Giants 2015 - 2016

Langton Green Giants end of season stats.

Tandridge League A Division - 3rd Place
Tandridge League Cup - semi-finalists
Tandridge League Sportsmanship award WINNERS

Cup Winners - Ringmer and Pembury Fiestas
Plate Winners - Ridgewaye and Jarvis Brook (u13s playing up a year)
Cup Runners Up - Ratton and Rusthall Fiestas (both on penalties)

Total match statistics all competitions (league, cup and summer tournaments):
Played: 100 Won: 66 Drew: 16 Lost: 18 Goals for: 224 Goals against: 83

Simba 48, Brodie 39, Elliot 33, Rudy 21, Jack B 20, DJ 19, Tom 8, Eddie 8, Bertie 6, Luca 6, Alf 5, Jack Ponsford 5, James 1, Alfie 1, Own Goal - 4.

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Sunday 24th July - Footscray 9-a-side tournament

The final football of a very, very long season, and to some extent it showed as the boys looked a little leggy on a hot day that seemed to go on for at least a week, but the most important purpose of the day, to further integrate the new signings into the team, was undoubtedly achieved as all four of them put in excellent performances and showed what exciting additions they are going to be to the team for next season. Far from our most successful outing of the summer but lots more learning in the bag against some very strong opposition.

Bromley 1 - 1 Langton Giants
Alfie

With all four new boys starting the first match it was perhaps unsurprising that we looked a little disjointed in the opening minutes as the Bromley side started off on top. Tom, Connor and Bertie stood firm at the back though to ensure James was relatively untroubled. Slowly we grew into the game, Ollie and Brodie starting to get hold of the midfield with Jack Pepper and Alfie providing pace on the wings. Simba won a ball high up the pitch and laid it back to Brodie who's cross shot fell perfectly at the back post for Alfie to fire home his first competitive Giants goal to add to the four he'd already nabbed in a couple of 11 a-side friendlies. Naturally Bromley looked to respond and won a corner which was headed home firmly to level things up which is how the match ended.

Meridian Valley Park 0 - 2 Langton Giants
Elliot, Rudy

The boys were starting to click now and played some excellent football in this match which they would have won by a far more impressive score line were it not for an outstanding performance from the Meridian goalkeeper. Simba nearly scored early on but saw his low shot tipped round the post before Elliot skipped into the box and slot home the opening goal. Ollie's passing and movement off the ball was excellent, creating space for himself and team mates in the process. Eddie set Alfie away down the right wing and he took full advantage, beating two defenders and pulling the ball back perfectly into the path of Elliot who played the extra pass to Rudy at the far post who smashed the ball into the top corner from a tight angle to double the lead. Alfie, Rudy (3 times!) Simba and Jack Pepper all saw good efforts saved, denying us any more goals but a good win all the same.

Beacons 3 - 0 Langton Giants

A frustrating game against the biggest team we've ever faced in our own age group. One of the lads stood 6'4 and had a thrown in that defied belief, another couple of players who were only slightly shorter and a weird 'no off-side' rule, the Beacons direct style of play was always going to prove problematic. That said, unfortunately the game hinged on two controversial refereeing decisions. First of all, left back Bertie went on an excellent run up the wing, showing great desire to burst through and put us in a dangerous position only for the whistle to blow for a Beacons throw in, despite the ball going nowhere near the line. The Beacons took one of their long throws early and with Bertie being so far up the pitch their right winger was able to run through untroubled to fire across James to give them an early lead. Frustration only grew when a Beacons player left James in a crumpled heap on the floor before poking home a second goal from a big lump up the pitch. This forced us into a formation change, Alfie joining Rudy up front and although we battled hard it was proving to big a step to get past the tall centre back pairing and of course left us exposed to the counter attack, James saving twice when 1 on 1 but unable to do anything about a well struck 3rd goal in the last few seconds. Beacons football isn't very pretty, but its very effective, its just a pity the game was so heavily effected by refereeing decisions.

Whyteleafe 3 - 0 Langton Giants

Still licking our wounds from the previous bruising encounter the Giants actually played some decent football in this one, dominating possession but unable to convert that possession into chances and went behind to another converted corner, something that is happening with worrying regularity. Again we needed to go for it and despite playing the bulk of the match in the Whyteleafe half, were twice caught on the counter attack by a big, powerful and very talented striker to give the score line an unfair appearance. Well done to Whyteleafe though who played some very good football and had a very successful day.

Woolwich Lions 0 - 2 Langton Giants
Elliot (Pen) Eddie

It would be easy for the boys to start to feel sorry for themselves so a win was needed and this was thoroughly deserved, with them playing some excellent football. Connor had a very strong game, winning numerous tackles and passing the ball intelligently. Jack Pepper's energy, work rate and battling qualities had been there for all to see all day long and this game was no different as he won the ball high up the pitch on several occasions and gave the Woolwich defenders not respite on the ball. Rudy is another one who likes to give defenders nightmares and did so again, firstly winning the ball and then turning the defender inside out to the point where the lad had no option but to trip Rudy as he broke into the penalty box. Up stepped Elliot to knock home the penalty kick and we were back on track. Jack Pepper put in a beauty of a cross but Elliot's volley flew narrowly over and when Woolwich won a free kick in a dangerous position, James was required to make an excellent save, tipping the ball onto the cross bar, from their only shot of the match. Brodie and Elliot both saw shots saved before finally we were on the end of some good luck, Eddie reacting quickest to a loose ball, his first time clearance sailing over the goalkeepers head and finding the back of the net.... Eddie tried to claim he meant it, but wasn't able to do so with a straight face but after the bad luck in the previous matches it felt like we were due. The game ended on a bit of a sour note when Connor was on the end of a shocking tackle, over the top of the ball with studs up, leaving the poor lad with raked stud marks above the knee. A very disappointing challenge to witness at u12 football and fully deserving of the yellow card it produced. Fortunately, Connor himself had gone into the tackle full blooded so didn't suffer any lasting damage and has some excellent rake marks to show off in the meantime!

Footscray Lions 0 - 0 Langton Giants - Giants win on pens.

The match itself was one of those 'how on earth didn't we win that one?' matches where we had enough chances to win several matches but somehow were unable to take any of them. There was some brilliant link up play between Bertie, Ollie and Simba to set Alfie racing away who did everything right and was unlucky to see his shot miss the far post by inches. Jack Pepper went agonisingly close but somehow the goalkeeper saved from point black range and Brodie whistled one over the bar. These things happen in short format football though so it was on to pens, with the Giants continuing their recent improvement at the art, scoring 6 out of 8 and James producing two excellent saves, Eddie firing home the winning penalty with style.

Bromley 1 - 0 Langton Giants

So the day ended as it started, with Bromley! The first half was played at quite a slow pace as both teams appeared to be running out of gas, if anything the Giants edged it, Alfie going close from a great Ollie through ball and Jack Pepper seeing a shot saved before Simba went on a great run, only denied at the last second. Some of the link up play between Simba and Alfie was fantastic to see today, as was the ball movement between Brodie and Ollie in the middle of the park. Bertie went on another great run (where does he get his energy from) and his cross very nearly found Elliot before Tom made an outstanding tackle to deny a clear goalscoring opportunity. We were looking very tired now and cracks started to appear but James pulled off two magnificent saves to keep things level. Just after half time though James was caught badly on the wrist, completely accidentally and was left in a great deal of pain. After a long break in play he bravely decided to carry on, showing great character in doing so. Unfortunately though we didn't switch on after the re-start and within seconds found ourselves a goal down. The boys tried really hard to get back into the game, Brodie seeing one of his famous leaping headers fly narrowly wide and Tom bursting up the field to get on the end of a free kick but the ball wouldn't sit down for him to hit. The whistle went moments later and that was it, game over, tournament over, season over.

A huge well done to all the boys on a very successful season, its been relentless but fun and we've all learned loads.

Roll on September and the Kent Youth League.... I'm off to the beach.

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Saturday 16th July - Tonbridge Fiesta

A warm and sunny day saw the Giants competing in their final 6-a-side tournament of a long summer. On reviewing the programme it was immediately obvious what a strong line up there was in the competition, probably the strongest of the summer as there were very good sides dotted right across the groups, which is just how we like it!

Paddock Wood Warriors 0 - 5 Langton Giants
DJ x3, Elliot, O.G

The perfect start by a team that sometimes take a while to get going, not today though, the boys were rampant from the first minute. DJ and Simba worked an opening for Elliot to open the scoring and a very smart 1-2 between Simba and DJ soon saw the latter double our advantage. After scoring a bucket load of goals in his own age group in the morning DJ firmly had his shooting boots on and quickly wrapped up his hatrick by grabbing a further two goals which were almost identical to each other, both earned by following up shots from Elliot that were spilled. In the closing moments an unfortunate PW defender beat Elliot to a Brodie pull back but was only able to divert the ball into his own net.

Ashford United 3 - 1 Langton Giants
Simba

The first of our tough opponents, fellow KYL entrants Ashford Youth who possessed one enormous, powerful and talented lad who was very difficult to contain. Two smart moves by him and we were 2 nil down in the blink of an eye, James having no chance with either as Jack, Tom and Alf worked hard to close him down. We looked a bit shell shocked and were struggling to respond, Ashford passing the ball smartly and relaxed with their two goal cushion. Brodie very nearly gave us a foothold, Elliot finding him with a peach of a pass but the goalkeeper saved from point blank range. To rub salt into the wound Ashford countered from the save and fired home a 3rd goal. Simba then struck a fantastic strike into the top corner seconds after the kick off but with no time left it was never going to be more than a consolation.

Tonbridge Juniors u10s 0 - 4 Langton Giants
DJ x 3, Jack

With a team pulling out, a Tonbridge Junior side TWO YEARS younger filled in and did magnificently, incredibly earning a win and two draws from their 7 matches. DJ grabbed a well taken hatrick and Jack fired home from close range from an Elliot corner but the main story has to be the fantastic effort and skill on show from the young Tonbridge boys, getting a well deserved round of applause from the Giants boys at the end.

Tonbridge Junior Shoguns 0 - 3 Langton Giants
Simba x2, Brodie

Another relatively straightforward match, after a bit of a slow start where Alf and Tom had to stand firm against a spirited Shoguns team and James had to be quickly off his line to clear danger twice the boys were settled down when Simba slotted home from DJ's pass to give us a lead. From there it was all Giants, Brodie scoring a rocket shot into the top corner from way out before Simba grabbed his second after running through the entire Shogun team like a runaway train. James ensured a clean sheet when making a big save in the final seconds.

TW Foresters 1 - 4 Langton Giants
DJ x3, Simba

Our second game against a fellow KYL entrant with the Giants this time being on the positive end of two quick goals, DJ starting us off with a great finish into the top corner after creating the space for himself with some great footwork and then Simba volleying home Elliot's brilliant cross. DJ then poked home after Simba won the ball by pressuring the Foresters goalkeeper before DJ got his 3rd hatrick of the afternoon when finishing off Brodie's threaded through ball. Foresters did fight back, Jack being called upon to make a last ditch challenge and James making two smart saves before they scored an excellently created and taken goal on the counter attack in the final few seconds.

Tonbridge Angels 0 - 4 Langton Giants
Elliot x2, Simba x2

The performance of the day as the Giants took on one half of their great friends Tonbridge Angels. The Giants were playing really well at this stage and dominated the match from the off. Brodie shot wide after DJ pressurised an Angels defender into a mistake before DJ himself saw a good shot smartly saved. The Angels goalkeeper was then ridiculously adjudged to have picked up a back pass and we were awarded an indirect free kick right in front of the posts (only making the decision even more farcical as there are no indirect free kicks in fiesta football). Not feeling comfortable with this situation at all, the boys kicked the ball out of play to restart the match with an Angels goal kick. Whether it was good karma or not who knows, but 20 seconds later Elliot picked up a cracking Simba pass and finished superbly across the goalkeeper into the far corner. Elliot then grabbed his second, cheekily dinking the ball over the goalkeeper following another Simba set up. Simba then turned goal scorer rather than creator, first lobbing the goaly who was caught off his line and then finishing brilliantly in a 1v1 with the last kick of the game. Elliot and Simba may have got the goals, but this was a team performance, Jack, Tom and Alf absolutely bossing things at the back against the talented and dangerous Angels strike force and Brodie running the midfield throughout.

Tonbridge Junior Samurai 0 - 6 Langton Giants
Elliot x3, DJ x2, Brodie

The last group game and another dominate performance, Elliot scoring twice early on, the first from a DJ pass and the second from following up DJ's saved shot, a shot created by a great pass by Elliot in the first place! Dj then earned himself a goal by intercepting the ball from a defenders pass and slotting home before setting up Brodie who rammed the ball into the top corner from close range. Alf won the ball in his own half and went on a powerful run, forcing and tricking his way through several challenges before slotting the ball to Elliot who in turn found DJ who in turn found the back of the net. Elliot finalised the scoring and his own hatrick when following up a Brodie shot that came back off the inside of the post, all from a move started by goalkeeper James when he confidently grabbed a cross and released an attack moments earlier.

Dragons YFC 3 - 0 Langton Giants

So after 6 wins from 7 matches the Giants qualified from the group but had to be happy with 2nd place as the impressive Ashford United team beat everyone to deservedly top the group, This meant we found ourselves up against the team we'd lost to in the semi-finals on penalties at the same tournament a year ago. The behaviour of the Dragons players, coaches and parents that day was appalling and we had been assured they weren't going to be invited back (we were far from the only team to complain about them on that occasion) so were a bit surprised an disappointed to see them again to be honest. All that said, they are a fantastic footballing side who pass the ball accurately and quickly and work incredibly hard to win the ball back when they do lose possession. They are all signed boys at West Ham so this shouldn't be a surprise. We were guilty in the opening minute though of standing and watching as they passed right through the defence and scored with barely any time off the clock, we'd been caught cold and this wasn't the team you wanted to try and chase from behind. The boys were working hard but in the 8th game in such heat, chasing the ball wasn't ever going to be easy but slowly we started to get a grip on the game, Brodie going agonisingly close to equalising, his shot from an angle missing the far post by no more than a couple of inches. Dragons then got their second goal with a quite wonderful bit of football, no complaints, brilliant passing finished off with a stunning finish which gave James no chance. We kept plugging away, Simba firing over from close range when off balance after a god old fashioned goal mouth scramble that might have set up a grandstand finish and Jack going on one of his barnstorming runs from defence and shooting narrowly wide. As it was any final glimmer of hope was extinguished in the dying seconds when a defensive mix up resulted in us conceding a poor 3rd goal to give the score line an unfair look to it. The Dragons team are very talented, but I'd take the Giants boys over them every time, and the parents..... I prefer Match-of-the-Day to the Jeremy Kyle show.

Well done boys on another excellent set of performances and thank you for giving your manager lots to smile about on his birthday. Special mention has to be given for DJ who was playing in his last ever set of matches for the Giants as he moves to concentrate on his own age group, 11 goals in 8 matches isn't a bad way to go out!! Good luck Dan, you'll be missed but I've no doubt you'll continue to develop into a first class footballer and young man.

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Sunday 3rd July - Jarvis Brook u13 Tournament

Having won this event in out own age group for the last two years in a row the Giants were facing a new challenge this year by playing a year up in the u13 tournament.

Jarvis Brook Milan 0 - 3 Langton Giants
Brodie, Rudy, Simba

Our first match was against one of the host teams and any nerves were soon settled when Brodie scored an early goal, showing calmness and quick feet to place the ball past the large Jarvis Brook goalkeeper from close range. We were soon 2 nil up when Rudy fired home a great pass from Elliot before Rudy turned provider to find Simba with an early cross, Simba finishing smartly into the bottom corner with a first time left foot shot. All the while Tom and Jack ensured James was completely untested in goal, A very good start.

Broad Oak & Horam Legends 2 - 0 Langton Giants
A disappointing performance against physically the biggest team we've ever faced. Broad Oak had two enormous defenders that we simply couldn't find our way past and despite dominating possession were never really able to create clear cut opportunities and were twice punished on the counter attack, James having no chance with either of them, the second coming in the final few seconds as the Giants pushed forward to try and equalise.

Sovereign Saints 0 - 1 Langton Giants
Brodie

Despite winning the match this was by far the worst performance of the day as the Giants struggled to get their passing game together and appeared to be flat, perhaps it was a hangover from the previous game but something wasn't right. Thankfully the boys woke up with 2 minutes to go and started to pepper the Saints goal, Elliot, Rudy and Tom all had chances before Brodie saved the day with an excellent finish with the last kick of the match to secure all three points.

TW Foresters Yellow 0 - 1 Langton Giants
Tom

Clearly the boys had now found their game as from this moment on they set about putting in some excellent performances, starting with this one as they were all over the Foresters team from the first minute and created chance after chance. Jack was in complete command at the back and James was looking assured and distributing the ball well. Simba saw a close range shot saved, Brodie headed narrowly wide and then Elliot and Brodie played some brilliant 1 touch football to find Simba who was denied by a goal line clearance. A feature of the day had been Tom's well timed arrivals into the box at corners and this time it paid off when he smashed home Rudy's corner to deservedly win us the game, the corner being created as s result of an excellent piece of quick distribution from James to release Simba in the first place. Rudy was unlucky not to double our lead when the goalkeeper kept his low shot out with the very end of his outstretched toe!

Forest Row 1 - 0 Langton Giants
One of those classic fiesta 'how the hell did we lose that one?' matches as the Giants continued their improving form by spending practically the entire match in the Forest Row half who defended deeply throughout and were keen to clear the ball as far away from the pitch as possible at every opportunity. Elliot, Simba and Tom all saw chances saved and Rudy had one shot that was miraculously tipped over the bar as we started to think our luck was out in this one, a thought that was confirmed when Forest Row counter attacked and finished well with their only foray into our half. The joys of fiesta football.

Plate 1/2 Final -
Jarvis Brook Madrid 0 - 3 Langton Giants
Tom, Jack, Brodie

The misfortune in our last match meant we narrowly missed out on progressing to the cup competition but having seen the size of the opponent we would have faced were probably quite relieved we hadn't! That said, when we took to the pitch against the other host team we realised they weren't a lot smaller, but the boys had learned by now that the way to be successful against bigger and older boys is to move the ball quickly and accurately, with movement off the ball being paramount. Thankfully that's exactly what the boys did, ripping through the Jarvis Brook defence at will and creating plenty of chances, probably not as many as in the previous game which they'd lost, but the difference was this time some of the chances were taken. Our superb defenders obviously decided they needed to take matters into their own hands and helped themselves to a goal each. The first goal was fantastic, Elliot and Simba linking up wonderfully to release Brodie who passed first time for Tom to slam home an excellent shot. Elliot again worked with Brodie to create the second goal, this time for a charging Jack to poke home from close range a mere 3 seconds after he'd won the ball in his own half and kept running. The Giants were rampant now, totally over running their opponents who got more combative as the match wore on. Plenty more chances but just one more taken, Brodie finishing off Rudy's excellent spin and cross. James was called upon to make a couple of decent saves, both of which he did with the minimum of fuss and stood up well to some physical challenges too.

Plate Final -
TW Foresters Red 1 - 2 Langton Giants
Simba, Rudy

So another final and for the only time today an opponent we knew a little about as we'd recently played them in an 11 aside friendly. On that day we'd found their extra size, experience and physicality difficult to cope with so we knew we were facing a big challenge. We were playing well now though so felt confident, and we were right too. It was a tough, well fought match, but the Giants definitely edged it and deserved the victory, something sportingly conceded by the oppositions manager afterwards. The opening exchanges were all Giants as the Foresters goalkeeper pulled off a string of fine saves from Elliot, Simba and Brodie (twice). Elliot then shot inches wide before Brodie was again denied, this time when 1 on 1 by the outrushing goalkeeper. It felt like a goal was coming and thankfully it was, Simba spinning brilliantly on the penalty spot and rifling an unstoppable drive into the corner of the net. All that hard work and dominance was undone though moments later when the Foresters striker rose highest to meet a long throw and head into the top corner, showing great athleticism and technique in doing so to level the score. We then had a big scare when Foresters hit the cross bar from distance but despite this, the Giants remained the bigger attacking threat and after going close with a couple of efforts from a similar position, Rudy grabbed the winning goal with an outstanding spin and cross shot which nestled into the bottom far corner to win us the match, and plate..... not bad for a lad playing up TWO YEARS!

The boys deserve an enormous amount of credit for the way they handled themselves against older and bigger opponents throughout the day, winning 5 out of 7 matches is a great achievement and were incredibly unlucky not to have won at least one of the other two, just shows how far they've come and the plate was just reward for their determination and fine play. Well done all.

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Sunday 26th June- Ridgewaye Fiesta

The Giants win the plate!

Another Sunday another fiesta and a nice local one as the Giants travelled the very short distance (especially for the manager) to take part on the Tunbridge Wells Ridgewaye tournament. Picking up the programme it was immediately obvious that once again the Giants had been put in the toughest possible group and in a very peculiar format would be really up against it in this one.

Tonbridge Angels 0 - 0 Langton Giants

Starts don't come much harder as we faced our good friends, the very talented Tonbridge Angels who we have enjoyed numerous close encounters with over the last couple of years and inevitably we cancelled each other out somewhat. James was called upon to make a big save and we went agonisingly close to nicking it when DJ delivered a great ball into the back post only for a bobble to deny both Simba and Rudy from firing the ball into the net from a yard out. Frustrating but a good game not to lose.

SAFA 0 - 0 Langton Giants

An equally tough match against a very good and very physical SAFA team that we'd earned some success against recently at the Rusthall fiesta. Jack, Tom and Alf were called upon to keep the talented SAFA striker at bay and Brodie was showing quick feet to keep the ball away from his much bigger counterpart. Like the game before, the match basically came down to one big chance for both teams. James denied them with a great tackle after dashing from his line and Simba fired narrowly wide after being played in 1 on 1 by a Brodie pass.

Phoenix Tigers 0 - 3 Langton Giants
Brodie, Tom, Simba

Concerned that after two nil-nil draws to open the tournament the Giants would be subjected to taunts of 'boring boring Langton' the boys set about putting the record straight. Rudy started things off by going on a great run and shooting just wide, but the way he'd beaten his defender set the tone. Simba showed great awareness to play Brodie in 1 on 1 and he poked home before the goalkeeper had a chance to react, we were up and running. Alf won a big tackle, found Tom who found DJ who in turn found Rudy to sprint clear and let fly, denied only by the post before Tom fired in a superb goal in to the top corner from the edge of the box to double the advantage. In the closing minutes Simba showed great technique to volley home first time into the bottom corner.

Broad Oak 2 - 1 Langton Giants
Alf

Given the quality and tight nature of the group it was certain that the Giants needed to win their last match of the group to finish in the top two and progress to the cup competition. We started off on fire, Brodie shooting over with his left foot, DJ missing the bottom corner by inches and the goalkeeper denying both Simba and Brodie again with good saves. As we pushed on we were caught out when the talented Broad Oak winger broke down the right and crossed for his equally talented striker to nip in and get to the ball a split second before Jack and James to score a very good goal and suddenly we were in trouble. The Giants responded though, a Jack through ball put DJ in with the keeper to beat but was denied by a smart save before Alf showed great determination to win the ball, charge forward and release Brodie on the right. Alf had kept his run going and Brodie crossed for him to smash the ball into the roof of the net with his outstretched left foot to level. We knew though that a draw was no good to us, we may as well risk losing looking for a winner rather than just play out a draw. We left just one boy in defence and threw everything at them but credit to Broad Oak who stood firm against a barrage of attacks, the closest of which saw Brodie hit the underside of the cross bar, with DJ just unable to get the rebound over the line. Almost inevitably in the final moments Broad Oak countered and with so many Giants up the pitch gave them to space to run clear and finish very well into the bottom corner to win the game.

Plate Round of 16 -
Jarvis Brook 0 - 2 Langton Giants
Brodie, Jack

So after a frustrating group stage the Giants found themselves in the plate competition and it is probably fair to say that it took them this match to get over the disappointment of not being in the cup as they put in their poorest performance of the day. They won the game thanks to Brodie shooting home after an excellent 1-2 with Simba and Jack scoring a superb goal after a strong run from defence, there is something to be admired about the art of shooting whilst falling over! Despite these two well taken goals the performance was disjointed and flat, and had it not been for a great save from James it could have caused us a lot of problems.

Plate 1/4 Final -
Broad Oak Hurricanes 0 - 3 Langton Giants
Rudy x2, Brodie

This is when the peculiar nature of the format of the tournament started to show through, not to mention the disorganisation as the Giants waited for ages for this match to commence, still not sure exactly why given there were pitches sitting empty and numerous referees on hand, but when we did take to the pitch we confusingly found ourselves playing against a side who had finished 2nd in their group but for some reason didn't qualify for the cup. Weird. Anyway, not to worry after a chat to remind the boys how we succeed at 6-a-side football, the boys went out and put on their best display of the day, totally dominating possession and the match from start to finish, passing the ball beautifully and as a result creating countless chances. DJ saw a couple of shots saved and narrowly miss from creative Simba passes before a fabulous passing move between Simba, DJ and Brodie saw the latter pass the ball into the back of the net to open the scoring. Another passing masterclass between DJ, Simba and Brodie saw Rudy set up with the easiest of tap ins before his grabbed his second with a great turn and shot into the bottom corner after James had found him with a fantastic piece of distribution.

Plate 1/2 Final -
FC Tackleway 0 - 1 Langton Giants
Simba

We thought we recognised some of the boys in the Tackleway team before the game started, and after a conversation with the coach we learned why as the whole team also play for the Sedelscombe team we faced recently in an 11 aside friendly, so we knew we were in for a tough match. Simba settled the nerves when calmly rounding the goalkeeper and finishing with his left foot after receiving an outstanding through ball from Jack to set him away. More chances were created but Tackleway remained a threat throughout and we were grateful again to James for making a very good save and to their striker for heading over in the dying seconds when he'd somehow sneaked in unnoticed and unmarked at the back post.

Plate Final -
Broad Oak 0 - 3 Langton Giants
Rudy x2, DJ

The final saw us up against the Broad Oak team we'd frustratingly lost to in the group stage which gave us the chance to set the record straight. The match got off to the perfect start when the Broad Oak keeper could only parry a ferocious shot from Rudy, DJ reacted quickest and with a smart turn retrieved the ball from the despairing goalkeepers clutches, spun and fired the ball back into the opposite top corner. After an unlucky day in front of goal it was great to see DJ save his best finish for the final, great timing! He very nearly had a second just moments later after Alf charged forward and slipped him in but this one went narrowly wide. Rudy was put under a lot of pressure from behind by a Broad Oak defender, too much pressure as it turned out as the referee awarded a penalty for a shove. Rudy picked himself up and duly despatched the penalty in to the bottom corner. Rudy then wrapped up the scoring with an excellent low finish after some good work by Brodie to find him.

So after a frustrating start to the day things finished on a high and the boys collected their medals and the plate trophy. It might not be the trophy they wanted but it is testament to their attitude that they didn't sulk and had enough about them to go and win the plate instead, well done boys! Both the cup and plate finals were competed for by teams from our group, which kind of proves our thoughts about the strength of it and congratulations to Angels for winning the other final.

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Sunday 19th June - Ringmer Rovers Summer Football Festival

The Giants WIN the Ringmer fiesta!

The summer tournament circuit continues, this time a bright and early start to Fathers Day with a trip south to try and retain the trophy we'd won last season.

Hollingbury Hawks 1 - 1 Langton Giants
DJ

As it turned out the start was too early for the Giants boys as they really struggled to get into the game against a hard working and talented Hollingbury side that we'd lost in the final on penalties to here a few years back. Thankfully one boy who was awake was James in goal and he was called upon to make several high quality saves to keep us in the match. Against the run of play we did manage to fashion a good chance though, Simba hitting the inside of the post after a great run forward and pass from Jack. We then conceded a typical goal in fiesta football when you're not switched on... from our corner, which was cleared and within 3 seconds in the back of our net from a pacey counter attack. Although we weren't playing well, the fight was there for all to see, none more so than when Alf refused to be stopped, forcing his way past 3 players before nudging the ball into the path of DJ who fired home an equaliser with time running out. Probably undeserved to be honest, but reward for playing until the final whistle.

Lewes Bridge View Black 2- 2 Langton Giants
Elliot, Simba

When you walk out for your second match to play against the team you faced in last years final, immediately after facing the team you'd faced in the final two years ago, you start to realise you're firmly in the 'group of death' ! If the first game hadn't been great, the start of the second half was a disaster as we conceded an incredibly scrappy goal within 10 seconds of the start of the match! Brodie nearly equalised with a header at the back post but within minutes we found ourselves in the rare position of being two goals behind as James was beaten for the second time, this time from close range which gave him no chance after we'd failed to clear the ball. Fortunately, the boys decided this was clearly time to wake up and did, in style. It started when Brodie skipped past a couple of tackles before being tripped right on the edge of the box, allowing Elliot to step up and curl a wonderful free kick into the top corner to halve the deficit. From then on it was all Giants, Bertie running at pace, Brodie controlling the play and Jack dominating at the back. Bertie spread the ball wide to Brodie who beat his man and delivered a great cross for Simba to volley into the roof of the net to draw us level and with the last kick of the match Brodie himself let fly with a rocket shot from distance which the goalkeeper did brilliantly to tip over with the very end of his finger tips. In reality, it would have been very harsh on Lewes Bridge to lose this game.

ASC Strikers 0 - 3 Langton Giants
DJ, Bertie, Elliot

After two draws the boys were very aware they desperately needed to win a game soon or the day could end in the group stages. Thankfully, they were now fully awake and set out dismantling a team which had started the tournament very strongly. Alf again set the tone, once more forcing his was through tackles to find DJ who beat the goalkeeper to the ball by milliseconds to give us an early lead, our first lead of the day! Bertie doubled our advantage with a brilliant solo run and finish before Brodie hit the post after being set free by an excellent pass from Elliot. We were then treated to an outrageous piece of play from Elliot and Bertie. We were awarded a free kick right on the edge of the box and everyone, including the coach, assumed Elliot was going to try and score directly as he had earlier in the day, but no, he and Bertie had concocted their own little routine, and it was brilliant. Instead of striking the ball Elliot back heeled it to Bertie, and then darted forward into the box for Bertie to find him with the perfect one touch pass for Elliot to then back heel into the bottom corner. The coach only wishes he could have drawn it up himself!

Hailsham United 1 - 3 Langton Giants
Elliot, Simba O.G

Elliot was clearly buoyed by the end of that match as he started this one equally as brilliantly, picking the ball up and running 3/4 the length of the pitch, beating several tackles before firing into the bottom corner to score a superb individual goal. It was soon cancelled out though when, not for the first time today, we lost our shape and conceded to a quick counter attack. Still, not to worry as we were now playing some great football and everything pointed towards us scoring more goals, and we did, two. Firstly Simba finished smartly after some brilliant inter play between Alf and DJ to set him free before a corner was unfortunately deflected into his own net by a Hailsham defender.

Ratton Rangers 0 - 1 Langton Giants
Brodie

The final group game saw us play against a team we seem to have faced quite regularly this summer, and who had been through the unfortunate situation of seeing one of their players taken off to hospital in their previous match, we wish the lad well. The Giants were on top throughout, DJ, Elliot, Simba and Bertie all going close before the passing move of the day between Elliot, DJ and Brodie saw the latter fire home to score what turned out to be the only goal. One scare on the counter attack again, but James came up big and quickly to snuff out the chance with a good save.

The two opening draws hadn't stopped us from progressing, but had cost us finishing top of the group for the first time in 3 years as Hollingbury won all their remaining games.

1/4 Final
Hastings United 0 - 0 Langton Giants - Giants win 8-7 on penalties

The reward for progressing was a 1/4 final v Hastings United who were big, strong and athletic. The game itself saw very few clear cut chances for either side, the Giants dominated possession but Hastings were a constant threat on the break and we were grateful to James again for being quick off his line to clear a dangerous ball. Jack was more than matching the athleticism and strength of the Hastings striker, taking the ball off him at will and keeping them at bay. Our best chance came when Simba shot narrowly wider and Elliot was denied by a last ditch tackle. Penalties were required and something weird happened..... the Giants suddenly turned into masters of the art but annoyingly so did Hastings as one boy after another fired home unstoppable penalty kicks into the corner of the goal. The highlight was definitely our Goal Keeper James absolutely leathering his effort into the top corner as the shootout went on, and on, on.... finally coming to an end when an unfortunate Hastings player saw his penalty crash back off the cross bar, and the Giants had done it, scoring 8 penalties in a row to do so!

1/2 Final
Chesworth Rovers 0 - 1 Langton Giants
Elliot

Without question the game of the day against the best team we faced all morning (actually it was mid afternoon by now). We'd never heard of Chesworth but we won't forget them, they contributed enormously to a superb game of football, played in completely the right spirit between two teams who wanted to get the ball down and out pass each other, a thoroughly enjoyable experience and a great advert for youth football. James was required to make a couple more saves, DJ shot narrowly wide, Alf saw a great effort saved low as did Elliot as both teams went for it. In the last few seconds the Giants created one last chance, Simba shot, the goalkeeper saved brilliantly, DJ followed it up, somehow the goalkeeper saved that too but in darted Elliot to slam home the second rebound with the final kick of the match to put us in the final, ensuring we didn't have to push our penalty luck any further! A friendly match with these guys is a must, great fun whatever the result, they even stayed on to support us in the final.

Final
Ringmer Rovers Blue 0 - 4 Langton Giants
Elliot x 2, Brodie, Simba

So another final, our 5th final of the summer, and this one against one of the host teams. We got off to the perfect start, Bertie somehow wriggling, dribbling and forcing his way into the penalty box despite the attention of 3 defenders to then pull the ball back for Brodie to stab home of the opening goal. With any nerves calmed the boys were now able to put up a display of scintillating football, passing and moving majestically and creating chances at will. Simba played a great through ball into DJ who's shot was closed down by the goalkeeper but the ball flew back into Simba's path who produced an excellent controlled finish to double the lead. Elliot then produced another brilliant solo effort before helping himself to a second with a firm finish into the roof of the net. Jack refused to allow Ringer to cross the half way line as the game was played out almost entirely in the their half, there could have been several more goals but it didn't matter, they'd done it...... champions.

Another trophy, another successful and fun tournament with new friends made and lots of kind plaudits received at the presentation ceremony, Well done boys.

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Saturday 4th June 2016 - Langton Green Fiesta

Our annual showcase event with 200 teams competing across the weekend and a huge effort being put in by a number of volunteers to make it happen, this year we were blessed with decent weather too. The squad was spread across two age groups to ensure equal playing time for all, both teams did superbly well and with a little slice of luck we'd have left the day with two more bits of silverware, but were narrowly denied in both the morning and afternoon. A lack of internet connection for this intrepid reporter due to a house move means a lack of detailed match reports, but a full set of results and scorers are provided below. Back to normal service next time!

Morning session - u13 tournament (Squad - James, Jack, Alf, Luca, Brodie, Bertie, Rudy, Simba)

Langton Giants 1 - 1 Tonbridge Angels
Bertie

Langton Giants 2 - 1 Tonbridge Invicta Tornados
Rudy, Simba

Langton Giants 0 - 2 TW Foresters

Langton Giants 1 - 0 Tonbridge Junior Tempests
Brodie

Langton Giants 3 - 0 Hollingbury City
Bertie x2, Brodie

Langton Giants 1 - 1 Langton Kestrels
Rudy

Langton Giants 2 - 0 Little Common
Rudy, Bertie

Plate 1/2 Final
Langton Giants 1 - 1 Langton Warriors - Giants win 3-2 on pens
Brodie

Plate Final
Langton Giants 0 - 2 Thamesmead Town

Afternoon session - u12 tournament (squad - James, Jack, Alf, Tom, Brodie, Elliot, Simba, Jack B)

Langton Giants 4 - 0 Ringmer Rovers Blue
Jack B x4

Langton Giants 4 - 0 Ridgewaye Galaxy
Elliot x2, Tom, Simba

Langton Giants 4 - 0 Paddock Wood Predators
Elliot, Jack B, Jack P, Alf

Langton Giants 7 - 1 Wadhurst
Jack B x4, Simba x3

Langton Giants 6 - 0 Ratton Rangers
Jack B x3, Elliot x2, Brodie

Langton Giants 3 - 0 Tonbridge Junior Ferrari
Jack B x2, Simba

Langton Giants 3 - 0 Ashurst Wood
Elliot, Jack B, Brodie

1/4 Final
Langton Giants 1 - 0 Thamesmead Town
Brodie

1/2 Final
Langton Giants 0 - 1 Crawley United

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Sunday 29th May 2016 - Rusthall Fiesta

The third summer fiesta of 2016 saw the Giants travel the short distance to neighbouring Rusthall with a few regulars unavailable so we were joined by the newest Giant, Jack B, to help us through a long afternoon of football in the sunshine.

Raw Skills Bears 0 - 3 Langton Giants
Simba, Jack B, Elliot

The day got off to the perfect start when Simba fired a rocket shot into the top corner from Elliot's pass after Jack B had won the ball high up the pitch. Jack B them helped himself to his first goal of the day, finishing neatly after creating the chance himself with lightening quick footwork. Through all this Jack P and Brodie, then Alf, ensured James remained a total bystander in goal. Elliot rounded up the scoring with a diving header at the back post from Jack B's deft cross.

Tonbridge Angels City 1 - 0 Langton Giants
It had to happen eventually..... after an incredible 82 matches going back nearly two years, the Giants LOST a fiesta match!! Matches against our good friends Tonbridge Angels are always tight and this one was no different, could have gone either way, if anything the Giants created the more chances, Rudy, Simba, Jack B and Brodie all going close but denied by some good goalkeeping and shooting narrowly wide but unltimately the difference was a low defelcted bobbling shot which nestled into the bottom corner.

SAFA Select Grey 0 - 1 Langton Giants
Jack B

Keen to get back to winning ways the boys went out and put on their best performance of the day to this point against a very strong, physical and talented SAFA side. Jack P, Alf and Brodie were all commanding in the more defensive roles, allowing Elliot, Jack, Simba and Rudy to attack with confidence. Brodie won a big tackle in the CDM role and found Rudy in space on the left, he flicked the ball on immediately and accurately into the path of Jack B who finished well from a tight angle at the near post. What was most pleasing from here was how well the boys managed the match, seeing out the victory relatively comfortably thanks to their discipline, organisation and work rate.

Rusthall Lions 2 - 3 Langton Giants
Jack B, Elliot, Alf (pen)

The games were coming thick and fast now, this one against the host clubs side, who are always very competitive. The first half though was all Giants, Elliot producing a lovely flick into the path of Jack B to smash home before Jack B was unceremoniously dumped on his back side in the penalty box. Up stepped Alf to slot home the resulting penalty to double our advantage. At this point all seemed calm and in control. Within 2 minutes though all bets were off as we failed to deal with two big lumps into our box, one from a long clearance and one from a long throw in, both ending up in goals and suddenly it was 2 all. There wasn't long left but the boys pushed forward desperately looking for a winning goal. Elliot was firstly denied by a stunning save but moments later Rudy refused to give up on a ball that looked like it was going out of play, won a battle with the huge Rusthall defender and fed the ball back to the feet of Elliot who wasn't in the mood to be denied twice and this time found the bottom corner to win the match against his old team. A hard earned and important win against a good side.

Raw Skills Sharks 0 - 3 Langton Giants
Jack B, Brodie, Elliot

We'd played against this team a couple of weeks ago at the Pembury fiesta and had been disappointed in our performance that day, suffice to say we put that disappointment to bed in this game as the Giants utterly dominated the game from start to finish and could easily have scored a lot more goals than the three they managed. We were one nil up immediately from the kick off, Simba setting Rudy away to cross for Jack B to fire home no more than 10 seconds from the start of the match. The second goal was sublime, Alf took a throw in to Jack B and as the ball bounced up he showed great awareness to see Brodie's run in behind him so flicked the ball over his own, and a defenders, head allowing Brodie to leap up and lob the goalkeeper with a remarkable backwards header, just brilliant and drew a round of applause from those in attendance. Jack P was marshalling the defence from the half way line, not sure the ball got past him once, such was his dominance. A third and final goal was scored by Elliot with a good finish from Jack B's smart pass. A ton of other chances were created but none taken, not to worry though, this win put us in a great position in the group.

Tonbridge Angels Town 0 - 2 Langton Giants
Simba, Rudy

The penultimate game of the group stage saw us take on the other half of the Angels so another tough game to look forward to. The boys were in a good flow now though and played some great football in this one, Alf had an especially strong game at CDM, passing the ball well and showing great positional discipline throughout. Elliot was felled on the edge of the box and with the angle suiting a left footer he let fly with the free kick, the ball cannoned back off the inside of the post, Simba reacted quickest and volleyed the ball back into the roof of the net to give us a deserved lead. As you'd expect, the Angels fought back and we were grateful to the brilliance of Jack P on a couple of occasions to close down the threat. Nerves were calmed when Rudy finished smartly from an excellent Simba reverse pass.

SAFA Select Navy 0 - 2 Langton Giants
Jack B, Rudy

Without question the performance of the day as all the boys stepped up to dominate possession and the match against a very strong and fast SAFA team, the other half of the team we'd narrowly beaten earlier in the day. Brodie nearly got us off to the perfect start, skipping past a tackle before unleashing a thunderous drive that was finger-tipped onto the cross bar. SAFA failed to properly clear the ball from the resulting corner and in-stepped Alf to intercept and feed Jack B who turned smartly and poked the ball home to give us a valuable lead. The Giants started to turn the screw, Simba broke down the right and pulled the ball back for Elliot to hit only to also be denied by the cross bar, incredibly unlucky. As SAFA tried to fight back, Jack P won a tackle and found Simba who turned and chipped the perfect ball into the path of a sprinting Rudy who did brilliantly to push to ball out in front of him with a deft header before volleying low past the goalkeeper to secure the victory.

1/2 Final -
SAFA Select Grey 0 - 1 Langton Giants
Elliot

After 7 games in a single group format the Giants found themselves sitting proudly at the top of the league table with 18 points, a clear 6 points ahead of the second place team and testament to this teams quality and effort. In the semi final they found themselves facing a SAFA team for the third time today and once again came out on top. Jack P set the tone early with a crunching tackle, Brodie was playing the CDM role perfectly and Simba was continuing his outstanding work rate on the right side of midfield. We had a number of chances and James wasn't required to make a save so the win was deserved and won in style, Elliot brilliantly beating two defenders before finishing with an outrageously cheeky chipped-flick with the laces of his left boot from an extremely tight angle over the head of the despairing goalkeeper. A superb individual goal that saw us take our place in yet another final.

Final -
Tonbridge Angels Town 0 - 0 Langton Giants (Angels win on pens)

We knew we were going to face an Angels team in the final, we just weren't sure which one as their two sides were facing each other in the other semi-final which required a penalty shootout to separate them. As it turned out we were to face the 'Town' version who we had beaten 2 nil just a few games previously. Both teams looked as though they were starting to tire but still gave everything. For the first time in a long time James was required to come up big and he did with two big saves, Jack P blocked a couple of shots and Brodie denied the Angels pacey striker a great chance with a perfectly timed sliding tackle. At the other end the boys fought valiantly to find a winner, Jack B denied by a brilliant save and Brodie seeing a rasping strike fly inches past the post. Elliot went on one his trademark runs and saw his shot saved low before Rudy was inches away from winning it from close in, the ball going agonisingly close to nestling in the corner from a brilliant Jack B pass.

So onto the dreaded penalties and once again the footballing gods weren't smiling on us. As always though the boys held their heads high, shook the hands of their friends and winners from the Angels team who deserved enormous credit for winning the tournament without any substitutes. That's three years in a row we've lost at the Rusthall fiesta on pens, maybe next year!! Well done to all the boys who played magnificently, and despite the outcome of the penalty lottery can be very proud of their performances.

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Sunday 15th May 2016 - Pembury Tournament

The Giants WIN the Pembury Tournament !!!!

Fresh from a very impressive showing at the Kent Youth League tournament the previous day, the Giants took to the lush green pitches at Sommerhil to try and defend the title the boys won last season.

Yalding & Laddingford 1 - 4 Langton Giants
Tom, Luca, Elliot, James

Off to an excellent start as the boys passed the ball beautifully to open up their hard working opponents at will. Elliot grabbed the opening goal following an outrageous nutmeg from Simba on a defender and then incisive pass before Luca fired in a low shot from distance to double the lead. Tom then tapped in when Elliot showed great selflessness to set up his captain rather than shoot himself before Yalding pulled a goal back with a very smart finish, dinked over James. In the closing minutes Tom was felled in the penalty box, allowing goalkeeper James to stride forward and fire home the penalty into the top corner, no messing about.

Raw Skills Sharks 0 - 0 Langton Giants

The least said about this one the better, suffice to say we didn't turn up and were grateful to James and a big slice of lady luck to have avoided defeat.

TW Foresters 0 - 3 Langton Giants
Elliot x2, Simba

After a good talking to after the disappointing performance in the previous game the boys responded perfectly. The energy levels returned, the effort increased and we started playing as a team again. Alf, Tom and Luca set the tone with battling tackles and Brodie started to exert his influence on proceedings. Bertie was storming backward and forward up the left wing and with Simba and Elliot pressing high up the pitch we started to resemble the Giants again. After a few close calls Simba settled the nerves with a hard, low finish after winning the ball on the edge of the box. Elliot then went on a great run and finished with a smart effort into the far corner before he got his second following some wonderful 1-touch interplay between Brodie and Simba set him up.

Ridgewaye Jupiter 0 - 4 Langton Giants
Brodie x 2, Tom, Simba

A nice early goal in this one, Luca producing a fantastic through ball into the path of Tom who finished with his first touch. Alf then took over proceedings. First he won the ball in midfield, strode forward and played in Elliot who crossed for Simba to smash the ball into the roof of the net before Alf repeated the trick a second time, this time finding Brodie to fire home across the goalkeeper. Elliot then did brilliantly to pull the ball back a split second before the ball went off into the path of Brodie to grab his second and wrap up the scoring.

1/4 Final
Langton Eagles 0 - 1 Langton Giants
Simba

As group winners we'd automatically qualified for the quarter final where we found ourselves in the unpleasant position of facing our very dear friends the Eagles, who had themselves had played some very impressive football to get out of their group before winning a round of 16 match 2 nil, the second goal being a stunner! Unfortunately moments before kick off the Giants suffered the blow of losing goalkeeper James to a dicky tum, requiring Bertie to don the gloves. The Giants won the game thanks to a good finish by Simba and both teams hit the post with good efforts. One of those which could easily have gone either way.

1/2 Final
Tonbridge Invicta 1 - 2 Langton Giants
Brodie, Elliot

The Giants started the semi final well, nearly scoring on two or three occasions. Firstly Simba saw a thunderous shot brilliantly tipped onto the post before Elliot found him with an excellent cross which he connected with powerfully and with his knee firmly over the ball, so far over in fact the ball bounced high off the ground, clearing the cross bar and landing on the roof of the tournament control centre some 30 yards behind the goal! Never one's to do things the easy way, the Giants then fell behind for the first time of the day when stand in goalkeeper Bertie had no chance with a well struck effort into the top corner. Although it was against the run of play, the talented and quick Invicta strikers were proving to be problematic, so it took a fine performance from Tom, Alf and Luca to keep them at bay the rest of the way. Brodie brought us level before halftime when converting an Elliot corner and in the second half it was almost entirely Giants attacks, but the Invicta defence stood firm until with just a couple of minutes left Elliot showed amazing tenacity and pace to nip in and beat the goalkeeper to the ball and finish into the bottom corner with his first touch.... phew, the dreaded penalties had been avoided!

Final
Yalding & Laddingford 0 - 4 Langton Giants
Brodie x2, Simba, Elliot

So in a surprising turn of fate, the Giants ended up playing their last match of the day against the same opposition as they had started with. After a difficult first match though Yalding had improved immeasurably to put in some excellent performances and results to force their way into the final. Elliot settled any nerves with an early, mazy run past 3 defenders before unleashing a great finish into the far corner before the goalkeeper was unable to stop a Brodie cross shot from crossing the line to double the lead. Brodie then set Simba up with a superb header from half way which the striker duly smashed into the goal to make it 3 nil before Brodie wrapped things up with his second, the sides 4th in the closing minutes following a one-two with Simba after Elliot had won the ball with a thunderous tackle.

So another piece of silverware, our first of the summer. A big well done to Yalding for making the final against all the odds and to all these Giants boys for their excellent technical performances and will to win. Special mention has to go to Bertie for once again proving to be the ultimate team player and stepping into the breach when needed..... that's what players of the season do!

On to the next one......

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Saturday 30th April - Ratton Rangers Fiesta

After a long and successful 9 aside season in the Tandridge League the time has come to revert to the summer form of the game, that being 6 aside fiestas. The first of which was at the seaside in the sunshine (mostly)!

Ratton Rangers White 0 - 5 Langton Giants
Simba x 2, Brodie, Tom, Rudy

The first match was against one of the hosts and any fears of a slow start for the Giants were soon allayed thanks to captain Tom finding the bottom corner in the opening moments. What came for the rest of the game set the tone for the group stages as the boys passed the ball beautifully on a great pitch, totally dominating possession with crisp ball movement and heavy pressure to win the ball back on the few occasions they lost it. One scare required James to make a big save but when Simba found the bottom corner from Tom's pass things returned to normal. Simba added a third before Brodie and Rudy helped themselves to a goal each to wrap up the scoring.

Black Hawks Orange 1 - 4 Langton Giants
Rudy x 2, Brodie, Luca

One of the main reasons we were able to dominate possession so much of course was the strength Jack gave us at the back as he totally dominated the back line throughout the day. Rudy got us going with a spin and shot into the roof of the net, soon added to by Brodie with a smart finish following a 1-2 with Rudy. Rudy then scored another before Brodie hit the post. Just when it looked like this was going to be simple we conceded an excellent header directly from a long throw and were then thankful to James who darted out from his goal to save at the feet o fa Black Hawks striker to stop them closing the gap any further. Bertie was playing brilliantly and won a free kick on the edge of the box which Luca fired into the top corner to complete the scoring.

Pevensey & Westham 0 - 4 Langton Giants
Brodie, Simba, Rudy, Luca

Another quick start when Rudy flicked a Bertie throw over the head of a defender for Brodie to nutmeg the keeper with a flick of his boot. Simba doubled the lead with a powerful strike into the top corner before Rudy pulled off another turn and shoot effort into the bottom corner. The game ended in amusing circumstances when Luca fired a free kick from a long way out so hard, not only did it proved to much for the goalkeeper but for the net also, leaving a ball shaped hole right in the top corner of it as the ball flew into the bushes behind!

Peacehaven Black 0 - 3 Langton Giants
Brodie x2, Simba

After all the fast starts it came as a bit of a surprise when the first half went by without us finding the back of the net. This was predominately down to an outstanding goalkeeping display from the Peacehaven goalkeeper and the woodwork, which was struck 3 times. Bertie was playing superbly and ripping defences apart all morning but suffice to say it wasn't a day for him to buy a lottery ticket as he had no luck at all, this game being especially frustrating as he hit the post twice and had three other great efforts saved. The message at half time was simply not to panic, the goals would come, and they did, immediately. Peacehaven kicked off, Luca pinched the ball and fed Simba who simply ran through the middle of the pitch and slotted into the bottom corner. Peacehaven kicked off again, this time Bertie stole the ball, fed Simba who flicked the ball into Brodie's path to finish smartly to make it 2 nil within 30 seconds of the restart! Peacehaven did create one excellent opportunity but were denied by an outstanding James save, before Brodie helped himself to a second goal when finishing off an 1v1 created by a brilliant Jack tackle and pass.

Sovereign Saints 0 - 4 Langton Giants
Brodie x2, Simba, Rudy

The last group game started with a stunning individual goal from Simba, pulling off a 'Maradona turn' on the edge of the box before firing across the goalkeeper into the far corner, brilliant stuff. Brodie then got another two goals, the first when he skipped past a couple of tackles and dinked the ball over the goalkeeper and the second when following up a Rudy shot that the goalkeeper couldn't hold onto. In between those two goals James was again found to be up to the task by making a fine save and Rudy got the last goal with another excellent spin and finish, something which is becoming his trademark.

1/4 Final -
Premier United 0 - 5 Langton Giants
Simba x 2, Bertie, Tom, Rudy

A weird start to this one, Brodie coming off before the game started with a tooth in his hand and blood in his mouth, something to do with a badly chosen sweet! Not to worry though because finally Bertie's outstanding performances was rewarded with a goal, skipping past a lunging goalkeeper before tucking the ball away from a superb Simba pass. Luca then found Tom who in turn found the bottom corner to double the advantage. James made an acrobatic stop which Jack then cleared away before we were treated to the goal of the day. It started when Brodie played the ball back to Jack who passed it back further to James to sweep the ball out to Luca, he fed Rudy down the left wing who crossed first time for Simba to tap in. 6 touches from 6 different players, just incredible and brought a roar of approval from all watching. Having seen Luca break a net earlier in the day Simba tried to go one better by very nearly breaking the crossbar with a scarily powerful effort with the outside of his boot before slipping Rudy in to grab the 4th. Simba then wrapped up the scoring when Brodie set him up in the closing moments.

1/2 Final -
Style Soccer 0 - 1 Langton Giants
Brodie

A noticeable step up in the quality of our opposition for this one, as you'd expect in a semi-final. This became instantly obvious when James was required to pull off a stunning save within 10 seconds of the kick off and we struggled to get hold of the game in the opening exchanges. This is when Jack and Tom came to the fore, ensuring we remained defensively solid whilst we waited for the attacking players to find their feet. Inevitably this happened as we started to take over possession and chances. Bertie, Rudy and Simba all had chances saved before Luca fed Bertie who was wide left and delivered a peach of a cross which was met firmly by the head of Brodie who powered a header downwards, the ball bouncing hard up into the roof of the net to give the boys a valuable lead. Simba went closest to doubling the lead but his excellent effort hit the post and Rudy found the side netting on a counter attack. We remained comfortable and had a few other chances to make things safe but with that second goal remaining elusive were always at risk, so the save that James made, tipping the ball over the bar, in the closing minutes proved to be invaluable as we progressed to the final.

Final -
Portslade United 1 - 1 Langton Giants - aet Portslade win on pens
Simba

After playing so brilliantly all day long, perhaps it wasn't a great surprise that the boys were starting to look a little jaded when they took the pitch for the final, some 6 hours after their first game. Portslade were bigger and more physical than anybody we'd played so far and did a good job of denying us the space we'd enjoyed all day. Jack saved the day early with an outstanding bit of last ditch defending, winning a flying tackle on his own goal line and James made a good save as we struggled early on. As always though we grew into the game, Brodie and Simba both denied by brilliant saves. The teams couldn't be separated in normal time so extra time ensued. Rudy sprung into life, darting past a defender with great pace and creating the space for Simba to finish brilliantly and give us a priceless lead. Inevitably Portslade threw everything at us the final whistle couldn't come quick enough, as it proved it really couldn't, when the huge Portslade midfielder spun on the edge of the box and unleashed an unstoppable shot into the bottom corner with just seconds remaining. Gutting.

Sadly the penalty shootout didn't fall our way but the boys were on the receiving end of some fantastic comments about their style of play, humility and attitude throughout. All far more important traits than penalty shootouts. Well done boys, bring on the next one!

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Sunday, 24th April 2016

Langton Giants 2 - 0 Glebe Lions
Eddie, Simba

Two years ago the Giants took their first steps into the Tandridge Youth League A Division not overly sure whether they had the quality to compete. Today saw the end of their stay in the league and after two tough, relentless seasons they've answered that question with an emphatic YES! Today's opponents came in the form of the friendly and talented Glebe Lions, who play some fantastic football and only 7 days previously and earned an impressive draw against perennial league champions Junior Elite. Our previous meeting was just a few weeks ago and it is fair to say we were happier with the 1-1 draw on that occasion than they were, as they'd been the stronger team for much of that match, so we knew our final ever Tandridge match would be just as tough as always. Both teams agreed to play the match 11 aside to help with preparation for next seasons move to the format and the pitch was in good condition, despite the unseasoningly cold weather. It was obvious from the first minute that the Giants boys were on it today, biting into tackles, being nice and vocal and looking to get the Glebe defence turned from the off. Bertie, Tom, Jack and Alf were marshalling things at the back, with Brodie and Luca running the show in centre mid allowing Simba and Rudy to concentrate on putting pressure on high up the pitch, The two wingers, Elliot and Eddie both had to put in a hell of a shift, providing cover to the full backs against the skilful Glebe wingers as well as getting forward to support the strike-force, both of them achieved this to the highest possible standard. Despite the strong start, the first goalkeeper to be tested was James, showing strong hands to parry a firm header from a well delivered corner. It was soon the Giants turn to have an attempt on goal though, Elliot showing great trickery to find space for a shot which brought out a stunning save from the Glebe goalkeeper, tipping the powerful drive over the crossbar. All the boys have got aspects of 11 aside football to adjust to, perhaps no more though than the goalkeepers, what with the huge goals and penalty boxes. James showed how quickly he's making that adjustment by charging out from goal to intercept a dangerous through ball with a firm clearance up the field, a brilliant bit of goalkeeping. Shortly after we were treated to the Eddie show. Firstly he won the ball when pressuring a goalkick and winning a hard tackle against a Glebe defender, then skipped between two more defenders to enter the penalty box, rode another tackle and then let fly with an amazing shot into the top corner across the face of goal. A truly outstanding individual goal to give us the lead. A feature of the Giants play since the move to 11 aside has been Luca's long passing and it was from one of his left-foot specials the play was switched to Rudy who did superbly to knock the ball into the path of Elliot who this time shot low, denied by a good save at the near post. The Giants were on top at this stage and playing with confidence so it was important to take advantage and that's just what they did. DJ had been on the pitch about 10 seconds we he received the ball to feet from Bertie, swivelled and lofted a wonderful little ball into Simba's path who showed strength to hold off the Glebe centre half and finish smartly under the goalkeeper to double our advantage. 2 nil at half time, but still plenty of threat from Glebe.

Glebe came out strongly in the second half, pushing the Giants back into our own half, and this is when we realise how lucky we are to have such a strong defence, Tom and Jack came into their own, blocking shots, tracking runners, winning tackles and holding a disciplined line. On the wings Glebe continued to push hard, thankfully both Bertie and Alf were up to the task, helped ably by Elliot, Eddie and DJ at various stages, Rudy was working so hard and was giving the Glebe defenders no time to relax on the ball, it was from his pressure that we won the ball on the left which fell to the feet of Elliot who swept a wonderful ball through the middle to play Simba in who burst away but shot narrowly wide. Rudy was fouled again, Brodie swung the free kick in which was cleared to Bertie who fired back in a well struck volley but too high. DJ pulled off a lovely drag back on the corner of the box but his resulting shot was troubled by a bobble which denied him the chance to get a clean connection. Luca won a tackle, found Brodie with a clever but simple ball, Brodie spun and delivered a peach of a pass to put Simba through 1v1, this time denied by some excellent goalkeeping. Luca again with the pass, Simba with a great connection but plucked out the sky by the Glebe keeper who was helping himself to a very good performance. The effort levels were fantastic, perhaps best demonstrated when right-back Alf charged forward in the closing minutes, played a delightful 1-2 wih Eddie and fired a shot goalward, forcing another good save, no threat of the goalkeeper catching Alf out of position though as he's sprinted back to his spot before the keeper had even picked himself up off the floor.

The final whistle blew and the Giants had won their last ever Tandridge League match. It means they finish a magnificent 3rd for the second season in a row but this one feels like a much greater achievement as the likes of Tonbridge Angels, Holmesdale and Balham have strengthened the league even further. They've beaten every team in the division bar Junior Elite at least once and got to the cup semi-final to boot which all points to a hugely succesfull season. We wish our friends from Glebe well, they've been one of our favourite opponents since we joined the league with us enjoying some competitive matches with them, this one being no different.

Final league table below. Roll on the fiestas!

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Sunday, 10th April 2016

Bromley 2 - 4 Langton Giants
Simba x 2, Brodie, O.G

With a break in league fixtures the Giants were able to take advantage of a free Sunday by having a friendly with Bromley, and the opportunity to play in their first ever 11 aside match in preparation for the move to that format next season.

It was agreed to play 3 x 20 minute periods rather than the usual 2 x 30 to allow both teams to try some different formations. The Giants started off in a 4-4-2 and the boys instantly looked at home, passing the ball around like they'd played 11 aside football all their lives. Simba skipped down the right and crossed for strike partner Rudy to fire over before a Luca through-ball set Simba away, his lobbed effort beating the cross bar as well as the goal, a minute later his well struck drive missed the far post by inches. It felt like a goal was coming and so it proved, Elliot going on an excellent mazy run only to be denied by a tackle which resulted in a corner. Luca swept it in beautifully and after a couple of ricochets Brodie was on hand to volley home a great strike past the desperate dive of the goalkeeper. Alf, Tom, Jack and Bertie looked like a back four that was in complete control, with James very comfortable behind them. Eddie was bombing down the right wing and when DJ came on he instantly started contributing to the attacking options. We soon went 2 nil up with a fortunate own goal from a back pass but the score-line was more reflective of the domination the Giants were enjoying. Elliot delivered an inch perfect cross field ball into the stride of Simba who hit a clean shot that just missed, moments later though Simba powered home an excellent shot into the top corner.

In the second period we decided to try a 3-5-2. and its fair to say it didn't work!! Suddenly we were on the back foot and looked out of shape, Bromley scored two very good goals, both by their very good, fast and physical striker and would have had an equaliser had it not been from two very good saves from James (one of them was outstanding) and a goal line clearance from Bertie who showed great discipline to do his job at a free kick. We did have some attacking forays, DJ hitting the side netting after showing quick feet and Simba denied by a brilliant save from another powerful drive towards the top corner. The priority for today was to learn, and we did, 3-5-2 isn't for us, for the moment at least!

So back to 4-4-2 for the final period and we instantly looked more comfortable, we started to get more possession again and the back 4 went back to looking in command. Brodie and Luca were complimenting each other perfectly in the middle of the pitch, Brodie with his quick feet and ball movement, Luca with his strength and passing range, which he was using to great effect to play both Simba and Rudy in on several occasions. Jack and Tom were totally dominating the middle of the defence with both Bertie and Alf putting in faultless displays as full backs. The Bromley goalkeeper was taking the expression 'sweeper keeper' to the extreme on occasions, charging some 20 yards out of his penalty box. He did it one time too many, Luca sweeping a wonderful ball out to Simba who quite brilliantly lobbed the ball over the head of the keeper and into the back of the net from a good 35 yards out. Brodie then hit a delicious ball of his own inside the defender to play Simba in again who shot well, off the face of the far post. In the closing stages Rudy's pace was having a telling effect, three times bursting through, twice shooting wide from distance and once denied by a good save following a fantastic run and selfless pass from Elliot. Elliot himself was felled on the edge of the box, got up and fired in a superb free kick that was excellently saved, Brodie going close to stabbing home the rebound, which turned out to be the last meaningful action of the match.

Lots of fun, lots of positives and lots of things learned. A big well done to all the boys, not so much for the result, that really wasn't important today, but for throwing themselves into the new format with such effort and commitment.

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Sunday, 20th March 2016

Balham Blazers 3 - 4 Langton Giants
Luca, DJ, Eddie, Rudy

After a challenging few weeks, the Giants faced the longest journey of the season to Balham Blazers, desperate to get back to winning ways. Captain Tom was unable to play due to an ankle injury but showed amazing commitment to the team by completing the 3 hour round journey to support his team mates in a match he couldn't play in. Having played Balham twice already this season we knew full well where their threat was most likely to come from in the form of their lightening quick and talented striker. It was important we got off to a good start and we did, straight from the kick off Elliot ran at the Balham defence with great pace and shot wide with barely 20 seconds on the clock, Simba soon following this up with a terrific run, powering through several defenders but seeing his left foot effort saved. We won a free kick some 25 yards out which is well in Luca territory and up he stepped to strike a sweet effort that was too powerful for the goalkeeper to handle, the ball disappearing into the back of the net through his legs. One nil and we were firmly on top and set about trying to kill the game off early as we sensed Balham were struggling to cope with our passing and movement. Chances started to rain in, Elliot went on a fantastic mazy run, riding several challenges before unleashing a great shot which required an outstanding save to tip round the post, Luca then shot into the side netting from Elliot's clever pass. Eddie was putting a lot of pressure on the Balham defenders, helping us win the ball high up the pitch and Simba was proving to be a real handful. We were dominating possession and camped in the Balham half of the pitch. Brodie was orchestrating play from centre midfield, skipping past challenges and passing the ball with purpose, with Jack, Alf and Bertie stopping any Balham attacks before they got started, winning the ball back and restarting attacks, feeling confident enough to play the ball back to goalkeeper James' feet on several occasions. Bertie broke free from his left back position and charged forward, forcing his way into the Balham penalty box and letting fly with a well struck effort, saved. DJ and Rudy entered the game, with the former showing great awareness by flicking the ball into the path of Luca who skipped past a tackle before firing a shot towards the top corner only for the keeper to make another fine save. As well as we were playing the second goal not arriving was starting to affect the teams confidence and slowly Balham started to grow into the match. Alf steadied the ship, looking after the ball and using his body brilliantly to slow down the pacey striker when it appeared he'd broken through. Then a big blow, influential midfielder Brodie struck down with an ankle injury forcing him off, shortly followed by Rudy suffering from knee pain after a couple of long runs. These departures seemed to disrupt our flow and suddenly Balham were on top, and this is when their outstanding striker comes to life and it didn't take long until he'd found some space and finished with unerring accuracy across James and into the far corner, an excellent finish. It was time for the boys to fight back, and they did, Elliot winning a corner and then delivering it brilliantly, Eddie striking an excellent shot that looked certain to regain us the lead but the goalkeeper pulled off his best save yet, leaping across the goal and tipping it past the post. Eddie was having a big impact, again his pressure saw us win the ball high up the pitch and the ball fell to Elliot who brought out yet another save from the Balham keeper who had by now more than made up for his error with our opening goal.

So for the second week in a row, the Giants trapesed off a bit confused as to how they weren't winning a game at half time that they'd totally dominated, but at least this week they weren't behind. Bertie and Alf were helping themselves to very good games in the full back positions, both of them defending resolutely but also getting themselves involved in attacks through intelligent movement and good communication. Jack had his handful with the Balham striker but to his enormous credit, was winning 9 out of 10 of their battles. Elliot received a great ball from DJ and found Luca to shoot narrowly over the bar as once again we were starting to dominate proceedings, but we were quickly put in trouble when in our desire to get forward we were left exposed to a counter attack when we lost the ball, leaving their striker through on goal, at least until Jack did his Superman impression and charged back to save the day with an amazing last ditch tackle. Then a break through, DJ fighting to win the ball on the edge of the box and letting fly with a clean strike which deflected off a Balham defender into the top corner, a little fortunate but just reward for our possession and DJ's determination. Our new lead was very nearly lost again immediately, but thankfully James made an utterly brilliant diving save when the Balham striker looked guaranteed to add to his first goal. 2-1 soon became 3-1, Eddie reminding us how good he is at being in the right place at the right time by arriving at the back post to slot home a superb cross from Jack, yes Jack - our centre half, who after bursting out of defence did a remarkably good impression of a tricky left winger before delivering the perfect ball. We got a further boost when Rudy was able to return and he took little time having an impact, using his great pace to break through one-on-one, denied by another very good save round the post, From the resulting corner though a combination of Rudy and a Balham defender managed to get the ball over the line from a well delivered Elliot corner and we were leading 4-1. Another lightening quick and lung busting run from Rudy resulted in yet another save and then we were treated to a fantastic piece of skill from Bertie when he pirouetted past two defenders with a sublime move. Simba was working his socks off all over the pitch and in several different positions, some of his link up play and through balls were a joy to behold. Rudy seemed to be everywhere, one minute hitting the cross bar with a cross shot before heading a Luca corner just wide as we appeared to be cruising to a much needed and comfortable win. Then mayhem. With very little time remaining we were caught out on the counter attack an it was 4-2 following another smart finish from the Balham striker, then suddenly it was 4-3 when the same player brilliantly completed his hatrick with an excellent shot low into the far corner and from a position of comfort suddenly it was full on panic mode. Thankfully the boys remained calm and Eddie showed great stamina by carrying the ball the length of the pitch to the far corner and eat up valuable seconds which saw us over the finish line to great relief.

The last two minutes aside it was a thoroughly deserved victory in which we created countless chances, despite missing two key players in Tom and Brodie for the large majority of the match. Well done to all the boys for their battling qualities and quality of play throughout, one more to go, lets try and finish in style.

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Sunday, 13th March

Langton Giants 1-2 Sevenoaks Town
Rudy

With just three games of the league season remaining the hope was to finish the season on a positive run, and despite the loss of goalkeeper James to injury shortly before the game, the Giants couldn't have started much better. Bertie took over in goal for the first time since u7s and was utterly faultless all game, showing fantastic character and a great attitude by donning the gloves and putting on a brilliant display. In the opening exchanges though he was a bystander as the Giants were camped in the Sevenoaks half, passing the ball brilliantly and putting their defence under enormous pressure. Jack was fouled as he pushed forward and up stepped Luca to fire an early free kick accurately goalward only to see the shot well saved. Elliot then skipped inside from the left wing and let fly with a right foot effort, again saved, this time low to the 'keepers right. Tom showed great awareness and movement to push forward from right back which resulted in him volleying a shot wide from the edge of the box. Brodie slipped in Simba but his shot was blocked and then Alf with a shot from a cleared ball wide. As we were so far up the pitch though we were always vulnerable to the counter attack and Bertie was soon called in to his first serious action of the day, saving superbly down low at his near post from a well struck shot. Back on the attack though, Luca seeing a well struck effort saved as the chances were starting to stack up. DJ showed great vision to slip Elliot in but some good defending saw him forced wide. Then a great chance created by a fantastic through ball from Luca, with Elliot closing in on the goalkeeper, he struck it firmly but it was superbly saved, Eddie pounced on the rebound and fired it back in, again saved, the Sevenoaks keeper was all that was keeping us at bay. Rudy swept a lovely shot arrowing to the top corner from distance, again brilliantly saved, this one tipped over for a corner. Brodie skipped clear and swung in an excellent ball that firstly missed Simba's head by inches, and the far post by an even narrower margin. The frustration was growing, and we were now leaving ourselves exposed to the counter too much as the goal wouldn't come. Alf made a great last ditch tackle which gave Sevenoaks a corner, their striker greeting the ball with a fine effort which required an outstanding low save from Bertie to keep out. Sevenoaks were then awarded a free kick from a dangerous position, again though Bertie was up to the task, saving well before then plucking a high ball out of the sky despite pressure for the opposition charging him down. Brodie found Rudy who skipped past a challenge before delivering a great ball to Elliot, one-on-one, again the keeper saving well to deny us. In the closing seconds, disaster, one more counter attack and we were in trouble, with a well struck shot being fired into the far corner to give Bertie no chance.

It seemed unbelievable that in a half where we'd enjoyed so much possession and created so many chances we somehow came off a goal down, the boys looked shell shocked. Still, plenty of time to respond, but Sevenoaks naturally had both a new level of confidence and something to defend, something they did very well. Although we continued to dominate possession and held a territorial advantage, clear cut chances were proving more difficult to come by. Brodie delivered a delicious ball to release Simba to take on the outstanding Sevenoaks goalie who came charging out to challenge, Simba kept his composure and picked his spot rather than blasting it, but unfortunately his effort slipped the wrong side of the far post. The effort from both teams was immense, Eddie was dashing up the wing endlessly, Luca crashing into tackles, picking up a nose bleed for his efforts in the process and Rudy refusing to give up on a seemingly lost cause, nipping in to toe poke the ball over the head of the goalkeeper but the ball wouldn't come down quickly enough which meant defenders were able to block the follow-up shot inches from the line. Alf pushed forward and saw a well struck shot saved and Tom enjoyed a stint on the wing and took on the Sevenoaks left back on numerous occasions. A quick throw in from DJ allowed Brodie to find space and let fly with a volley from distance which went wide. It was beginning to look like the equaliser would never come but the boys never gave up. We changed formation, leaving just Tom and Alf at the back in a 2-3-3 formation with centre back Jack in the front three!! As expected, Jack had an instant impact, winning us a corner and we were finally rewarded when, following a penalty box scramble, Rudy showed great composure to fire home with a low shot to finally beat the Sevenoaks goalkeeper and draw us level with less than 2 minutes remaining. Whether it was the effort put in to clawing our way back into the match or the euphoria of equalising nobody knows, but just moments later we lost concentration, somehow needlessly conceding a corner in the dying seconds, and despite clearing the first one well then failed to clear the second, the ball ending up in the back of our net after ricocheting of one of our own defenders. Devastating.... but on they fought from the kick off, Elliot being tripped and winning us a free kick, Brodie struck it well, hitting the target over the Sevenoaks wall, but once again was foiled by their outstanding goalkeeper.

Football can be a cruel game at times and right now the Giants are feeling like they're due a bit of luck, but huge credit to Sevenoaks who performed superbly throughout and deserved their victory for their effort and endeavour, reminding us what a strong division we play in. On another day we might have scored 5 or 6 but it wasn't to be today. The boys need a confidence boost and just to remind themselves what a good side they are, they played some brilliant football at times today and mustn't forget that. The star of the show though had to be Bertie who was just superb, for despite all our chances, had it not been for some big saves at vital moments, the day could have been even more disappointing, well done Bertie and thank you for being such a great team mate.

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Sunday 6th March

Glebe Lions 1 - 1 Langton Giants
Eddie

Back to league action this week for a Mother's Day visit to Glebe FC, a very big club with excellent facilities, but facing the same issues with pitches as the rest of us, and with this being the third game played on the pitch today its fair to say it wasn't the greatest of surfaces. Glebe are a very fine side, having recently fought their way into to London FA Cup Final, which is a great achievement when you consider the strength of youth football across the capital, so we were expecting a tough challenge and we certainly got that. No Elliot this week due to illness, but everyone else fit and available, with the added bonus of Jack playing when we feared he wouldn't be. Glebe started off well, pinning us back into our half and generally coping with the playing surface better than we were. When we won the ball we struggled to keep possession, and despite the obvious need to get the ball wide out of the bog, the middle of the pitch seemed to be where most of our forward passes were ending up and as a result it invariably resulted with us losing the ball. Jack, Tom and Bertie fought hard to keep them away from our goal but they remained a permanent threat. The Glebe right winger was proving to be a real handful, showing great pace, quick feet and lots of tricks. It was from one of his excellently delivered through balls that James was first called into action, making a superb save in a one-on-one situation when their striker looked certain to score, outstanding goalkeeping from our expert stopper. In Elliot's absence Rudy started on the left and was soon using his pace to give us an attacking threat, going on a great run before turning back in and letting fly with his right foot, denied by a good save at the near post. Eddie was working tirelessly on the right wing and DJ helped us hold the ball up to better effect when he came on up front. Alf had to replace Tom who was suffering with his Asthma and was his usual brilliant self. Simba burst through, rode a couple of tackles but was blocked by a third, the ball skipped up and DJ met it with a lovely volley, again well saved, as the Giants were slowly getting into the game more. Jack won a big tackle, played forward to Luca who opened his body to give him the space he needed to find DJ who in turn delivered a delicious ball into the feet of Eddie who struck a powerful shot goal wards, a deflection wrong footing the goalkeeper and resulting in the ball nestling in the corner of the net. Somewhat against the run of play, but reward for our growing influence and Eddie's ability to be in the right place at the right time. Still, Glebe could rightfully feel hard done by and responded superbly, when just a few minutes later their left winger drove in from the wing and was allowed to get far too close to the goal before letting fly with an unstoppable strike into the top corner to level things up. Their right winger continued to give us nightmares, dictating the match from out wide as we struggled to pin him down. Bertie though pinched the ball off him just before half time, played in field to Brodie who slipped the perfect ball through to give DJ a clear run on goal, with the Glebe defence closing quickly our talented striker shot early and well, but was again denied by a good save. Half time came and all square, with us feeling relieved to still be in the game, but also happy we'd had our fair share of chances.

Things started much brighter in the second half, with us earning a lot more possession and territorial advantage. A half time tactical switch saw us getting a lot closer to the Glebe right winger, in fact he barely had a kick the entire second half thanks to the outstanding efforts and work rate of Bertie, and latterly Eddie, on the left wing, with Tom feeling well enough to return and cover the left back position with aplomb. Brodie was having growing influence in the middle of the park, winning lots of tackles and using the ball intelligently, with Luca showing great strength alongside him and releasing our attacking players with some fantastic long range passing. Simba was required to play in several positions and was having an impact in each of them, and was at the heart of the best bit of play of the day. Alf won a big tackle, played in Brodie who performed a great one-two with Rudy before finding Simba who had made an excellent run and looked sure to break through to take on the goalkeeper, only to be denied by a puddle...... the ball sticking and Simba slipping in one motion, so unlucky. DJ found himself out wide for some of the second half and reminded us all what vision he has, delivering some lovely passes and as the game went on we started to find more space. Glebe of course though remained a great threat, twice going close with well struck efforts over the bar and causing James to make some smart saves. Rudy cut in from the right and let fly, saved low by the goalkeeper and Simba went on a mazy run, beating several tackles but eventually being stopped before he could get his shot off. Jack was outstanding at the back and broke up Glebe attacks on countless occasions as well as pushing forward with power several times. Clearly Captain Tom felt inspired by Jack's forages forward and went on his own barnstorming run, cutting in from left back, riding several challenges, only to be denied by a block tackle on the edge of the box, he had the awareness though to poke the rebound through to Rudy, but that was cut short by the off side flag. In the dying moments James collected the ball bravely at the feet of a Glebe attacker and got a whack on the nose for his troubles, but showed was a brilliant goalkeeper he is by pulling off an amazing low save when it looked as though we might suffer a last minute defeat.

1-1 was probably a fair result it what was a good game considering the pitch, we know we can play better but Glebe are a strong side so a decent result anyway. Well done boys, three left, lets finish strongly.

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Sunday 28th February - TYL Cup Semi-Final

Junior Elite 2 - 1 Langton Giants
Brodie

What a difference a week makes! Last Sunday the Giants got a bit of a beating at the hands of today's opponents, so as well as this being a cup semi-final the boys had the extra motivation of reminding everyone, including themselves, what a good team they are, and that's just what they did. The good news was that keeper James, captain Tom and the influential Eddie were all available this week and with a good midweek training under their belts took to the field full of determination. Junior Elite though are a superb side and quickly reminded us this when their most outstanding player looped the ball over a defenders head (I'm reliably informed this is called a 'sombrero') and let fly with an astonishing scissor kick which rocketed towards the roof of the net. It was a stunning piece of skill, but thankfully was met by an equally stunning piece of goalkeeping from a flying James who somehow parried it over the bar. Brilliant football all round. Not to be denied though, the resulting corner was swung in and bundled in at the back post to put them ahead in the opening minutes. Having conceded so heavily last week, seeing them score again so early on was a crushing blow, one which would have caused many teams to buckle, but not the Giants, it only added to their determination. Rudy was starting for the first time and his pace and running was causing problems, with Luca, Brodie and Simba in a midfield three behind him, Jack, Tom, Alf and Bertie in a 4 at the back. Luca won the ball in midfield, slipped the ball to Brodie who dinked a clever little pass through to Rudy who was brought down to win a free kick. Brodie floated it in to the back post, where Simba leapt highest and met the ball with a firm header, just wide. Another ball forward for Rudy, this time from Bertie and another foul. This time Luca stepped up and swept in a brilliant effort which had the keeper beaten all ends up but smacked off the face of the cross bar, Simba nudged the rebound on for Brodie to smash home into the roof of the net, 1-1 and finally we'd scored against Junior Elite!!! The lift this gave the boys was obvious, suddenly everyone seemed a yard quicker and a little taller. DJ, Eddie and Elliot came in to add some fresh legs and each of them were immediately up with the pace of the game. Jack and Tom were imperious at the back, Tom putting in a real captains performance, being nice and vocal and Jack was..... well.... Jack, i.e. brilliant. The work rate of the midfield three was immense, closing down, winning the ball, trying to get out and forward but facing up to constant pressure and extremely fast opponents. One of their crunching tackles was deemed to be a little over zealous and a free kick was awarded to the opposition in a dangerous position. Junior Elite has some fantastic players, but none better than their outstanding number 8, so it was with no great surprise when he stepped up and fired it perfectly into the top corner, giving James absolutely no chance, to reinstate their lead. That's the 3rd goal he's scored against us from distance in a week.... you can go off some people. Not to worry, on we fought, Eddie skipping down the right wing but fouled. Brodie swung in the free kick, Elliot making the perfect run and making a wonderful connection on the ball only for the ball to fly agonisingly inches past the far post with the keeper well beaten. It was one of those that had he scuffed it or it hit his knee it probably goes in, but it wasn't to be.

Still, 2-1 down at half time means we're in the game and all to play for. We knew they'd come out firing second half and they did, so again we needed to stand strong. Alf was putting in a real shift down the right, showing great awareness and intelligence to nullify the talented left winger. On the other side of the pitch Bertie was helping himself to an outstanding performance, totally shutting down the pacey right winger who'd given him real problems a week ago. We knew the longer we could keep it at one goal we had a chance, so when James pulled of a great save from close range we were relieved. As it was the off side flag was up anyway, but our super keeper wasn't to know that. Luca, Brodie and Simba continued to put in a ridiculous amount of work in the midfield as Rudy and DJ did up top, neither giving the Junior Elite defence a minute's peace. Elliot has the most unbelievable engine and put it to full use all morning, charging all over the pitch and showing great quality when on the ball. We had one scary moment when a shot smashed against the cross bar, Eddie on hand to clear the lines but other than that we were looking secure. 10 minutes to go, it was time to go for it, an extra man up front, one less defender, nothing to lose. Jack stormed forward and won a big tackle high up the pitch, letting fly with a shot from distance which flew wide. Rudy and Simba both nearly broke clear and the Junior Elite defence was looking rattled, making several uncharacteristic errors. Luca showed quick feet to create space and find Rudy who was felled yards from the edge of the box, in a very dangerous position but the free kick wasn't awarded, frustrating given how much trouble our set pieces had caused them all morning. The final whistle blew and the celebrations of the Junior Elite boys spoke volumes as to just how much of a game we'd given them.

It wasn't a day for our best football, it was a day for showing character, determination and game management and every single one of them delivered big time. Congratulations to Junior Elite who were generous enough to say that this game should have been the final and that they knew last week wasn't a reflection of who we are. So the cup run comes to an end, but the boys can look back on victories against Balham, Foresters and Tonbridge Angels with pride, as they can with today's performance.

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Sunday 21st February

Langton Giants 0 - 6 Junior Elite

Oh dear.

If there is one team you don't want to have an off day against its Junior Elite, but unfortunately today that is exactly what happened. After we'd left our previous meeting with them feeling a bit hard done by we were looking forward to the chance to test ourselves against them once more, so turned up full of enthusiasm and hope. Our enthusiasm was a little jaded by both captain Tom and Goalkeeper James suffering in warm up, James with his leg problems and Tom with his Asthma. Still not to worry, we had Sam in our ranks today as we'd feared the game might come too soon for James so he took the gloves and Jack had somehow made it back in time for the game straight from the ski slopes of southern France to assume the captains armband.

The first half is best forgotten to be honest, pretty much everything that could have gone wrong did and Junior Elite played some magnificent football to punish every single mistake, scoring a couple of 'worldys' from distance which gave Sam no chance and another couple of well worked goals through exceptional passing and movement. Our plans to press the ball were being ripped to shreds as JE's ball movement left our full backs exposed time and time again, and they have some outstanding wingers who took full advantage. Jack, Alf and Bertie fought like mad at the back, as did Luca, Brodie, Simba and Elliot in front of them with DJ working so hard on his own up front to try and get a foothold in the match. At 1 nil we very nearly did, after some good build up play and a great through ball from Luca, DJ let fly with a sweetly struck volley from around the penalty spot which the goalkeeper did brilliantly to parry. Had it gone in to make the game 1-1 who knows what impact it might have had on the match, but it wasn't to be, not for the want of technique from DJ who really couldn't have done any better with the strike. Tom started to feel better and was able to join the fray as did new boy Rudy, who immediately had an impact, using his pace to harry the Junior Elite defenders and win the ball high up the pitch. In the closing moments of the half Sam plucked the ball out of the sky to make an excellent save as it looked like we were going to suffer from another striker from distance. 4 nil at half time, somewhere we're not used to be.

Still, we've got another chance to face these guys next week in the cup, so a chance to try something different which could help us learn for then. So we reshuffled the formation and approach and it had a significant impact as we suddenly looked more compact and were providing greater support to our full backs. It did mean we had to sacrifice a bit as an attacking threat but we needed to steady the ship for now. Tom slotted in next to Jack and the two of them worked superbly together, with Simba, Brodie and Luca working tirelessly in front of them in a midfield three, denying space to the truly outstanding Junior Elite number 8 and blocking the route to goal. Unfortunately though we soon suffered another set back as another stunning strike from distance flew into the top corner..... seriously, can just one go wide please!!!! Not to worry though, we knew we were competing better, Luca pushed forward and let fly from distance, the shot being smothered by the goalkeeper, then Alf drove in from the right and found DJ with a lovely pass, his left foot shot saved low. Brodie was skipping past tackles and playing in Elliot, Rudy and Simba with greater regularity than the first half and Bertie was bombing down the left wing to add some width and then swung in a sumptuous corner which Brodie was inches away from connecting with. We were now more than holding our own and pushing forward, sharing possession and looking like we can compete with these guys, Luca having a great second half, showing great strength and passing range. Sadly a 6th was conceded in the closing moments on the counter attack, but twice Elliot went close to getting one back, once with a right foot shot which beat the keeper but unfortunately the far post too and once after a great solo run after which he was just unable to get a shot away. DJ and Rudy took it in turns to play the lone front role and both put in a real shift and didn't stop running for a minute.

So a tough day, bit the second half reaction a real positive and something to build on for next week, as was the attitude from all the boys as nobody hid or gave up from start to finish. A big thank you to Sam for stepping in at short notice, especially as he'd already played a full match in the morning. Also, a special mention for Jack (and family) for making such an effort to be there and despite spending an age in the car, he was brilliant, as always.

Lots to learn, a great chance to right some wrong next week.... on the day simply beaten by an excellent team.

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Sunday 31st January

Langton Giants 4 - 0 Bromley Ravens
Simba, Brodie, Elliot, Luca

The Giants have had a bit of a challenging time in the league in recent weeks, facing some very tough sides and coming out on the wrong side of the result despite some good performances an no end of effort, so they were keen to get things back on track today against a team we'd always fought tight contests with since we joined the Tandridge League. It looked as though this fixture wasn't going to happen thanks to the recent rain so we were grateful when Bromley offered us the opportunity to play the match on their 3G pitch.

The pitch was short but wide, so using the wings was paramount and something the boys did to perfection, with Elliot and Eddie taking full advantage of the extra space they were awarded by taking on the Bromley full backs and linking up cleverly with their team mates. Elliot was tripped on the left side, Bertie stepped up and delivered the most perfect in-swinging free kick you can imagine, taking out all the Bromley defenders and goalkeeper with one swing of his magical left foot, it was met by Luca who fought hard to reach the ball which flew just over the bar. The pitch was so short that when Brodie won a free kick in the middle of the park, Luca was able to shoot from the half way line! He struck it sweetly but unfortunately straight down the throat of the goalkeeper who did well to hold onto the shot as Simba and Eddie charged in looking for any spillages. We were delighted to welcome DJ back from injury this week and he quickly reminded us of what we'd been missing, showing quick feet and pulling the ball back for Simba to volley just wide. The Giants were on top and it was important we took advantage, and we did, Simba receiving a wonderful pass from DJ, taking a sublime first touch to roll his defender and fire home into the bottom corner, 1 nil. Bromley won a free kick of their own which was dangerously delivered, James tipping it wide with his outstretched foot and away from danger. Tom entered the fray and was quickly into the action, defending resolutely and pushing the team forward as all good captains do. Jack was being, well... Jack... otherwise known as immense. It almost gets boring writing just how good he has become, dominating the back line week after week with the minimum of fuss. Another break down the left from Elliot thanks to a great pass from Bertie resulted in a corner. Luca swung it in brilliantly and Brodie came charging in at the back post, leapt like a salmon and met the ball with a thunderous header which nearly ripped through the net! 2 nil and the boys were flying, making it 3 moments later, Simba going on a powerful run only to be dispossessed as he entered the box but the ball fell to Elliot who made no mistake with an excellent finish into the bottom corner at the near post. It was a tight angle but somehow Elliot made it look simple, as good players tend to do. Alf was continuing his recent excellent form with another great performance in several positions, in the first half locking down the talented Bromley winger. Bromley did give us one scare with a well hit shot from distance but it was never likely to trouble our outstanding goalkeeper who plucked it out of the sky like it was nothing.

Three nil at half time was great but the boys knew the job was only half done. The discussion at the break focused around 'football intelligence' and how the boys had demonstrated it in abundance in the first half. Two of the best exponents of it are Eddie and Alf and this was never more apparent that when shortly into the second half, Eddie showed great awareness to lay the ball back to Alf who had got himself into the perfect position to receive the pass and hit an excellent low shot from distance that the Bromley goalkeeper did brilliantly to tip round the post. Jack delivered a great forward pass into Brodie, who flicked it on to Simba to turn and strike, again saved before Elliot was also denied with an angled shot. Another free kick from the half way line, another sweet strike from Luca, another save.... this one top corner. He wouldn't be denied for long though, this time from open play Luca turned out from a challenge and fired home a stunning shot into the top corner from 30 yards, just brilliant and totally deserved from a player who had been first class all game long. DJ and Elliot were linking up regularly and effectively, and almost played each other in on several occasions. Tom put in some commanding tackles and worked with Jack and Bertie in the closing stages to keep Bromley at bay. James was relatively untroubled but showed great handling, footwork and positional sense throughout. One late scare when Bromley hit the post with a good header, James smothering the rebound to secure the clean sheet.

A superb performance from the whole team, a special mention for all of them, it really was a squad effort this week. 3 points, a clean sheet, 4 goals, 4 different scorers. Perfect.

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Sunday 24th January

Langton Giants 1 - 4 Tonbridge Angels
Simba

After a couple of weeks off the Giants were back in action and once again it was our good friends the Angels waiting for us at the other end of the pitch. Still no DJ available but everyone else fit and raring to go for this late afternoon fixture under the floodlights. Angels started off the better side as the Giants were pinned back into their own half. Jack, Tom and Bertie were forced into lots of tackles at the back and it wasn't long until James was required to make an outstanding save as a well hit shot flew towards the top corner. Slowly though the Giants started to grow into the contest, with Brodie and Luca gaining some possession in the middle and shifting the ball wide to Elliot and Eddie. Simba was holding the ball up well and feeding his team mates brilliantly as the boys started to find their rhythm. Luca has been learning the central midfield position and today he showed how far he's come in that learning, spraying some first class passes round the pitch and showing quick feet when in tight space. One such pass, a perfectly weighted through ball between two defenders to send Simba away, one-on-one against the outrushing Angels 'keeper who did a good job of making himself as big as possible, forcing Simba's effort to go agonisingly inches past the post. Alf came on and added real quality, initially as a right winger and then as a left back, finishing at right back and being equally superb in all three positions. In the closing stages of the first half the Giants were on top, and a great bit of play between Brodie, Elliot and Luca found Simba at the back post who's difficult volley under great pressure from a tight defender flew past the upright. Then came one of the most bizarre incidents we've seen in any of our games, leaving everybody bewildered as to how the ball didn't end up in the back of the Angels net! Simba showed great pace and determination when closing down on the Angel's goalkeeper and as the two met the ball flew high over the goalies head and looking for all the world like it was going to bounce once and into the empty net, only for it to spin backwards upon hitting the ground, bouncing back over the head of Simba and the back tracking defenders to safety.

It felt like half time came at the worst possible time as we'd been enjoying our best moments of the game and felt frustrated at not having our noses is front. The Angels though came out for the second half with renewed energy, and we were grateful to Alf for making a brilliant last ditch tackle, coming across from left back to deny a certain goal at the right hand post in the opening exchanges. Brodie found Luca, Luca danced past a tackle and let fly with a great shot which was no more than a foot wide. Bertie was having himself a fine game and from a little run of his the ball broke to Simba to pass the ball into the path of Brodie who weaved his way past 3 tackles before hitting a left foot shot which the goalkeeper smothered. All the while of course the Angels were a constant threat, on one occasion putting a brilliant passing sequence together which took a fine block from the superb Jack to bring to a halt. Elliot won a corner from a strong run and Brodie swung it in, it was cleared but Alf fired a powerful shot which flew over the bar. At this stage there was little to choose between the two teams, but then the Giants suffered a disastrous 5 minutes, Firstly despite the best efforts of several boys we were unable to get the ball away and the Angels striker was able to force the ball over the line from about a foot out and just a minute or two later we left ourselves open to a counter attack and the ball was dispatched home from a tight angle. In the blink of an eye we found ourselves two nil down with a mountain to climb. There was still 15 minutes to go though so time to fight back and they did, Bertie finding Elliot with a great pass, Elliot showing great pace and skill to get to the ball right on the by-line and pull the ball back into the path of the in rushing Brodie who did really well to get to the ball but his left foot effort flew just wide. Tom pushed forward and added some pace to the wing, running at the Angels left back and working his socks off, pushing his troops forward, with Eddie showing great heart and skill all afternoon, with one very memorable header that had people rubbing their heads in sympathy! Another counter attack, again from a tight angle saw James pull off an amazing save from a fearsome effort but he could do nothing about an outstanding finish right into the top corner from the edge of the box from the talented Angels left winger. Things got worse a moment or two later when another scruffy goal was conceded on the counter attack as we continued to press forward. Simba had worked so hard up front all day and he thoroughly deserved his brilliant late consolation with a stunning finish from distance,

Well done to the Angels, they deserved their victory today, they were the better side and in fairness they were due one given how narrowly they'd lost out to the Giants on the last two occasions. The score line felt very harsh, but the boys didn't feel sorry for themselves, working hard until the final whistle and accepting the defeat with dignity. Its just a shame we don't get to play against the Angels again this season, its even fun when we don't win. Good teams respond to disappointment, lets hope we get to respond sooner rather than later.

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Sunday 10th January - TYL Cup 1/4 Final

Langton Giants 2 - 2 Tonbridge Angels aet - Giants win 5-4 on penalties
Brodie, Simba

Wow.

For their first match of 2016 the Giants took to the pitch to face our local rivals and great friends the Tonbridge Angels, who we'd enjoyed an excellent match against a couple of months ago which the Giants edged narrowly 2-1, if anything this one was even better. No DJ available due to an ankle knock, but otherwise a full compliment and with the match to be played on the 3G conditions were good, despite the awful recent weather. The Giants started well, passing the ball and retaining possession well in the opening exchanges, Luca and Brodie working hard in the middle of the pitch with Elliot and Alf putting in intelligent runs down either wing. As the game moved on though the Angels came more and more into it and after an initial ten minutes of the Giants being on top, the tables were turned as the Angels took over the next 20 as the hardworking pressing game from the Angels put the Giants under significant pressure. Thankfully we have an excellent defence in Jack, Tom and Bertie and of course an outstanding goalkeeper in James who was called upon to make a very good save as a long distance shot arrowed towards the top corner. Simba showed quick feet and great pace to charge down the wing only to be tackled by the excellent Angels centre half but winning a corner. Bertie whipped it in beautifully and Brodie was inches away from connecting with it at the back post. Angels attacked again and James pulled off an excellent low save to his right when a shot deflected goalwards. Eddie was putting in a real shift, charging up and down the wing and using the ball well, very nearly playing Elliot in with a fine long pass. Then a set back, the talented Angels left winger found some space and skipped towards goal before scoring with a lovely chipped effort which gave James no chance. A one nil lead was well deserved for the Angels at this time, they'd been the better side in the first half, although we soon went close to equalising when Simba teed up Alf who hit a cracking low drive from outside the box which was brilliantly saved by the Angels keeper. In the closing moments though it could easily have been 2 nil to the Angels, but thanks to a save from James and follow up blocks from Luca and Tom the danger was averted.

We knew we had to play better in the second half to get back into this one, not that we'd played that badly, just Angels are a very good side. The Giants stepped up, big time, taking the game to the Angels more and transitioning from defence to attack much quicker than in the first half. We needed a goal though, and we got one, and what a goal it was, Brodie finding the top corner from 25 yards out with a stunning strike after creating the space for the shot himself by skipping past a lunging tackle. 1-1 and all to play for. The remaining 20 minutes saw some excellent exchanges as both teams worked hard to close one another down and attack at every opportunity. Bertie and Elliot were linking up superbly down the left side and the latter broke through with a brilliant jinking run only to be felled just before he reached the penalty box. Up stepped Brodie to strike a great free kick which bounced back from the inside of the post, Luca reacting first and firing the follow up towards the bottom corner only to see the Angel number 1 make an outstanding save to keep the scores level. Simba then saw a shot saved following good work from Eddie. All through this Jack was his usual dominant self at the back, allowing Tom to push forward to right wing and start to attack the Angels left back, linking up well with Simba and Alf in the process. Luca was having a brilliant game in centre midfield, tackling like mad and passing the ball intelligently. He also of course possesses one hell of a left foot strike and finally he was awarded the space to let one fly, inches over with the keeper well beaten. There was one major moment of concern when James charged from goal and managed to slow down the Angels striker but that striker brilliantly spun and floated the ball back over James' head and looked for all the world like it was going to win them the game, only for Bertie to show great desire and understanding of the situation by sprinting back and heading the ball off the line. So 1-1 and extra time to come.

The match continued at the same relentless pace, both teams performing superbly, and the Angels soon edged in front again, poking home after we failed to clear our lines. Still, no need to panic, we knew we were playing well and weren't about to give up. The Angel defence stood firm though and it was going to take something special to find our way through, thankfully we have some pretty special players and one of them, Simba broke free from his defender and let fly with an outrageous strike from fully 30 yards which rocketed into the top corner to level things up again. The final minutes came to a close with neither team giving an inch and both trying to win the game until the end, but neither could quite manage it so the agony of penalties couldn't be avoided. Up stepped Elliot, Bertie, Brodie, Luca to smash home their efforts and when Angels slipped up it gave Simba the chance to win it, which he duly did with the minimum of fuss. In typical Giants fashion there was no over the top celebrations, we've been on the receiving end of the pain of penalty defeat too many times ourselves, and genuinely felt for the outstanding Angels team who didn't deserve to lose in such fashion, neither side did.

A wonderful advert for youth football, two talented teams playing their hardest but retaining a high level of sportsmanship and spirit throughout. Huge credit to both teams, we face each other again in a couple of weeks and I for once can't wait. All the boys were brilliant, and it was especially pleasing to see skipper Tom have his best game of the season, excelling both in defence and attack. We await the semi final draw with interest!

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Sunday 13th December

Holmesdale Youth 2 - 0 Langton Giants

For our last outing of the year, the Giants set off to play an away game v Holmesdale Youth, a team they'd enjoyed a hard fought victory over earlier in the season. Since then though Holmesdale's results have been very impressive and they've acquired some new, talented players so we knew today would be tough, and it really was. Either they've been recruiting from the large boys section or they've had a massive growth spurt since September, as the Holmesdale team appeared to be significantly bigger than they did a few months ago, physically the biggest we've faced to-date. Due to a kit clash we found ourselves in the unusual position of playing against a team in our yellow and green colours, so perhaps this was why when they broke in the opening seconds we were slow to react and thanks to a stunning strike we found ourselves a goal behind with less than a minute on the clock. This seemed to shake the confidence of the boys somewhat as we spent the next 20 minutes chasing shadows, and not getting very close to them. Thankfully, Jack was in outstanding form and stood firm, denying Holmesdale any space in front of goal which meant despite the possession, James wasn't actually called upon to make any saves. Bertie and Tom were working hard along side Jack, with Brodie and Luca battling to try and get a foothold in the match. Clearly at least a couple of the new signings for Holmesdale were at the back as they were excellent, giving DJ, Simba and Elliot no opportunity to penetration their rear guard. For a second we feared Holmesdale were about to double their lead, but Captain Tom showed incredible desire to fling himself in the way of a goal bound strike. Half time came and the only positive was that we were only a goal down and we knew we could play a lot better than we had.

And we did. Holmesdale continued to press us hard and prove a very tough opponent but we were now competing. The midfield started passing the ball better and our attacks were starting to threaten. Eddie added some pace and vibrancy to the right wing, winning some big tackles and taking on the left back, DJ was linking up well with Elliot and Simba was starting to get some joy with his dribbling and running with the ball. Brodie found some space after beating two midfielders and released Elliot with a great ball, the talented and pacey winger burst forward, held off a tackle and let fly with a powerful drive but was denied by an excellent save. Moments later same player, similar position but this time from a DJ lay off following a searching pass from Luca, same result, another good save. As we tried to push forward more we were of course open to the counter attack. On three separate occasions, James was called up to make big saves, one of which was one of his very, very best, showing immense athleticism to tip a thunderous shot past the post which brought a round of applause from all watching. Simba very nearly broke through, showing great trickery but stopped in his tracks by a last ditch tackle. There was then an agonising 30 seconds or so where the ball was pinging around their penalty box but thanks to some last ditch defending and the ball just not breaking for us we couldn't get a clean strike in on goal. One more counter attack, one more superb save from James but this time the ball fell at the feet of the Holmesdale striker who smashed the ball into the roof of the net to deservedly double their lead. The boys worked hard until the end of match, never giving up for a second, but we never really created any further clear cut chances to get back into the match. Holmesdale were just too good on the day, I would say based on this performance the best we've faced this season. That and it not being our best day meant the result was a fair reflection on the match.

The Christmas break has probably come at the right time for us, our small squad meaning a number of the boys are understandably looking a little jaded, but to have won 8 out of 11 matches this season they can all be extremely proud of their performances up until this point. A couple of weeks break, rest up, eat too much Turkey and chocolate and we go again.

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Sunday, 6th December - TYL Cup 3rd Round

Balham Blazers 1 - 3 Langton Giants
DJ x2, Elliot

After a long journey the Giants took to a very good pitch to face divisional rivals Balham Blazers in the 3rd round of the cup with a chance to avenge last seasons defeat on penalties to the same team in the same competition. Whilst nowhere near as bad as last week, there was still a stiff wind and a bit of a slope to adapt to so it wasn't immediately obvious which way to kick once we'd won the toss. We decided to play up the slope, figuring that was more predictable than the wind. Unfortunately moments before kick off, Captain Tom was struck down with asthma issues again so Jack assumed the armband and Alf was required to drop into right back duties, which he did with aplomb. We welcomed back Elliot this week and he had an immediate impact, receiving a delightful through ball from Luca and unleashing a powerful shot which the goalkeeper could only parry into the path of the on-rushing DJ who poked home the rebound, a proper goal poachers finish and just reward for not giving up. A good start then, but Balham are always a threat as one of the top scoring teams in the division so things were far from comfortable. Jack once again had the upper hand against the pacey and skilful Balham striker, time and time again using his strength to ease him off the ball and start attacks with his accurate passing. Brodie was pulling the strings in midfield with some intelligent passing and movement and kept us on the front foot throughout. Alf was having an excellent match at right back, performing his defensive duties diligently whilst pushing forward to support the attack too, on one occasion following up some good hold up play from DJ with a powerful strike from distance which flew wide. On the other side of the pitch Bertie was putting in a masterful performance at left back, giving no room at all to the Balham right winger, winning countless tackles and linking up beautifully with Elliot. Simba was proving to be a real problem for the Balham defence and he burst clear down the right wing, lifted his head and picked out DJ with the perfect cross but the shot was well saved. Then the move of the match, starting with Simba who found himself in the right back position before switching the play over to Bertie to flick the ball forward to DJ who laid the ball into the path of Elliot first time who then delivered a wonderful ball into the path of Simba who had sprinted the length of the pitch to get on the end of it, only for his momentum to get the better of him at the last second, still it was a wonderful bit of pass and move football that summed up what the Giants are about perfectly. The boys were on top but the counter attacking threat of Balham reminded us that we needed a second goal. Luca struck a first time shot with power from distance but right down the throat of the goalkeeper before Bertie set Elliot racing away with a quickly taken free kick, Elliot somehow keeping it in and able to cross for Simba but the ball got a bit stuck under his feet and the 'keeper was able to smother the close range shot. It looked for a split second that the Balham striker was in, but a last ditch brilliantly timed slide-tackle from Bertie saved the day. In the closing minutes of the half Luca saw a shot whistle wide and Simba had a 1v1 chance saved by the feet of the goalkeeper whilst under pressure from a late arriving defender.

So a slender lead at half time but some good news, Tom was feeling better and was able to return. A tricky run from Brodie resulted in us winning a free kick, which Elliot whipped in and Jack met with a fine header just wide. Simba won a tackle in midfield and spotted Tom running clear through the middle of the pitch, delivering the perfect ball for him to close down onto the goalie who came out quickly and made himself big, denying our captain with a very good save, Elliot pouncing on the rebound which went agonisingly wide. DJ returned and his movement and inter play up front was a joy, as was his work rate, winning us the ball high up the pitch on several occasions. Brodie produced an amazing bit of skill that I'm reliably informed is called a "Maradona" but looked like something from Strictly Come Dancing to me, that brought a gasp from those watching and then shot wide with his left foot after a good run. The fact that goalkeeper James' name hasn't been mentioned yet is down to the outstanding defensive performance Jack, Alf and Bertie were putting on in front of him, what he was contributing though was calm and efficient distribution of the ball, both with his feet and from his hands. With the score line still somehow just one nil though, James was, not for the first time, the hero. The excellent Balham striker got through once, just once, and from just 8 yards out let fly with a rocket of a shot that James somehow got finger tips to and pushed it over the bar. It was a simply stunning save which almost certainly changed the game as 1-1 at that time would have given our opposition a huge confidence boost and the momentum. Moments later we should have been 2 up, its amazing we weren't! Brodie found DJ with a great pass, his shot was saved at point black range and despite the lunging efforts of Elliot, Tom and lastly Simba the ball somehow stayed out, not quite sure how. Not to worry, we didn't have to wait long. Elliot playing a wonderful 1-2 with DJ before being flattened as he was about to shoot, penalty. Up stepped regular taker DJ to tuck away the penalty with the minimum of fuss and finally we had a 2 goal cushion. Alf pushed forward to right wing and immediately set up a third goal with an excellent cross which Elliot deservedly fired home to make it 3. Luca continued to work his socks off in the midfield but didn't get the goal his performance warranted when his well struck shot flew wide. In the closing minutes Balham were awarded a free kick in a dangerous position, and despite the valiant efforts of James and Bertie it found its way into the top corner but we saw the game out without any further dramas to secure our place in the 1/4 finals.

A fine team performance, good to get back to winning ways and progress in the cup. Special mention to Alf and Bertie for their outstanding performances as full backs today and to James for that big save at 1 nil.

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Sunday, 29th November

Langton Giants 2 - 5 Tooting & Mitcham
Eddie, Simba

One thing we've learned in our time in the Tandridge League is that it is relentless, there are no weeks off, we got a stark reminder of that today. With Elliot unavailable and Simba having already played a full match in the morning, Sam kindly agreed to be a back up for us despite having a game to play immediately afterwards, and it was just as well he did when our unfortunate captain Tom was forced to depart the action after just 5 minutes for the second match in a row following a reoccurrence of his asthma problems. With Simba being used sparingly it meant we were down to the bare bones for a very difficult match against last seasons runners up. I don't think the Giants have ever played in such difficult conditions, the wind was insane and making things very difficult, but in the first half it was definitely in our favour so we had to take as much advantage as we could. James has been in excellent form in recent weeks so it was no great surprise when he pulled off an early save when we didn't clear a corner properly, but soon we were on the front foot, Bertie skipping down the left wing and delivering the perfect ball to the back post where Eddie came screaming in to volley home the opening goal. With Sam, Jack and Alf standing firm at the back and Brodie and Luca being strong in central midfield the Giants were in control and were soon creating more chances. Simba came on and had an immediate impact, breaking free but seeing his shot saved. Eddie skipped past the final defender and hit a great shot across the goalkeeper who did brilliantly to tip the ball with his fingers onto the post with Simba connecting well with the rebound, too well perhaps as the shot flew over the bar. Tooting & Mitcham took the goal kick quickly and we failed to react, the second ball was sent high over our defensive line and despite a desperate last ditch tackle from Jack, a Tooting player followed up to smash home an equaliser against the run of play. It was a very disappointing goal to concede, we'd switched off and had been punished. Still we pushed forward and DJ showed quick feet and great vision, playing a beautiful reverse pass into the path of Simba who finished well into the bottom corner to reinstate our lead just before half time.

Although we'd been on top and played some great football, we were all aware 2-1 up after having the advantage of the wind was nowhere near par for the course and we were up against it. Tooting & Mitcham are a very fine side and very, very big. With the wind now in our face and the physicality of the Tooting side looking to take advantage things were likely to become very difficult, and so it proved. Within minutes of the restart the match was level thanks to a very good low finish from the edge of the box. Another Tooting break saw a shot deflected onto the post and it looked like it would be followed up into the net only for James to make a big save to keep things level. Brodie and Luca continued to battle in midfield, Sam giving Simba a break upfront and working hard to cause them problems, which he did, for one delicious moment it looked like he was about to let fly with a Sam special but his unselfishness got the better of him, nearly playing Brodie in but his first touch just took him too close to the goalkeeper to save at his feet. With Tom still unable to return it meant Bertie was restricted to left back which cost us some attacking momentum, but he put in a very disciplined performance, as did Alf at right back, never giving up for a minute and working hard to push the team forward despite the crazy wind! Two big scares in a minute, firstly James reacted brilliantly to keep out a cross that the wind turned into a shot, diving to his left to tip the ball around the post, then Brodie produced an amazing goal line headed clearance when the wind almost blew the corner directly into the net! We were hanging on, the Tooting boys suddenly seeming even bigger than they really are (if that is possible). Another corner was swung in and although we cleared the first ball, the second delivery came in and was fired home from close range. Now we were behind and despite the wind had to try and drive forward to get back into the game. Jack, Luca and a returning Simba tried as they might and on several occasions nearly broke clear but it wasn't to be. Tom was able to return for the closing minutes and added to the attacking threat with some excellent runs down the right wing. As we pushed forward we were always risking the counter attack, especially against wind powered speedy attackers and in the closing stages twice we were punished to give the score line an unfair appearance.

No doubt about it, Tooting & Mitcham took better advantage of the wind assistance than we did and deserved to win the match. On the plus side, not one Giant let his head drop or stopped giving their all, and whilst understandably disappointed, accepted defeat with good grace. Not to worry, in this league results like this can happen in the blink of an eye and the team still sit proudly in second place at what is likely to be the half way point of the season (depending on whether Glebe Tigers pull out or not) with a record of 6 wins and 2 defeats which anyone would have taken at the start of the season. Cup game next week, time to go again.

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Sunday 22nd November

Tonbridge Angels 1 - 2 Langton Giants
Simba, Elliot

On the first properly cold Sunday morning of the season the Giants travelled the shortest distance to an away game they'll have all season to visit our good friends at Tonbridge Angels. The quality of the Angels team is well known to us as many of their boys play on the same District team as several of the Giants so it was always likely to be a tightly fought contest, and so it proved. Despite the early frost the pitch was in good condition and both sets of boys were keen to get about the pitch, if for no other reason other than to warm up! This made for a bit of a hectic start until things settled down a bit a few minutes in. With Luca unavailable this week, a minor reshuffle saw Simba drop into join Brodie in centre midfield, but this didn't stop him popping up at the back post to stab the ball inches wide from close range following a dangerous Bertie corner. Jack, Tom and Bertie patrolled the back line in front of the unflappable James, with Elliot and Alf working the wings initially, DJ working hard up front. Simba was felled from behind some 10 yards outside the box but dusted himself down to take the resulting free kick. He struck it perfectly and with great power, on a freezing cold morning and with a slippery ball it was always likely to cause the goalkeeper problems, and despite his best efforts, the Angels goalkeeper was unable to stop the ball crossing the line to give the Giants an early lead. Moments later Brodie had a similar effort from a similar distance saved with another free kick. Tonbridge Angels are a very good side though so it was no great surprise when they fought back, James saving well from a low shot from distance. A free kick was conceded in a dangerous position to the side of the box, it was well delivered and an Angels midfielder rose brilliantly to head the ball towards the far post but thankfully it flew just wide, a let off. What was becoming more obvious as the game progressed was just how well DJ was playing, holding the ball up, bringing other players into the match, showing intelligent movement and generally being a handful for the well organised Angels defence. Simba broke free with a great bit of skill, played the ball into DJ who produced the perfectly weighted pass which Elliot struck firmly first time only to be denied by a stunning save from the Angels goalkeeper. DJ then met the resulting corner from Bertie, heading over whilst under great pressure. Just when it looked like we were getting on top, the Angels reminded us what a threat they were, James being called on to make an equally stunning save at the other end as we were caught out by a rapid counter attack, tipping the ball over the bar. From the corner, Jack blocked a goal bound shot at close range, Tom mopping up the loose ball. Bertie's corner delivery has been outstanding all season long and today was no exception, but somehow we failed to capitalise on any of them. Eddie continued his fine form from last week, working hard in both directions. Then a piece of brilliance from Elliot and DJ, the former skipping past three challenges before drilling a firm ball into DJ's feet which he controlled perfectly before rolling the ball back into the path of Elliot who smashed the ball into the top corner with his (supposedly) weaker right foot. An outstanding goal scored and created by two players at the top of their game. In the last minute of the half James was required to make a low save, with the ever alert Jack clearing the ball away before any Angels player could prod home the rebound.

So half time saw us with a 2 nil lead but nobody thought for one minute this was anything like job done. Alf assumed left back duties brilliantly as always, allowing Bertie to push forward whilst Elliot had a break. Captain Tom was doing a superb job of containing the tricky Angels left winger on the other side. The Angels really upped their game second half, as we had expected them to do and put us under great pressure. Brodie and Simba battled like mad in the middle of the pitch, tackling everything and generally the defence stood firm, but with just 5 minutes gone of the period our lead was cut in half when we failed to clear the ball properly and were punished by an outstandingly struck shot through the crowd which James wouldn't have even seen before it hit the back of the net. With still some 25 minutes to go it was all hands to the pump to try and hold off the energised and skilful Angels side. This is when DJ really came into his own, holding the ball up brilliantly, buying the defence and midfield some respite and turning defence into attack with his thoughtful passing, meaning we remained an attacking threat throughout. Perhaps equally as impressive as DJ's play up front was the team's ability to defend a succession of well delivered corners as the Angels pushed forward desperately trying to get an equaliser. On numerous occasions, Brodie showed quick feet to keep the ball out of the clutches of the physically bigger Angles midfielders and used the ball creatively to help us retain possession. Captain Tom had to depart for a while due to some asthma problems, with Alf taking on yet another new role at right back, with Eddie doing a great job just ahead of him to try and help his team mate against the strong running of the troublesome left winger. James made another very good save, this time low to his left, pushing the ball out of the danger zone to boot. Elliot broke free from a good Bertie pass and switched the play to DJ who laid the ball perfectly into the path of Simba but the shot flew wide. We were hanging on a bit but the sight of Tom returning to the fold gave everyone a boost. As appears to be becoming the norm, in the last minute Jack had one of his now famous Superman moments, bursting from defence and running through everyone like a runaway train the length of the pitch, shooting narrowly wide when met by the outrushing Angles goalkeeper. Not to worry, moments later the final whistle blew and the points were secure.

One of the performances of the season and a fine example of youth football played at a very high level, in great spirit between two very well matched teams. The result could have gone either way to be fair, great credit to the Angels for their second half fight back. Without question the player of the day for the Giants was DJ, putting in probably his best ever performance in a Giants shirt, earning himself a well deserved round of applause from his team mates at the end of the match. Well done DJ and well done all the boys on an outstanding performance.

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Sunday 15th November

Langton Giants 5 - 1 Balham Blazers
Brodie x 2, Simba, Eddie, Elliot

Keen to get back to winning ways the Giants faced a tough and talented opponent in Balham Blazers, who started the season with an highly impressive draw away at Junior Elite and had knocked us out of the cup this time last season. With all the recent rain it was a relief to be playing on the 3G pitch this week and as before, the surface suited our style of football. For once we got off to the perfect start, Simba showing great power and pace to burst across the top of the penalty box before unleashing an unstoppable shot into the top corner to give us an early lead. This was nearly short lived, for the third week in a row we were grateful to a brilliant headed goal line clearance, this time from captain Tom, leaning back to keep the ball out of the back of the net from a dangerous corner. From the resulting corner James was called upon to make an excellent low reaction save from close range holding on to the ball too to deny any follow up efforts. Although the surface was perfect, the strong wind was making conditions quite challenging, especially for the Giants as it was firmly in their faces. As a result, at times it was hard work just to get out of our half. Balham work extremely hard, pass the ball quickly and accurately and have some very speedy players, especially their lightening fast striker. Even our superb centre half Jack had his work cut out against this talented opponent, but Jack being Jack, he still came out firmly on top. James sent a goal-kick up to the feet of Simba who knocked it wide to Eddie who volleyed a wonderful through ball first time to play Elliot in who struck the shot perfectly from a difficult angle only to be denied his first Giants goal by a decent save. We conceded a free kick in a dangerous position, and with the strong wind assisting, anything on target was going to be difficult to stop, and so it proved as the brilliantly struck shot flew past James into the top corner in the blink of any eye, one all. For the next ten minutes or so, a combination of increased confidence the equalizer gave them, the wind and their speed of pass put Balham on top. Alf, Jack and Tom stood firm, with Luca, Brodie, Elliot and Simba working their socks off as the midfield four to protect them. All the while DJ's trickery and work rate was keeping us as an attacking threat. We countered down the left, Elliot found Brodie who spun and delivered a delicious cross-field ball into the path of a sprinting Eddie who showed great pace and technique to finish with an exquisite first time finish across the goal keeper into the bottom far corner to reinstate our lead. Now it was time for OUR confidence to receive a boost, and with Bertie re-entering the fray on the left wing he soon won the ball high up the pitch, found Brodie who after initially being stopped, won the ball back and smashed a shot past the goalkeeper to extend the lead to 3-1. Brodie clearly had the bit between his teeth now, as he then scored a brilliant individual effort, weaving his way past 4 defenders before unleashing an unstoppable shot into the top corner to give us a healthy 4-1 lead at half time.

The lead sounded comfortable but the boys all new that Balham has been a real threat throughout the first half and this wasn't done and dusted just yet. As if to make the point, within seconds of the restart James was required to make an excellent high save as a pot shot from distance looked destine for the top corner. An early goal back at that point would have put us under severe pressure so it was an important as well as technically difficult save from our great goalkeeper. We had the wind on our side this half and we were able to take full advantage, creating lots of chances. Simba turned and shot over, and then got on the end of an outstanding Tom defensive header but that one flew over the bar too. Simba then turned provider, showing good feet and slipping the ball back to Brodie who hit an accurate shot with his left foot that was brilliantly saved, denying him a hatrick. Bertie was having a great game, again, and was so unfortunate not to score, twice being denied by excellent saves from an inspired goalkeeper. It was starting to feel like we were going to remain frustrated in the second half, especially when a 'Flying Eddie' showed fantastic timing, steaming in at the back post to meet Brodie's perfectly delivered in-swinging corner, only to see the ball blocked on the goal line. Finally though we got the breakthrough our second half performance deserved, Simba showing great awareness to play Elliot in with a wonderful reverse pass, Elliot showing great poise to chip the ball over the outrushing goalkeeper with his weaker right foot to score his first Giants goal, the first of many I'm sure. DJ was having a real impact on the right, with intelligent movement and clever passing, and it was from this that Tom was given three chances to nab a goal of his own in the closing minutes, going close on each occasion and showing excellent timing of his runs. Luca struck an excellent free kick that beat everybody except for one defender who was on the line and cleared it away at the last second, and then was centimetres away from getting on the end of a Simba cross field pass, Simba showing great awareness and unselfishness when he could have shot himself.

The second half was an excellent display, more goals were deserved but front to back its difficult to ask for more. Alf was outstanding today at left back, and later on in centre midfield, reminding us all what a versatile player he is. Jack put in yet another masterful display at centre back and special mention has to be given to Eddie who was a real live wire today. Well done boys, a great team effort.

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Sunday 8th November

Junior Elite 2 - 0 Langton Giants

For the first time in Giants history, this match report is brought to you for 30,000 feet as the chief scout is on the talent hunt in Barcelona (that or attending an incredibly dull I.T conference - take your pick). Today saw us take on Junior Elite who have run away with the A division every year, and remained unbeaten for the last 3 league seasons, so we knew we were facing an uphill task but we also knew we were in great form and had a perfect record to-date which gave us confidence. We also had new signing Elliot in the ranks and a full set of fit healthy boys to give the league leaders a run for their money. Things started well enough, the defence and midfield were strong and DJ was harrying the Junior Elite defence from the off. Suddenly though we found ourselves behind in the blink of an eye as a speculative shot was brilliantly driven into the top corner to give James no chance. No reason to panic though, we were matching them and very little can be done to stop such a good strike. Jack, Tom and Alf were keeping things tight at the back with Simba and Bertie working hard down either wing, attacking and defending with equal energy. Luca and Simba were battling hard in midfield and were winning more battles than they were losing. It is always a struggle to turn defence into attack against this team because they close you down as soon as you win the ball, but twice in quick succession we came close to breaking through, DJ and Simba the near beneficiaries of good through balls from Luca and Brodie. Eddie and Elliot entered the fray and added fresh legs and quality to the wings. We were now pushing Junior Elite back but they remained a danger on the counter attack, so we were indebted to James when he saved well at his near post to deny the pacy Junior Elite winger. A corner was won, it was cleared but only to Alf who did as always instructed, hit it.... sadly over the bar on this occasion. Luca then dusted himself down from being felled and hit a sweet free kick narrowly over the bar which had the keeper well beaten. A few weeks back v Bromley we were treated to an amazing goal line headed clearance by Bertie, this time it was Brodie's turn to complete the feat, clearing a bending corner moments before it went over the line. Then came the moment that potentially defined the match. Simba found space on the right wing and lofted a dangerous cross into the Junior Elite penalty box, the flight of the ball was stopped by a defenders hand which was high above his head and out in front of him. Everyone stopped as we waited for the inevitable referees whistle and point to the spot. It didn't come. The referee (who by chance also happens to be a Junior Elite coach) explained it was ball to hand. The fact the boys hand was high above his head and had travelled some 5 yards was immaterial apparently.

So the boys trudged off feeling somewhat agrieved but the desire to turn the clear injustice into further motivation was strong. We started the second half the better side, Eddie went agonisingly close to equalizing with a brilliant low shot across the goalkeeper which can't have missed by more than a couple of inches following some great hold up play and pass by Simba. Elliot was working so hard down the left hand side and linking up superbly with his new team mates, he's going to be an outstanding addition to the squad of that there is no doubt. James continued to excel, first of all by tipping a powerful strike onto the cross bar and then saving low to his right. All of these chances came from counter attacks as the boys bravely pushed forward. Then a chance Alf showed great determination to win the ball and fed Tom down the right who pinged the ball into Simba to beat his man and hit a rasping shot that was well saved at the near post. As we pushed further desperately looking for a deserved equaliser the pace of Junior Elite caught us out over the top, out came James and won the battle, brilliantly saving with his feet in a one on one situation. Then came the story of two free kicks. First was for the Giants, Brodie striking it superbly towards the top corner which brought out an excellent save, the second was for Junior Elite, which was also expertly struck, James saved but the Junior Elite striker bundled in the rebound to make it 2 nil. It felt harsh but the boys battled admirably until the very end, Brodie having two more shots saved from distance and Elliot going very close to playing Tom in right at the end.

2 nil against Junior Elite is always a credible scoreline but the boys knew they deserved better. Who knows had the penalty been given things might have been different, but that's how football goes sometimes. Massive credit to all of them for working so hard and dealing with adversity with such dignity. Special mention this week to James for an outstanding performance, Elliot for a strong debut and to Luca who had his best game to-date for the Giants, showing immense work rate and desire.

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Sunday 1st November

Langton Giants 2 - 0 TW Foresters
Luca, Simba

After a week off last week the boys returned to action, this time in the Tandridge Youth Cup Competition, where'd they'd been handed a tough draw against the always competitive Foresters. We'd played a highly enjoyable pre-season friendly with them just a few weeks ago and just as on that occasions, Foresters started off the better team, pressuring us high up the pitch and forcing us into a number of errors as we were firmly on the back foot. Fortunately, we have the outstanding Jack, Tom and Bertie at the back so despite the pressure James was well protected in goal and wasn't called into any serious action in those opening exchanges. Slowly the Giants boys started to find their feet and come into the game more, with Luca keen to impress against his former side. He and Brodie were getting on the ball more and moving it quickly enough to get the ball out to wingers DJ and Alf, with Simba looking lively up top. The first chance of the match came when Brodie dinked a delightful ball into the feet of Simba who was denied by a good save at the near post. DJ showed quick feet and awareness to find Brodie on the edge of the box who's shot flew just wide of the far post before Bertie showed great pace and trickery to make enough room on the left wing to deliver a superb cross which looked destined for Brodie's forehead before an excellent defensive header intercepted the ball. Bertie was proving to be a problem on the left for Foresters and he soon created another chance, slotting the ball in for DJ to stab towards the far corner with just the goalie to beat, but the ball rolled just wide of the post. All the while Jack, Tom and now Alf ensured any Foresters attacks were snuffed out long before threatening James, who despite the lack of a need to make any saves, showed great footwork on several occasions. Brodie won the ball just outside his own penalty box and went on a storming run, holding off no less than 4 challenges as he charged forward and hit a powerful shot just over bar from distance. Obviously inspired by this, centre back Jack then looked like Superman when he took off down the right wing with incredible power and pace, leaving everyone in his wake, only to be stopped in his tracks by a brilliant slide tackle from the Foresters left back. Sam came on at right back and if anything added to the defensive stronghold, showing great positional awareness, tackling and an accomplished passing range. Alf played a cracking ball through to Simba who's shot was hard, high and accurate, bringing out a remarkable save from the Foresters No.1, tipping the ball over the bar with his finger tips, following that up with another brilliant stop, this time from a Luca effort which he tipped round the post. It felt like the goal was coming and so it proved. The Giants were awarded a free kick in a dangerous position and up stepped Luca to fire home the perfect, low, powerful shot right into the bottom corner. His first ever goal for the Giants, safe to say it won't be his last. 1-0 half time.

The second half started well, much better than the first half had, with a glorious bit of football down the right hand side which very nearly resulted in a second goal. It started when Jack won yet another tackle, then showed great composure to play in Tom who first time exchanged passes with the brilliant Alf who in turn played Simba in down the wing who charged forward, lifted his head up and crossed beautifully to DJ who connected first time with a clean strike into the side netting, lovely stuff. Brodie then played the ball into the feet of Alf on the edge of the box to lay it off with a lovely touch to Simba who's left foot effort was well saved. Luca and Brodie were now working really well in tandem in the middle of the park and the former saw a rasping effort fly over the bar before for the first time in the match our defence were caught out by a well delivered ball over the top which played the striker in only for James to remind us what a great goalkeeper he is by diving and getting two strong hands to the ball to maintain our lead. This proved to be a wake up call, as only taking one of our chances left us exposed to being caught out, so we were relieved when Simba doubled our lead moments later, charging from the half way line and finishing with a powerful low effort. DJ and Bertie both made excellent runs to drag their defenders out wide, allowing Simba the space to charge into, it is little things like that which sometimes go unnoticed but make all the difference in a tight game like this one. Tom was having a good run on the right wing, able to push forward in the knowledge Sam was performing superbly behind him in the right back position. Simba switched the play out to that side with an excellent ball playing Tom in with just the goalkeeper to beat, but again the goalie came up with another top save, this time with his outstretched right foot. Tom then went on a great run again, pulling the ball back across the goal to DJ at the back post who showed his usual quick feet to find space only for the shot to rise high over the cross bar. In the closing minutes Foresters were denied a very good goal by the offside flag. Although the decision was a correct one, Foresters deserved something from a game they'd shown great work rate and endeavour in, so can consider themselves a little unlucky. There was still time for the Foresters goalkeeper to pull off another excellent save, this time from a Simba 1v1 (thanks to an outstanding Luca through ball) with practically the last kick of the match. The whistle blew and the Giants boys were relieved and delighted to be in the hat for the next round of the cup.

An excellent example of grass roots kids football, both teams showing great determination and quality on the ball. Special mention again for Jack who is just performing at the highest level at the moment, for the second week in a row being on the receiving end of high praise from the oppositions management team. Outstanding work rate all round from all the boys, keep it going lads!

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Sunday 18th October

Bromley Ravens 1 - 2 Langton Giants
DJ (Pen), Brodie

After an unexpected week off last week the Giants resumed their season with a tough away trip to Bromley, who are probably the biggest club in the league with their senior team recently promoted to the Conference and as such have very impressive facilities. With Eddie on international duty (i.e holiday) and Simba unavailable due to being selected to play for Brighton v Chelsea, we were grateful to be able to call upon Henry and Mattie to fill the voids. It is fair to say that Bromley started the better of the two sides, as they pressed us high up the pitch and closed us down very effectively. The pitch was 3G but played very heavily and the Giants took a while to adapt to the slower moving ball, requiring extra 'umph' in their passes. The high pressure was causing us problems and resulted in Bromley having three early shots, the first of which flew wide with James superbly saving the other two to keep them at bay. We started to grow into the game, Luca and Brodie working hard to get hold of the game in midfield with Bertie and Alf bursting down the wings to support DJ up top. Henry won the ball with a crunching tackle and sent Alf away down the right, he turned the ball into DJ who tried to play Bertie in but the ball appeared to be too close to the goalkeeper. Bertie didn't give up on it though and the pressure told as the goalie spilt the ball. Bertie got into nick the ball away only to be felled as the goalkeeper tried to recover the ball, penalty. DJ is as reliable as they come from the spot so it was no great surprise when he smacked the ball into the back of the net to give us a lead somewhat against the run of play. Then a blow, Tom landing awkwardly on his ankle and forced to leave the game, requiring a reshuffle, Mattie coming onto the right wing, Alf switching to left back. Moments later we were inches away from conceding, Bertie saving the day with an incredible goal line clearance with his head. Bertie was continuing his recent fine form going forward too, making some excellent runs and very nearly doubling our lead after good work from Mattie and DJ, only denied by a good save. Mattie was adding real energy to the midfield, tackling everyone and showing an amazing work rate and appetite for the match. With Tom off, Jack had been moved to the middle of the defence and set about putting in an imperious performances, absolutely dominating the back line and proving an impossible to beat object. He won his umpteenth tackle of the day and sprayed the ball out wide to DJ who was tripped near the corner flag. Bertie swung the ball in over everyone's head, smacking the face of the cross bar. The Giants were now on top, Mattie seeing a good shot blocked and Brodie sending a header over from a great Luca delivery. In our last game Brodie treated us to a volley from a good 30 yards out, today he topped it, striking a volley that made that one look like a tap in. A Bromley centre back cleared his lines with a powerful header which fell to Brodie who was standing no more than a yard in from the half way line, and all anyone could do was watch as he sent the ball back over the defenders, and goalkeepers head with the sweetest volley which ripped into the roof of the net. Incredible stuff, and very much the front runner in the goal-of-the-season stakes!

So, two nil at half time but we knew this was far from done, and so it proved when Bromley hit the post with a well struck shot in the opening moments. That scare aside though, the Giants controlled the game for the majority of the second half, showing great discipline in keeping their shape and working so very, very hard. Luca was running himself to the ground for the cause and breaking up the Bromley plays, Henry continued to excel at right back and Mattie continued to amaze everybody with his determination and refusal to be stopped. Alf showed great maturity in knowing what his role was in this second half against the very talented Bromley right winger, keeping him checked whilst also pushing forward and enhancing the attacking play at every opportunity. On one such occasion he went on a brilliant run down the left hand side and cut in to the penalty box with his pass just failing to find DJ at the back post. DJ himself was proving a real handful and some of his link up play with Bertie was superb. Another great Luca corner was met by another Brodie header but again the ball flew over the bar. More tricky footwork from DJ won us a free kick in a dangerous position which Luca struck powerfully and low, denied by a good save. The Giants then got a boost when skipper Tom was able to re-enter the fray and he resumed his usual role of ball playing centre half, providing an extra level of leadership and control as we entered the last quarter of the match. Bromley continued to press and a number of balls over the top could have caused us problems had James not been as vigilant as he was, coming off his line to intercept them all before they proved to be a problem. As we came into the closing moments we appeared to be in total control until a Bromley attacker let fly with a brilliant swerving, dipping effort from distance that gave James no chance to cut our lead in half. Fortunately though, this proved to be pretty much the last kick of the match so the points were secured.

Four wins out of four to start the season, you can't ask for any more than that at this stage. Today's wasn't our best footballing performance of the season but the attitude and determination was remarkable from all the boys, and to pull out a win whilst missing a couple of key players was especially pleasing, Well done and thank you to Mattie and Henry for their enormous contribution to the win and a special mention has to be given to Jack who was simply immense today, wherever he was asked to play.

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Sunday 4th October

Sevenoaks Town 2 - 4 Langton Giants
Brodie x2, Simba, Jack

Our third game of the season and one of the shorter trips, just up the A21 to Sevenoaks Town who we've contested many a game with over the years throughout mini-soccer in the Crowborough League and with a number of boys on both teams now at secondary school together, it felt like a match amongst familiar friends. Maybe it was the familiarity that caused the Giants to put in their most lethargic performance of the season in the first half as Sevenoaks were well on top, showing greater organisation, passing, movement and effort to demonstrate exactly why they had enjoyed a very impressive start to the season. We had our moments, Bertie seeing a shot closed down and Eddie having a well struck shot parried at the near post by the goalkeeper after being released by Simba, but they were few and far between and Sevenoaks were a constant threat. Thankfully, Tom, Jack and Bertie remained switched on which at least meant we were able to keep our opponents at bay, despite our struggles, that was at least until a well struck cross shot sailed over everyone's head and into the far corner. With usual No.1 James out injured we were grateful to Sam for helping us out for the second time already this season, this time as goalkeeper and he put in a superb performance, but even he was given no chance with this goal. The goal seemed to wake the boys up a little bit, Simba denied with a rasping shot by a good save, with Bertie sending the follow up over the bar. Eddie, Alf and Henry were all working hard and Luca and Brodie were slowly growing into the game, the latter going closest to equalizing when skilling up a defender before smacking a great shot firmly against the cross bar from outside the box. Despite the progress towards the end of the half, we were indebted to Jack and Tom for their outstanding last ditch defending on so many occasions just to keep it close.

The half time talk was honest and frank, the performance was nowhere near good enough and our opponents thoroughly deserved their lead, if anything we were lucky to only be the one goal adrift at that stage, thanks to Sam making a couple of smart stops. There was clearly more energy from the Giants as the second half started and a tactical switch saw Simba move to the right wing after we'd struggled to get him much space through the middle, mainly down to the outstanding play of the Sevenoaks centre half and centre midfielder. It started to tell as Simba was now able to use his pace to create some attacking opportunities, Brodie's shot tipped round the post from a Simba cross, and Eddie going close with the resulting corner kick. Just when it felt like we were getting on top another set back. Sam was called upon to make an excellent save at his near post but we failed to clear the ball and the ball was brilliantly driven back into the top of the net, again giving Sam no chance. 2 nil down, 20 minutes left and a mountain to climb. Fortunately the Simba right wing experiment continued to be productive and almost immediately he burst past the last defender and slotted the ball low into the far corner and it was game on. Now the Giants were buzzing, Alf was flying into tackles and going on several mazy runs, Bertie was replicating Simba's wing work on the left hand side and DJ was linking up the play beautifully, not least than when he sent Simba free with a sumptuous pass, with Simba only being denied by a fine save. Luca and Brodie were now commanding the centre of the pitch as we pushed Sevenoaks back in desperate search for an equaliser. Luca let fly with his powerful left foot and the ball look destined for the top corner, the Sevenoaks goalkeeper pulling off an incredible save to deny him, tipping the ball over the bar. Bertie whipped in a delicious corner to the back post where a big shout of "Brodie's" was heard around the pitch before he crashed the ball back into the far corner with an outstanding leaping header, 2-2 with less than 10 to go. DJ showed excellent footwork to find a yard of space on the edge of the box before sending a rasping shot inches over the bar, before Simba shot just wide after breaking clear again. Then came the Sam show. Sevenoaks were awarded a free kick in a very dangerous position, and it was superbly taken and looked certain to hit the roof of the net before Sam brilliantly palmed it away and out of danger with firm hands, Sevenoaks recycled the ball back to the middle though and let fly with another powerful drive only for Sam to again parry the shot to keep us level. It was probably the pivotal moment of the match because had we gone behind again at that point, its hard to imagine the boys could have come back again. We then had a free kick of our own in a dangerous position after Simba was felled, and again Luca was denied by some top draw goalkeeping after hitting the ball perfectly. As good as both goalkeepers had been, nobody could have done anything about what happened next. The ball was high in the sky, some 30 yards from goal, it bounced once, again very high but when it came down the second time, there was the size 6 right foot of Brodie to volley it over the goalkeepers head with a stunning strike to edge the Giants in front for the first time. With just a few minutes on the clock it was time to defend and see out the win.... so quite what our outstanding right back Jack was doing in the oppositions six yard box in the last minute only he knows, but thank goodness he was, as he bundled home a 4th with practically the last kick of the game from a Simba cross.

An excellent game between two fine teams, Sevenoaks can feel aggrieved not to get something from it, especially based on their first half performance, but the Giants boys deserve great credit for their never-say-die attitude and some excellent football in the closing stages to win the game. Special mention again to Sam for his brilliant performance in goal, had it not been for his double save at 2-2 things could have ended very differently.

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Sunday 27th September

Langton Giants 4 - 1 Holmesdale Youth
Simba x3, DJ

Our first home game of the season against a new opposition on a glorious morning at our Groombridge location, with the pitch in great nick everything was set for a good mornings football, and so it proved, with two fine footballing sides putting on a great display. Holmesdale recently joined the Tandridge League from the Selkent league which is also highly regarded so we were expecting a tough opponent and that's exactly what we got. Holmesdale started the better of the two, putting our defence of Tom, Jack and Bertie on the back foot but they can always be relied upon to stand firm and they certainly did again today, ensuring James remained untroubled in goal in the early exchanges. Slowly we started to find our footing in the match, debutant Luca partnering Brodie in central midfield was looking the part, working hard and winning the ball, passing it intelligently after doing so. Simba was causing problems for the Holmesdale defence with his pace and power and it wasn't long until this came to fruition. He charged through on goal only to be denied at the last minute by the out rushing goalkeeper, but the ball fell to the feet of DJ who set himself with a great first touch before bending a wonderful strike into the top corner to open the scoring from the edge of the box, a superb controlled finish. Goals breed confidence and this showed as the Giants began passing the ball better than they had initially, Alf once again proving to be a dangerous outlet on the right wing, before showing his adaptability by moving to left back and latterly centre midfield. Before the match we'd spoken at length about the need to close down shots from the Holmesdale striker as a number of the boys knew him and we were all well aware he's got a fantastic strike on him. Unfortunately, we had to learn this message the hard way as we failed to close him down and as feared, he fired home a magnificent shot from long range which gave James no chance, almost breaking through the back of the net. It was a stunning strike, but one we knew we should have closed down. Not to worry, plenty of time left to regain the lead, but we didn't have to wait too long as it happened. Bertie played the ball into Simba's feet at the half way line, and our brilliant striker rolled his marker, and sprinted clear to take on the goalkeeper 1v1, finishing with aplomb into the bottom corner like it was the easiest thing in the world.

The half time message was simple, more of the same please. We started the second half very strongly, passing the ball beautifully and attacking at pace. We were also making great use of the wings and the 3rd goal came via that route. Brodie put in a strong tackle and found DJ who turned a defender before spraying an excellent ball out to Eddie on the right wing who skipped past a defender before delivering the perfect cross for Simba to smash home via the underside of the crossbar. 3-1 and a bit of breathing space, which was important because Holmesdale were a constant threat. Tom was commanding at centre back, winning everything and then distributing the ball well with both Jack and Bertie doing an outstanding job in the full back positions, defending resolutely as well as charging forward when we attacked. As well as the sweetest left foot as you'll see, Luca brings strength and fantastic work rate into the centre of midfield, complimenting the creativity and passing range of Brodie perfectly, as the two of them worked superbly together. The next few minutes were about disallowed goals, both correctly. Firstly James made an outstanding save low to his right with a strong hand and the Holmesdale striker who put the rebound in to the back of the net was yards off side, before DJ banged home a brilliant shot from Eddie's excellent pass only to be denied by the referees whistle following an unfortunate foul by Eddie just before he released the ball. No intent, just bad luck. Eddie was helping himself to a very good game, both offensively and defensively. Bertie's work rate continues to be off the scale, and some of his linking up with Alf and DJ especially today was a joy. He broke free from left back on several occasions, and on one occasion let fly with a cracking shot that was well saved. Luca then saw a similar effort saved down low. The final goal was all about Simba's determination to pressurise his opposing defenders as he harassed the Holmesdale centre back into a mistake as he tried to pass the ball back to his goal keeper, Simba nipped in and took the ball past the goalie to complete a brilliant hatrick.

The score line doesn't tell the whole story of the match, Holmesdale are a very good team who pass the ball well and work extremely hard. We won the game because we took our chances and because our defence stood firm. They were a very tough opponent who will do well this season, which only makes our performance and victory all the more credible. It also leaves us sitting pretty at the top of the A division. We've never done that before and it might not last so lets enjoy it for a week at least!

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Sunday 20th September

Tooting & Mitcham Youth 1 - 2 Langton Giants
Alf x2

So after a long summer break from league football the Giants returned for their second season in the notoriously tough Tandridge Youth League, A Division, looking to build on their magnificent 3rd place finish in their debut season. Facing last season's runners up, Tooting & Mitcham, away on the opening day was always going to be a difficult start, made only more so by the unavailability of 4 players, meaning we were extremely grateful to Sam from the Eagles agreeing to help us out so we at least had 9 players to start the match. Sam is of course a Giant of old, one of the originals in fact, so we knew he'd fit right in and do a sterling job, and how right we were!

Playing on a 3G surface in a very nice facility, the boys were soon whizzing the ball round the pitch, dominating the opening exchanges, twice playing Alf in down the right wing to deliver dangerous crosses that we were just unable to get on the end of. T&M though are always a threat with their pace and size (they breed them big in Tooting it would appear) so it was no surprise that James was called upon to make two fine saves from long range shots. Brodie and DJ played a superb little one-two on the edge of the box which saw Brodie bearing down on goal only to be denied by an excellently timed last ditch slide tackle as he was about to pull the trigger. T&M were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box which again required a good save from James to keep out before even he couldn't do anything about a fantastic 35 yard screamer into the top corner from the huge T&M central midfielder to give them a lead, somewhat against the run of play. This seemed to motivate the Giants further as they set about putting on a passing display for the rest of the half. Sam played a beautiful forward pass to Simba who in turn found Alf to play in DJ who shot narrowly wide. Tom, Jack and Sam were keeping things so tight at the back T&M were totally restricted to shots from distance, two more kept out by our brilliant Number 1. Brodie and Bertie both saw shots saved at the other end before DJ spun on the edge of the box and played a beautifully weighted pass into the path of Alf who slammed the ball into the far corner of the net with a powerful drive, 1-1. In the closing minutes of the half, the Giants had T&M pinned back and won a succession of corners. Brodie whipped one in which Bertie met with a powerful header which was flying into the corner of the goal until it was saved by the outstretched hand of a T&M defender as it was about to cross the line. Everyone in the place saw it, except for one man, the only one that mattered, the referee who to be fair was unsighted by the group of players in front of him.

The boys felt rightfully aggrieved at the injustice but in true Giants fashion, didn't complain, just used it as more motivation for the second half, a half which they totally dominated until the final few minutes. Sam continued to impress, winning loads of tackles and headers and passing the ball brilliantly, and his goal kicks were proving to be a major attacking threat by themselves! Brodie and Simba were now running the game in centre midfield, Brodie with his intelligent passing and Simba with his strength, pace and work rate. Bertie and Alf were looking dangerous down the wings with DJ running himself into the ground against the very strong T&M defenders. With Jack and Tom their usual brilliant selves, the boys knew this game was there for winning. The Giants were camped in the T&M half with the only threat being the counter attack, which we mostly were able to stop but on one occasion they did break free and again James was called upon to make a great save, tipping the ball round the post when it looked destined for the top corner. Alf shot wide from DJ's pass and Simba went on a brilliant individual run which very nearly saw him break through, but the ball broke to Brodie who spun and shot, the shot was spilled by the goalkeeper and in swept Alf to smash in his second from the rebound, 2-1, less than 10 minutes to go. Naturally T&M then came forward in droves and it was down to the boys to fight them off, and they did, magnificently, throwing themselves in front of shots, slide tackles and determination. We had one slice of luck, a T&M striker hitting the cross bar with a superbly struck free kick, and one slice of utter brilliance, from James who made an insanely good save from point blank range with practically the last touch of the game. It was an incredible save from a goalie who is bang in-form and secured us a thoroughly deserved, but hard earned 3 pts to start the season.

Every one of them was outstanding today and should be very proud of themselves. A special well done and thank you to Sam for filling in so superbly, we were all extremely grateful.

Roll on next week, they don't get any easier.