Giants 2017 - 2018

Sunday 19th November 2017
Ebbsfleet United 7 - 0 Langton Green
Oh dear.
Ebbsfleet United are the biggest club in our league, tending to be the strongest team in most age groups too, and are certainly that in our league. They've only ever lost one league game (that was to us.... ahem) and sit top of the division this season having won it at a canter last year. When boys drop out of academies, Ebbsfleet tends to be their first port of call and it shows, they're a step above everyone else in the division.
So..... we knew we were in for the toughest of days and so it proved. We were also missing three players in Ollie, Eddie and Bertie which meant Brodie had to take his place on the bench even though he is far from match fit with an on-going knee injury, so we were once again grateful to Noah for coming to help us out. Ebbsfleet started off on top, firing over the bar from a pulled back cross and then Harry making himself big and made a smart save when facing the excellent Ebbsfleet striker 1 v1. We started to grow though, with Owen, Jack and Max winning tackles, with Noah and Elliot mopping up on the wings. Luca was able to return after missing the last three matches with a knee injury and joined Alf and Tom in the midfield. Alf won a tackle and found Luca, his raking ball playing James D in, he fired in a firm shot that was blocked, the ball falling to Simba to strike well but just wide. Within 2 minutes of this great chance to take a lead we were 2 nil down. The first goal was unstoppable as Ebbsfleet played some great build up football and then unleashed a deadly strike into the bottom corner. The second goal was poor from us, indecisiveness in our penalty box allowing them to bundle in a second. Pepps and Brodie came on, the former charging down the wing and introducing a new energy, the latter helping us retain more possession and with Max moving forward into midfield we were attacking more as the half went on. From one of Max's runs James D was given an opportunity to shoot, saved and Simba showed great footwork and vision to pick out his strike partner but denied by a good tackle. At the other end Harry was required to make two smart saves from distance to keep the deficit as 2 nil at half time.
The second half was a very difficult period for us, the big pitch was taking its toll on tired legs and the way Ebbsfleet moved the ball meant a lot of chasing shadows. Sadly Tom picked up an injury when making a goal line clearance and Brodie's knee injury flared up and had to depart proceedings. With no subs to call upon things just got harder. Jack P drove us forward on a number of occasions, with several barn storming runs from the back, one of which resulted in him hitting a great effort just inches past the post. Harry made several notable saves and all the boys ran their socks off. Noah was pressing the Ebbslfeet defenders from the middle, Pepps and Elliot doing likewise from the wings, with Alf and Luca working hard to stem the tide of Ebbsfleet attacks. The goals came though, despite the best efforts of the boys, with Owen, Jack and Max winning numerous tackles, Ebbsfleet just had too much quality for tired legs to cope with.
Naturally the boys were disappointed at the end, but in reality they knew they'd been beaten by a better side, the best side in our age group and there is no shame in that, and they weren't lacking in effort, all them looking shattered at the end. A tough day, harsh lessons were given out, hopefully they'll be learned.

Sunday 12th November 2017
Whyteleafe 0 - 2 Langton Giants
James D, Owen
A familiar opponent today as we faced Whyteleafe for the second time in 7 days and again came away with a 2 goal advantage and again safe in the knowledge that without an astonishing goal keeping display the score line would have been a lot heavier. Having lost Eddie to the ever growing injury list (joining Luca and Ollie) and Brodie suffering from a reoccurrence of a knee problem, leaving him limited to a cameo appearance as our only sub, numbers were a little thin on the ground. Jack P, Owen and Bertie resumed the defensive three duties and were in total command throughout, ensuring the only threat to James H in goal was the biting cold. That said, keeper James put in an excellent performance in terms of having a high starting position which stopped opportunities developing on several occasions, and dealing comfortably with back passes to his feet, ensuring we kept the ball. There was no immediate goal this week but there was immediate domination of possession and territory with the midfield trio of Alf, Tom and Max wining tackles, passing smartly and driving the team forward. Tom found striker James D on the edge of the box for a quick strike which went narrowly wide before a cleared ball fell at the feet of Elliot who set the ball for Alf to strike from the edge of the box, it looked like it was sneaking in the far corner but the finger tips of the goalie kept it out. Pepps won the ball, beat his defender and found Simba who set the ball back to the feet of Alf who pulled out a superb ball to split the defence and set James D in on goal, 1v1. James struck the ball well and accurately but the goalkeeper saved superbly, then scrambled back up to somehow keep out the strikers second goal bound effort. If that double save was brilliant, the next one was just unbelievable. Pepps and Simba again working well together, the ball swung in and met by an excellent firm header from James D that somehow the keeper tipped  round the post from point blank range which left everyone shaking their heads. Our attacking play at this stage was very good, Brodie had entered the game and was soon pulling the strings, moving the ball quickly and creating space which allowed Max to go on his trademark charges forward, one of these saw a partially cleared ball land at the feet of Bertie, his effort going over the bar before Max found James D, who again hit the target but was again denied by a good save. Just as the lack of a goal was starting to get irritating a breakthrough, and it came as no surprise that it came from another outstanding pass from Alf who, along with skipper Tom, was having a brilliant game in the middle of the park. This pass was perfectly weighted and angled, taking out the defensive back line and tempting the keeper off his line perfectly, James D received the ball and was able to get passed the keeper with a good first touch and then slot the ball into the unguarded net with his right foot, a high quality goal. Just before half time Max had a free kick go inches wide and then had a left footed effort saved from the edge of the box.
1 up at half time, we knew it should be more, but the performance was good. The back three remained imperious, Jack P dominating the Whyteleafe striker throughout and charging forward whenever the opportunity arose. Pepps was working his socks off on the right, charging back to clear up a possible threat, win the ball and set us away on another attack. Elliot was running at the Whyteleafe defence and linking up well with Simba and James D, some of the attacking play being a joy to behold. For all this though whilst the lead stayed at a single goal, the win remained at risk. So it was a great relief when Pepps and Owen repeated their trick from last week. The former crossing a corner perfectly for the latter to head home and double our lead. A great example of quality delivery being met by a determined attacker. This settled things down, Brodie came back on and between him , Alf and Tom we continued to play some lovely interplay and keep ball for long periods. Simba nearly scored when his spinning shot nearly caught the keeper out from distance, but he managed to tip it onto the cross bar and in the closing minutes Simba was undone by the smallest of deflections when played in by Alf, and James D lofted the ball over the keeper but wide after Pepps created the chance with a forceful run and clever pass.
So somewhat under manned and up against a very good keeper, but all in all a comfortable victory which never really looked in doubt once we'd taken the lead and some excellent football on display. Well done boys! 

Sunday 5th November 2017

Langton Giants 3 - 1 Whyteleafe
Simba, Pepps, Owen

 It’s the annual match report from 30,000 feet as the Giants manager jets off to Barcelona for a scouting mission (or is it a quite tedious IT conference, I can never remember?). After a brutal October, November couldn't come soon enough and the priority had to be three points against bottom of the table Whyteleafe. Bottom they might be, but they proved to be a solid opponent who were far better equipped than their results suggest (having been on the end of a distasteful score line last week - bitten hard by half-term absentees).

To say things started well is an understatement as we scored probably our fastest goal ever, Simba calmly poking home after about 20 seconds of play after the Whyteleafe goalkeeper had parried James D hard hit and accurate first effort. James D then had a firm shot charged down, the rebound coming back to him but over the bar it went. Brodie then fed Simba who set James D for another powerful effort over the bar as we dominated the opening exchanges in terms of possession and territory. When Whyteleafe did try and break out, in stepped one of Owen, Jack or Bertie, the back three to win the ball back, that's assuming they'd managed to find their way past the midfield trio of Tom, Max and Brodie first. In at attacking line up, Pepps and Elliot were deployed as wing backs and were constantly pushing the Whyteleafe full backs back as we pushed forward. Through all this James H was looking confident in goal with a good high starting position. Alf came on in the middle and was quickly setting the ball back for Brodie to strike on the edge of the box, but the effort was charged down. Eddie was a welcome returnee after missing the last two games and was soon on at right wing back reminding us what we'd been missing. One moment of danger when the Whyteleafe left winger sent over a dangerous cross to try and find his team mate at the back post, but James H claimed the cross calmly and then distributed quickly, setting Elliot away, the counter attack broke down initially but then Elliot was able to set it back for Tom to hit from distance, but another effort over the bar. From the goal kick though out pressure won the ball back high up the pitch, Max winning the ball and setting James D to hit, this one on target but well saved. Bertie won a free kick, Max swept it in, Simba set it for Pepps to strike which brought out an excellent stop from the Whyteleafe keeper with his outstretched right foot at the near post. Alf made a good run off the ball, Brodie found him and as he entered the box was felled by a late tackle to win a clear penalty. Up stepped a ridiculously calm and collected Pepps to pass the ball into the back of the net from the spot to double our lead.

Although a couple of goals to the good and having already missed a number of chances, we knew we weren’t playing anywhere near to our potential and 2 nil is always a dangerous score line. Thankfully with James H, Jack, Owen, Bertie and Tom all look assured at the back we hadn’t really had any heart-in-mouth moments bar from one free kick awarded in a dangerous position, which was blocked by our well organised wall. The intention for the second half was to push on, not sit back, and to put them under pressure. Whyteleafe swapped goalkeepers at half time and the lad that came on helped himself to a very impressive performance. It started when Elliot won us a free kick on the left hand side of the penalty box, Brodie swung a great ball in that Max met with a firm header, superbly saved.  Max then went on a storming run and played in James D 1v1 which brought out another excellent save from the new Number 1 who was just getting started. Owen fed James D with an excellent pass, this effort slipping wide whilst under pressure before James D turned creator, crossing for Simba who was denied at point blank range on the goal line by a desperate defender who didn’t really know much about it! James D again, this time from Elliot’s intelligent ball, this one missing the far post by inches after the goalie had closed the angle quickly. For all this attacking play, we just couldn’t find the final touch, it wasn’t for the want of trying or for the lack of clever interplay and running off the ball from the attacking players. For all the time the score remained 2 nil though there could be no relaxing. Once the Whyteleafe attackers managed to breach our defence, but were denied by a very good save from our own super talented keeper James H, who parried a powerful shot round the post. Annoyingly from the resulting corner our old achilles heel appeared again and the ball was bundled home at the back post to halve our lead. Suddenly a match that, despite not being at our best, we has completely dominated in terms of chances was suddenly very much in the balance. James D almost reinstated our lead immediately, Simba finding him and the ball being absolutely leathered goalwards, somehow the keeper got the very end of his finger tips to the ball and it was just enough to send the ball crashing against the face of the cross bar and away to safety. Elliot won us another free kick, Max hitting it brilliantly, dipping over the wall but again somehow saved right down at the near post as it was about to cross the line. James D broke into the box thanks to a good ball from Eddie after Alf had won the ball high up the pitch, his cross-shot missing the far post and Simba’s outstretched right foot by inches. Still we pushed forward, despite the concern at the narrow lead, at no point did Whyteleafe actually look like equalising, but the risk was still there. Two more times James D was through but denied by unbelievable goalkeeping, once with a very smart clipped finish that the keepers right hand flew up to block and another driven effort that took two firm hands to push round the post. From the resulting corner, Pepps swung a brilliant corner in which was met by an even more brilliant header from Owen, the ball flying back across the goal into the far corner for his first goal for the Giants, and one he’s thoroughly deserved given his consistently outstanding performances for the team since joining at the start of the season. With only a few minutes to go we could breathe a little easier, creating yet more chances but none were able to be taken.

Credit to Whyteleafe, they’ve had a difficult initiation into this league but they played some very good football today, especially in the first half, and will improve dramatically as the season goes on I’m sure. Although far from at our best, an important win for the boys and one that was totally deserved.

Sunday 29th October 2017
Ashford United 4 -1 Langton Giants
Our extremely challenging October somehow got even harder today, and in the main, brought out the best in the boys. The latest mountain to climb came in the form of an outstanding Ashford United team in the illustrious surroundings of their wonderful stadium. It's not every week you get to use changing rooms that have full physio set up in them, walk out through a players tunnel and are treated to sunken dug outs (mind your head Elliot!). With our opponents having racked up 31 goals and only conceded 1 in their last five matches we knew we had to be at our very best today to compete, and were missing the talents of Luca, Eddie and Ollie but were again bolstered by Noah's second appearance in a row. The game plan was to start solid and keep things tight, recognising our opponents would be full of attacking confidence, and that's exactly what we did. Owen, Jack P and Max were in fantastic form, with Alf and Tom in front of them proving to be a great protective barrier and Bertie and Noah providing defence on the wings. Not only though did we prove to be solid, we also showed very early on just how well we can use the ball, producing some mesmerising football to deliver perhaps the best team goal we've ever scored (given the opponents and setting). Max won a tackle on the edge of our box, and found Bertie, he found Brodie who first time sent James D sprinting away down the left wing and he delivered a peach of a cross which Simba steamed into receive and fire home past the stranded goal keeper to open the scoring after 5 minutes. Back-to-front, 5 players, 5 touches, 1 brilliant goal and a precious lead. Such a good goal, the Ashford coaching staff gave the boys a round of applause. Harry was between the sticks this weekend and was called upon to make a smart low save from a free kick that was awarded on the edge of our box. The tall, physical and fast Ashford striker was proving to be a real handful, but Jack P was doing a brilliant job of making life as difficult as possible for him, with Owen and Max both performing defensive miracles to keep their talented strike force at bay. Elliot and Pepps came on, the former going very close to releasing Simba with pretty much his first touch and the latter steaming forward to support the strikers at every opportunity. A clearance ricocheted into the path of the Ashford striker and meant we were out of shape allowing him to bear down on the goal and finish smartly into the bottom corner, giving Harry no chance and the game was level. Moments later though we came so close to reinstating our lead. Noah won the ball, fed Simba who helped it onto James D who was through 1v1 but under pressure from a recovering defender. Our talented striker did everything right, making a good connection and hitting the target but was denied by an excellent save. The ball came back to Bertie who fired it back goal wards but his effort was blocked by a defender. James D had another shot, created for him by Brodie's clever pass, this one saved from the edge of the box, which brought a breathless first half to a close with the score deservedly equal.
The conversation at halt time was how, despite the level of possession in our half Ashford had enjoyed, keeper Harry had only been called upon a couple of times and what a great job we'd done as a team to make that the case. Alf and Tom were running themselves into the ground, battling and tackling like mad as they desperately tried to keep up with their bigger, quicker opponents in the middle of the park. Ashford upped their game even further and we were soon behind, a fantastic strike from a good 35 yards ripped into the  
top corner, one of those goals you really can't do a lot about. James D had a great effort from distance of his own but it cleared the bar after Noah had found him with a very good ball. Elliot won us a corner with a good run, Bertie swung it in and Jack P met it with a firm header downwards, but straight into the body of the grateful goalkeeper. All this meant we were still firmly in the contest and remained so until 15 minutes to go, where for perhaps the only time in the game, we switched off for a second at the back post and the quality of the cross-field ball was good enough to punish us as it was met with an excellent soft volleyed lob to extend Ashford's lead. It was galling to then see yet another 35 yard screamer hit the top corner to give Ashford an extra cushion and it felt hard on the boys who'd given everything. With 10 minutes to go many teams would have given up and Ashford would probably have run up another cricket score, but not these boys, they kept going right to the final whistle and were actually unlucky not to get at least one goal back. Simba set James D who showed his developing awareness to play Elliot in at the back post with a superb ball, from a tight angle Elliot brought an excellent save out from the Ashford goalkeeper before Max strode forward, played a clever 1-2 with Brodie but his rasping drive was just inches over the bar.
No doubt about it, Ashford were one of the best sides we've ever faced and on this showing will continue to score heavily throughout the season. On another day those long distance efforts go over and this was a tighter score line, but that's the way the football gods are going for us at the moment. We knew at the start of October that this was going to be a brutally tough month, and so it has proven results wise, but the boys have competed throughout and played some superb football and most importantly of all, will have learned an immense amount that will serve them well as the season progresses.

Sunday 22nd October 2017
Reader & Phillips Challenge Cup 2nd Round (KYL League Cup)
Hastings United 3 - 2 Langton Green (After Extra Time - 2-2 at f/t)
Noah, og
Another cup game this week, this time an early start on the blustery south coast against KYL South Division league leaders Hastings United who have been enjoying a 100% winning record to date, so we knew for the umpteenth week in a row we were facing up against very strong and confident opposition. With it being the first Sunday of the school half-term holiday we were understandably missing a few players which was only made worse by poor Ollie having his head mistaken for a Rugby ball in the week which resulted in him needing surgery to repair two breaks. We wish him a speedy recovery! These omissions were countered though by being joined by Jack H and Noah, both of whom have helped us out in these circumstances before and both of whom put in superb performances for us once again. A colour clash saw us take the field in yellow, and for the first 15 minutes or so it felt like we hadn't realised this as we struggled to not give the ball to our white kitted opponents who dominated the early possession. For all that though, we stood firm and defended well. Max, Jack and Tom were the back three, who along with wing-backs Bertie and Noah, were doing a very good job of keeping the Hastings attack at bay. They had a very fast and tricky right winger though who did manage to get his way through on a few occasions and soon required James to dive to intercept a dangerous low cross, smart goalkeeping made even better by holding onto the ball as the striker was bearing down looking for any spillage. One major positive today was our defending of corners, usually our Achilles heal, well today we must have faced 6 or 7 and cleared them all with minimum drama. The first we faced perhaps set the tone, a high curling ball swept over everyone's head but wing-back Noah did his job properly and cleared the ball off the line. James H was then required to make a smart low save from distance as we were fighting to get a foothold in the contest. Slowly though we did, Alf and Luca were starting to get some joy in the middle of the park and a couple of times the front two were nearly played in on the counter attack. Jack P won a big tackle and fed Noah who delivered a great ball into the feet of Simba who showed great awareness to set the ball for Brodie to strike from the edge of the box, his effort just missing the target. Simba again, this time coming in from the right and playing in strike partner James D who shot wide when a little off balance. The game was back and forth, Jack H and Pepps had come on and were both performing very well in the wing back positions and James H was required to make two great saves, one from distance and one low down from point blank range to keep the score level. Bertie found Jack H down the left wing who rode a physical challenge brilliantly and delivered an excellent cross which Brodie connected with well but wide. For once though we switched off, somehow a Hastings player was allowed to receive the ball, turn, take a touch and shoot without challenge but it was still a good 35 yards out so lets take nothing away from the breath taking strike which gave James H no chance in goal. An excellent finish, but we knew we should have closed him down. We didn't have to wait long for the perfect response though, when, after a ball was cleared from the Hastings box, Noah fired back in a stunning strike of his own which matched the quality of the Hastings goal, right into the top corner from similar distance. In the closing moments of the half though we very nearly conceded another, so were grateful to Jack H for showing great awareness to dart across from his left wing back position to get a last ditch tackle in when it seemed certain Hastings would score.
1-1 at half time then with a worldy each, testament to an excellent half of football, something only bettered in the second half as the two sides put on a great advert for youth football, a proper hammer & tongs cup tie! End to end stuff throughout, you couldn't take your eyes off it for a minute as both teams looked for the win. James H was again called into action early in the second half, making himself big at the far post after the Hastings winger had gone on a fantastic run, our keeper denying him though with an outstanding save, again from point blank range. As we pushed forward in response the ball appeared to be handled by a Hasting player in the middle of the pitch, the referee put the whistle to his lips but then changed his mind and suddenly Hastings were on the counter attack. Despite our best efforts, we were unable to stop a good cross being met by a smart finish and once again we found ourselves behind. Jack P went on one of his trademark runs, beating several with his pace and leaving several more in a crumpled heap on the floor with his power, his pass finding Simba who shot quickly under pressure, well saved down low. Max saw two well struck free kicks just miss the target and James D saw a powerful effort charged down. Pepps was proving to be a real pain in Hastings side, pressuring their defenders and running at them with menace throughout, whilst also showing great discipline by tracking back when required too. Alf, Tom and Luca were all putting in great shifts in the middle of the park, throwing themselves into tackles and trying to push the team forward. There was no lack of quality on the ball either, and the best example came when Luca hit one of his special deliveries with a sumptuous ball inside the full back which gave James D the chance to sprint onto the ball and fire a fiercely dangerous shot goalwards that the Hastings keeper somehow managed to tip onto the cross bar, but the ball bounced back in off the defender as Simba was sprinting in looking for the follow up. 2-2 with less than 5 minutes to go. Bertie won a big and important tackle against the tricky right winger, played a one-two with Jack H who swept the ball across to Brodie, a neat little trick and he was in enough space to try a slide rule pass into the path of Simba who was just denied receiving the ball by the outstretched leg of the outstanding Hastings centre half.
The final whistle blew at 2-2. Most weeks we'd be walking off shaking hands with our opposition agreeing we'd both deserved something from an excellent game of football and happy with a point..... but this being a cup match meant we were awarded another 10 minutes of extra time. I think it is fair to say that we'd got stronger as the game has gone on, and this remained the case in extra time as we appeared to be the team most likely to find a winner. Alf fired a cleared ball back at goal but saved, Luca very nearly found Simba again and Max delivered another couple of dangerous free kicks which just wouldn't fall to the right coloured shirt.  There was only one moment of panic at this stage, a Hastings counter attack which required Noah to get his second goal line clearance to his name. Then came the three moments which decided the game. Firstly, Max took another free kick and again delivered it superbly, James D and Jack P both launching themselves to within inches of the ball just a couple of feet from goal. If either of them had 1 size bigger feet we win the game. Then Bertie delivered a dangerous corner which James D did brilliantly to leap and meet with a firm header on the six yard box, but his powerful header flew just past the post. From the resulting free kick the ball was sent long, took a wicked bounce which allowed the striker to get to the ball in-between defenders and goalkeeper, loop it over James H's head and run through to score a heart breaking winning goal. Galling. 
Understandably, the boys were gutted, they'd given so much to the match and it felt a harsh way to lose after such a great performance. Disappointment aside though, this was an outstanding game of football between two excellent teams that were well matched and it was played in a great spirit throughout. We wish Hastings the best of luck in the rest of the competition and for the rest of their season. We don't do man-of-the-match awards, but if we did, James H in goal would thoroughly deserve it, he was outstanding throughout. Special mention also for Noah and Jack H, both of whom proved to be great additions to the team today, well done boys.

Sunday 15th October 2017
Phoenix Sports 2 - 1 Langton Green
Jack Ponsford
The tough games are coming thick and fast at the moment and today was never likely to be any different against the team we are most closely matched with in our league, the very accomplished Phoenix Sports. We had managed to edge the home fixture by a solitary goal after enjoying two 3-3 draws with the last season. Today we were shorn of the attacking talents of top scorer James and fellow striker Pepps which meant we had to shuffle things about a bit, but were boosted by the return of Max, albeit to the substitutes bench initially. To say we started on the back foot is an understatement as Phoenix were dominant all over the pitch, our buys not at the races for some reason. We were second best in every tackle, our passing was inaccurate and movement not effective enough. Somehow though, despite a very poor opening half a hour the score remained level, thanks in no small part to an outstanding goalkeeping display from Harry. He was required to make several big saves and deal with a number of crosses, one of which he took despite getting clattered to the ground for his efforts, but the highlight was a stunning finger tip save onto the cross bar from a ferocious shot from a cleared corner. Our other major issue was the giving away of free kicks in dangerous positions, no less than SIX in the first half, one of which brought out another superb save from Harry down low to his right. Despite our disappointing performance we did see the odd glimpse of the team we can be, twice denied by a very 'keen' linesman (his right arm will be very tired this evening) and a very good shout for a penalty when Simba was upended by the Phoenix goalkeeper. All that said though, anything we got at this stage would have been firmly against the run of play and when Phoenix opened the scoring 5 minutes before the break it was thoroughly deserved. Still disappointing though to concede from yet another corner after we'd improved in this area in the last couple of weeks. Then things got worse, in injury time another corner was given away and although we cleared the initial ball on this occasion, we failed to clear the danger completely and another cross was delivered, this one headed home at the back post, meaning we went in 2 down at the half.
All the boys knew their performance in the first half was nowhere near good enough at this level, we were very lucky to only be two goals adrift and things needed to change. The first change was to revert back to our preferred formation, despite the lack of strikers available, with Elliot moving up to give Simba some support. The second, and far more important change though came from the boys themselves. They knew that if they carried on as they were for the first half they could easily end up on the end of an embarrassing score line and this wasn't something they were prepared to do. They were like a different team from the off, crunching into tackles, passing the ball more accurately, being more vocal and smarter by not giving away free kicks in dangerous positions and it worked, we were on top. Bertie won the ball and fed Brodie who skipped inside his defender but outside the box and let fly, his effort being well saved. Then Max had two free kicks saved, both rocket shots and both too hard for the keeper to hold onto, the second one being followed in by Jack P but his effort going over the bar. Now we were creating chances and looking dangerous. Elliot and Simba were starting to link up well, with Eddie and Bertie giving us width, allowing Brodie, Luca and Tom to start moving the ball intelligently in the midfield. Now with our more accustomed back three of Owen, Jack and Max in situ we were looking more solid defensively too. Elliot was felled near the edge of the box, Brodie's free kick lofting just over the bar as we were getting on top. Of course Phoenix remained a big threat, not least with a very recognisable right winger, Alfie who was one of us last season, reminding us what a good player he is by bursting forward with skill on numerous occasions as the game became stretched. From one of his bursts we very nearly conceded a body blow, this time the ball striking the post and somehow staying out. A much needed let off. We pushed forward, Alf and Ollie having re-joined the action to add further impetus and we desperately tried to find a way back into the match. With less than 10 minutes to go, it finally happened. An initial ball into the box from Luca caused a number of ricochets, the ball deflecting high into the air, the keeper and a defender both attacked the ball, but somehow Brodie out-jumped them both to head the ball past the keeper, Elliot pouncing on it to shoot at goal, his effort spinning back into the path of Brodie who fired a shot that was going into the bottom corner, only for it to be brilliantly stopped on the line by an outstretched hand. Unfortunately for Phoenix, that hand didn't have a glove on it and the player's shirt didn't have number one on its back. Luckily for us the referee had a clear view of the incident and awarded the penalty. Technically he was also right to give him a red card, but it's still not nice to see a 13 year old lad being sent off. Their keeper then pulled off a magnificent save from Simba's well struck penalty, but that disappointment didn't last long, as Bertie swung in an excellent ball from the resulting corner and Jack P managed to get enough on it to get us back into the game. 6 minutes or so left v 10 men. Max was pushed forward to give us a front three as we looked desperately for an equalising goal. We huffed and we puffed but we couldn't find a way, credit to Phoenix for standing strong and managing the closing minutes well.
In all honesty our poor first half performance meant we didn't deserve anything from this game, you can't play for 35 minutes in this league and expect to get something, but our second half performance was excellent and every boy showed great character and fight to turn things round so impressively. Well done to Phoenix, they're a really good side and that leaves the running score with them at 8-8 over 4 matches, just to underline how well matched we are. Great to see Alfie too, although personally I thought he looked much better in white ;-)

Sunday 8th October 2017
Kent County Cup 1st Round
Langton Green 2 - 4 Kent Football United
Simba, James D
Another week, another completion, and another tough opponent. This time a new one too, our first ever match against Kent Football United from the KYL north division, this match being a Kent County Cup fixture. The first half performance was quite simply the best of the season bar none, the tie should have been put to bed as we totally dominated possession and outplayed our opponents. Some of the passing was majestic as the boys were running rings round their more physically imposing opposition. Alf, Luca, and Brodie were dominating midfield, with Elliot and Eddie joining in out wide, with Simba and James D proving to be as dangerous as ever up top. With James H in goal, and the back three of Owen, Jack and Bertie looking commanding throughout the first period we were looking solid too. Brodie saw a low shot go wide, then Luca delivered a free kick that Elliot got on the end of, his volleyed effort well saved at the near post. After a Brodie corner caused problems and was only partially cleared, Jack fired a volley goal ward from the edge of the box which was well saved. Alf was continuing his fine form from last week and won a crunching tackle before finding Brodie who skipped past a challenge and let fly with a powerful drive that went narrowly over. It felt like a goal was coming and it was, but painfully it came completely against the run of play and with no small amount of misfortune. From KFU's first foray forward the ball was cleared, a midfielder tried a shot on goal from the clearance but completely mishit it, the ball slicing off target but hitting the back of his own player who then swung a foot at the ball as it landed and the ball nestled in the corner so put us undeservedly behind. Not to worry, a long way to go and we knew we'd been the better side, it was important to stick to our passing game. That's exactly what they did, something only added to by the arrival of Tom and Ollie as we actually upped our dominance. Luca played a gorgeous ball into the feet of Simba who laid it off brilliantly into the path of James D who powered forward, his shot narrowly missing the far post. Tom strode forward, pulled the defence into him and then played the perfect pass out to Ollie on the right, he took one touch and fired a dangerous cross shot which the keeper paried, but Simba was on hand to force the ball over the line and restore parity. Simba then had a shot blocked which fell to Elliot, his shot brilliantly saved. Owen won a big tackle, turned the ball into Brodie who spun his defender before delivering the ball of the match though the eye of a needle to play James D in on the keeper 1v1, his unerring finish into the bottom corner giving us a thoroughly deserved lead. For most of this half, James H had been a bystander but had been showing good feet and allowing us to play out from the back as a result. In the closing minutes of the half though, he was called upon to make a low save to his right. Just before half time came the move of the match, as the Giants toyed with their opponents in the attacking half with a series of 1 touch passes which must have been close to double figures. Bertie started it after winning the ball before a collection of Ollie, Alf, Tom, Simba and finally Brodie produced a mesmerising display of intricate ball movement to play James D in, his well struck effort just missing the post.
Half time came and we were feeling confident. There was a slight sense of frustration that we didn't have the sizeable lead our first half performance had warranted but no need to worry, just more of the same required. We very nearly increased our lead early in the second half, Bertie delivery a delicious free kick which Owen met superbly with an intelligent back flicked header only for the keeper to deny him with a smart save. A free kick was then awarded against us in a dangerous position and the well struck shot levelled the game at 2-2. Things nearly got worse a moment or two later, but Alf raced back to clear when it looked certain KFU would take the lead. Bertie then fired in a powerful effort from a long way out, catching it perfectly but frustratingly the ball went inches over the bar. Luca swept one of his wonder passes out to Elliot who beat a man before sending James D though with a slide rule pass but the angle was tight and the keeper was able to smuggle the ball round the post. Another free kick awarded against us, another high delivery and another goal. Somehow we were now behind in a game we'd been in firm control of, now we had to chase the match and of course our opponents grew in confidence. Suddenly their size seemed to grow further, they appeared faster and more powerful than in the first half, confidence does that to a team. The boys pushed forward though in a match which was now lacking the beautiful football of the first half and had become more a game of attrition. Luca saw a well struck shot saved low down before we were hit on the counter attack by a long clearance as we'd pushed forward looking for an equaliser, James H came out and made himself big but a clever lofted chip was too good and suddenly we're two goals adrift.  Still the boys kept battling. James D struck a great free kick right in the top corner but was denied by an excellent save, before Brodie hit another free kick over the bar. Twice we had goal mouth scrambles, with one of them there was some doubt as to whether the ball had crossed the line or not but the referee was well positioned to make a quick decision. Once again we were caught on the counter attack, James H making a great save and Jack blocking the follow up to stop things getting any worse.
So no county cup run this year, a shame but the boys can be so proud of that first half performance, it really was something to behold, even the referee was kind enough to comment on how superb we'd played that opening period. Unlucky boys.

Sunday 1st October 2017
Langton Giants 0 - 4 Danson Sports
After finishing September with a perfect record, one of only two teams to do so in the league, we knew that today was going to be the biggest test to-date as Danson were reportedly very big and fast and were sporting an array of new players. It turned out all of those reports were correct, they were second only to the much fabled Erith & Belvedere in terms of size, right across the pitch. With two key players in Jack P & Ollie unavailable (coincidently the two goal scorers in our 2-0 win here last season) we were facing a tough task, on a brand new 4G pitch which had been drowned in those annoying little black bits that you continue to find in your shoes several days later, which made the pitch very heavy and passing challenging.
All that said though, we started well, it became obvious that beating the back line was going to be a challenge but most of the game was being played out in the Danson half as Luca, Alf and Brodie worked the ball smartly round the midfield, with Eddie and Bertie proving to be good outlets on the wings. A new look back three of Owen, Max and Tom were looking assured with Harry nice and vocal behind them. Simba and James D working tirelessly with the thankless task of trying to get away from their gigantic markers. The good start was undone though by a bit of sloppy defending. There didn't seem to be any danger as the ball was pinned in the far corner but the Danson winger was allowed to turn and cross a ball across the six yard box that was tapped home as a breakdown in communication saw the ball travel past everyone to a grateful striker at the back post who had the easiest of tasks to knock the ball into an unguarded net. A very disappointing goal to concede and it changed the course of the match, as goals tend to do. Harry saved well down low from a speculative long distance effort and dealt with a number of through balls well, including one brave challenge at the feet of the striker. Elliot and Pepps joined the fray and both added an extra level of energy as we slowly started to regain a foothold on the match. Elliot slipping the ball into Simba who set Luca to play James D through, he burst into the penalty box and just as he was about to pull the trigger was denied by a last ditch lunging tackle from the outstretched and extremely long leg of a Danson centre back. It was a fair tackle but saw James land hard on his back and understandably knocked the stuffing out of him a little bit. As always though, he brushed himself down (those pesky black bits were all over him) and continued to work his socks off. Moments later was the closest we came to getting back in the game, Brodie lobbing the goalkeeper from the corner of the box, looking certain to bring us level, but the ball lobbed the cross bar too by the narrowest of margins. In the closing minutes of the half, Alf won his umpteenth tackle of the game and played in Elliot who found James D with a great through ball on the counter attack, he shot early and firmly but wide and we came in 1 down at half time.
We were frustrated to be down, we'd more than matched them up to this point but suffered from a mistake. We'd struggled to break down their back line though, so a tactical adjustment was intended to try and get a bit more possession in the attacking midfield area away from the 'trees'. It worked, our best period of the match was the next 15 minutes as we looked the most dangerous we had all game. Max pushed forward to midfield to try and combat the size and strength of the two midfielders, with Brodie, Elliot and Simba looking to provide the bullets for James to fire up front. Owen and Tom took care of centre back duties with Bertie and Alf reverting to full back roles. There were several nearly moments as we pushed the Danson back line back and had a lot of possession. Perhaps the best moment came when Max won the ball, carried it forward and slipped it to Elliot who set the ball back for Luca to strike, his well struck effort going just over the bar. The young referee generally did well today, but was a bit guilty of falling into that trap of assuming if the physically smaller team win a tackle it must be a foul, whereas the other way round the smaller boy is only on the floor because the bigger lad was stronger! This unfair assumption saw Danson awarded a very soft free kick in the middle of the pitch which was swung dangerously in, partly cleared but the resulting ping-pong ball action resulted with the ball being despatched into the far corner to double the deficit. As if to make the point, just seconds later our skipper Tom was absolutely clattered as he cleared a ball but nothing given. Frustrating, but nothing like as frustrating as when James D was played through thanks to a great ball from Elliot to bear down on the goalkeeper 1v1 only to be incorrectly flagged for offside. After working so hard to finally find a way though, it was galling to see the boys denied by such a poor decision from the Danson lino and possibly our final chance to get back into a match we've contributed  a lot to. Simba did well to create himself a chance, just wide, and Elliot linked up superbly with him for a 1-2 which very nearly paid off but was denied by the quick reactions of the Danson keeper who was fast off his line. Two goals in the last 10 minutes, one from a corner which was headed home by one of the trees, and another absolute worldy into the top corner from distance gave Harry no chance and the score-line an unflattering appearance.
Credit to the boys though, they didn't give up for a second and it was fantastic to see them flying into tackles and running themselves into the ground in the closing stages, Alf leading the way as he darted about the pitch tackling anyone he could get near to, brilliant to see. Our first 'bad day' of the season, there will be plenty more, such is the standard of this league, but the effort and commitment were never in doubt.

Sunday 24th September 2017
Reader & Phillips Challenge Cup 1st Round
Langton Giants 3 - 2 Sevenoaks Town 
James D x3
Whereas most teams in our division received a bye in the first round of what is effectively the Kent Youth League Cup competition, we weren't so lucky, being given a tough tie against the always difficult to beat Sevenoaks Town, also from the Central division.
No Simba this week, or Ollie, the latter receiving a proper knock to the bonce in a game of Rugby leaving him with a lump about the size of a size 4 football! James H was also missing with a back injury, which meant Harry played in goal, the luxury of having two stoppers becoming obvious even this early in the season. Pepps started up-front alongside James D, and proved to be an excellent foil for the in-form goal machine, holding the ball up and pressing the Sevenoaks team into a number of mistakes at the back in the opening exchanges. Luca showed quick feet before finding James D who's first time power shot was saved high by the tall Sevenoaks keeper. Sevenoak's standout player was playing up front this week and was a real handful as always, in the opening minutes managing to skip past challenges from Owen and Jack only to be denied be an excellent save from Harry at the near post. Brodie fed Elliot who in turn found Pepps to lay the ball into James D's path, this effort just off target. More problems from the Sevenoaks striker saw Harry dive bravely at his feet which resulted in him cracking his shin pad..... much better than his leg of course! Eddie was putting a real shift in on the right (after putting a real shift in during the morning in the kitchen I understand - thanks Eddie!) and found Brodie who flicked a delightful ball into the path of James D to strike with his right foot, the ball being scrambled away by the feet of the keeper. Alf then won a big tackle, the ball falling at the feet of Eddie who went on a brilliant run, beating challenge after challenge and looking like he was going to go all the way, only to be denied with a last ditch sliding tackle as he was about to strike on goal. Despite the obvious threat from the Sevenoaks striker on the counter attack, it felt like a goal was going to come from our pressure and so it proved, Tom tried an angled ball forward that nearly had Bertie in, but the defender intercepted, only for Bertie to close him down, the ball fell at Brodie's feet who delivered his second superb through ball of the match to put James D in at a narrow angle, but was able to fire into the far corner across the goalkeeper's body to open the scoring. He then nearly doubled our lead immediately, but was bravely closed down by the Sevenoaks keeper after Luca had played him in. Jack, Owen and Max continued to dominate the back line in open play, with a combination of Luca, Tom and Alf doing their usual outstanding job of providing protection in front of them, but our Achilles heal continues to be set pieces, and this reared its ugly head once again from a Sevenoaks corner, with one of their players being allowed to head home completely unmarked from 6 yards out. Very disappointing and all the hard work undone. Elliot won us a corner with a jinky run, and Pepps delivered a fantastic ball from it, Owen leaped high and met it firmly, it somehow being cleared off the line. Tom found Eddie wide right who showed great skill to beat his man, only to be hacked down in a dangerous position. Up step James D to fire a wonderful free kick firmly into the top corner with his lethal left foot. Any thoughts this would settle things down were very quickly undone, when a Sevenoaks player hit a free kick from within the centre circle high and dipping just inches under the cross bar, giving Harry absolutely no chance, and suddenly it was 2-2. That was just one of those freaky goals, nobody to blame, but still another set piece conceded, which is getting irritating! There was still time for one more James D effort, thanks to some clever play by Elliot, but it was well saved and the half time whistle blew.
Whereas in the first half Langton had been mostly on top and playing the football, the start of the second half was far more disjointed, neither team really managing to get hold of the game. Brodie was felled, this time James D's free kick went over before Max, who has been pushed forward into midfield, went on a great run, showing pace and footwork, before shooting wide. Owen made a brilliant clearance off the line, not for the first time this season, and went on a couple of excellent forward bursts himself. Up until this point, Sevenoaks had matched us formation wise, and this was resulting in the game becoming a bit stifled and a change was needed, so we reverted to last seasons formation to try something different. Bertie was now back at left back and found an angled pass into Max's feet, he opened his body up and swung a superb cross field ball for James D to chase and absolutely larrup* back across the face of goal and into the back of the net to reinstate our narrow lead, great pass, great finish, great hatrick. Again though this was nearly undone immediately, this time we were grateful to Bertie for a fantastically timed tackle in the penalty box to avert the danger. Naturally Sevenoaks powered forward, desperate to get back into the match and the boys had to fight to keep them at bay. Luca was pressing hard from the midfield, trying  to stop the service into the box which in the main was being dealt with by Jack, Owen and Bertie. Just once the back line was broken, albeit as a result of what appeared to be a clear shove in the back of Jack, but Harry pulled off a magnificent save to keep our noses in front and avoid the need for extra time.
Well done to the boys, another hard fought victory against a very accomplished side who never give up (remind you of anyone?) and the reward is a trip to the South Division leaders Hastings United in the next round. Special mention has to be given to James D for getting his first hatrick in competetive football for us, something tells me it wont be his last. Back to league action next week, more of the same please lads!

*Larrup is a technical term for a well struck shot :-)

Sunday 17th September 2017
Langton Giants 5 - 1 Bearsted
James D x2, Pepps, Simba, Bertie
With the excitement and thrill of last weeks late winner still firmly in our minds, the boys were right up for this match from the off. Our opponents this week were another new team to the league, Bearsted who had started their debut season well with an impressive 1 nil win over the always strong Kings Hill. James H was back in goal and was calm throughout, reminding us how good he is with his feet on numerous occasions and again showed excellent handling and positioning throughout, we are blessed to have two great goalkeepers to see us through this long challenging season. The Giants were on top in the opening exchanges, with a number of nearly moments and they quickly turned this early dominance into a goal. Owen won a big tackle and found Alf who quickly and smartly flicked it on to Luca with his first touch, Luca then delivered a fantastic through ball which split the Bearsted defence, allowing the pace and movement of James D to surge through and finish expertly into the bottom corner. James D then saw a shot blocked after a good run from Elliot, the ball then coming back to Elliot who's right foot effort went wide. Alf then hit a great cross field ball, Elliot's turn to have a shot blocked. Bearsted sported a very physical and aggressive centre forward who tried his best to unsettle Jack P. Jack laughed, gave him a stare and that was the end of that. With defensive stalwarts Bertie and Owen either side of him, they were again looking completely in command. Brodie was pulling the strings behind the front two, with Eddie his usual effervescent self on the right, nearly getting through for a shot but selflessly pulling the ball back which was scrambled clear. Brodie won us the ball back, turned it round the corner to Luca who pulled out another delicious pass to leave the Bearsted defence helpless, this one with a touch of back spin on which dropped it perfectly for Simba to take in his stride and fire home with an excellent finish to double the advantage. At this point we looked completely untroubled. Tom, Max and Pepps had all entered the game and only added to the performance, each of them bringing new energy and quality. Brodie was pole-axed in the middle of the pitch with a very late and high tackle, causing him to leave the game, but no whistle was forthcoming on this occasion but was a split second later when we were adjudged to have fouled. Frustrating but we were still in a good position to defend the free kick which was just inside our half, so it was disappointing when the ball was floated in and headed home to cut our lead in half. That's the third goal we've conceded this season, all of them to set pieces, neither goalkeeper has yet to have a save to make from open play, so we know we are doing lots of things right, just need to tighten up on defending set pieces. This gave the game a different feel to it for the second half as this was far from done, we'd seen enough from Bearsted to know they remained a threat.
For the second week in a row though the boys came out for the second half looking like they'd found another gear. Simba did a great job of closing down the Bearsted goalkeeper and won us the ball, found Brodie who slotted the ball to Alf to shoot, the goalie had recovered though and made a good high save, Simba then saw a well struck left foot effort saved down low as we tried to reinstate our 2 goal cushion. Yet another wonderful Luca through ball found James D, but under enormous pressure from two Bearsted defenders his effort was saved. Luca then delivered a superb floating free kick which both Simba and Eddie were inches away from getting the telling touch at the back post. Through all this, Owen was calmness personified, breaking up Bearsted attacks down their left side and then using the ball intelligently, including a couple of outstanding cross field switches to add to our attacking pressure. On the other side of the three, Max was winning everything and was proving to be a real threat with his accurate passing from deep. Jack P was.... well, Jack P.....imperious as always. We needed that cushion though and got it, and what a goal it was. Max played it back to James H in goal who calmly helped it to Owen, he knocked it into the middle to Alf to send the ball back to Max who first time swept a wonderful up the line for James D to chase, his frightening pace getting him to the ball to sweep in a perfect cross to Pepps at the back post. A great first touch gave him the time to smash home our 3rd goal and give us some breathing space, and a confidence boost. Brodie was felled and took the resulting free kick, saved, the keeper half spilt it and Simba was on it in a flash but the keeper recovered. Luca delivered a corner and James D leapt high to win a firm header, just wide. Max hit another great cross field pass which put Simba in to fire a rocket shot against the cross bar, but James showed great striker instincts for the second week in a row by following up and grabbing his second goal of the game. In the closing minutes Pepps delivered a good corner which Bertie showed great desire in getting to first and fired home to complete the scoring, just rewards for his high level of play at the start of this season.
So another top performance, 3 more points and smiles all round. There will be less enjoyable days so important to enjoy the good ones, but if the boys continue with their great attitudes, work rate and team work there will be more enjoyable days than not! Well done boys. Bearsted deserve credit too, a good side an very pleasant coaching staff which is obviously rubbing off on their lads, with one of them advising the ref we had won a corner after he'd awarded a goal kick, 10/10 for sportsmanship.

Sunday 10th September 2017

Greenway Aces 2 - 3 Langton Giants
James D x 2, Simba
Match day 2 of the new season and a new opponent, Greenway Aces having joined the league and opened up with a narrow loss to Larkfiled in their opening fixture last week. That result meant we knew we were in for a tough match, and so it proved. We had new goalkeeper Harry making his debut, with so many matches this season ahead, a second expert stopper was needed to be added to the squad to compliment James, and Harry has fitted in well with the team from day 1, showing a great attitude and a high standard of goalkeeping. The intention was to start on the front foot, to test the Greenway defence from the off, and that is exactly what we did, dominating the first half in terms of possession and territory. Brodie found Simba near the penalty spot but his instant strike flew wide before Max won a big tackle, found Ollie who in turn found Brodie with a great ball but his left foot effort also went wide. Brodie then saw a free kick saved before Luca threaded a fantastic ball into Simba's feet who turned well but the snap shot was inches past the post. The Giants were camped in the Greenway half and putting them under enormous amounts of pressure. This continued when James D nut-megged the Greenway right sided centre back and burst in the box before letting fly with a rasping drive which flew past the far upright. Luca had a shot saved from distance and James D had an effort from similar distance which just missed the top corner, Alf, Elliot and Brodie all had efforts blocked by desperate defenders . Through all this, every time Greenway attempted to break out, they were stopped by Tom, Alf, Bertie, Max and Jack who were imperious in their defensive efforts, making Harry practically a bystander, although his verbal instructions and dealing with any through balls were faultless. For all our domination, we couldn't find the clear opening that would bring the goal, and football has a habit of making you pay. A dopey free kick was given away in a dangerous position and the inevitable happened, a sweetly struck shot hit the top corner giving Harry no chance and we were 1 down to Greenway's first shot of the match. A minute or so later though a free kick of our own, and it was James D's turn to try his luck and he couldn't have hit in any better, power, accuracy and dip left the goalkeeper without a hope, but the cross bar saved the day for our opposition. The cross bar was still shaking a few moments later when Pepps had a pop with a free kick of his own, it narrowly flying over the bar as we went in at half time confused as to how we were losing this match.
The conversation at half time was simple, carry on doing what you're doing, don't panic, stay calm in the final third and perhaps try to work our way closer to the goal on occasion. One of the many great things about coaching this group is they listen, and straight from the off they ran at the opposition rather than settling for long distance efforts. Simba burst in from the left, beating 2 or 3 on his way and squeaked the ball into Elliot who quickly pulled it across the face of the goal for the in-rushing James D to smash home from close range and we were level. James D then almost gave us the lead from a tight angle following good play from Ollie. Luca and Tom were now in control in central midfield, showing great discipline and passing range, with the back three of Max, Jack and Bertie continuing to be in firm control at the back despite the presence of a very fast, physically strong and talented striker to keep them busy. We had one scare, Bertie clearing a header off the line from a corner and then the moment that defied belief. A hopeful ball was pumped into the Giants box, the ball was cleared and off we set, until the referee decided otherwise, pointing to the penalty spot for a reason only he could answer. Not one Greenway player appealed and their coaches were as bemused as we were. After the game the referee said he'd seen a player pull somebody back, was unable to say which player from either team was involved but we thanked him for the explanation (!). The penalty was absolutely leathered into the net past Harry and we were down again with 10 minutes to go. At this stage a lot of teams would have folded, felt hard done by and had a ready made excuse for their disappointment. Not these boys though, they simply channelled their frustration into upping their game even further. It started with some superb play from Alf and Eddie down the right which nearly saw us in, but a throw in was won instead. Eddie took it quickly, Brodie feinted one way but went the other, leaving his defender for dead before delivering a delicious cross which Luca smacked cleanly with his left foot, bringing an outstanding save from the Greenway keeper as he somehow tipped in onto the cross bar, there was some debate as to whether the ball had crossed the line but this was made irrelevant by James D who showed great strikers instincts by charging in and bundling the ball over the line. 2-2 with 5 minutes left and all to play for. Max had been pushed forward into midfield and was battling hard to help us find the winner, shooting wide once and having another shot blocked, before Elliot pulled out a great pass which gave Simba a shot from an angle which went agonisingly close to winning us the game. Still they didn't stop coming forward, with Jack winning his own personal tussle with the big Greenway striker at the other end, the other defenders and defensive mids pushed forwards in numbers, but just when it looked like the pressure wasn't going to tell, step forward Simba, with an individual goal to win the game that dreams are made of. Beating not one, not two, but three Greenway defenders before unleashing a thunderous strike into the roof of the net in the 3rd minute of injury time from the edge of the box!. The boys jumped on the match winner, Greenway kicked off, the referee blew the final whistle and this remarkable group of young men had some how done it, coming from behind twice, dealing with a disheartening decision and getting the job done.
Once again all of them deserve great credit for their ability, technique and talent, but above all this their heart, work rate and commitment shines even greater. Special mention for Harry for doing so well on his debut and for the whole defence, who for the second week running did not concede a single shot on goal from open play, in this league that really is outstanding. Onwards we go, more of the same to come I'm sure!

Sunday 3rd September 2017

Langton Giants 1 - 0 Phoenix Sports

So here we go again, another relentless season ahead with an expanded division including several new teams, but for today we started the season hosting Phoenix Sports, a team we knew well and perhaps the team we were most closely matched with last season having played out two thrilling 3-3 draws with them. Today was just as competitive albeit with a lot less goals thanks in the main to both teams defending superbly throughout. We welcomed new boys James D, Owen and Max into the team for their debuts and each of them put in great performances which bode well for the rest of the season. Before they match could even start however there was a bit of confusion about the location of the match, but after a bit of football pitch hokey-kokey we were ready to go! Two of the debutants, Owen & Max joined Jack P in a back three and it was obvious from the opening exchanges that it was going to take something special to get past them and they were in complete command whenever the ball came into the danger area. Skipper Tom and birthday boy Alf provided further protection in front of them with Bertie and Eddie filling the wing back spots. Keeper James was looking confident and handled a number of through balls effortlessly before having to save low to his left from a long distance effort. Brodie was playing in an attacking midfield role just behind the front two of James D and Simba to form a creative, pacy and powerful front attacking unit. The opening 15 minutes or so were a real battle, both teams pressing the other hard and showing some great football when in possession and a willingness to attack whenever the opportunity arose. A few nearly moments for the Giants ended with good defending from the strong Phoenix centre half and it was obvious even this early that goals were going to be hard to come by. Elliot has been suffering with a broken arm and as such hadn't had much involvement in pre-season but we were delighted when he was declared available for this game and he entered the game looking ready to take that frustration out on the football pitch. Bertie found Simba near the left corner flag who turned brilliantly and drove across the by-line before pulling the ball back smartly to Elliot who managed to get to the ball a split second before the Phoenix defender and goalkeeper to sweep the ball into the far corner of the net, a great finish to an excellent set up, and the Giants had a valuable lead. Luca had also missed much of the pre-season but was soon up to speed when he came on, quickly reminding us of his excellent passing range and Olly put in an insane workload after taking on a wing back role him self, working tirelessly for the team, often off the ball but his defensive duties were exceptional. Bertie sprinted down the left wing and found James D who got a powerful shot off but the Phoenix keeper was right behind it, before Eddie fed Simba who showed outrageous ability to keepy-up the ball before striking a clean volley with the outside of his boot, only for the ball to crash back off the face of the post. Alf won the ball in the middle of the park, found Luca who produced a gorgeous pass for James D to strike, he hit it cleanly and well but had to take it quickly as he was being closed down and the effort flew over the bar. Half time came with the narrow lead in tact.

The second half saw much of the same, two well matched teams going at it but in the main both defences coming out on top. Keeper James continued to help himself to a very strong performance, intercepting a number of through balls and playing some great passes with his feet. At the other end of the pitch James D had a shot fly wide after being fed by Brodie, before Elliot provided another chance which was blocked. A cleared cross fell at the feet of Tom who fired in a good strike which whistled past the upright. As the game wore on so Phoenix came more and more forward, pressing hard for an equaliser, which is where Max, Owen and Jack P really came into their own, the three of them were immovable objects, winning countless tackles and headers to protect out small advantage. Despite the significant pressure Phoenix put us under, there were only two real moments of panic. The first came where their excellent striker latched on to a deflected pass and found himself 1v1 with James H, with the ball bouncing he cleverly went for the lob, James got finger tips to it to take the sting out of the ball and somehow Owen was able to launch himself with his (very long) outstretched leg and bicycle kick the ball off the line, incredible stuff. The second came when Phoenix did manage to get the ball into the net but thankfully the referee had spotted the quite obvious pulling back on Jack P's shirt as he went to clear the ball. There were no complaints from Phoenix as it was clear for all to see, but you always worry until the referee blows his whistle. The last 10 minutes seemed to last forever as the boys rolled up their sleeves and dug in against their talented opponents and there was a sense of relief when the final whistle blew.

A hugely competitive game against a very good team, that could have gone either way, our boys earning the points for their sheer doggedness and quality on the ball on this occasion, but we were left in no doubt that Phoenix Sports will continue to be a very strong team in this lead and we look forward to playing them again in just a few weeks. Well done to all the boys, but special mention has to be given to the three new boys, James D, Max and Owen who were all superb. 1 down, 23 to go..... and that is just league games!