace, commitment and strength to burst down the right wing and fired in a firm cross/shot which was too much for the goalkeeper to handle and Bertie dashed in to sweep home the equaliser, 1-1 and it was the very least the Giants deserved. We continued to push forward, completely in control, Bertie firing wide, Simba pulling off a superb spin and volley from the edge of the box that just went over the bar, then again with a good shot that was tipped round the post by the goalkeeper. From the resulting corner, Tom headed just wide and finally Brodie had a shot saved from another Alf pass. Throughout all of this, thanks to the defensive resilience of Joel, Jack and Tom, James in goal hadn’t touched the ball ! 1-1 at half time and the boys came off to their delighted manager somewhat frustrated that they were only drawing a game which they’d dominated so much. The second half saw much of the same, but the pace dropped a bit and there were less clear cut chances, and Coney Hall came back into the game more. There were some wonderful moments though, one being almost straight from the kick off. James played the ball to Tom’s feet, who turned and played it forward to Alf, who again showed great feet to evade his defender and play in Brodie who in turn knocked the ball in first time to Simba who’s shot flew narrowly wide. 5 players, 6 touches, end-to-end in the blink of an eye, just how football should be played. Another equally as good moment came when James, Joel and Tom combined beautifully at the back to set Brodie away. It didn’t come to anything but was so pleasing to see the ball be played to feet at the back as we’ve worked tirelessly on at training. Joel’s awareness and determination to get open for Tom to pass to being especially impressive. Brodie shot wide from another Alf pull back, the understanding between the two of them is something the manager is quite excited about, with Brodie returning the favour a moment later with Alf’s shot being well saved. The boys at the back continued to stay strong, although James was more in the action now, showing calm footwork and excellent positioning but still having next to nothing to do in terms of shot stopping. There was one scary moment, again from a corner, but a combination of Alf’s defensive tenacity and James’ cat like reactions with a fine save above his head, kept it out. With 5 minutes to go it looked like we were going to have to be happy with a draw, until enter stage right Alf, on his debut bursting down the right and receiving the perfect ball from Simba to slot home the winning goal between the ‘keepers legs. We still had a couple more chances, Bertie continuing to terrorise the Coney Hall defence on the left especially eye catching, and Simba seeing a shot go wide in the dying moments. Final score 2-1 to the Giants.

No player of the week this week, mainly because it was a friendly match and a learning experience, but also because all of them were superb. Jack, Joel, Tom and James were outstanding in the protection of our goal, with Bertie, Brodie, Alf and Simba running the Coney Hall defence ragged with their superb attacking play. Well done all, what a performance.

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May 3rd 2014

Raw Skills Eagles 3 – 2 Langton Giants
Tom, Bertie

Raw Skills Bears 2 – 5 Langton Giants
Simba x2, Tom, Bertie, Jack

Our final ever Crowborough League games saw us return to Raw Skills in Edenbridge with the sun shining to play on probably the best pitches in the league. The first match saw us against the Eagles, a team we’d beaten comfortably before and for the majority of this match there was a strong sense that this would be a repeat. The Giants were passing the ball around with ease and creating chance after chance. The first half was frustrating as we did everything but score, on numerous occasions. A goal mouth scramble saw two firmly struck Simba shots charged down and a good save from a Bertie volley. Sam, Joel, Jack and Henry took it in turns to keep things safe at the back, with James showing great handling on the one occasion the defence was breached. Simba hit the post after a good turn after Tom had two shots blocked, both of which were goal bound. Simba then played Brodie in who’s shot smacked the underside of the cross bar with him at full stretch, and Tom rounded the keeper only for a last ditch sliding block on the goal line denying him the opening goal. More shots came in, narrowly wide from Tom and Brodie, just over from Simba, quite how it was nil nil at half time is anyone’s guess. The second half started in exactly the same way, Tom hitting the bar with a brilliant strike and Simba shooting just wide. We were beginning to think the goal was never going to come, so were relieved when Tom played a wonderful one-two with Bertie before tucking home into the bottom corner, 1 nil, finally! The lead was doubled within a minute, Bertie slamming home a stunning strike into the opposite corner with his magical left foot after Simba played him in with a delightful pass. It felt like the gates were open and surely at this stage it was just a matter of how many we would score, especially as we continued to create chances. That’s when the wheels came off, and how. The Eagles, who up until that point hadn’t created a chance of note, suddenly caught us out on the counter attack…. twice. Both times we failed to clear a basic ball and the Eagles striker nicked in to finish smartly and suddenly from nowhere it was 2-2. As we pushed forward to try and regain the lead, Simba going close twice, amazingly lightening struck for the 3rd time, when despite a fantastic save by James from the initial shot, an Eagles players stabbed home to grab an unlikely winner moments before the final whistle. Somehow we’d managed to grab defeat from the jaws of victory, throwing away a match we had totally dominated and should have won comfortably. Perhaps we switched off, perhaps we were just a bit unlucky, but we knew we’d had more than enough chances to win the match long before the final mad 3 minutes and that was what really cost us.

So, feeling a little deflated and somewhat in a state of shock, we were straight on to playing against the stronger of the two Raw Skills sides, the Bears. We started well enough, Bertie sweeping a beautiful ball cross field to the feet of Tom who shot narrowly wide, and Brodie sending a brilliant shot destined for the top corner which was expertly saved after great interplay from Simba and Bertie. Jack and Henry were defending resolutely, back to their commanding best and snuffed out a dangerous break. From the resulting throw in though a long ball was sent over their heads and volleyed in quite superbly giving even James no chance at all. It was a brilliant strike, probably the best we’ve conceded this season. Joel and Sam came on and added further bite to the defence, both passing the ball smartly too as we picked ourselves up from another blow. At half time the message was simple, in four years of being in the Crowborough League, the Giants had never failed to win a match on a Saturday morning, let alone lose two, and there was no way we could allow it to happen in their last ever appearances. The boys came out fired up for the second half and went about dismantling the opposition. Simba got us up and running, stabbing home Bertie’s dangerous corner, and after Bertie himself saw two shots charged down, Tom put us in the lead with a good run and fine left footed finish low through a crowd of players. One nil down to two one up in two minutes, now we were motoring, Bertie grabbing a much deserved goal of his own after Brodie fought his was down the right wing through numerous tackles before pulling the ball back to him. Henry was playing out of his skin, intercepting attacks, tackling strongly and bring the ball out defence calmly, passing the ball to feet, really looking the part. It was from one of his forays forward that the ball broke to Simba who nutmegged the goalkeeper to extend the lead to 4-1, before Jack was denied by a great save from a firmly hit strike. The Bears won a free kick just outside the box, James organised his wall expertly, with Joel and Sam manning the posts diligently and it worked, the shot being blocked, but then Raw Skills reacted quickest and struck the rebound home to make it 4-2. There was still time though for the brilliant Jack to grab the goal of the day, diving in at the near post to meet Bertie’s latest perfect corner with a fearsome header which flew into the top corner…. what a goal! 5-2, and we’d finished it in style.

Well done to all the boys for showing such great character to respond to such a disappointing turn of events in the first match, still scratching my head as to how that happened. Henry was outstanding in the second match and thoroughly deserving of the player of the week award. We finish the league season with a record of:

Played 28 – Won 21 – Drawn 3 – Lost 4. Scored 86 – Conceded 35. A brilliant return in a tough top division…. congratulations boys.

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April 26th 2014 – Crowborough League Jamboree

The Giants had a fun afternoon, surprisingly not in the rain, with 4 x 15 minutes friendly matches on the same afternoon.

Borough Green Juniors 1 – 2 Langton Giants
Simba, Bertie

The first game was against perhaps the most direct team we’ve ever faced in mini soccer, possessing one lad who had a very long kick on him which they tried to exploit to the full by him lumping the ball up at every opportunity. It was in direct contrast to the Giants own style and thankfully the latter won out, particularly in the opening minutes as the boys whipped the ball around to feet, with Joel and Jack especially impressive with their passing at the back. We were finding space and after Simba had given an early warning with a charged down shot he then completed the job with a brilliant volley from the edge of the box from Bertie’s pull back to open the scoring. Tom won a strong tackle and set Simba away again, shooting just wide before he turned provider. Brodie played him in with a perfectly weighted pass but seeing Bertie was in a better position he selflessly nudged the ball to him to smash home past the goal keeper. At this stage it looked like we were going to score a hatful, and we certainly had the chances to do so, Brodie going close and Tom denied by a last ditch tackle. Borough Green continued with their long ball game and one caught the wind, turning a cross into a fluke shot which James did brilliantly to tip onto the bar only for it to be tapped in on the goal line to make the score 2-1. Sam, Jack and Joel stood firm as the aerial bombardment increased, with James pulling off a brilliant save in the closing minutes. Well I say closing minutes, a surprising 10 minutes injury time were played, in a 15 minute match! No problem though, the boys played it out with any real drama to secure the 2-1 win.

Sevenoaks Town Eagles 0 – 2 Langton Giants
Simba x2

The second match was against a far better footballing side, and in the opening minutes the Giants were second best, with Sevenoaks passing the ball well and dribbling at the defence with great confidence and no lack of skill. James was called upon to make two smart saves as the always determined Joel, Jack and Sam working their socks off to keep them out. The game changed when we counter attacked and won a corner. Bertie delivered the perfect ball which Simba met with an equally perfect thunderous header into the back of the net. Suddenly it was the Giants who were on top, cutting through the Sevenoaks defence and creating chances. Tom won a crunching tackle on the right wing and sent Simba away with a superb ball which the inform striker dispatched with the minimum of fuss to double to lead. Going forward Sevenoaks continued to threaten, with one very talented boy proving to be a real handful, and we were grateful to James again with a great save down low to his right. Joel had a productive stint on the right wing, twice going close to scoring, one going over and one brilliantly saved, both from Brodie’s passes. The game finished 2 nil.

Tonbridge Juniors Sharks 0 – 0 Langton Giants

Football can be a funny old game, as this was by far the best performance of the day against the always strong Tonbridge Juniors side in which we produced some quite brilliant football at times, just couldn’t find the back of the net, primarily down to a fine goalkeeping performance by the Sharks stopper. There was a great move started by a Joel interception and pass to Tom, who in turn found Brodie to play Tom in, his shot was brilliantly saved with rebound falling to the feet of Brodie who’s shot was so nearly poked in at the far post by the outstretched foot of Simba. Bertie had a good shot saved, as did Brodie and Tom, and we thought we had the winner when Simba turned expertly and struck a thunderous strike which somehow the keeper got finger tips to, pushing the ball onto the post. It would never be all one way against this team though, Sam producing a great tackle and Jack standing firm as always, but still James had to come to the rescue on more than one occasion. An excellent game of football between two very good footballing sides, no idea how it ended up goalless.

Chipstead Eagles 0 – 0 Langton Giants

Another game when we were left scratching our heads as to how we didn’t score. I can’t list all the chances, but suffice to say there were plenty as the boys again produced some great football. It was Toms best game of the day as he terrorised the left side of the Chipstead defence with his powerful runs, skill and crossing. Joel saw a kneed volley just go over from a cleared corner, Simba (x2), Brodie, Tom (x2) and Joel again saw shots saved, with several others off target. What was most pleasing in this game was the calm and confident passing from Jack, Joel, Sam and even James in goal at the back, all of them playing to feet and moving much better than ever before. Not to mention their defensive expertise, conceding just one flukey goal on four matches.

All 8 of them were great today, but birthday boy Bertie had to win the player of the week trophy for his never ending work rate down the left wing in every match, producing so much quality, especially from corners. Well done Bertie and happy birthday!

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April 19th 2014

Langton Giants 3 – 0 Crowborough Athletic Youth
Sid x 2, Simba

Langton Giants 0 – 5 Jarvis Brook Griffins

On a beautiful sunny morning the Giants took to their home pitches for the last ever time in mini-soccer league matches. The expression “game of two halves” is often used in football, well this morning that term can be stretched to a morning of two halves. The team had a bit of a different look to it with the three J’s missing, Jack, James and Joel but boosted by the loan move for Finn from the Eagles to help us out. Things started well, the boys were zipping the ball about and defending strongly against a good Crowborough side who we’d drawn with earlier in the season. Tom and Henry were imperious at the back, intercepting the ball and setting up attacks with accurate passing, resulting in Simba firing just over with a fine shot and then a lovely passing movement between Simba, Sid, Bertie and then Brodie who’s left foot shot just whistled past the post. A Sid shot was then saved round the post with Finn meeting the resulting corner with a good header which just went wide of the goal. We were on top and it felt like the goal was coming, but after failing to score in our previous outing against this team it was a relief when the first goal finally arrived. When it did, it was well worth waiting for. Brodie pounced on a loose ball, accompanied by a loud “Brodie’s ball” and drove forward before sending a sumptuous pass into the path of Simba who skipped past a defender before unleashing an unstoppable strike into the back of the net. Sam was continuing in goal in James’ absence and he carried on his recent fine form, looking very strong between the sticks and distributing the ball when called upon with great calmness and accuracy. The second half started with Brodie pulling another magical pass out of his box of tricks, this time to play Sid in against the goalkeeper only to see his well struck shot saved by the feet of the Crowborough No.1. From Bertie’s corner Brodie rose the highest, connecting with a firm downwards header which was brilliantly saved. Sid showed great alertness by intercepting a back pass and firing a brilliant strike across the goalkeeper into the bottom corner with real power from a tight angle, a superbly take individual goal. Sam continued to shine, making a good save from a firm shot and then plucking a dangerous cross out of the sky. Finn was coming into the game more and more and he showed great awareness when seeing Tom in a more advanced position and found him with the perfect ball, only for Tom’s shot, and follow up, to be well saved. Bertie was high energy, working hard up and down the left wing all match, posing a real threat in attack and defending diligently when required. It was from one of his numerous mazy runs that he forced a good save which Tom and then finally Sid followed up to grab the 3rd goal in a well earned victory.

If everything pretty much went to plan in the first match, absolutely nothing went right in the second. The Jarvis Brook team were big, strong and direct and it was the worst possible time for the team to decide to take the first half off! Our midfield never got into the game, and the defence which was so strong in the first half, fell apart completely in this one, leaving Sam hopelessly exposed time and time again. In other defeats in the past these have often come when we’ve been counter attacked to death whilst on the attack, but not today, we were simply outplayed. Jarvis Brook played very well and thoroughly deserved their handsome victory but we know we’ve beaten much better sides than this so it has to go down as a very disappointing performance. The first goal we conceded perhaps summed up the match perfectly as we had numerous opportunities to clear the ball but weren’t decisive enough and paid the price. Two further goals were conceded as the strong Jarvis Brook striker had his way once and then the whole team was guilty of standing and watching as any one of 3 Jarvis Brook players could have tapped into the exposed goal from less than a yard out from a corner. Safe to say a half to forget, conceding three and not creating a single chance. The message at half time was simple, be better all over the pitch and they were, significantly. I think we all knew the match was lost but we still had the opportunity to learn and play better so it was so pleasing to see everyone step up their performance in the second half. We started passing the ball again, and created chances, and controlled possession. We could have had a couple of goals, not least when Bertie was so unlucky to see a great shot come back off the post and Brodie’s follow up squeaked past the far post. Sid had a shot just over and Simba showed great strength and skill to burst through only to see his shot blocked. Despite the vastly improved second half performance and actually being on top most of the half, we did concede two more goals late on as we pushed forward. It was pleasing to see that even when things aren’t going well these boys are prepared to roll up their sleeves and dig in, and we all left knowing that we need to be prepared to earn the right to play our football when faced with a physically stronger team. No strops, no tears just a sense of disappointment and some important lessons learned.

A big thank you to Finn for helping us out and showing some fine passing in the two matches and to Sam for filling in so admirably in goal for the last couple of weeks. Brodie got off his sick bed to play today and worked his socks off so was awarded with the player of the week award, well done Brodie.

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April 12th 2014

Tonbridge Invicta Spitfires 1 – 4 Langton Giants
Simba x 2, Bertie, Sid

Tonbridge Invicta Hurricanes 0 – 6 Langton Giants
Bertie, Brodie, Jack, 3x o.g!

Falling in the middle of the Easter Holidays it was no great surprise that we were a bit thin on the ground for today’s matches, with just the bear 7 available for two matches against two very physical Invicta sides. It was time for the boys to stand up and be counted and let their football do the talking which they did magnificently in both games. We got off to the perfect start, Brodie setting Simba away down the right wing, he cut inside and slotted home superbly past the gigantic goalkeeper to give is an early lead. Sam has assumed goalkeeping duties after regular stopper James accepted a mid-season loan move to the Florida Beaches. We felt confident though that Sam would be an excellent replacement after he put in a stunning exhibition in the art of shot stopping at Tuesday night training and our confidence was well placed as he commanded his area with authority throughout. Jack and Tom were proving to be unbeatable in defence and set us away on a number of attacks with quick passing from the back, firstly setting Bertie away who’s cross/shot was poked in at the back by Sid to double the lead, with Sid then returning the compliment by selflessly passing to Bertie to slot home a fine finish to make the score 3 nil at the break. At the start of the second half the Spitfires won a corner which was whipped in but stopped in its tracks by the fists of Sam who punched the ball clear of danger brilliantly. The Giants broke and after the initial run by Bertie was partially halted, Simba picked up the ball on the edge of the area, showed fantastic footwork to dance between 2 defenders and slot the ball home to make the score 4 nil, he nearly completed his hatrick with an outrageous effort which came back off the inside of the post from distance and a tight angle. For the remainder of the half, Simba and Brodie dropped to defence, with Tom and Jack pushing forward. As usual Sid’s hold up play and passing was exceptional, and his link up play with Bertie was especially eye catching. Sid himself was unlucky not to grab his second goal when through one on one, his shot missing by inches. There was some lovely passing between Jack, Tom, Bertie and Sid in the closing minutes and had it not been for a good save from a Tom shot or Simba’s excellent headed effort been a foot to the right, the score would have been greater still. As it was the Spitfires grabbed a deserved late consolation with a tap in from a corner in the last minute. 4-1 final score.

The second match was a bit strange to be honest. First of all the Hurricanes coach was also the ref, and set about coaching his team’s every move from the middle of the pitch rather than concentrating on his refereeing duties which was a bit unsettling, secondly the formation they decided on played heavily into the Giants hands, having 2, sometimes 3 players up front meant we had acres of space in midfield to play with, safe in the knowledge that the excellence of Tom, Jack and Sam at the back could easily cope with the additional attacking players. The boys set about taking advantage of the extra space, spreading out and passing the ball beautifully on the worse pitches in the league (and there is some stiff competition for that title). The Giants attacked at will, with only some brilliant saves from the Invicta goalkeeper keeping the score down. Brodie hit a great shot that was destined for the top corner which was superbly saved, but Sid pounced on the rebound to play in Bertie who tapped in for 1 nil. There was there some lovely interplay which took the ball the length of the pitch, all 7 players having a touch with the last one being a brilliantly flicked effort from Sid with the outside of the box that went narrowly wide. We were attacking and shooting at will, its impossible to list all the chances, but suffice to say Simba, Sid, Brodie and Bertie were all denied by great saves or narrow misses before we were on the receiving end of TWO own goals in our favour, barely a minute apart, both though as a result of great attacking play which forced the panic on the Invicta defence. Much the same for the second half, no change in their formation so we continued to attack at will, more chances came and went before Brodie showed good strength in holding off a large defender and slotting home into the bottom corner to make it 4 nil. On a couple of occasions Invicta inevitably broke through but when they did Sam make himself big and stood strong, twice forcing their attacker to miss the target by being quick off his line and once saving excellently down low to his right. With Sid and Bertie having a stint in defence, Tom went up front and was so unlucky not to score, hitting the bar and the post with two great efforts before another of his shots was brilliantly saved, with the ball deflecting back in off the defenders leg for astonishingly the THIRD own goal of the game. Jack gave us all a treat with an amazing bit of skill down the left wing, leaving the defenders in his wake and then grabbed himself a goal in the dying moments when calmly following up another Tom shot that was saved to see the game end up 6 nil. Jack’s goal also brought up a century of goals scored by the Giants this season, a great achievement in just 33 matches!

Two brilliant performances in difficult conditions (pitch) with some key players missing, well done all, especially to Bertie who thoroughly deserved the player of the week award for his outstanding play in both matches.

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March 29th 2014

Langton Giants 2 – 1 Sevenoaks Town Dynamos
Tom, Sid

Langton Giants 4 – 2 Sevenoaks Town United
Sid x 2, Simba, Tom

The sun was shining for home games and whilst sad to be missing wing-wizard Bertie, we were delighted to welcome Sid & Henry back for some rare league appearances. Perhaps it was the fun of the reunion or the early start but whatever it was, we had a disastrous beginning, conceding a well taken goal within the first minute of the opening game. The striker for the Dynamos team proved to be a real handful all match, and caused us problems several more times in the opening minutes with his excellent movement off the ball. Fortunately James has been in fine form in recent weeks and he was again the saviour with a couple of smart saves, although he’s been so good in the last few matches we’ve possibly been a bit guilty of taken them for granted! After a difficult opening we finally started to get into the game, and Sid was unlucky to see a wonderful strike saved as it looked destined for the top corner from distance. Various combinations of Sam, Jack, Joel and Henry were now doing a fine job of keeping the dangerous Sevenoaks striker a bit quieter and we started to slowly come more into the match. Brodie and Simba played a lovely one-two that covered half the pitch which resulted in Brodie firing over the bar. Half time came with us feeling quite fortunate to still be in the match, especially after Sevenoaks hit the post just before the break. The second half started much, much better, Tom equalising with a brilliant low strike from the edge of the box with his left foot. The whole team took confidence from this and we started to dominate possession, though every time our play broke down we had to defend for our lives against the pacey Sevenoaks counter attacks. James again saving the day with two big saves when it really mattered. We were now creating chances though, Simba and Tom both shooting wide, with Simba then turning brilliantly on the edge of the box only to see his clean left foot strike well saved from Brodie’s through ball. Sid had a great second half, moving intelligently and working hard, so when Simba brilliantly beat his defender to get to the by-line before crossing perfectly to the back post, it was no surprise it was he who came flying in to knock home a really good goal, despite a great effort from the Sevenoaks ‘keeper to keep it out. We now had the lead, but it was still going to be a battle to secure the win. Step forward Jack and Henry who locked the door at the back, with Brodie showing a good understanding of the game by sitting just in front of them to add an extra layer of protection. A minute or two later the final whistle blew and we’d won a game we really had to battle for.

No rest though, we immediately had to take on the fast improving United team. Sam was imperious at the back from the off, putting in a couple of crunching tackles and holding his position perfectly. Jack found Simba down the right who in turn slipped the ball into Brodie whose first time shot was well struck but flew wide. Sid went on a jinky run down the left wing, but it appeared he’d been thwarted by some good defending. Sid wasn’t having any of it though, harrying the two defenders so much we won the ball back and smashed home the opening goal. It was a great example of how not giving up can bring rewards. A minute later Sid had his, and the teams, second goal following some good play and a great pass from Simba to set him up. Joel and Henry were both standing strong at the back and passing the ball superbly to feet. After his heroics in the first match, up until this point James had been a virtual bystander in this one, but once again showed how well he retains his concentration by making a very good save at his near post from a firmly struck free kick. Sam had a good stint up front and really put himself about, and holding the ball up well. At half time it all felt quite comfortable so we changed this around for the second half to try and give boys the opportunity to try different positions, which we’ve done before but on this occasion it didn’t work out. The first warning came immediately when James was called upon to make a great save. He has no chance with either of the two goals we poorly gave away in the next few minutes though as suddenly our midfield and defence went AWOL. We quickly reverted back to our usual positions, and almost regained the lead again when Sid was unlucky not to complete his hatrick due to a fine save. After a few uncomfortable minutes Simba settled the nerves by finishing off a great three man move between himself, Brodie and Tom. In the closing minutes Tom removed any doubt with a cracking left foot flick and volley to complete the scoring, another hard earned victory, this one finishing 4-2.

It is fair to say that the Giants were not at their scintillating best today so it was great to learn that they are just as able to dig out wins against good opponents when things aren’t quite coming off the way intended. James was great in goal and Sid had a very strong day, but Simba was the deserved winner of the player of the week trophy down to his hard work, team play and excellence on the ball over both games. Well done Simba, well done Giants.

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March 15th 2014

Langton Giants 2 – 0 East Grinstead Meads AC
Tom x2

Langton Giants 3 – 0 East Grinstead Inter
Tom, Simba, o.g

So finally, in mid March, we were able to play our first home matches of the season at Langton Green Rec…. and would you believe it, the main problem with the pitches is they were too dry! Never happy some people ;-) East Grinstead are always one of our favourite opposition as they always have two strong, well organised sides who play some very good football in the right spirit, and today was no exception. First of all we took on the AC team with the sun shining and the boys had a spring in their step. Brodie set up Tom who shot wide, before Tom had another chance close in but the ball just trickled past the far post. Simba caught a shot with great power but was unable to keep the ball down and Bertie saw a shot charged down. We were on top but were unable to find the back of the net before Tom came up with the finishing touch twice within a couple of minutes of each other. The first came after Brodie found Simba with a good pass who swivelled and layed the ball into Toms path to finish with aplomb. The second was a wonderful side footed finish into the bottom corner from the edge of the box. Two very good finishes giving us a good lead at half time. What was already apparent was just how well the defence was playing today, carrying on from last week. Jack, Same and Joel were all in great form, closing down, intercepting, staying on their feet and getting their positional play bang on throughout. This meant James had been practically a spectator up until this point, but early in the second half reminded us how reliable he is by smartly handling a couple of difficult shots which were bouncing all over the place. Bertie was charging down the left, riding tackles and crossing well and Brodie was spraying his passes round the pitch with his usual accuracy. Tom and Simba were linking up well, the latter showing some great strength and awareness on several occasions. We had a few more chances, Joel shooting wide, Brodie seeing a dipping curling shot beating the goalkeepers dive but unfortunately beating the cross bar too, and Tom saw a good shot with his left foot well saved down low, but no goals game and the brilliant defence ensured the 2 nil victory was secured without any major issue.

The second game was against a physically bigger Inter team and was a really good game of football. We started well enough, but this Meads side possessed a bit more attacking threat and we were grateful to James early on for a smart save at his near post before they then hit the post shortly after. We then produced several excellent counter attacks in a row, Simba played in Brodie who volleyed wide and Bertie doing likewise on the other side of the pitch. Tom broke through and shot well, the keeper make a good save, Simba going close to following it but his stabbed effort went agonisingly wide. It felt like the goal was coming from one of these attacks, and so it proved, albeit with a slice of luck, as an Inter player unfortunately sliced into his own net following a dangerous cross from Tom. It was harsh on the lad who really couldn’t have done anything about it, and had he left it then Bertie would have had a tap in. Half-time 1 nil. The second half was a demonstration in the art of defending, primarily from Sam, Joel, Jack and James in goal, as Inter pushed forward to try and get back into the match. Time and time again one of these boy flung themselves to charge down shots or make tackles, on two occasions Sam put in particularly impressive tackles and both led to a counter attack. One of these saw Bertie go on a great run, winning a corner, which Simba stabbed home at the second attempt after his initial effort has been brilliantly saved. 2 nil. Inter were incredibly unlucky just after this, with a stunning strike hitting the post AND the cross bar before bouncing away to safety. Tom hit the outside of the post, James made a fabulous save right in the top corner as the game went end to end. Tom settled everyone’s nerves with a lovely finish with the outside of his boot after a lovely ball from Bertie to give the score line a rather flattering look to it. We were delighted to win, and deservedly so, but 3 nil was harsh on the Inter side who played very well.

Once again all 8 boys were excellent, especially the defenders who were magnificent throughout, with one of them, Joel, taking away the player-of-the-week trophy for his outstanding display in both matches. Well done Joel!

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March 8th 2014

Tonbridge Juniors Piranhas 2 – 1 Langton Giants
Simba

Tonbridge Juniors Sharks 0 – 2 Langton Giants
Simba, Tom

Finally the sun came out and the boys were able to take to the field without their coats on underneath their shirts and no fear of catching pneumonia to face the two strongest opponents we had faced all season and what resulted was two fantastic games of football played at the highest quality you could imagine at u10 level. The first match saw us take on the very strong and attacking Piranhas who we knew from before possessed some very talented individuals and to combat this we tweaked our formation slightly to try and combat the threat and it worked superbly in the opening exchanges as Joel, Jack and Tom stood form and stayed disciplined to ensure James was well protected in goal. This solid foundation allowed Bertie, Brodie and Simba to push forward and they did with great affect, creating several chances. Brodie hit a firm strike from the edge of the box which was well saved and Simba nearly broke through only to be denied with a late tackle. Tonbridge did break through once with some fine play but were unable to beat the excellent James who made a great save down low before Jack cleared the ball away before the Tonbridge player could follow up. We constantly looked a threat on the counter attack, Simba shooting just wide from an excellent Bertie pass before the roles were reversed, Simba playing in Bertie who’s shot just went over the bar. Joel was reading the game very well and intercepted the ball on several occasions, one of which played in Brodie who’s firm shot was deflected just wide of the post. We were on top at this stage, but Tonbridge remained a threat, and some good dribbling brought them a corner which unfortunately bounced off the knee of one of their players to give them a lead just as half time arrived. Not to worry, still a half to go and we knew we’d more than matched them, something we showed in the first minute of the second half when Tom pushed forward down the right wing and pulled the ball back perfectly for Simba to smash home a controlled volley to bring us level at 1 all. At this stage we felt confident we would go on an win the match, but still Tonbridge would come at us at any opportunity, Sam playing an important role in stopping them, once with a particularly bone crunching tackle! Chances came and went, Jack won the ball and played a great ball out to Tom who slipped at the worst possible moment, and Simba, Brodie and Bertie all saw shots saved. Tonbridge broke through just twice, the first time resulted in a truly stunning save from James, tipping the ball over the bar when it seemed destined for the top corner, the second resulted in a goal. James again made a good save but this time the Tonbridge attacker was first to react to the follow up and slotted home, a little against the run of play. In the dying moments we had a few more half chances, and with practically the last kick of the match Brodie hit a bending free kick which missed by inches. An excellent match, one the Giants can consider themselves very unlucky to lose, a comment generously seconded by the Piranhas manager.

The thing when you play Tonbridge is you know as soon as you’ve played one very good team, you have to play another equally as good team straight away! The boys felt a bit hard done by and decided to use this frustration as fuel for the second match, which they dominated from start to finish. Jack and Joel were now commanding the defence and we had a more attacking look to us, Brodie going close early. The Sharks though also have some fine attacking talent so you will always concede chances against them so we were grateful for James making a couple of good early saves, one with his feet and one with his hands to make sure we kept them at bay. Bertie showed great commitment and team work but sprinting back to win the ball deep in our own half, before turning and powering up the left wing then switching the play beautifully to the feet of Simba, who’s wonderful first touch took him clear of the defender before slotting the ball expertly under the out rushing goalkeeper to give the boys a well deserved lead. Tom had a good shot saved and another just wide, before James was called into action, this time saving a firm header from a corner. The second half again started with an early strike, this time Tom firing home a quite brilliant strike from fully 25 yards out tight into the top corner, a definite contender for goal of the season. Sam went up front and put himself about, going close with an excellent turn and shot and Brodie was unfortunate to see his scrambled effort cleared off the line. Bertie shot wide, so did Brodie and Jack went on a barn storming run only to be denied by a last ditch tackle. Joel had a stint on the right wing and showed great footwork and determination. We survived one scare late on where there was a good old fashioned goal mouth scramble which saw several Tonbridge efforts blocked by Joel, Brodie, Jack and finally saved by James. After the disappointment of the first match this really was an excellent win, to put it in context the Sharks have only dropped points in one other game all season, also against us. Of course Tonbridge have the advantage of their two excellent teams not having to face each other so for the Giants to have finished the match ups against them with a record of Played 4, Won 2, Drawn 1, lost 1 really is a fantastic effort. In the words of the great Pharrell Williams…. the manager was “happy”

Very, very difficult to award the player of the week trophy this time round as all eight were magnificent, but Tom thoroughly deserved it for his all round play in multiple positions…. and that goal. Well done Tom, well done all.

February 15th 2014

Langton Giants 5 – 1 BroadOak & Horam Hurricanes
Tom x 3, Simba, Bertie

Langton Giants 0 – 4 BroadOak & Horam Spitfires

After a couple of months winter break the Giants finally returned to league action. An unusual setting as we’d secured the use of 3G pitches given that there isn’ta single playable grass surface anywhere in the south of England! The message for the start of the first match was simple, come out of the traps fast, and that is exactly what they did. Right from the off the boys were tackling hard and chasing the ball down, winning it back high up the pitch and looking to attack. We won a corner, Bertie whipped it in and Tom showed great composure and technique to side foot it home at the back post, 1 nil. The second goal was wonderful, a real team effort. We had a throw-in in our own half which Joel threw in to Jack, he passed it perfectly first time into the feet of Brodie who spun and played it into the path of the surging Tom who sped forward and finished low into the far corner with a fine finish. More chances came and went, Tom narrowly missing out on his hatrick (for now) when shooting wide and Simba going close twice. Bertie was causing problems down the left wing and it was from one of his runs he fired in a firm shot which the ‘keeper did well to parry, only for Simba to be on hand to slot home the rebound to make the score 3 nil. Joel then went close with a header at the far post and just before half-time James was alert to come out and save with his feet. The second half started with a bang too, this time from the left foot of Bertie, smashing home a fantastic strike from distance which was probably a little bit ‘wind assisted’ but a fabulous strike all the same. Jack had been his usual high energy, high quality self all through the game and was so unlucky to see his powerful strike smack against the cross bar. A minute later Tom completed his hatrick with another ‘wind assisted’ strike from distance to make the score 5 nil. Sam was having a good run up front for the whole second half and went close to scoring on several occasions, seeing shots blocked, saved and just go wide. Broad Oak grabbed a late consolation with a brilliant strike which gave James no chance before Joel went on a great run down the left wing only to see his shot just go past the near post. A fine return to league action then, and even the weather was on our side (apart from the wind).

Its fair to say that in the second match, anything that could go wrong, went wrong, several times over. We started off on top, passing the ball round well and camped in the Broad Oak half. We won several early corners, Brodie stabbing just wide from Berties delivery and Simba seeing a well hit shot charged down. It was obvious already that this team were strong defensively with a very good goalkeeper, with him saving from Brodie, Bertie, Simba and Tom in quick succession as the Giants put the pressure on. We had one scare when a couple of our defenders appeared to be blown over by a huge gust of win, but James was on hand to make a brilliant save of his own. We continued to push forward, Brodie passing the ball beautifully in centre midfield and Simba showing some fantastic hold up play, both creating chances for their team mates, Bertie again denied by a fine save before Simba went on a great run but shot just over the bar, a minute later he was incredibly unlucky when a brilliantly struck shot came back off the inside of the post. At this stage we had no sign of what was about to come. The weather changed dramatically, it was like somebody turned the lights off, the heavy rain machine on and the wind machine up several knots! Whether it was the sudden change of conditions or just plain bad luck, within a couple of minutes of the weather changing we found ourselves 2 nil down as a result of two unbelievably unfortunate own goals! A team of shell shocked lads came off at half time bemused to find themselves 2 nil down in a game they’d dominated. These boys are a determined lot though and went out committed to make amends. Unfortunately try as they might, and they really did try, it was just one of those games. We had shot after shot, some went wide, some were saved, several were cleared off the line and in our commitment to going forward we were counter attacked twice more to give the scoreline an incredibly unfair appearance. Football can be a cruel game at times.

Still, that was our first defeat of the league season, which is a fine effort in itself and it was just good to get some football on. James showed immense character responding to a very unfortunate incident and thoroughly deserved to be the player of the week. Well done James.

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December 14th 2013 – Langton Green / Ridgewaye Tournament

Langton Giants 2 – 0 Ridgewaye Rockets
Sid x 2

The Giants opened their day at this fun tournament against one of the three Ridgewaye sides, this one being the Rockets and after a bit of a slow start which required James to make a good save, the boys got into their rhythm and started to impose themselves on the match. Brodie went close with two headers from well delivered Bertie corners and was the victim of a bobble when through on goal, shooting high and wide. Tom broke free down the right and whipped in the perfect ball for Sid to slide in with a controlled finish, 1 nil. It was so good to see Sid and Henry back in the side having missed so many matches dues to Saturday school. More chances were created in the second half, with Joel, Sam and Jack keeping things secure at the back. A lovely bit of interplay between Brodie and Tom resulted with Sid slotting home his second of the match and we’d started in the perfect fashion, with a win!

Langton Giants 3 – 0 Ridgewaye Jupiter
Sid x 2, Tom

The first goal came early in this one, and was a mirror image of our opening goal in the first match, this time the excellent Bertie the provider from the left hand side, Sid again sliding in with a fine finish. Henry had a stint in centre midfield and was showing a great range of passing to go with his usual physical presence. Brodie broke free on the right and pulled the ball back for Tom to fire home our second goal. The second half started with Sid helping himself to yet another goal, this one taken beautifully on the edge of the box with his left foot into the bottom corner. The rest of the match was perhaps the most pleasing part of the morning, with the usual midfield trio of Bertie, Brodie & Tom all resting on the side line, Joel, Jack and Henry were running the midfield like Barcelona at their best! Sam up front was also showing some brilliant hold up play and a keen eye for a pass. No more goals came though, but right at the end James pulled off a wonderful save to secure a 3 nil win.

Langton Giants 3 – 0 Langton Eagles
Tom x 2, Brodie

Our final group game was against our good friends and rapidly improving Eagles. Considering the state of the pitch / mud bath there was some excellent passing football on display from both teams which was a real testament to the club. The Giants came out on top thanks to a top corner curler from Brodie which gave even the excellent Eagles keeper Ben no chance, and Tom’s double, the second of which came after Jack went on a strong run and hit a firm shot which was well saved, only for Tom to follow up and knock it in with a good header. The result meant the Giants topped the group, with the Eagles also progressing into the semi-finals of the cup competition.

Semi-Final:

Langton Giants 0 – 0 Langton Devils

Devils win on penalties

The semi-final saw us up against another group of good friends, the Devils, who has finished runner up in their group. It was a really good game of football, in which the Giants had a decent number of chances to win the game but came up against a very dogged defence and an inspired goalkeeper. There was goalmouth scrambles, wonder saves and several scary counter attacks from the strong Devils team where Giants hearts were in their mouths, thankfully though we have a very fine goalkeeper of our own to keep them at bay. The one moment when we thought we’d done it came when Brodie sent another curling shot flying into the top corner only for an unbelievable save to see it tipped over the bar. The pitches by now were a mud bath, at it became more a battle of attrition than football and both teams covered themselves in glory… and mud…. and were a credit to the club. Even extra time couldn’t bring a goal and it was the dreaded penalties. Once again this proved to be our downfall….. for the 6th time…. we lost. When people call them a lottery I agree with them, though I think there is more chance of us winning the lottery one day! Proud of how the boys reacted, no hissy fits or complaining, just wishing the Devils well in the final, something they did, gloriously winning it 1 nil and deservedly taking home the trophy, well done the Devils!

That’s it for 2013 then for the Giants, and despite the penalty disappointment they were brilliant. Special mention to Sid & Henry for playing like they’d never been away, and to all the defenders and James in goal for not conceding a goal all morning. A big thanks to Toby, big brother of Jack, for his excellent refereeing throughout the morning.

Merry Christmas !

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November 30th 2013

TW Foresters 1 – 1 Langton Giants
Brodie

Crowborough Athletic Youth 0 – 0 Langton Giants

For the final league games before Xmas we travelled to Crowborough to play against them, and their paired side, TW Foresters. We were somewhat short handed today, with no Tom, Joel, Henry or Sid available so we were extremely grateful to be loaned Finn from our good friends the Eagles to make sure we at least had enough players to fulfil the fixtures. The first game saw us take on a very strong Foresters side, and they started on top as the Giants struggled to get a foothold in the game. Thankfully, Jack was clearly in the mood to carry on his recent fine form, standing firm alongside the equally determined Sam to ensure James was well protected in goal. It was a real midfield battle, and as the game progressed we started to come more into the game. Brodie started to pull the strings, with Finn showing great movement and a fine range of passing, initially upfront and then on the right of midfield. Simba was putting the Foresters defence under pressure and Bertie was his usual attacking self down the left wing, also delivering several very good corners. There were several half chances for both teams, but nothing clear cut as both defences stood firm. James excelled, showing solid handling and making a couple of good saves which he made look easier than they were. Brodie, Simba and Bertie all saw shots well saved and it appeared the first half would end goalless. The Foresters biggest attacking threat throughout was a very long and dangerous thrown-in routine, and in the dying seconds one of them caught us out, unluckily conceding an own-goal following a flukey deflection of a hapless Giants player without a Forester player even touching the ball from the throw in! So we saw ourselves 1 nil down at the half, undermanned, away from home against a good side filled today with boys who usually play in a higher league. A daunting task ahead then in the second half, but these boys thrive on challenges and upped their performance in the second half, fighting harder and defending the stream of Rory Delap-esq throw-ins with great determination. We also started to pass the ball better, Finn linking up with Brodie and Simba like he’d played with them all his life. Simba went close, as did Bertie and Brodie saw a firm shot just whistle past the post and it was beginning to feel like we were going to be frustrated. Sam won a tackle, fed the ball into Simba’s feet who spun and sent a sumptuous ball through to Brodie to swivel and volley home a lovely finish in-off the post from outside the box. A great way to bring his century of goals for the Giants. 1-1 and all to play for. The Giants pushed forward trying to pass their way through the strong Foresters defence, but the ball just wouldn’t break and we were grateful to the safe hands of James, and heads of Jack and Brodie to deal with more aerial bombardment at the other end. The game finished 1-1 which was a fair result based on the chances created and hard work of both teams, albeit the nature of the own goal left us feeling a little hard done by.

If we felt a little hard done by with the first game, the second match left us feeling utterly bemused as to how we didn’t score! It was one way traffic as we peppered the Crowborough goal, creating chance after chance. On some occasions we were just unlucky, never more so than when a open goal was left begging as two of our players slipped at the worst possible moment, and again with the three shots that hit the woodwork, but mostly it was down to a simply stunning display of goalkeeping from the Crowborough goalie. It was so impressive, I’d say he was nearly half as good a James which is high praise indeed! Simba saw a shot deflected onto the cross bar, Bertie saw two shots well saved and hit the post, and saw another effort saved after some great inter-passing between Brodie and Simba set him free. Finn continued to impress and was unlucky himself on a couple of occasions, one going narrowly wide and one blocked, and Brodie saw 4 shots saved as we continued to batter at the door that just wouldn’t open. The one time Crowborough broke free James narrowed the angle, got a hand to take the sting out of the ball before Sam cleared the danger to ensure a disappointment didn’t turn into a disaster! Jack was brilliant throughout, pushing the team forward and breaking up any further attacking moves we faced. The last few minutes were like the alamo, shots firing in at the Crowborough goal, on several occasions it felt like we were about to score, never more so than when Finn played Simba in who lifted his shot over the head of the out coming goalkeeper only to see it sail agonisingly inches over the bar. When Bertie saw an even later chance brilliantly saved the final whistle blew and some how we’d failed to score in a league game for the first time in 3 years, but it certainly wasn’t for the want of effort, quality or determination. Perhaps what was most pleasing was that the boys kept playing football right up to the final whistle, refusing to revert to more agricultural methods. Worth noting that in this match Last Man Sam was the victim of a Bird having a poo, right over his shirt….. clearly the idea that this is supposed to signal good luck is a myth!

A great effort from all the boys today, having no subs took its toll, but to come away with our unbeaten record safely in tact after a frustrating and unlucky morning with a short-handed side was an achievement in itself and one we should all be very proud of. A huge thank-you to the excellent Finn from all the Eagles, walking away with a deserved player of the week trophy to boot!

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November 16th 2013

Langton Giants 5 – 2 Tonbridge Invicta Spitfires
Tom x3, Bertie, Brodie

Langton Giants 3 – 1 Tonbridge Invicta Hurricanes
Tom x2, Jack

We were grateful to Tonbridge Invicta for agreeing to host these games at their place as our pitches had suffered badly in recent weeks, so another case of us playing ‘home’ games away. It is fair to say though that the pitches we did get to play on weren’t exactly conducive to the beautiful game given they clearly hadn’t seen a lawn mower in recent memory, so the message today was for the boys to go out and battle in the long grass and mud, and that’s exactly what they did. Amazingly though, not only did they do that, they also somehow managed to produce some of their finest football of the season, passing the ball and moving better than ever. Simba was in particularly good form, showing great strength and producing some fantastic passes time and time again bringing his team mates in to play. Jack prodded the ball out wide to Tom who sprinted quickly down the right wing before swinging in a lovely cross that was just too high for the leaping Brodie but fell at the feet of Bertie who slid in to sweep home a controlled finish to open the scoring. Tom then saw a shot saved in a bit of a goalmouth scramble following some excellent build up play involving Joel, Brodie and Simba. Another lovely bit of passing football, this time between Bertie, Simba and Brodie saw Tom given another chance, this time his shot spinning off wide. He wasn’t to be denied much longer though, going on a powerful run to beat two defenders and smash home a great finish into the bottom corner across the goalkeeper to double the lead. Sam was producing some fine tackles, blocks and interceptions and on the few occasions Invicta did breach our defence James was quickly off his line to snuff out the danger. Unfortunately though just before half time we were caught out, partly by some good play from the opposition (the pass and cross) and partly by the pitch (the shot) to close the gap to a tight 2-1 at half time. The late goal clearly gave Tonbridge Invicta a confidence boost as they came out with a lot more fight in the second half and the Giants boys were required to stand firm…. which they did, showing great control by not reacting to a number of er…. ‘robust’ challenges that they were treated to. James showed great alertness when a shot from fully 40 yards fell at his feet, which he dealt with brilliantly. Jack’s strength and determination were at the fore, battling constantly, ably assisted by first Joel, and then Sam to keep us in control. Nerves were settled in the usual Giants way, by scoring a great goal. Bertie received the ball into feet, turned and found enough space to ping a lovely cross into Simba, who layed the ball back for Tom who showed incredible technique to smash a thunderous volley into the bottom corner from outside the box, 3-1. Tom then grabbed his hatrick, this time the recipient of yet more great hold up play from Simba, who spun and played him in to finish with aplomb. Invicta grabbed a second goal back with a good finish after we failed to clear a corner, but Brodie reinstated the 3 goal lead after some wonderful passing from Tom, Simba and Bertie to play him in. In the closing moments both Jack and Joel saw shots saved as we saw out a fine 5-2 victory.

The second game saw us play against the far less physical, but perhaps better footballing side, the Hurricanes. The Giants started well, Simba seeing a shot from close range smothered by the oppositions goalkeeper and then a second attempt whistle just past the post after a fine turn and shot. Clearly Tom was in good goalscoring form, and he scored the opening goal in this game too, going round/through the goalkeeper after being played in by Brodie’s through ball. Jack was continuing to be heavily involved and was unlucky to see a well hit shot go over the bar before Bertie went on an excellent run down the left hand side only for his shot to be blocked. The Hurricanes were showing glimpses of good play though, and we were grateful to both Sam and Joel for both blocking shots. It had been at least 5 minutes since Tom had scored, so he soon put pay to that, grabbing his second of the game, this time with a tidy left foot finish to double the lead. Sam made a magnificent interception and reversed the ball to James in goal, who sent a fine goal-kick forward for Jack to run onto. Jack stormed forward and struck a firm shot which the ‘keeper couldn’t keep out. Just before the half, James was called upon to make a very good save with his feet, which Joel was on hand to clear and ensure the Giants held a comfortable three goal lead at half time. This allowed us to switch things around and give boys the chance to try different positions, James coming out of goal with Bertie putting the (wet and muddy) gloves on, Brodie, Tom and Simba covering the defence, allowing Jack, Joel, Sam and James to take on the attacking duties. The second half was naturally a little bit more disjointed as players came to terms with their new roles, but there was some excellent play on show still. Jack was a constant threat, crossing for Sam who shot just wide, James got himself into some really good positions on several occasions and was throwing himself into tackles, as was Joel who for a while was doing a passable impression of Lionel Messi, weaving past defenders like they were training cones. Bertie was looking good in goal, making a couple of very good saves, before the pitch ensured he had no chance with a well hit shot to cut the lead to 3-1. Brodie, Simba and Tom remained disciplined at the back and right at the end Joel was unlucky to see a shot saved after a fine run and cross from James down the left.

Another hugely successful morning, 8 excellent performances, special mention to Tom for scoring a fantastic 5 goals in the morning, and to Brodie for a midfield master-class, but the player of the week trophy had to go to Simba who’s strength, team play and passing were exceptional all morning long, well done Simba.

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November 2nd 2013

Sevenoaks Town United 1 – 6 Langton Giants
Simba, Brodie, Tom, Sid, Joel, o.g

Sevenoaks Town Dynamo 0 – 2 Langton Giants
Bertie, Simba

More away games, and one’s which very nearly didn’t go ahead after the recent rain, but thanks to the some new drainage the pitches were actually in very good condition. The message every week is that is important to start games well and this week that message clearly got through, as they started off on fire, whipping the ball around the slick surface like a mini-Barcelona and grabbing two early goals. The first came when Tom played in Simba down the right wing who pinged in a dangerous ball which was turned into the Sevenoaks net by an unfortunate defender, with Simba then scoring a goal which was very much his, firing into the bottom corner after skipping past two defenders. The boys really were in rhythm now, passing and moving in a style which belied their age group, from back to front, with even ‘keeper James joining in on numerous occasions. That said, the Sevenoaks team had several moments of their own and showed good attacking intent, being denied only by the cross-bar twice, before Tom extended the lead further following a wonderful passing move the length of the pitch starting with James via Joel, Brodie, Bertie and Simba. It was fantastic to watch but no further goals came in the first half. The second half saw much of the same, Jack’s recent fine form continuing to ensure we remained solid at the back and his energy pushing us forward. Bertie broke free and hit a fierce shot which the goalkeeper did well to stop but was unable to stop Brodie tucking home the follow up to make the score 4 nil. We were pleased to have Sid available for this one, and he reminded us of how much we miss him with some great touches and was on hand to grab a deserved goal with a good finish from Bertie’s cross. Sevenoaks pulled one back with an excellent goal that they thoroughly deserved to make the score 5-1. Joel had a stint up front in the closing minutes and took full advantage of the opportunity, going close with a shot and linking up well with his team mates, before rising to head home a great goal from a corner, his first ever for the Giants and perhaps in the most surprising manner!. He clearly got a taste for it though as he won another header moments later to earn himself the nickname ‘Andy Carroll’ for his aerial prowess and his West Ham supporting tendencies, rather than a geordie accent and dodgy pony-tale! James was required to make a couple of fine saves in the closing minutes which he did in his usual calm and collected style to make sure no further dent was made into the final 6-1 scoreline!

One of the most impressive things about the Giants boys is always their attitude, and today this was demonstrated most obviously by Sam & Jack who agreed to help our friends the Redhawks out by playing one match each for them, as they were missing a few. This also meant a number of boys had to play different roles than they would normally do and each of them did so with the minimum of fuss and put in strong performances. So for the second match we had Sam back as Jack went to the next pitch to strut his stuff for the Redhawks. We started well, passing the ball and Bertie had an early chance which he hit beautifully and was so unlucky to see it come back off the cross bar. Brodie went on a lovely mazy run showing great footwork and played the ball into Simba’s feet who pulled off a lovely turn and shot which was well saved. Sam was playing brilliantly, intercepting the ball on numerous occasions and passing the ball intelligently from the back, ably partnered by Joel who was his usual determined tigerish self. The Giants were essentially camped in the Sevenoaks half but there was little space as the opposition weren’t really committing anyone forward so had enough numbers behind the ball to snuff out most of our attacking play. As we pushed forward more and more we were very nearly on the end of the ultimate sucker-punch as the Dynamos counter attacked, passing the ball very well to put in one of their players against James. It was a sweetly struck shot but James pulled off a stunning save to tip the ball onto the cross-bar and away for a corner. Considering he’d not been within 50 yards of the ball all game it was even more impressive. We huffed and puffed against the stoic defence, with Bertie and Brodie both shooting narrowly wide but just weren’t able to find the right opening and the score was 0-0 at half time. We found a new energy in the second half, Brodie going close with a high shot into the top corner well saved. Tom was dictating play from the sweeper position and with nobody coming forward enough to close him down was able to bring the ball out of defence right to the edge of the Sevenoaks penalty box to create chances. Simba’s movement was excellent and really helped create the much needed space by dragging some of the defenders out of the middle, where Tom was able to penetrate and find Brodie who rolled the ball into Bertie to finish calmly into the bottom corner…. relief. We half expected this would bring the Sevenoaks defence out more, allowing us to get in behind but this wasn’t the case, so we continued to bang on the door. Sid was buzzing around, linking up well with Simba particularly and creating problems. In the last few minutes Sevenoaks came forward, but our own defensive wall of Sam and Joel stayed strong, ensuring James wasn’t required to perform any more heroics, and allowing us to finally find some space in which to attack. Brodie went on another run, drew the defenders and slipped Simba in with a perfectly weighted pass, which the goalscoring machine swept into the top corner like David Beckham in his pomp to secure the 2 nil scoreline.

Another highly successful day for this wonderful set of lads, Sam thoroughly deserving his player of the week award for his outstanding defensive discipline and showing such a great attitude all morning. Well done Sam!

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October 19th 2013

East Grinstead Meads Inter 1 – 4 Langton Giants
Jack, Tom, Bertie, Simba

East Grinstead Meads AC 1 – 3 Langton Giants
Simba, Brodie, O.G

These are the type of matches we look forward to every season, two good games played in the right spirit against strong opposition, junior football at its finest. The early rain didn’t dampen the quality of play and both sides in both matches put on great show. The first match was against the Inter side who were physically strong and passed the ball very well, it was obvious from the off that this was going to be a tough match. Fortunately for us, James was in imperious form in goal and a combination of Sam, Joel, Henry and Jack ensured we remained resolute in defence. A couple of early scares but the boys stood firm and then started to express themselves with some fine pass and move football. Tom passed to Brodie who knocked it in to Simba who controlled first time before laying it off to Bertie who shot just over. Minutes later Tom hit the side netting from a tight angle from Brodie’s through ball. Bertie was working as hard as always down the left wing, but had to hobble off after taking a knock to the thigh, Tom moved to cover the left hand side and it was from there he picked out Jack with a fine cross who slammed the ball home for the opening goal of the game, and his first of the season. Prior to half-time James pulled off two fine saves, one of them high above his head and Simba saw a powerful shot blocked. 1 nil at half time, and it was all to play for. The second half started with another fine James save down low before Tom settled the nerves a bit by heading home a Bertie corner at the near post to double the lead. Bertie’s corner delivery is becoming a consistent threat and he was unlucky to see two good shots well saved as the Giants started to take over the game. As we pushed forward though, the Meads counter attacked and we were grateful to Sam for a well timed interception on more than one occasion. Joel and Henry were both having very strong matches, reading the game well and defending strongly. We switched off for a second though and at this level you get punished as we conceded a goal directly from a throw-in which somehow found its way to an unmarked defender at the far post. To be fair though, it was the least East Grinstead deserved as they had played some excellent football. 2-1 and it was game on. James made two more very good saves and was commanding the penalty box better than ever before. Again though the nerves were settled by some good attacking play with a quite brilliant third goal that was the result of one-touch passing between Henry, Brodie, Simba and Bertie who was on hand to finish with a quality strike across the goalkeeper to make the score 3-1. East Grinstead came back but the defence stood firm, and right at the end Simba smashed home a 4th goal to top off a great victory against a good team, though it is fair to say the final scoreline was very harsh on the opposition.

One thing you know you get with East Grinstead is they always have two well balanced teams, so we knew the second game would be equally as challenging. We started well though, getting an early goal when Simba showed audacious skill and power by pulling off a stepover at pace before hitting a firm strike into the top corner, it was a brilliant bit of individual skill that gave the whole team a lift. A free-kick was awarded on the edge of the Giants box in a dangerous position. James showed his growing confidence and maturity, organising his defensive wall perfectly and then saving well above his head from the resulting strike. The save looked comfortable, but that was down to the way he had set himself up in preparation for it. Some more good football, this time between Joel, Bertie and Simba who played in the marauding Henry who saw hit shot fly just by the post. Sam was again proving to be vital in his ‘last man Sam’ role, showing great positional discipline to deny several Meads attacks. The second half saw Simba break free down the right and put in a good cross which Brodie volleyed wide before Tom put in an equally good cross which Bertie stretched to reach but was just unable to hit the target. Simba saw a shot saved and from the resulting corner from Bertie we were on the fortunate end of an own goal to make the score 2 nil. It was very harsh on the East Grinstead boys who were fighting hard. Simba broke free again but saw his shot come back off the near post, the ball rebounded back to him though and his second shot hit the far post… so unlucky. East Grinstead’s goalkeeper took a goal kick but hit it straight to Brodie on the half way line, who killed the ball with instant control before sweeping home a fantastic shot from a couple of yards inside the half as the goalkeeper scrambled back but was unable to prevent a quite brilliant goal. 3 nil and we were able to breath. Not for long though as East Grinstead were awarded a penalty which gave James no chance, before Joel went on great little run into the box only to be dragged down. He stepped up and took the penalty himself, struck it firmly and cleanly but it was excellently saved by the Meads keeper, pity as Joel has deserved a goal for his brilliant performances for the Giants all season. Not to worry though, he joins a long list of Giants who have seen penalties saved the game finished with the Giants winning 3-1.

They all deserve a special mention for their performances this morning, but Henry particularly for playing so strongly after missing most of the season, James for his continuing improvement and strength and Jack for becoming the first ever Giant to be awarded the Player-of-the-Week trophy two weeks in a row, it was impossible not to after he played so very well.

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October 12th 2013

Langton Giants 4 – 0 Raw Skills Sharks
Simba x 2, Tom, Sam

Langton Giants 4 – 2 Raw Skills Bears
Simba x 3, Brodie

Another case of us playing ‘home’ games away due to reschedules and pitch availability as we moved the matches to Raw Skills pitches in Edenbridge and it was good news that we did as we were treated to possibly the best pitches we’ve ever played on. No mud or bumps in sight, it was flat and slick after the previous days downpour. The first match saw us take on the Sharks team and the firm reminder about the need to start games better clearly had an impact as the Giants got on the front foot from the off. The passing game was quickly evident, with some lovely play including some very pleasing examples of the boys at the back moving the ball around with ease and linking with the midfield. Joel continued his excellent start to his Giants career with some great interplay with defensive partner Jack, before sending Bertie away who saw his shot well saved. Another Joel interception, great one two with Jack then onto Brodie, to Bertie, to Tom and finally into the path of Simba who nutmegged the goalkeeper for a quite brilliant team orientated opening goal. Bertie was really unlucky to see his well struck free-kick tipped onto the bar and out for a corner, from which Brodie saw his header blocked on the line. In the closing minutes of the half, the Giants were camped in the Sharks half and both Bertie and Simba went close to adding to the score but were denied by good goalkeeping. If anything, the domination grew further in the second half with the passing reaching new heights, starting with James in goal who was able to demonstrate his own fancy footwork on several occasions. Sam was reliably breaking up any Raw Skills attacks and put in some very well timed tackles and set up counter attacks with some smart passing of his own. Brodie slid in and was only inches away from getting on the end of an excellent Tom cross before Simba doubled the lead, showing great resilience when smashing home a goal at the third attempt after two desperate blocks had initially denied him. Jack was having an outstanding game in a variety of positions, winning tackles and charging forward when able to. Joel intercepted a Raw Skills pass for the umpteenth time and passed to Brodie who in turn played a lovely through ball into the path of Tom to finish expertly under the out rushing goalkeeper to make the score 3 nil. In the closing moments we were awarded a penalty for handball, and Sam stepped forward to score with a fearsome strike that put the poor goalkeeper in serious danger and required the goal to be repaired too !

So onto the next game and a chance to set the record straight after a disappointing defeat to this team last season in the snow. The good form continued at the start, Simba setting the tone with a brilliant spin, nutmeg, run and shot which was smartly saved. The Giants didn’t have to wait long though, Tom going on a strong run down the right wing before pulling the ball back to Brodie who showed a great first touch to find himself the space to smash home the opening goal from around the penalty spot. It was obvious though that the Bears were going to be an attacking threat and we were grateful to several strong tackles from Sam, a powerful defensive header from Joel to deny a breakaway, before the same player then won a crunching tackle, passed to Tom who pushed forward and struck a good shot which was well saved but Simba followed up to make the score 2 nil. Just before half time we allowed ourselves to be caught on the counter attack and James had no chance with a good finish to make the score 2-1 at the break. The second half started with the Raw Skills players showing a new confidence, hitting a fine shot from distance which James did brilliantly to hold onto, before scoring an equaliser after we were a bit guilty of losing our shape for a minute. The boys woke up and fought back, none more than Bertie who showed great determination, battling and attacking with a new rigour. His precise ball played Simba in who showed great strength again in holding off a Raw Skills defender before dinking a wonderful little chip over the out-coming goalkeeper to reinstate our lead. It was hearts in mouths moments later however, when a Raw Skills shot from close range trickled inches by the post. Jack pushed us forward again, finding Simba who saw a brilliant curving shot just miss the top corner, and Bertie was incredibly unlucky to see his shot come back off the post after a great mazy run. Tom won a fine tackle, looked up and played the perfect ball into striker Simba who never looked like missing as he helped himself to a well deserved hat-trick, to wrap the game up 4-2.

Very good performances from all the boys against two strong and well organised opponents, Jack was deserving of his player of the week award for his high standard of play in several positions.

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September 21st 2013

Broad Oak & Horam Hurricanes 1 – 6 Langton Giants
Tom x 3, Simba x 2, Bertie

Broad Oak & Horam Spitfires 0 – 4 Langton Giants
Brodie, Bertie, Simba, Sam

Our second set of league matches of the season saw us travel to Broad Oak & Horam on a nice morning for football, to be played on good pitches. As expected the conditions suited the Giants passing game perfectly and they were quickly on top in the first match against the Hurricanes, whipping the ball round the slick surface and creating an abundance of chances from the off. Simba’s impressive movement was causing the Hurricane defenders all sorts of problems, seeing three good early efforts well saved, one of which was smashed back towards goal by Brodie who was unlucky to see the ball hit the post. The home side settled after a few minutes though and pushed forward themselves, winning a corner from a well timed Jack tackle. The Giants cleared the ball to Bertie though who went on a strong run, riding tackles and powering the length of the pitch and shooting just wide. It felt like it was only a matter of time before we scored and so it proved, Jack intercepting the ball, passing to Tom who crossed for Brodie who in turn layed the ball of for Simba to smash home. Broad Oak were an adept attacking side themselves too, nearly breaking through on a few occasions, but with Joel carrying on his great form from last week, Jack biting into tackles, Sam standing strong and keeping a calm head it meant James was mostly protected. Not least when Jack pulled off a magnificent block to deny a goalscoring opportunity. We attacked again though, winning a corner which Brodie headed narrowly over the bar from Bertie’s expert delivery. The second goal followed shortly after, Simba again grabbing it, showing great strength in holding off two defenders before slotting home a fine finish after Sam had shown great awareness to clear a dangerous Broad Oak attack. More chances were created with some lovely passing moves, not least the one which brought the third goal. Tom won the ball, passed to Simba, onto Brodie who played in Bertie to finish into the bottom corner from a tight angle, to make the score 3 nil at the break. It is fair to say that the Hurricanes upped their game significantly in the first few minutes of the second half, creating several chances of their own and having a decent shout for a penalty. Luckily, James was in fine form, saving several efforts, one particularly fine save with his feet and coming off his line to dominate his penalty box. The closest the Hurricanes got during these moments was when they were unlucky to see a shot come back off the post following another good save from James. The Giants started to push forward once more though, Brodie heading a Simba cross wide and seeing a shot charged down. Jack was continuing to defend excellently, and James again was called into action, saving a shot which was partially blocked by Tom. The closing minutes all belonged to Tom, grabbing a quick-fire hatrick, starting with a cool finish after a strong run, then tucking home Brodie’s cross with his left foot before unintentionally scoring from a full 40 yards when trying to pick out Sam! We don’t think it is in good taste to run up cricket-like scores in mini-soccer so the boys were under instruction not to score any more after 5, hence Tom’s final goal being unintended….. never before have I had a boy apologise to me for scoring. Credit to the Hurricanes though, they kept pushing forward and grabbed a deserved late goal from a corner to make the final score 6-1 to the Giants.

The second game was a lot tighter, at least for the first half. The Spitfires were very well organised in defence, determined and possessed a very fine goalkeeper, all of which contributed towards keeping the attacking talents of the Giants at bay. That’s not to say we didn’t create several changes, because we did. Brodie set Tom away who whipped in an early cross which just evaded Simba, who then saw a well struck shot saved. Brodie demonstrated great skill with a fancy turn by the corner flag before pulling the ball back for Bertie who shot wide, and the keeper pulled off two or three good saves to keep the game scoreless at the half. The message at half time was simple, keep it up but perhaps be a bit more decisive in the attacking third, and this has instant results. Simba forced his way through two defenders only to be thwarted by another great save but the ball was cleared to Brodie, who showed quick feet, beating the defender by switching the ball to his left foot with which he curled a beautiful effort into the top corner from outside the box. An early contender for goal of the season perhaps? The boys confidence was raised and they went hunting more goals, Simba heading a Bertie cross just wide and Jack seeing a shot charged down. Tom was everywhere, attacking and defending, one occasion was especially impressive as he sprinted a full 50 yards to plug a gap in defence that he’d spotted, showing great awareness and determination. Joel won a tackle from the sweeper position and sent a good pass into the feet of Simba, who showed great control and strength to hold the ball up, spin and slot a wonderfully weighted pass into the path of Bertie who finished expertly to make the score 2 nil. James was called into action, making a very good save to his right, tipping the ball round the post and Joel pulled off a fantastic double block, showing real tenacity. Sam demonstrated his own defensive abilities when smartly heading over a dangerous ball before James made another save, this time low to his left. Simba saw one shot very well saved when the goalkeeper pushed a firm strike onto the bar, but he wasn’t to be denied a few minutes later when he smashed home Brodie’s cross. Sam enjoyed a good stint up front and was rewarded with a deserved goal of his own with a tidy finish into the bottom corner to make the final score 4 nil.

Two great wins against two tough sides, Tom being man-of-the-match for both his attacking and defending efforts, though they all deserved one today, a fine effort all round.

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September 14th 2013

Langton Giants 2 – 1 Tonbridge Junior Sharks
Brodie, Bertie

Langton Giants 3 – 3 Tonbridge Junior Piranhas
Brodie, Simba x 2

Although these were technically home matches, they were actually played at the Tonbridge Juniors pitches as after being rescheduled from the previous week we were unable to host. These were our first league matches of the season, in our first year of being in a competitive league. Thanks to our brilliant form over the last 3 seasons we’ve found ourselves pitched into the top division and as a result the standard of opposition will be very tough every week, though it’s hard to imagine it being much tougher than today!

The first match was against a very strong Sharks side, who’d won our fiesta in the summe,r so we knew we were in for tough match. The first half was quite a disjointed affair, with both teams understandably looking a bit rusty with not a lot of great football on-show. Joel and Jack set the tone for the day for them, both commanding at the back and breaking up Tonbridge attacks and allowing us to counter attack at pace. Tonbridge won a corner which Jack cleared and set Bertie away who went on a great run down the left hand side before slipping in Tom who’s shot was well saved. Simba got a good shot away which was saved, but the resulting goal-kick went straight to Bertie who showed fantastic awareness and technique by volleying straight back on goal, only to be denied by a tall goalkeeper reaching high above his head to save. Another counter attack saw a Simba shot saved after some good work from Tom whilst at the other end James was alert to deny a shot at his near post. 0-0 at half-time.

Disaster struck at the very start of the second half, whether the boys hadn’t switched on or what we can’t be sure, but somehow everyone stood still and watched their player waltz through the midfield and defence to score past James pretty much straight from the kick-off and we found ourselves 1 nil down. No panic, plenty of time left and we almost responded immediately when Bertie went on a fine run and put a great cross in which just missed the outstretched foot of Simba. Sam was passing the ball out of defence with great confidence and Brodie was growing into the game more and more as it went on. James was still called into make another smart save whilst Joel and Jack continued to impress. The boys were starting to play now and in the last 10 minutes produced some scintillating football. One move saw Brodie and Simba exchange passes, then to Bertie and back across goal to Simba who stabbed narrowly wide. Brodie was fouled on the edge of the box, picked himself up to hit a good free-kick which was headed off the line. As we pushed forward we always faced the risk of being hit on the break and so it proved, Jack producing a heroic goal-saving clearance off the line after the Tonbridge striker had rounded James in goal. When Bertie’s corner was headed wide by Brodie in the closing minutes it looked like it was going to be a disappointing start to the season, but these lads always play to the final whistle and never has it proven so vital. Brodie found some space on the edge of the box and whistled a shot into the bottom corner with his left foot to equalise…. phew. Right from the kick-off it was clear the goal had given the boys an extra layer of confidence and they were determined to try and find a winner. What followed was magnificent, a four player passing move between Simba, Brodie, Tom and finally Bertie who arrowed home an amazing winning goal with practically the last kick of the match. What a winner!!

No time to celebrate though, as we knew the hardest game was yet to come against the very impressive and high-scoring Piranhas. We started well though, still buzzing from the amazing end to the first game no doubt, Tom going close to finding Simba at the back post and then Simba having a shot well blocked. The Piranhas have some very technically able and strong players though, and we were soon behind when one of them produced a fine strike which James did well to get a hand to, but was unable to keep it out of the back of the net. We almost responded straight away though, Brodie finding Simba with a slide rule pass to send the striker away 1-on-1 against the keeper who did very well to deny the Giants new star striker. We didn’t have to wait long though, the brilliant Joel defending like a demon, tackling two players before sending Tom away who found Bertie to pull it back to Simba, who struck home a fine strike right into the top corner. 1-1 and it was clear there was still more to come, with two such good attacking teams. We found ourselves 1-2 down minutes later through a great strike which gave James no chance, but with Sam adding further bite into defence and Jack showing good power and pace during a stint on the right wing, there was no reason to be overly concerned, we knew we were still in this game. More chances came, Bertie seeing a shot saved after a fine bit of hold up play by Simba, and Tom seeing a shot blocked. As we pushed forward though we were caught on the break and despite more than matching the fine Piranhas side we found ourselves 1-3 down at the half.

There was no heads dropped at half-time though as we knew we could come back, these boys always believe that, and they proved it again. Brodie was running the midfield now, passing well and tackling strongly and got us back into the game early in the second half when a Bertie corner wasn’t cleared allowing Brodie to smash home passed a throng of defenders and goalkeeper to cut the score to 2-3. The Giants were now on top, passing beautifully and attacking at will, safe in the knowledge a combination of Joel, Jack and Sam were keeping things tight at the back. One fine bit of team play resulted in a Simba shot being blocked, with another ending when Bertie was brought down on the edge of the box. Simba stepped up and hit a powerful drive that was destined for the bottom corner only for a Tonbridge defender to get the end of his boot to it and divert it round the post. From the resulting Bertie corner however there was to be no denying Simba, smacking a clean strike firmly into the bottom corner, 3-3 with a few minutes left. We went searching for a winner, Simba had another shot saved, but were very pleased with a fine point earned against a very, very strong team.

Coming back late twice in the same morning showed great character from every single one of the boys and bodes well for the rest of the season. If every week is like today we’re in for a lot of fun, but not a lot of finger nails! Joel was the unanimous choice for the player of the week trophy for his outstanding defending, reading of the game and never-say-die attitude, well done Joel, thoroughly deserved.

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September 7th 2013

Langton Giants 4 – 1 Rotherfield Spitfires
Simba x 2, Bertie, Brodie

The new season got under way with a friendly match against Rotherfield, a club which we’ve never played against before, so we didn’t quite know what to expect. Today saw two new Giants, Joel & Simba, make their débuts, both secured for huge sums during a hectic transfer window! Long time stalwarts Sid & Henry are sadly going to be absent from a number of games this season due to school commitments so additional players were needed and with both new players being long standing friends of the existing Giants, we felt confident they would both seamlessly slip into the side with the minimum of fuss, and so it proved.

The Giants started off on the front foot, dominating possession and slickly moving the ball around to feet which brought several half chances out in the opening minutes. Bertie came agonisingly close to getting on the end of Brodie’s cross and Tom went close from just inside the box. Joel, Jack and Sam all looked strong and composed in defence with Simba’s pace and movement causing havoc in the Rotherfield defence, resulting in a foul to the right of the penalty box. Given the angle, a sweet left foot was called for, so step forward Bertie to sweep home a majestic strike to open the scoring. A rare Rotherfield break was expertly dealt with by Joel, putting in a crunching tackle before passing to fellow new boy Simba. What followed was brilliant, a pair of one-two’s between Simba and Bertie saw the former smash home a stunning strike to double lead and give him his first goal for the Giants. The good play continued but no further goals before half-time, Brodie going closest with a strike over the bar from a Bertie corner.

Much of the same in the second half, with goalkeeper James setting the tone right from the back with some excellent distribution into the feet of Sam and Jack in defence, both of whom stood firm throughout. The third goal arrived when Tom broke free down the right wing before pulling back the perfect cross for Simba to knee-home from close range and make the score 3-0. It was 3-1 shortly after though thanks to a fabulous strike from a tall Rotherfield player which gave even James no chance, brilliant goal. No bother, the Giants kept pushing forward and more chances came and went, Simba going close on several occasions, including one fantastic effort with a volley and another which brought out a stunning point-blank range from the Rotherfield goalkeeper. A fourth goal arrived through the head of Brodie, rising high at the back post to power home a great header from Bertie’s excellent corner.

All in all a great start to another season, well done to all the boys but especially to Joel and Simba who both excelled on their débuts.