Eagles 2012 - 2013

2012 / 2013 End of Season – goals totals: 53 (Finn 19, Jack 9, Rami 8, Luke 5, Laurie 5, Alexander 3, Eddie 1, (Brodie 1), OG 2)

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Tonbridge Fiesta – Saturday 13th July 2013
Group – P7, W2, D0, L5 (W1-0, L0-1, L0-1, L0-1, W2-0, L01, L03)
(Goals – Brodie, Finn, Laurie)
(Player of the Day – Alf)

Very briefly as am pretty busy today – tough tournament. Played better than the opposition in all but 2 of the games and yet lost 5 matches. The game against Arsenal was particularly galling as we had about 80% possession, hit the bar, the post and conceded to their only attack in the last minute. Thanks to Brodie and Alf for helping us out on the day – they were both superb in sweltering conditions. Great goal from Brodie in the opening game and generally just wonderfully composed play from Alf throughout. Laurie and Finn took their goals superbly, Ben made some excellent stops in goal. Jack was his usual dangerous self going forwards with his tricky dribbling and played wonderfully in goal when he was asked to, with Rami immense at the back as usual. Luke made some brilliant runs down the wing and was unlucky not to score on a few occasions.

Well done lads – on a very hot day you all played superbly. Great stuff and looking forward to a nice break before next season starts!

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Ridgewaye Fiesta – Saturday 22nd June 2013
Group – P5, W1, D3, L1 (D0-0, W1-0, D0-0, L0-0, L0-1) - Q/Final – Lost 2-0
(Goal – Finn)
(Player of the Day – Rami)

A blustery day saw us round the corner at Ridgewaye for our penultimate fiesta, where we were pitched in a tough group of 6 teams with the top 3 qualifying for the knockout stages.

The day started against Tonbridge Porsche who we’ve played several times already this season, with close games every time and so it proved again. The Eagles had the better of the first half, Finn hitting the post with a close range effort and being denied by some excellent goalkeeping when he was through one on one. Laurie and Jack were bossing the midfield with their usual assuredness and Rami was “Superman” (how one of the other lads referred to him), with his top class defending making it difficult for Tonbridge to break through. Alexander, playing alongside Rami in defence was also excellent with his positioning, making it hard for the opposition to find space to shoot. The second half was a different story however, Tonbridge gaining in confidence throughout to give us several scares with consistent pressure that Ben did brilliantly to repel with some great saves. Alexander and Rami were called on more and more as well, with Laurie and Jack helping out by tracking back and we rode out the game for a 0-0 draw (again) to open the tournament with a point.

Our second match was against a Jarvis Brook team who we got on well with and had already played at the Langton fiesta where Laurie and Jack’s virtuoso performances secured us a 4-1 victory. They had a stronger team out today though and the match was anything but easy, with Jarvis Brook very unlucky not to come away with a draw or even a victory. As in the last game, we started on top, Jack superb down the left hand side, running past player after player before putting in a brilliant cross that was well cleared by Jarvis Brook. The ball fell to Laurie on the left and he struck a brilliant long range effort goalwards which the opposition keeper did well to save. Unfortunately for Jarvis Brook though, Finn was lurking and fresh from the disappointment of hitting the post in the previous game he lashed an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net to score The Eagles’ 50th goal of the season and make it 1-0 to the boys in yellow. Game on! However, as with the previous match we started to feel the pressure after the break and the second half was almost all Jarvis Brook. Alex made a timely interception to stop a goal bound effort and Rami was immense in defence all game. A series of corners left those of us watching biting our nails and willing the referee to blow his whistle, with Ben making a couple of excellent saves before Jarvis Brook hit the crossbar with a long range shot. Eventually after what seemed like hours the referee blew for full time and the boys could celebrate a 1-0 win that put them in an excellent position with 3 games remaining.

Third up were Ridgewaye Astros (previously called Ridgewaye Jupiter), our twin team from this season who we beat 1-0 at the Langton fiesta but lost to 9-6 in a 60 minute game earlier in the season. We knew we were in for a tough match and so it proved, Alexander having a shot saved before Laurie saw his excellent long range effort kept out by the keeper. Ridgewaye proved dangerous on the break with Jack again proving what a wonderful player he is with a couple of unbelievably good tackles to stop the wave of white shirts bearing down on Ben’s goal. Rami stepped into midfield for this one and added a different dimension going forwards with his energy and pace causing problems for the opposition. In all honesty the second half was a bit of a nothing affair with not many chances for either team. Jack’s dribbling was again a highlight, and Finn had a good chance blocked by a defender with Ben stopping a Ridgewaye shot at the other end. Another 0-0 draw which meant we still hadn’t conceded but left us needing something from our final 2 games against the 2 strongest teams in the group.

The first of those 2 games was against a very good Foresters Spartak team who had won two of their opening games and drawn the other. The eventual group winners, they started the game strongly but we were buoyed by the 1-1 draw we shared with them at the Pembury fiesta and after the first minute or so The Eagles played some brilliant football, probably the best they had all day, with several attacks comprising of some slick passing but ended with the same result each time – a brilliant save from the Foresters goalie. Finn (who started off in defence(!?!?!), having volunteered much to my surprise when I’d asked for someone to help Rami out) had 2 of those chances, one double save denying him as he lay on the floor for the second shot and the goalie tipped it just wide. In the second half, having moved up front, his fierce drive was pushed round the post and Laurie’s long ranger met the same fate. Jack was imperious down the left, skipping past several defenders time and time again, with Alexander passing well in midfield and Rami his usual immense presence at the back. Ben had his fair share of work to do as well, with Alex helping him out in defence with a couple of great blocks but ultimately the Eagles were the better side in this one and really should have won it, thus sealing a place in the knockout phase. Unfortunately they couldn’t quite get the winner and saw the game end in another 0-0. Still no goals conceded but only one scored, and with one game left we knew we needed at least a draw in all probability to go through.

That final game was against Footscray Lions Black, who were coming straight off the back of a 5-1 victory against Tonbridge and were full of confidence. The boys played some great stuff to start with but couldn’t quite get into the final third of the pitch and the momentum was definitely with Footscray when they won a free kick on the right. Ben organised his wall brilliantly but for some inexplicable reason, when the shot was taken the wall moved out of the way, leaving poor Ben helpless as the shot arrowed into the exact section of the goal the wall was meant to be protecting. Something to work on for next season! 1-0 to Footscray and in all honesty we never looked like overturning it. A real shame as the boys had played out of their skin in the first 4 matches but perhaps just ran out of energy in this one after a long afternoon.

We thought we were out, but went to check the permutations anyway and unbelievably found that because so many of the games had ended in draws we still had a chance, but needed the final 2 games in the group to end in very specific results. First off we needed Ridgewaye and Tonbridge to draw 0-0 and then we needed a Foresters victory against Jarvis Brook. We all packed the touchline to root for these results and somehow they both came off!!! A late goal by Foresters was celebrated almost as much as any Eagles goal we’ve ever scored and we found ourselves into the knockout stages for the first time! Brilliant stuff!

After lots of fixture rearranging we found out our opponents for the quarter finals were Langton Green Giants, our good friends who are, we would all agree, a step up from us in terms of the level they’re playing at right now, having been around for 3 seasons and already made the final of a number of tournaments and lost only a handful of games all season. With several truly outstanding players, especially going forward, we knew this would be a real test for the Eagles and so it proved. The first half was a fairly cagey affair but one piece of excellent skill from the Giants saw them take the lead. Rami was everywhere, trying desperately to stop the tidal wave of attacks and at half time we found ourselves trailing 1-0 and still in with a shout. The second half saw an improvement from the Eagles, Jack and Laurie through on goal only to be denied by good tracking back and tackling from the Giants, and a couple of long shots being taken in desperation when team mates were better placed for the pass being a sign of the short format matches meaning we rushed things slightly when a more measured approach may have paid dividends. The boys played some good stuff at times but when The Giants made it 2-0 with a nicely worked goal that ended in a header we knew it was all over and the referee blew his whistle shortly afterwards. A shame, but a fair result, and with the progress the lads have made this year I really hope we can improve over the next 12 months to the point where we can compete with the likes of the Giants in next year’s fiestas.

The Giants went on to win the tournament, so a massive congratulations to them – they thoroughly deserved it after a few near misses in previous fiestas and we went home incredibly proud of getting out of the group stage for the first time with 4 clean sheets (well done Ben!) and some really solid performances, especially against Foresters where I thought we were brilliant. All the boys played their part and can be really pleased with themselves. Well done!

Season goals: 50 (Finn 18, Jack 9, Rami 8, Luke 5, Laurie 4, Alexander 3, Eddie 1, OG 2)

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Broad Oak and Horam Fiesta – Sunday 16th June 2013
P6, W2, D2, L2 (D0-0, W1-0, D0-0, L0-3, W1-0, L0-3)
(Goals – Luke, Laurie)
(Player of the Day – Ben)

On this fine, sunny Sunday we arrived at Horam feeling very positive that we could progress from a group where the top 4 teams qualified for the knockout stages and with a new player joining us in the form of Sammy we had a line up full of pace and skill all over the pitch.

In summary (busy week so apologies for the shorter than usual match report – or maybe that’s a good thing?!?):

We somehow drew the first game 0-0 against Uckfield despite having most of the possession, Ben barely having to make a save all game and Jack and Sammy combining brilliantly to nearly score with the last kick of the game, the ball somehow being almost over the line but not completely before being cleared away by a defender. We won the next game against Broad Oak 1-0 with a brilliantly taken goal by Luke direct from Laurie’s free kick. Sammy hit the bar with an outrageous shot from far out and Rami made several game-saving tackles to deny Broad Oak an equaliser. The third game was another 0-0, this time against a strong Wadhurst team, Finn leading the line expertly, being unlucky to see his first-time shot flash wide and Ben making two unbelievably good saves to save a draw. In the fourth game we got a bit of a lesson from an excellent Broad Oak side who beat us 3-0 (the same team had beaten us by the same score at the Langton fiesta), their number 25 (surely one of the best players we’ve seen all season) again destroying us. In the fifth game Laurie scored one of the goals of the season to give us a 1-0 victory against another Uckfield side, dribbling past 2 players with such calmness before placing an expert finish into the bottom corner. Ben pulled off 2 more ridiculously good saves to hand us victory and gets my man of the match award for his goalkeeping throughout the day – strong, confident and quick to snuff out any danger. Rami was again superb in defence, along with Jack helping him out, both players showing great pace and strength to make several last ditch tackles to deny Uckfield a goal. The final match was a must-win (unless Uckfield beat Wadhurst in the other game) but unfortunately we were up against the strongest team in the group, whose name escapes me now (!) but they beat us 3-0 and Wadhurst demolished Uckfield to qualify ahead of us. Before the day started I would have thought a total of 8 points would have seen us through the group but the way other results panned out it wasn’t to be, with The Eagles missing out by 1 point on a first place in the knockout stages. The lads were disappointed but determined to come back stronger next time round. Man of the match – Ben – but a special mention must also go to Sammy for playing so well in his first ever set of games in his new team and Laurie for his brilliant goal.

Season goals: 49 (Finn 17, Jack 9, Rami 8, Luke 5, Laurie 4, Alexander 3, Eddie 1, OG 2)

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Langton Fiesta – Saturday 1st June 2013
P8, W3, D1, L4 (L0-5, D0-0, W1-0, L0-3, L0-3, W4-1, W1-0, L0-1)
(Goals – Jack 3, Finn 2, Laurie)

With everyone feeling it actually might be summer, we arrived bright and early at Langton Green for our “home” fiesta full of hope that the sunshine and home advantage might spur The Eagles on to play some great football, and after a difficult start, so it proved.

After sleepwalking through a 5-0 defeat to a very good Rusthall Lions side in our first game, the lads found themselves up against their friends The Yodas for their second match. A massive improvement saw us play some scintillating football – Laurie, Jack, Finn and Luke passing the ball beautifully going forward with Rami an absolute legend at the back, turning in a man of the match performance with a string of awesome last ditch tackles. Were it not for the referee’s whistle blowing when Luke was clean through on goal we would almost certainly have won a tough game against a good Yodas side. A 0-0 draw a little disappointing but a definite improvement in performance.

The third match saw the boys up against Jarvis Brook, with instruction to carry on the way they had against the Yodas and they didn’t disappoint. Elliot came in to defence and made one unbelievably good tackle to deny a definite shot. Rami, Laurie and Jack were combining well and Ben made a couple of excellent stops to keep us level in an even first half. Luke was imperious down the right, having a couple of rasping shot/crosses blocked and we went in at the break feeling very positive. Finn came on at half time along with Alex, and both were immediately involved, Alex nutmegging an opposition defender on the half way line for Laurie to send Finn clear into space behind the Jarvis Brook defence. He raced clear with excellent control but his powerful shot was brilliantly saved by the opposition keeper. It was out best chance of the day so far and with just a couple of minutes to go it felt like it might have been our only chance at winning the game gone. Not to be deterred however, the boys pushed forwards again, and won a corner in the last minute which Laurie stepped up to take. His corner taking was superb all day, and this one was the pick of the bunch, a wonderfully weighted effort that arrowed into that dangerous area in front of the goalkeeper. With his part of the equation complete, Laurie could only watch on in the hope one of his teammates connected with his cross and so it was to be, Finn losing his marker in the area to plant a brilliant, powerful downward header into the back of the net. A 1-0 victory to The Eagles and a massive roar of approval from the supporting crowd.

Our next 2 games saw us play the eventual semi-finalists (Broad Oak) as well as the winners of the whole tournament (Tonbridge Sharks). Both games ended in 3-0 defeats, the Broad Oak game being decided by one phenomenal player, the opposition number 25 running through us time and time again to score twice and assist a third goal. The best player I saw all day without a doubt. The Tonbridge game was particularly disappointing in that I didn’t feel they played that well, it was just that we played the worst we’d done all day, a distinct lack of energy leaving us very flat and in need of some inspiration and motivation for the remaining games.

The boys got it from Laurie’s dad Martin in the form of the promise of an ice cream for each of them if they won the next match and I must confess that despite my best efforts all year to train and motivate the boys, I had never considered this piece of genius, which of course when you think about it make perfect sense – motivation via the stomach. And great thanks must go to Martin for finding this innovative method (I hear that Jose Mourinho is very interested in hearing the intricacies of the “ice cream method” as it’s become known in football circles) as the boys responded brilliantly in their next match against Ashurst Wood, winning with style and swagger.

We started brilliantly, passing the ball around with ease, but fell behind to the kind of defensive mix up we’ll be working hard to eradicate in training next season, the ball not being dealt with by anyone until an opposition striker decided enough was enough and if we weren’t going to kick it away he may as well score, and so he did to leave us trailing 1-0 and staring another demoralising defeat in the face. The boys responded wonderfully though, Laurie and Jack particularly playing some breathtaking football in the opposition half. Laurie dribbled past nearly the whole of the Ashurst Wood team and unselfishly passed to Jack to score the opener with a calm finish into the corner. 1-1. Jack made it 2-1 moments later with a stunning strike, once again from Laurie’s pass to make it 2-1. The two combined again just before half time to make it 3-1, this time Jack laying the ball on for Laurie to score with a confident strike into the middle of the goal. Luke then hit the crossbar with an awesome long-range effort after a great run, and Elliot kept us pushing forwards with a couple of excellent tackles and passes to set attacks in motion. If you squinted slightly,the combination of the yellow shirts, the wonderful football and the sunshine left you feeling like you were at The Maracana watching Brazil, and with a 3-1 half time lead I felt confident we could see this one out for our second victory of the day. The opposition had other ideas though, and Ben was called on to make a stunning save to keep us on the front foot at the start of the second half before Rami had to intervene twice to clear our lines and push forwards with his trademark bursts from defence.

With Finn and Alex on in place of Luke and Elliot we continued in much the same vein and when Finn sent Jack through, he finished with aplomb to complete his hat-trick and deliver a 4-1 victory. Superb stuff from the lads – particularly in the first half when they played some of the best football I’ve seen them play.

So – with ice-creams duly secured the lads were offered further motivation of a flake for each of them if they could win the next game, a tough match against Ridgewaye Rockets who we’ve faced before and lost to. Thankfully Ridewaye weren’t aware of the ice-cream method and it was this that ultimately made the difference in a tight match. The first half was close with few chances but some excellent passing football. Alex played really well in midfield, passing the ball well and tackling with determination. Luke and Finn were both pressing the opposition high up the pitch and it was Finn who broke the deadlock, pouncing on a loose ball in the area to slip a shot through the ‘keeper’s legs for a nutmeg to make it 1-0 to The Eagles.

A minute later Jack and Laurie combined wonderfully on the edge of the opposition area, Jack back heeling Laurie’s clever pass with an exquisite piece of skill to put Alex through on goal. His shot was well struck but the goalie made a good save and despite the ball squirming through his legs and towards the goal line he managed to keep it out much to Alex’s disappointment. So nearly his first goal for the team – he did brilliantly to get into that position and was unlucky not to score.

With Rami storming forwards from defence to play some excellent passes and Elliot now on and holding things together well at the back we saw out the rest of the game for another 1-0 win. Brilliant stuff.

Our final game was a distinctly winnable one against a Paddock Wood side we’d shared a very close game with before and with the ice-cream motivation now up to ice creams for life or something, the boys were nailed on for victory. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be, with us spurning several opportunities to pass when team-mates were in better positions leaving us unable to score and some wayward passing in front of our own goal and lacklustre play at the back putting unnecessary pressure on our own goal. Paddock Wood scored a bizarre goal with their only attack and we finished the day with a 1-0 defeat that was disappointing but understandable after a very hot morning and lots of football.

All in all the boys can be incredibly proud of themselves for playing some excellent stuff at times, scoring some great goals and playing with a great spirit and determination. Everyone contributed to a really good all round team performance. Player of the day – really hard to pick. Laurie was superb as usual. Jack’s hat trick and all round attacking link up play was excellent. Finn’s header was a real highlight. Rami was wonderful in defence. Alex played really well and made some great passes. Luke’s wing play and all round energy was great. Elliot defended with determination and made one awesome crunching tackle and Ben made some game-changing saves.

The choice of ice-creams at the end was interesting, with the menu at ice-cream vans these days offering far more than the “99 Flake” which was pretty much the only option “when I were a lad”. Some kind of wobbly ice cream tower smothered in hundreds and thousands with sauce all over it and called something like “Whopper Bird’s Nest Delight” or something seemed to be the order of the day. I had a nice sensible scoop of honeycomb ice cream in a cone and felt quite comfortable with that thank you very much indeed!

Top stuff boys, and a massive thanks for the very kind gift you gave me. I shall, as I said, be spending the voucher on football coaching manuals (or perhaps a Minecraft subscription!!?!?!) ;-)

Looking forward to seeing some of you for the Dads match next weekend where the boys will be managing us (and writing the match report)…

Season goals: 47 (Finn 17, Jack 9, Rami 8, Luke 4, Alexander 3, Laurie 3, Eddie 1, OG 2)

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Uckfield Fiesta – Sunday 26th May 2013

P6, W1, D1, L4 (D0-0, L0-1, L0-2, W1-0, L0-1, L0-1)
(Goal – Finn)

No time for the usual in-depth match report today I’m afraid folks (I know, I know, you’re weeping into your breakfast / dinner etc.)

Suffice to say, despite being on the end of 4 defeats with just the solitary victory and a 0-0 draw wedged in there too, the boys actually played some really good football, particularly in the last 3 games and could have won any or all of the games they lost – they just didn’t have the luck today. So, in very brief summary…

Save of the day - Ben, in the last game, with a phenomenal one handed tip over the bar to keep us in the match.
Goal of the day - Finn, who is turning into a reliable goalscorer and could have had a couple more but for some great goalkeeping.
Pass of the day - Daniel, down the wing to Jack, with a wonderfully struck pass.
Tackle of the day - Rami, with a superb sliding tackle to deny a certain goal.
Cross of the day - Luke, a wicked cross that so nearly led to a goal for Jack.
Dribble of the day - Jack, great trick to beat a player and then a turn of pace to beat another before playing a fine pass.
Skill of the day - Alexander, with a great piece of footwork to make some space he so nearly had a chance to score from.
Player of the day - Laurie, reliable as ever and great in both attack and defence. Man of the match again.
Managerial error of the day 1 – blaming the boys for losing (another) of my footballs before discovering it had been in the bag all along.
Managerial error of the day 2 – leading the team out onto the pitch for their final game and then realising the last game hadn’t actually finished and we were all standing in the middle of the pitch with a game going on.
Well done lads. You all got medals for taking part (I have Luke’s and Daniel’s as they had to leave quickly) and you played some really good football. Onwards and upwards!!!

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Pembury Fiesta – Sunday 12th May 2013
P5, W1, D1, L3

On Sunday the boys played in their first ever fiesta, competing in beautiful weather against some very strong teams from around Kent and East Sussex.

Eagles 0 – 2 Paddock Wood (man of the match – Laurie)
First up were a Paddock Wood side we played in our very first competitive fixture back in September. They beat us then and unfortunately for us, the result was the same this time round, getting us off to the worst possible start with a 2-0 loss in a game the boys started slowly but improved throughout. There was a touch of fortune about the first goal, Rami’s excellent clearance bouncing back into the back of the Paddock Wood striker to tap in. The second goal was a combination of good wing play from the opposition and poor defending from us as everyone rushed towards the ball to prevent the cross and left a player completely unmarked in the middle for another simple tap in. Luke had a wonderful free kick saved by the opposition goalie to deny us a goal but ultimately the result was fair and we were left disappointed but determined to bounce back.

Eagles 1 – 1 Forresters (goal – Finn, man of the match – Rami, Luke (joint))
So – not to be deterred we had a chat about what could be improved upon and went into our next game against probably the strongest and most competitive team in the group, Forresters, with determination to avoid another defeat. The boys started fantastically, defending with vigour through the excellent Rami and Ben (who was out of goal for this game, showing how adept he is on pitch as well as between the posts) and keeping Forresters’ dangerous attacking players at bay with Laurie’s solid work in midfield. The opposition were looking increasingly dangerous when Laurie picked the ball up on the right hand side, looked up to see Finn in acres of space, and released a wonderfully accurate pass over the top which Finn swept in with aplomb. A great finish to a brilliant pass and 1-0 to The Eagles. Game on!!!

Forresters were shellshocked and for a couple of minutes it looked like we might score a second, Luke attacking down the right with pace and Laurie doing the same down the left with his deft ball control. However, as the game went on we found ourselves hanging in there a bit and hoping for the final whistle. Jack made 3 or 4 excellent saves to keep us in the lead but there was little he could do about Forresters’ equaliser, their attacker twisting and turning through our defence to slide a low shot past Jack’s dive. 1-1 and just a minute or so to go. At this stage I was hoping they wouldn’t score a winner but actually we had time to go on the attack ourselves, Luke unlucky not to be awarded a penalty after an excellent run into the box saw him bundled over when clean through on goal. Things were evened out a moment later though, when Rami forgot he wasn’t the goalkeeper and blocked a goal-bound shot with both arms raised. I like to think he was just blocking his face from being his with the ball. The referee miraculously didn’t give a penalty and the final whistle went to our delight. When I asked Rami about it afterwards he said “I always do that”!!!

Eagles 2 – 0 Tonbridge Juniors (goals – Finn 2, man of the match – Finn, Eddie (joint))
Eddie came into the starting line up for the next game, against our friends from Tonbridge Juniors who we’ve had some excellent games against on 4 occasions this season, winning 2, drawing 1 and losing 1. It was likely to be a game that decided whether either team were in with a realistic chance of making the next round and the boys knew this, starting with energy and attacking intent, Laurie bursting forwards to create a chance almost immediately for Finn which he struck powerfully but straight at the goalkeeper to Tonbridge’s relief.

Not to be deterred however, the boys kept plugging away and it was from Luke’s superb cross that Finn headed the opener a moment or two later, completely wrong-footing the goalkeeper with a cushioned header into the roof of the net. 1-0 to the Eagles and a great confidence boost.

Eddie was looking composed in midfield, playing a super one two with Rami before having a shot which was blocked and Luke looked on fire out wide, running past the opposition time and time again and putting in some devilish crosses that Tonbridge were lucky to see evade a yellow shirt by inches on each occasion. We had a period of pressure where several corners kept Tonbridge hemmed in and when they did finally break, Rami was on hand to rush back and stop any attack in its tracks and the odd shot that did find its way goalwards was beaten out by Ben’s more than capable hands. Midway through the second half we got the second, Jack jinking past 2 defenders before putting a cross in which just evaded Luke’s excellent run but found Finn lurking in the box, as has become his habit recently, to sweep home his second of the game and give us some breathing space.

Moments later Finn had a chance to complete his hat trick from more brilliant work by Jack and Eddie, but the goalkeeper made a good save and the final whistle blew to confirm a 2-0 win to the boys. Superb performance full of attacking play and a brilliant all round game from everyone which put us in a strong position in the group as so many of the other games had ended in draws.

Eagles 0 – 3 Sevenoaks (man of the match – Ben)
Next up were Sevenoaks, a very good team who we’d watched dismantle 2 other sides comfortably already and who I know are rated very highly. Unfortunately for us, the strength of the opposition also coincided with the first half being comfortably our weakest performance of the day, seeing us ship 2 goals by repeatedly giving the ball back to the other team with poor clearances and a lack of communication seeing players getting in each other’s way on several occasions. We didn’t do the basics well, despite how much we’d practiced them recently, throw-ins and goal kicks being played right in front of our own goal, players not getting back to help in defence and little or no passing in attack.

However, the boys did brilliantly to respond in the second period, almost getting an equaliser as Luke swept forwards to cross for Finn, whose shot went just wide and defending resolutely through Eddie and Rami to stop any further goals against. I felt if we scored early in the second half we’d be in with a chance but unfortunately we just couldn’t make our improved play count and despite a series of awesome (or as the boys would say, “epic”) saves from man of the match Ben, we were hit on the break by Sevenoaks to score their third goal and leave us in no doubt that we were unfortunately not in with a chance of making the quarter finals.

Eagles 0 – 3 Raw Skills (man of the match – Jack)
With pride to play for we entered the final game against a very strong Raw Skills side full of hope, Jack again taking a turn between the posts to give Ben a chance on pitch. We started well, Rami and Eddie combining well to send Luke speeding away down the right. His excellent cross finding Finn who was unlucky not to connect with the ball. Laurie was keeping things ticking over nicely from his defensive position, getting play moving with his attacking passes but despite our good start we went behind to a fairly soft goal. It turned the game somewhat, Raw Skills growing in confidence and only Jack’s energetic goalkeeping keeping us at 1-0 and in with a shout.

The second half saw Ben come on in midfield and his energy almost got us back into the game with a great run down the left but he was finally stopped and from the resulting attack Raw Skills scored again to make it 2-0. A third goal followed shortly after and despite plugging away until the end the boys finished the game without responding with a goal of their own. A disappointing finish to the morning due to simply running out of energy I think but the lads need to remember the earlier results and performances, particularly the superb draw against Forresters, who went on to make the final I believe.

I must just point out the sportsmanship of one Raw Skills player by the way, who when Rami was down hurt, declined to get involved in an attack to go and check he was okay, even though the referee hadn’t blown his whistle.

Well done lads in our first ever fiesta. It will be a good experience for the future and one which I’m sure will see us improve as a team. Great stuff, and thanks to Pembury and the Schools at Somerhill for what was a superbly well organised tournament on great pitches.

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2012 / 2013 Season Stats – Langton Green Eagles:

“League” Games: Played: 20 / Won: 8 / Drawn: 5 / Lost: 7

Overall Season Goals: 37 (Finn 11, Rami 8, Jack 6, Luke 4, Alexander 3, Laurie 2, Eddie, OG 2)

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Saturday 4th May 2013

Langton Green Eagles 2 – 1 Rotherfield
(Goals: Finn, Laurie)
Man of the Match: Luke

Langton Green Eagles 1 – 1 Rotherfield
(Goal: Finn)
Man of the Match: Ben

Our final day of the season, a lovely sheltered pitch in the pretty village of Rotherfield and two matches against sides we’ve always had very close, competitive games against. The last time out the scores finished 1-1 and 1-0 to us and today’s matches ended with similarly tight scorelines and similarly tense games.

The first game started with the Eagles back to their busy best, harrying and pressing the opposition immediately when out of possession and passing the ball around nicely when on the attack. Jack started as our lone defender and was an absolute rock in that position, using his natural footballing intelligence and quick feet to ensure nothing got past him, and when he won the ball back, he set an attack going immediately. Laurie, Rami and Alex (who had earned himself a starting spot based on his hard work last week) were all solid in midfield, with Rami surging forward to help out Finn in attack

We’d had a pre-match chat with Finn and Luke about trying to look up and pass more when in attacking positions and they both seemed to have taken on board what was said, Luke putting in 3 or 4 crosses in the opening 5 minutes from his position on the right wing, one of which Finn was unfortunate not to manage to connect with when unmarked in the penalty area. Luke’s dribbling down the flank was up to his usually high standard and reminiscent of a right footed Ryan Giggs at his best or perhaps Arjen Robben, as he beat several players on one particularly memorable run before seeing his excellent shot beaten out by the Rotherfield goalkeeper (who was one of the best goalkeepers we’ve seen all season). Laurie’s excellent corner taking troubled the opposition defenders on several occasions, Finn and Rami both unlucky not to see their efforts find the back of the net.

Alexander’s dribbling skills were given a good showing on the left and his passing was just what was required, finding Rami with one excellent ball through the middle. We created a few chances in a fairly even first half, and although we had more of the play, Rotherfield managed to create a few of their own, Ben making a couple of excellent stops to deny the opposition’s skilful number 3 and Rami stopping a goal bound effort with the side of his face in a heroic block which saw him looking seriously shellshocked for a few minutes! Half time came with the scores 0-0 and everything to play for still.

We talked about upping the energy in the second half and about taking a few more shots, and the boys responded brilliantly by piling forwards with intent and purpose to take the game to Rotherfield. Finn had a powerful shot tipped over the bar by the opposition goalkeeper and Laurie’s piledriver hit one of his own players in the stomach to avert it wide. Completely against the run of play we found ourselves behind when a corner dribbled through and somehow found its way into the back of the net. 1-0 down with 10 minutes to play and staring defeat in the face on the final day of the season!

The boys were not to be deterred however, and continued their positive approach. Daniel was solid in midfield having come on at half time, tackling well and helping Jack out in defence, and Eddie was excellent going forwards, passing well and getting into some good goalscoring positions. Finn, Laurie and Luke all had efforts blocked by the steadfast Rotherfield defence and it was looking like it might not be our day when Finn picked up the ball in midfield, took a touch and launched a 20 yard curling effort towards goal which the keeper could only stare at as it nestled in the bottom corner. 1-1 and the team deserved it for how hard they’d worked.

The goal seemed to spark the boys into even more life, and for a few minutes it was like watching Bayern Munich (not Barcelona any more, sorry boys) with a wonderful move involving Laurie, Rami and Jack setting up Eddie, who found a yard of space brilliantly to get himself into a goalscoring position. His first touch was excellent, but the onrushing Rotherfield keeper did well to close the angle and Eddie’s firm strike just missed the post by inches. Really unlucky for Eddie, who deserved a goal for his hard work. Finn found himself in a nearly identical position a few moments later from a similarly flowing move, with identical results, his shot sliding past the same post. Luke’s man of the match performance on the right was causing all sorts of problems for the defenders, with 2 or 3 of them regularly bunching up on him to try and stop his dangerous crosses from coming in and Jack was absolutely superb in defence, bossing the game with his distribution and clever positioning.

With just a couple of minutes to go we got the winner, and what a goal it was! Laurie and Eddie combined brilliantly on the left by the corner flag, before Laurie unleashed a powerful shot which skimmed off a defender’s leg before finding its way into the goal!! I think we may have to invent a new position for Laurie that involves hanging around near the left corner flag as he seems to be absolutely lethal from there! (and yes Laurie – the goal was definitely yours and not an own goal. As I explained yesterday, if it’s on target before it touches the opposition player, the goal is still yours).

Rotherfield came back forcefully in the final 2 minutes, forcing Ben into a couple of excellent stops, with Daniel putting in a brilliant Jedi-style (May the 4th be with you…groan!) tackle to block a certain chance. Top stuff!! Alexander was back on for the last few minutes and he had a chance to show what excellent passing and dribbling he can do with a great moment of composure on the right wing to pass to Rami and with Laurie and Rami holding on to the ball well in midfield we saw the game out to take a 2-1 victory! Great performance and thoroughly deserved after all the hard work from every player.

So, after a quick break, we found ourselves back on for another match against a slightly reshuffled Rotherfield team. We made a few changes ourselves, Rami going in goal for the first half with Ben coming out to play in midfield and Laurie back in defence to give Jack a chance in midfield. The boys started well, hassling Rotherfield from the kick off and continuing on from the first game with their energy in attack. Alexander was excellent with the ball at his feet and Jack’s clever footwork bamboozled the opposition defenders on several occasions. The only worry we had this time round was the lack of help Laurie was getting from the midfielders in defence. Everyone had lots of momentum going forwards, but as soon as we lost the ball Laurie was left fairly isolated with 3 or 4 Rotherfield attackers running at him. It was luck and some excellent goalkeeping from Rami which was us maintain a 0-0 score, and as the half wore on the boys seemed to get a little flat, with not much cutting edge in attack. Only Ben with his energy and dribbling down the left and Alex with his hard work and passing in midfield seemed to be buzzing at the usual level we’ve come to expect from the Eagles attack.

Half time saw us 0-0 and we made a few changes – Daniel coming on again in midfield to add some solid tackling, Jack going in goal and Rami coming out to play in defence with Laurie moving forward into midfield.

We started well, Luke, Finn and Rami combining well and Eddie pushing forwards with energy and commitment to get himself into some good positions as well as tracking back to help in defence. Finn had a chance well saved, Luke had a shot which flew just wide and Ben played a great one-two with Laurie out wide which resulted in him getting a shot away which he was unlucky to see hit the side netting. Daniel helped out brilliantly in defence and with Rami and Ben swapping over so Ben was playing further back, Rami joined the attack and had a chance of his own which flew wide.

Once again though, we went behind, a goalmouth scramble and a superb flying save from Jack seeing the ball ping around the penalty area and somehow find its way into the net off an Eagles boot for what looked like an own goal. 1-0 down again, and this time with only 7 or 8 minutes to pull things back.

Once again, the boys responded brilliantly and almost immediately we though we’d drawn level, Finn and Luke involved in a chance which saw the ball fall to Alexander’s capable boot. He slotted the ball home to the cheers of the Langton fans, only for the referee to adjudge that the football hadn’t completely crosses the line as the goalie held onto it. We were perplexed, the ball clearly seeming to have been a good foot over the white line as the goalkeeper smothered it but the goal wasn’t given and we found ourselves 1-0 behind still. A tough decision, but one you have to live with in football, and the boys didn’t let it get them down. To be fair to the referee it’s very difficult to see everything that happens and incidents like Frank Lampard’s “goal” against Germany in the 2010 World Cup show us that its very easy to miss the obvious even when everyone else can see it.

Again and again the lads piled forwards, Finn just overrunning a great through ball from Luke, Laurie seeing a couple of goal bound strikes blocked and Eddie unlucky to see a chance just stolen from his toe by a Rotherfield defender. With just a couple of minutes to go we got our equaliser though, Laurie playing a great ball through to Finn who took a touch, turned and slotted the ball through the legs of the onrushing keeper. 1-1!!! The Eagles had landed!

The last few moments saw end to end stuff as both teams tried to win it. Rotherfield’s excellent number 3 broke clean through only to be denied by more wonderful goalkeeping from Jack and we had a couple of half chances that their keeper snuffed out well. The final whistle marked the end of another great contest between 2 very evenly matched teams. Rotherfield are run by a very nice bunch of people and their facilities and organisation are excellent so we very much hope to get a chance to play them again next season.

Those results saw us finish our first season having won more “official” league games than we lost. Absolutely superb for our first year as a team and something none of us thought would happen. Well done lads!

All that was left was for us to have our awards ceremony and end of the season photos. Well done to all the boys for their hard work and dedication all season. Thank you to Mike for his help coaching and refereeing (particularly when his reffing duties have meant he’s missed watching Alexander’s matches) and to Matt (Luke’s dad) for his help with coaching too. I’d also like to say thanks to those parents who helped by setting up and packing away at training / home matches and those who chipped in for the trophies for the boys.

Congratulations to the awards winners:

Player of the Season: Jack (voted for by the players and parents)
Most Improved Player: Finn (voted for by the players and parents)
Manager’s Player of the Season: Laurie (picked by me)
Sportsman of the Year Award: Alex (picked by me)

“League” Games:
Played: 20
Won: 8
Drawn: 5
Lost: 7

Overall Season Goals: 37 (Finn 11, Rami 8, Jack 6, Luke 4, Alexander 3, Laurie 2, Eddie, OG 2)

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Saturday 27th April 2013

Langton Green Eagles 0 – 8 Crowborough Athletic
Man of the Match: Alex

Langton Green Eagles 0 – 0 East Grinstead Meads
Man of the Match: Rami

We lost 7-0 to Crowborough last time round and I woke up feeling 100% certain it wouldn’t happen again. I was correct, but unfortunately not in the way I’d hoped to be as The Eagles struggled to find their usual energy and buzz to lose to a team who, it has to be said, were excellent. At least 5 of their goals were long range blasts right into the top corner which Ben could have done nothing about even if he had arms twice as long as they actually are (and despite the result, Ben actually made several very good saves during the game). We were the masters of our own downfall to an extent, with more than a few stray passes and a distinct lack of persistence in getting to the ball coupled with some uncharacteristically sloppy defending and marking. Alex played very well when he came on in the second half, keeping the ball excellently and playing several perfectly weighted passes to his teammates in an attempt to start some attacks. Despite his efforts though the goals kept going in against us and a scoreline of 8-0 was a fair reflection of a game we really struggled in. But – that’s the way it goes sometimes and despite feeling incredibly frustrated by the game we knew we had to change things for the next match.

I was really proud of how the boys reacted to such a disappointing defeat with their far improved performance in the second game, against an East Grinstead team who had clearly come a long way since the last time we played them on what was their first ever match day if I remember rightly. Unfortunately Ben had other commitments that meant he had to leave, so Jack stepped in between the posts and did a wonderful job in goal, looking confident throughout. The match started well, with Laurie and Rami immediately showing the energy we lacked in the first game, winning the ball in midfield and playing several early searching balls through towards Finn up front which were unfortunately snuffed out by some good defending from East Grinstead.

Luke was rampaging down the wing, playing a lovely one-two with Finn to get to the byline but his cross was again cut out by an opposition defender. On the other flank, Alexander passed the ball well and made a couple of good runs through the middle but the final pass just didn’t seem to come off. The effort was there though, and with Elliot and Jack clearing up the few attempts East Grinstead sent into our box we were looking much livelier and more likely to score than in the first match.

Eddie came on midway through the first half and added some industry on the left, tracking back well and making a couple of good forays forward. We were just not finding the final pass that would have seen us create some clear cut goalscoring opportunities, with a combination of good defending from our opponents and some occasions where we perhaps should have passed rather than shot being the two main reasons that elusive goal wouldn’t come. Eddie was unfortunate to take a knock which saw him come off for a spell but Daniel came on in defence to help try and shore things up as East Grinstead were starting to look more dangerous on the attack, one long range lob hitting the top of our crossbar and bouncing away to safety. Daniel made one really strong tackle which stopped the opposition from creating a sure goalscoring opportunity and tried really hard to inject more energy into the game, as I’d asked him to.

Rami was absolutely everywhere, running 60 yards to track back from a corner to steal the ball from the opposition striker’s toe on 2 occasions and then bursting forwards to set up an attack with a wonderful run down the wing. It was end to end stuff, with Luke in the wars, picking up several knocks as he tried to dribble his way down the wing. However, this didn’t stop him from trying his best to link up with Laurie to get a cross in, which he managed on several occasions only to see the ball evade the despairing lunges of our forwards.

As the game wore on it looked increasingly like a corner may be our best chance of a goal, and so it nearly proved, with Finn’s excellent header flashing past the post from Laurie’s perfect delivery. A few minutes left saw us throw everything forward and nearly get caught on the counter attack but Alex saved us with a wonderfully composed challenge and Jack was quick off his line to smother the danger on another occasion.

With Alexander back on and passing well in midfield, Finn and Luke both had chances they saw go wide of the goal and Laurie’s long shot hit a defender. Eddie had a chance to shoot that was well blocked by East Grinstead and as time ticked down it became clear it just wasn’t going too be our day.

I think we all felt this was a game we could have won but well done to East Grinstead who defended well and had chances to steal the game themselves. Great credit should go to all the boys for picking themselves up after such a disappointing first match and playing so well in the second game, especially Rami, who epitomised the energy I’d asked to see from the boys in that game. Well done.

Next week – an hour long epic against Rotherfield to finish the season – if we can win it will mean we’ve won more league games than we’ve lost which would be a brilliant result in our first season. And of course we have our awards ceremony at the end of the game before heading off to Wembley to watch Tunbridge Wells.

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Saturday 20th April 2013

Langton Green Eagles 1 – 1 Tonbridge Porsche
(Goal: Laurie)
Man of the Match: Laurie

Langton Green Eagles 2 – 1 Tonbridge Lamborghini
(Goals: Finn, Jack)
Man of the Match: Jack

Finally, we awoke to sunshine on the day of an Eagles match and with the beautiful weather behind us, a positive feeling was in the air for our matches against 2 Tonbridge sides we’d had excellent games against earlier in the season.

First up were a Tonbridge side we’d beaten 4-0 last time out, but it has to be said they were unlucky the scoreline was so unflattering on that occasion as they’d played very well, and as expected, this game was a different kettle of fish (what exactly is a “kettle of fish” anyway… ). We began well, pegging Tonbridge back straight from the kickoff with our central midfield pairing of Rami and Laurie buzzing with energy in front of our lone defender Elliot and goalkeeper Ben, whose assured start to the match instilled much confidence in those in front of them.

Jack and Luke were busy on the wings as usual and it was a cross from the right from Luke that created our first clear cut chance, Finn first appearing to drag his shot just wide of the post but when the referee pointed to the corner flag it was in fact clear that the Tonbridge goalkeeper had made a superb fingertip save. We’d practice corners before the game, with Laurie designated to take them, and his first opportunity was a wonderful floated cross that the opposition did well to scramble away. Things were looking promising and with Finn having another chance well saved by the Porsche goalkeeper we were unfortunate not to be ahead within the first 5 minutes.

We were even more unfortunate to be behind a few moments later, when the referee blew his whistle for reasons we couldn’t gather, and pointed for a free kick right on the edge of the area. He must have seen something none of us did, perhaps a sneaky shirt tug or something, but regardless of the reason, the boys were facing a very dangerous situation. Despite Ben doing his best to arrange his wall, the boys weren’t ready when the whistle blew and the low strike found it’s way into the far corner. A disappointing way to go behind and completely against the run of play.

But – as has been the case many times this season, the boys spirits weren’t dented and they pushed hard for an equaliser straight from the restart. Rami was everywhere, tackling back and then bursting forwards, with Laurie’s assured passing and fantastic positioning meaning he was proving crucial to our forward play as well as breaking up the opposition attacks. I’d said to him before the game that I felt sure he would score today (having been very unfortunate not to get in on the goals previously and hitting the post at least twice) and so it proved, in the most unlikely of circumstances.

We won a corner on the left after Jack and Finn’s good work forced a scrambled clearance from a Tonbridge defender and Laurie stepped up to take it. After a moment’s consideration, he struck the ball high and with perfect spin to curve directly into the top corner of the goal!!! The first of the Eagles to score straight from a corner and not an easy thing to do – what a goal and a great way to start his account for the team. Brilliant stuff.

Alexander came on for Jack and Eddie in place of Finn, and they immediately stamped their mark on the game, Eddie playing a brilliant pass to Luke, who was unlucky to see his shot go wide and Alexander busy on the left, controlling the ball well and always looking to move the team forwards.

Ben was his usual self in goal, making some great saves and one particular clearance where he judged the flight of the ball perfectly to nip in in front of a Tonbridge attacker and sweep the ball clear to Laurie.

Half time saw us talk about the need to track back and help the excellent Elliot a bit more in defence as well as passing a little more in the final third of the pitch, and the boys took everything on board and started the second half very well, creating chances for Luke and Rami, who were both unlucky to see their shots saved.

Daniel replaced Elliot in defence, with the instruction to tackle in the way we know he can, and he didn’t disappoint, putting in an almighty challenge to halt a Tonbridge attack and cutting out a couple of dangerous through balls with his usual enthusiasm. Alex joined the game on the left wing and his passing was excellent – very assured and always just what was needed in the situation to release our dangerous forward players. With Laurie slotting back into defence alongside Daniel, the formation was slightly more traditional for the final 5 minutes as we looked to not concede but at the same time try and score a winner.

Tonbridge had a good spell near the end of the game as Ben made an excellent catch to snuff out a goalscoring opportunity but we had chances to win it too – Jack completely flummoxed a Tonbridge player with a fantastic dummy and whistled down the left wing to put in a great cross that just couldn’t be converted. Rami burst forward and with everyone willing him to hit a long range shot he very unselfishly passed the ball instead but the attack petered out. Finn had a run halted by a good defensive challenge and Laurie hit a couple of excellent balls into the box only for them to be hoisted clear.

The final whistle blew too soon for us but the result was a fair one. 1-1 summed up the game and gave us a good platform to build on for the following match.

A brief chat which saw us decide to have a few more shots from long range (and more reminders on the importance of tracking back to help our defenders) and then we were into the second game against a Lamborghini side who had beaten us 2-1 in our previous meeting. Our formation was the same as in the previous game, with one defender (this time it was Jack), and Laurie and Rami sitting just in front of him in their central midfield roles.

Again the boys started brilliantly, pushing forwards straight from the kickoff, Jack proving to be an absolute natural at the back both in terms of his solid tackling and reading of the bounce of the ball but also in his wonderful distribution which saw him spray passes out wide and forwards like a young David Beckham. It was a great foundation for the lads to have him in that position and meant our retention of the ball was excellent.

It has to be said that this game was far more exciting that the previous one, Mike letting the game flow in his capacity as referee and the boys playing their part with some excellent football. Luke was an absolute terror on the right as usual, skipping past challenge after challenge. When the crosses came in they were invariable of high quality from both him and Eddie on the other flank, and we were unlucky not to score early on when Rami flashed a shot past the post from Eddie’s excellent pass.

With the boys pushing hard for the opening goal and looking like it would come sooner rather than later, the excitement was ramped up another notch when a short corner on the left saw Finn receive the ball out wide. He took a touch, looked up, and curled an absolute belter of a shot towards goal which cannoned of the post, hit the goalkeeper’s back and bounced along the goal line just beyond the despairing lunge of Luke who was arriving at the far post. So nearly the opening goal we deserved and the first real “oooh” moment for the crowd. Luke was then involved again when he was denied by an excellent save from the Tonbridge keeper (who was brilliant throughout it has to be said) and Rami and Laurie both had long range efforts saved.

Our substitutes were nowhere to be seen so changes were fairly late in coming, but when they finally did show up we got Alexander on in place of Eddie and Elliot on in defence. Elliot was his usual composed self, making some great tackles and passing out of defence well with great accuracy. Poor Alexander was unfortunate to get injured within minutes of his introduction, having played several promising passes and looked sharp in attack. He limped off to be replaced by Alex, who was again assured on the left wing, playing some sensible passes and tackling well in defence.

The action was swinging from end to end and again we were unfortunate to find ourselves level at the break but I felt confident our play would get the goal it deserved in the second half if we continued in the same fashion and so it proved.

A great move just after the restart saw Rami play an inch-perfect ball to Finn who hit a ferocious shot goalwards that the Tonbridge keeper beat away. Ooooh. Finn reacted well to strike the rebound back towards goal but again the excellent goalkeeper saved (oooh x 2) and again the ball fell back to Finn’s feet. This time, with the crowd on the edge of their seats, he made no mistake to poke home from a few yards out and put the Eagles into a well-deserved 1-0 lead. Goal!

We introduced Daniel on the left shortly afterwards and immediately he made a trademark Daniel tackle, stopping a Tonbridge player in his tracks. Daniel’s defensive play has really been excellent when he’s been called upon, so to see him doing well in midfield this time was brilliant.

We were unlucky to concede a goal to Tonbridge’s first attack of the second half, some confusion in our defence coupled with a really good move by the opposition which saw their dangerous striker dribble his way through and slide a composed shot underneath Ben’s despairing grasp. 1-1 with 5 minutes to go.

The lads piled forwards looking for the winner. Ben’s much-improved distribution (his goal kicking has come on enormously in the last few games) saw us starting attacks without the pressure we’ve had in some previous matches and Jack only added to the composure at the back with his faultless display in defence. One outstanding tackle was moment of the match, a perfectly timed challenge denying Tonbridge a sure fire goalscoring opportunity.

The goal we were striving for so nearly came again and again, Finn, Rami and Luke all taking part in a goalmouth scramble that saw each of them fire shots in with the opposition somehow seeing every one back out. Eddie dribbled his way brilliantly in from the left to find Rami with a pass but his shot was saved again. It looked like it just wasn’t going to be our day when Jack received the ball from Luke in a deep position just in front of the half way line. Looking up he saw little on in terms of passing options and decided to have a shot. He unleashed a powerful, skidding strike towards goal which bounced awkwardly in front of the unfortunate keeper and found it’s way through his hands into the back of the net. What a shot! 2-1 to the Eagles with just a minute or two to go. Still long enough for Rami to make a brilliant run forward and Luke to have another excellent foray down the right and put in a good cross which Finn was unlucky not to connect with. The final whistle brought cheers in the sunshine and plenty of praise for the boys who thoroughly deserved their win.

Well done to everyone, and £30 earnt towards Luke’s Mum’s marathon donations.

On a final point, our best wishes are with the young boy from Tonbridge Juniors who was seriously injured in last week’s jamboree. He had an operation last week but will need another one after a very serious leg break. We all hope he makes a full recovery as quickly as possible.

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Saturday 13th April 2013 – Tonbridge Jamboree
(Goal – Rami)
Man of the day – Laurie

Cold. Wet. Driving rain. Even my flapjack didn’t cheer me up. Parents going beyond the call of duty. Coaches going beyond the call of duty. Would have been drier lying in a bath fully clothed. Well done to everyone for their efforts – many of the boys tried very hard in incredibly boggy conditions against some teams far higher up the leagues than us. A good match against the Yodas that meant our series is now level at 1-1 after we lost 1-0 and a goal from Rami from Luke’s corner was highlight of the day.

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Saturday 9th March 2013

Langton Green Eagles 1 – 1 Rotherfield Spitfires
(Goal: Finn)
Man of the Match: Finn

Langton Green Eagles 1 – 0 Rotherfield Hurricanes
(Goal: Alexander)
Man of the Match: Rami

Match reports may have to get a little shorter over the coming weeks due to the almost constant job of watching our new puppy to make sure she doesn’t go to the toilet in the house! She’s currently asleep under my chair though, so I’m grabbing a moment to write up what was an excellent morning’s work from the Eagles.

First up on a wet and boggy start to the day were Rotherfield’s Spitfires team, who we beat 3-2 in the corresponding fixture before Christmas. A tough game then and another tough game this time, with plenty of excitement throughout.

We started with a catastrophe – our superb goalkeeper Ben hurting his thumb in the warm up and having to sit out the start of the game. Not to be rattled though, the team got together for a pre-match chat and Rami gamely offered to go in goal in Ben’s place.

Straight from the kick off The Eagles were working hard, closing down their green and white opponents and winning the ball immediately through Jack, who was excellent today. He and Luke were quick down the flanks, running at the opposition time and time again. Occasionally the final cross didn’t materialise but the boys weren’t to be deterred, with the solid pairing of Elliot and Laurie in defence stopping most of what Rotherfield sent our way and Rami’s assured goalkeeping (including 3 or 4 excellent saves) meaning that even when our lines were breached, the score stayed at 0-0.

The excellent play from our two wide midfielders was slowly mounting the pressure on the opposition with several corners in a row bobbling round in the box and shots from Jack, Laurie and Luke going narrowly wide of the target. Midway through the first half Finn received the ball in the middle of the pitch and went on a mazy run which saw him beat 3 Rotherfield players and may have included a couple of tricks he’d spent all week practicing. His final pass just couldn’t find its way to Luke, but moments later he was at it again, dribbling past 2 players on the left and releasing Jack with a simple pass down the wing. Jack’s cross deflected across to Luke again and he was unfortunate to see his powerful shot hit the side netting.

Alexander’s busy midfield play and accurate passing was keeping the team ticking over in the middle and it was from a slide-rule pass that he released Luke to win another corner. We sent Laurie up to take this one, having had him practice them in training and he didn’t disappoint, sending a wonderfully accurate cross into the danger area which found Finn lurking to volley it powerfully into the roof of the net first time. A really good finish from an excellent cross and 1-0 to The Eagles just before the break. Eddie came on to help out in midfield and was really good, passing a moving well (and tracking back brilliantly) and Daniel replaced the excellent Elliot in defence and continued where Elliot had left off, making one particularly memorable tackle that saw a Rotherfield attack cut out and spare us from a sure goalscoring opportunity for the opposition.

Half time saw us change ends to shoot uphill, much tougher task as we’ve notice in our previous games at Ridgewaye. However, the boys weren’t concerned by such paltry worries as sloping pitches, starting the second half with intent and purpose. Ben had come on in goal, Rami moving into defence and Laurie up into central midfield – the position I know he wants to play and can play so well. His excellent ball control and passing saw us stay in control, with Jack and Luke still busy out wide and Eddie causing problems for Rotherfield up front with some really good ball control and passing.

Unfortunately, a defensive mix up saw us lose our lead midway through the second period, as we didn’t clear our lines, the ball bobbled to a Rotherfield striker and he finished with aplomb to level the scores at 1-1. Disappointing but we still felt we could go on and win the game.

Alex came on in midfield and played one or two brilliant passes, maintaining his steady improvement and showing what a reliable member of the team he is with some sturdy tackles too. The pressure was all on Rotherfield at this stage with corner after corner cleared away and Finn, Luke and Laurie all having shots beaten out by the very good opposition goalkeeper. Rotherfield had their own spell of pressure, but their corners just couldn’t get past the ever reliable Laurie at the near post or the gloves of Ben, who was making his earlier hurt thumb a forgotten memory.

Unfortunately we just couldn’t turn our pressure into a winning goal. It was an excellent game that either team could have won and I was really pleased with some of the football played by the boys, especially how hard they worked for each other in getting back when we lost possession (Eddie stands out in particular in this regard) and helping out the defenders.

After a short break, it was on to match number 2, against the team we felt were probably the better of the two Rotherfield sides last time we played them. A last minute goal from Rami in that game saw us win 3-2 again, but their number 3 in particular stood out as being a very dangerous player and one we had to watch.

We gave Rami the job of marking him this time, and our first choice defensive pairing of him and Laurie started the game brilliantly in front of Ben, snuffing out any attacks and keeping most of the play in front of them. Finn was again jinking around the opposition box, playing Luke in with a great through-ball and linking up well with Jack on the right. Luke, having swapped wings with Jack, was a constant threat as ever and was unfortunate to see his powerful drive from out wide just miss to the left of the goal. Eddie’s midfield play was even better than in the first game, with an excellent move where he and Finn played a one two before Eddie released Jack particularly sticking in my mind. Elliot came back on in place of Laurie and continued where he’d left off in the first game, one brilliant tackle and assured clearance denying Rotherfield when they were through in a 2 on 1 situation. He was on fire!

Someone else who was on fire was Rami – he was all over the pitch, making 3 or 4 unbelievable challenges to deny the Rotherfield number 3. “Great Tackle” came the constant shouts from parents and coaches from both teams, and all directed at Rami. “He’s here, he’s there, he’s everywhere!” came the songs from the terraces… okay maybe not, but perhaps we could start up a Rami chant for when he’s playing like this??? Wonderful stuff.

Alexander came on near the end of the first half and instantly he slotted in, linking up with his fellow midfielders with fluency and speed to set up a good opportunity for Finn which he was unlucky to watch fly past the post. Ben continued to be Mr Reliable for us, casually letting the ball roll out for a goal kick with such assuredness whilst I had a minor heart attack as I thought it was going in. To have the confidence to know where his goal is and when he can and can’t let the ball roll out like that shows real maturity from a player who has improved so much in such a short space of time and is now such a key member of the team.

Half time saw us once again change to play uphill in the second period, and with the game so delicately poised at 0-0 it was a tense affair. Alex came on to play in defence alongside Rami and again made several really good interceptions. Daniel played his usual role brilliantly for the second time in the day, blocking and sliding in front of the ball superbly to keep Rotherfield at bay.

It was always going to take either a mistake or a moment of brilliance to win the game, and sure enough we got our moment of brilliance with barely 3 minutes to go. Jack and Luke combined wonderfully by the corner flag to send the ball goalwards. It took a deflection off a Rotherfield defender’s heel and somehow found its way through the sticky mud to Alexander, who was positioned perfectly in the penalty area like a proper goal-poaching centre forward. He had time to control the ball, take a touch, and lash an unstoppable shot past the excellent Rotherfield keeper to put the Eagles 1-0 up. How we cheered!!!! It felt cruel to Rotherfield, who’d played so well, but we weren’t too worried about that at the time. Well done Alexander – I was really pleased to see you get the goal your hard work deserved.

Rotherfield poured forward to try and equalise, and only some wonderful last ditch defending from man-of-the-match Rami saw us safe. His tackling was sublime, only once giving away a free kick with a slightly mistimed effort. Thankfully for us, as I had my second miniature cardiac arrest of the morning, the resultant free kick whistled past Ben’s far post to safety and that was that – a few seconds later the game was over and The Eagles had a hard fought victory.

The lads have already won as many games since Christmas as they did prior to the festive break, and with 6 matches still to play this season we’re hoping for a really good end to our first year as a new Langton Green team. Well done today everyone, especially the lads who didn’t play quite as much as some of the others. I was really impressed by how ready you all were to come on and do your jobs for the team and by the support you offered the rest of the boys whilst you aren’t on the pitch. With 11 players and only 7 spots on the pitch it’s always going to be difficult to balance things but I thought everyone did a wonderful job today.

Did I say this match report was going to be shorter… hmmmm… well – the puppy is still asleep on my feet and so now I’m off for a sit down on the sofa and a nice cup of tea.

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Saturday 23rd February 2013

Langton Green Eagles 4 – 0 Tonbridge Lamborghini
(Goals: Finn 2, Own Goals 2)
Man of the Match: Finn

Langton Green Eagles 1 – 2 Tonbridge Porsche
(Goals: Luke)
Man of the Match: Luke

Having awoken to the lazy idea that there would definitely be no football today due to the blanket of snow covering everything I was shocked to discover myself standing in a very cold field 2 hours later waiting for the rest of the Eagles to arrive for our double header against two Tonbridge sides who had given our Langton Green co-teams The Giants and The Redhawks a pair of tough games just before Christmas.

The snow was swirling around, there was a lot of interest in the hot chocolate coming from the clubhouse and we had to lend several players to our friends from Ridgewaye as they only had a team of 4. With that all sorted out (and well done to Alex, Daniel and Alex’s brother William who filled in admirably for Ridgewaye), we were ready to start our first fixture against Tonbridge Lamborghini – a team whose previous results suggested they would provide a stern test for our lads.

We started brilliantly, closing down the opposition straight from the kickoff and winning the ball immediately. Everything we’d practiced during training was coming together as we pressurised Tonbridge, passed well when we had the ball and defended solidly with the imposing pairing of Rami and Laurie proving to be a solid back line. Luke and Jack were both on fire, running at defenders at will, Luke giving his marker a torrid time down the right hand side to put in a couple of excellent crosses that Tonbridge did well to block.

One thing we’d discussed at length was the midfield getting back to help the defenders and the boys did this superbly, Alexander and Jack in particular making a real effort to run down any loose balls and help Laurie and Rami out, crowding out the opposition and denying them any clear chances. With the game delicately poised at 0-0, The Eagles made the breakthrough midway through the first half, Jack sliding a clever pass into Finn, who shimmied past one defender and deftly lifted the ball over the goalkeeper’s leg and into the bottom corner. 1-0 to the Eagles, and thoroughly deserved.

Eddie came on in central midfield, and continued where Alexander had left off, tracking back brilliantly to help the team. Luke very nearly made it 2-0 with a wonderful shot which the Tonbridge keeper tipped over the bar. We made it through to half time with our slender lead and an easy half time chat simply asked for more of the same after the break.

The second half began with a little less composure than the first (although I was pleased to see the boys execute a perfect kick off from last week’s training session – well done lads), Ben being called on to make several excellent stops from powerful Tonbridge strikes. His command of his penalty area was superb and his confidence visibly grew from the start of the game (where he’d expressed concern that the frozen pitch would make diving a bit painful) – he was now flinging himself all over the place. Goal kicks were also much more organised than they had been on some past occasions (another thing we’d worked on in training) and Ben’s clever distribution found Luke out on the right again and again where he ran at the opposition with speed and guile. Even though the Lamborghinis knew what he would do every time he received the ball, they couldn’t stop Luke continually attacking them down the right hand side, and it was from his boot that the second goal was created.

A brilliant run down the wing saw him beat 2 defenders before he looked up and picked out Finn with an inch perfect cross. Finn had time to take a touch, shrug off a last ditch tackle from a Tonbridge defender and slide the ball beyond the despairing lunge of the goalkeeper for The Eagles’ second goal.

Jack, Eddie and Alexander were combining excellently in midfield with some lovely one-twos, and Eddie was unfortunate to see the goalkeeper save a good shot he had. Alexander’s hard work in tracking back as he’d been asked to did not go unnoticed and Laurie and Rami were inspirational at the back, not only saving the team again and again but then passing out of defence with such assuredness I felt like I was watching Bobby Moore or Franz Beckenbauer at times!!! Lofty praise indeed! (and showing my age with references to players from a LONG time ago!!!)

Luke continued his excellent form and was so unlucky not to score on several occasions, denied simply by some excellent stops from the opposition goalie. He combined well with Eddie to send Finn through on goal again and whilst he mishit his shot slightly, the pressure he put on the defender led to an own goal to make it 3-0 to The Eagles. Buoyed by the third goal the lads poured forwards again, Laurie releasing Jack with a clever pass and the midfield combining to again put Finn through on goal. In an almost exact replica of the third goal, the pressure from our attackers forced another OG from Tonbridge to put us into a 4-0 lead just before the end of the match.

There was still time for Rami to make a couple of brilliant last ditch challenges, Laurie to find himself positioned superbly to deny the opposition striker a chance and Ben to continue his commanding performance with a couple of excellent catches.

A clean sheet, 4 goals scored against a good team and some wonderful play from The Eagles in their most assured performance yet. So hard to pick a man of the match as they all played superbly. Finn just gets it for his hand in the goals but a mention should also go to Luke who was very unlucky not to score and was involved in nearly everything positive we did in the attacking half of the pitch. Well done Eagles!!!

The second match was against Tonbridge Porsche, who again had some impressive previous results to speak of and had won their first match against Ridgewaye 3-0. The boys had spent the 10 minutes between games shivering to the point where we’d had to go and buy one or two of them (and me) hot chocolate just to keep hands warm. A cunning ploy I thought, as frozen players are not going to win matches, but even the hot chocolate couldn’t make inroads into the frostbite being suffered after an hour in the snow.

The boys started the game on the back foot, under an almost constant stream of pressure with only Ben’s excellent goalkeeping and some last ditch clearances / headers from nearly every member of the team keeping us on terms after 10 minutes.

We had seen a lot less of the ball than we did in the first game and when we did have it we weren’t holding onto it. Tonbridge had a corner. Tonbridge hit the bar. Rami came off hurt. Ben made a save. Tonbridge had another corner. Ben made another save. There were lots of Ooohs and Aaaahs and I was starting to fear the worst when suddenly Finn jinked past a Tonbridge defender and freed Luke in space on the left with a simple pass. Luke ran at the Porsche defence with pretty much our first attack and lashed a powerful shot into the roof of the net to make it 1-0 to the Eagles! “Daylight Robbery” came the call from one of the Tonbridge parents. I had to admit to him that I agreed (although Luke thoroughly deserved a goal today for his overall performance) but I wasn’t complaining. Finn got a bash on the eye in the build up to the goal and Jack came off with a hurt ankle so for a minute or two we were at sixes and sevens, the walking wounded but somehow in the lead.

The final minutes of the first half saw Tonbridge unfortunate to see several chances go astray, Rami and Laurie clearing our lines on several occasions and Ben pulling off a couple of fingertip saves to see us to half time 1-0 up.

The lads were visibly tired by now, and Jack had to go home as he wasn’t feeling well. He’d played brilliantly for us up until then and done more than his fair share of hard work for the team despite not feeling great in freezing conditions. Well done Jack. The rest of the boys battled on and it looked for a while like someone was looking out for them such was their luck, the ball pinging around in our penalty area, hitting the post, random legs and going pretty much anywhere except in the back of our net. More oohs and aaahs from the crowd and me watching through gaps in my fingers until finally Tonbridge deservedly drew level with a well worked goal.

Unfortunately, by now the basics we’d practiced in training and had got so right at the start of the day were starting to fall by the wayside for everyone but that was understandable after 2 such tough matches in the cold. Our passes were less confident, our control less accurate and just as I thought we were going to see out a draw Tonbridge made a break through the middle, their striker drawing a foul from Rami right on the edge of the area.

There was nothing we could do about the resulting free-kick – a powerful drive which was in the back of the net before we knew it had left the player’s boot. With 2 minutes to go the boys were jolted into life by going behind and played some of the best football of the game from the resulting kick-off – another perfect set play with Laurie finding Luke out on the right, his pass finding Rami, who surged forward into the opposition area and was unlucky to see his shot roll agonisingly into the goalkeeper’s arms.

A fair result on reflection, but an excellent backs-to-the-wall performance from the Eagles in difficult conditions and against a really good team.

All in all a very satisfying day. 4-0 is our biggest win to date, our first clean sheet in a competitive match and the best performance the boys have had so far. I would like to say thanks to the lads who stepped in to help out Ridgewaye – I know they would prefer to be playing with their usual team so it was very very much appreciated.

Well done to everyone – great all round and with 2 wins and 3 excellent performances since Christmas we can go into our next set of games full of confidence after such a good team display today.

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Saturday 9th February 2013

Langton Green Eagles 0 – 7 Crowborough Wolves
Man of the Match: Ben

Langton Green Eagles 3 – 1 East Grinstead Meads
(Goals: Luke, Finn, Jack)
Man of the Match: Luke

With the snow and rain finally out of the way we started the post-Christmas season with a VERY mixed pair of performances against 2 teams we’d never played before. Having negotiated filling in an enormous hole a rabbit had dug in the penalty area, putting up 4 goals with several missing pieces and a double booking on the pitches, we finally got underway against a Crowborough Wolves team who were quicker out of the blocks than Usain Bolt, scoring against us within the first minute.

After a short spell where we looked like we might get back into the game, Finn and Luke both having shots saved by their goalie, things unfortunately went downhill fairly rapidly. We found ourselves 3-0 down at half time (thanks to 3 almost identical goals where we just couldn’t get the ball clear) and staring defeat firmly in the face against a team who were, it has to be said, playing as well as were poorly. The only plus side of a difficult first half was Ben’s goalkeeping which was as good as we’ve come to expect from him. If it wasn’t for him it could have been much worse and his penalty save was brilliant.

Alex and Daniel came on at half time, Daniel showing in the second half why he received so much praise last year for his dogged defending. Some of his tackles were nothing short of monumental, and Alex was composed in midfield, playing several excellent passes and continuing the steady improvement he’s shown since the team started. Both Alex and Daniel can feel proud of how they played under incredibly difficult circumstances having come on with the team struggling so badly.

Unfortunately though, despite more excellent goalkeeping from Ben, including one save reminiscent of Gordon Banks’ save from Pele in the 1970 World Cup, we struggled to retain the ball and we eventually lost the game 7-0. A great starting point for the season in the sense that things(hopefully) couldn’t get any worse and despite the scoreline some good performances from Ben (who gets man of the match for this game), Alex and Daniel.

So, after a brief chat about where we went wrong, we got our second match underway against East Grinstead Meads with spirits dampened but not destroyed and an idea of what we needed to improve upon, and boy did we improve.

I can only assume that the majority of our team playing in the first game were impostors hired by Crowborough, dressed in Langton Green kits and wearing cleverly sculpted face masks to look like our boys, such was the complete turnaround in their performances in the second game. Suddenly the lads could pass, dribble, shoot and defend with skill and confidence you wouldn’t expect from a team who’d just lost 7-0.

Luke was imperious down the right hand side, running at East Grinstead’s defence again and again and playing some really strong football. He deservedly put us 1-0 up after 5 minutes or so with an excellent shot that was too powerful for the opposition goalie to stop. With Rami and Laurie playing in defence we had a tenacious back line who weren’t letting anything through and because both of them are so good with the ball at their feet we were able to pass out from defence and start our attacks from there.

Jack was causing all sorts of problems for East Grinstead with his pace and skill on the ball, combining brilliantly with Finn and Alexander to create another chance for Luke, who’s long range shot was only just kept out by a good save from the Meads’ goalie and Luke was again involved a few minutes later when a good pass from Jack allowed him to square the ball to Finn near the centre circle. With a lot of work still to do, Finn dribbled forward confidently, dispatching a cool finish beneath the onrushing keeper to put the Eagles 2-0 ahead and in control of the game.

We brought Eddie and Elliot on at half time, Elliot reading the game wonderfully on several occasions to find himself in exactly the right place to intercept an East Grinstead attack and pass the ball calmly out of defence. Eddie was brought on to maintain our attacking threat and he did exactly that, playing some excellent through balls and causing the opposition defenders problems with his shooting and dribbling.

With Elliot’s introduction and confident defending, Laurie moved into midfield and almost found himself on the score sheet with an absolute firecracker of a shot from long range which was somehow kept out by the goalkeeper’s legs. One move in particular stood out for me when Laurie, Finn and Eddie combined beautifully to bring the ball up the pitch with a series of one-twos that cut the opposition defence to shreds and set Jack up to score from close range and get the goal his performance deserved to make it 3-0 midway through the second half.

Rami was everywhere at this point, making some absolutely superb last ditch tackles before dribbling half the length of the pitch to set up a chance at the other end. Alexander was back on and kept the ball really well, linking play up and maintaining our attacking threat with his tricky dribbling and Luke also returned to the action to terrorise the defence with his direct running and assuredness on the ball.

There were a few scary moments at the back, and the introduction of Daniel in place of one of our more attacking players helped calm us down. He made one brilliant tackle before playing a wonderful pass out of defence to set up another Eagles attack and was right in the thick of it as we defended several corners, clearing well to deny the other team a sure goalscoring opportunity.

Unfortunately a clean sheet was not to be, as East Grinstead scored in the final minutes with a well-worked goal which they deserved on the balance of play and prompting those of us on the sidelines to remember last year when the team let a 2 goal lead slip in the last few minutes. A repeat of that was not on the cards however, and the boys expertly saw out the rest of the game, creating another chance along the way and Alex coming on up front for the final minutes and having time to show again his calmness on the ball and good passing.

The final whistle went, to much applause from parents and coaches alike and a sense of real pride from everyone in how well they’d played. A really good end to a morning which started in difficult fashion and all credit to the lads for their performance. Well done!!!

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Saturday 24th November

Langton Green Eagles 6 – 9 Ridgewaye Jupiter
(Goals: Luke 2, Finn 2, Eddie, Alexander)

Man of the Match: Luke

For our last match before Christmas what better than an hour long epic on a muddy pitch in the pouring rain – and so it was we found ourselves at Ridgewaye for a friendly on Saturday morning with the mighty Eagles raring to go, having not played a match for a month due to bad weather.

The team were buoyed by the return of Luke from his 6 week absence and were keen to end the season on a high. Shooting uphill on a significantly sloping pitch, they started well for the opening 5 minutes with some incisive running from Eddie and Luke in attack and quick feet and clever passing from Finn, Alexander and Laurie in midfield. So keen were the team to attack however, that they were caught out defensively on Ridgewaye’s first attack and conceded an unfortunate goal which the excellent Jack, starting as goalie in place of Ben, was unlucky not to get to. From then on, the next 15 minutes were spent defending wave after wave of Ridgewaye attacks, with Elliot and Daniel making plenty of good tackles, but unfortunately for them finding that support from midfield was not forthcoming, leaving them rather exposed. Jack made several very good saves but the sheer number of Ridgewaye players bearing down on goal meant that he had little chance of stopping them scoring again, and The Eagles were soon 3-0 down.

Ben came on in place of Jack in goal, with Rami and Alex also entering the fray midway through the first half. Jack moved onto pitch where he was immediately in the thick of the action, showing his usual direct dribbling and skilful passing, and with a more familiar feel to the team we straight away found ourselves back in the game with a brilliantly taken goal from Luke, bursting up the right hand side, exchanging passes with Laurie and shooting into the far corner from a very tight angle, leaving me wondering whether Luke had spent his 6 weeks off taking private footballing lessons from Cristiano Ronaldo, such was the drive and assuredness in his play. We felt the comeback was on the cards, and for a few minutes it looked like it might be, with Finn shooting just wide after a weaving run and Laurie unfortunate to see his powerful shot rebound off the post.

Again though, our keenness to attack left us open in defence and the excellent Elliot, Alex and Daniel found themselves outnumbered again and again as Ridgewaye broke forwards, and despite their heroic tackling and Ben’s usual sure hands in goal, we were 6-1 down at the break – a seemingly insurmountable scoreline.

Half time saw more changes, with Rami moving to play in goal, Jack (who had been unwell the week before and was suffering from a nasty knock he took in the first half) coming off and Ben coming out onto pitch. With the rain still beating down and the wind picking up, the second half got off to as bad a start as we could have imagined, with Ridgewaye scoring almost from the kickoff to leave us 7-1 down.

I’m not sure exactly what happened next but the boys suddenly seemed to click into gear, and from a brilliant passing move involving Laurie, Luke and Alexander, Eddie scored his first goal for the team with an assured finish from the middle of the penalty box. Game on!!! With game going backwards and forwards, Ridgewaye scored an excellent goal of their own before Luke added his second of the game a few moments later to make it 8-3 with a powerful run and finish low into the goal and suddenly The Eagles were rampant and the comeback was on.

A brief blip during which Ridgewaye put away their 9th goal and hit the post, with Rami leaping all over the place to produce some truly acrobatic saves preceded an excellent final 15 minutes from the lads where their running, passing and dribbling was first class. Eddie was buzzing around the penalty area, finding some superb positions and only a few wayward passes meant he wasn’t put through on goal more often. A wonderful through ball did find him eventually though, and his powerful shot was well saved by the Ridgewaye keeper, before from a nearly identical position a moment later, he played Finn in to beat the goalie to the ball and tap home his first of the game and our fourth.

Laurie’s passing was opening up the defence at will by now, with the excellent Ben and Luke often the targets and with the two of them as well as Finn, Eddie and Alexander piling forward The Eagles scored their fifth goal when Alexander was quickest to react to a loose ball and poke home an assured finish. With Daniel sliding in to deny Ridgewaye even a sniff of a chance at the other end and Elliot’s excellent positioning meaning he was always on hand to mop up any loose balls, we didn’t look like conceding any more and the only worry we had was how long was left on the clock. Unfortunately, with 4 goals still to score to draw level, time was against us.

Nevertheless, the lads piled forward with confidence and found time for one more goal, Alex, whose confidence grew as the game progressed, tackling brilliantly and releasing Luke, who played a perfect ball across the area to Finn, who made no mistake to score his second of the match with a powerful side footed finish into the roof of the net. With the scoreline now at 9-6, feeling much more respectable, and a second half victory in their hands, the boys finished the match feeling a lot happier than they had at half time.

All in all, a fair result, as Ridgewaye were excellent in the first half, but The Eagles can take a lot of pride from how they fought back in the second half in difficult conditions from a very tough half-time scoreline. Well done everyone – and when you bear in mind the general consensus from a lot of people I spoke to at the start of the year was that we’d be lucky to win a game before Christmas – the boys have done brilliantly to win 3 games and draw 1, scoring 20 goals along the way in 9 matches. Excellent stuff! Plenty to build on for the new year!

Pre-Christmas Season Totals:

Played: 9
Won: 3
Drawn: 1
Lost: 5
Scored: 20 (Rami 7, Jack 4, Finn 4, Luke 2, Alexander 2, Eddie)

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Saturday 27th October

Langton Green Eagles 1 – 3 Uckfield Jets
(Goal: Jack)

Man of the Match: William

Langton Green Eagles 2 – 2 Uckfield Torpedos
(Goals: Finn, Rami)

Men of the Match: Finn & Eddie (joint)

With half term upon us and the weather turning for the worse, The Eagles took themselves up the road to Ridgewaye to play against two very good Uckfield sides, having had another missed training session the previous week due to the rain.

With the school holidays depleting Uckfield of one of their players, the first match was 6 a side, with Eddie playing his first game for the team after registration confusion had been sorted out and William also playing for the first time in place of Alexander (who is in Cyprus, which didn’t make us jealous whilst standing on the touchline in what felt like -10 degrees C).

The team started well, with Rami making a couple of good runs but we were quickly on the back foot as Uckfield pegged us back for a lot of the first half, one of their players in particular having a great start to the game. Only some valiant defending from Elliot and Daniel kept The Eagles in the game in what was a very pressured spell and with the downhill slope and momentum in their favour, the opposition took a deserved lead midway through the first half to lead 1-0 at the break.

Jack, Laurie and Rami started the second half brightly, passing the ball well, and Alex, Eddie and William held up superbly in defence, William shining particularly on his first game for the Eagles. Rami had a good run and a chance to score but his shot went agonisingly wide, whilst Finn was unfortunate to find Uckfield’s goalkeeper alert to his run as Jack played a wonderful through ball to him. Ben made a couple of outstanding saves to keep us in it but could do nothing about the second goal we conceded, with some confusion in our defence and good play by Uckfield meaning we were 2-0 down half way through the second half.

But – we’ve been 2-0 down before and won, which the boys were reminded of by their rather cold supporters, and they pulled an excellent goal back through Jack, his expert finish slotted home underneath the despairing dive of the opposition goalie. With the wind in their sails (quite literally) and shooting downhill, The Eagles pushed hard for an equaliser and Rami so nearly provided it, only for his excellent shot to roll just past the post and with so many players pushed forwards looking for the second goal, we inevitably left ourselves open at the back. In the dying moments Uckfield scored a third to inflict defeat on the freezing cold Eagles and leave the team with a job to do to get themselves up for the next match.

The second game saw a few changes, with Eddie coming on up front and William starting in defence. With the rain coming in horizontally and several parents shivering almost as much as I was (me having foolishly not brought a jacket or a hot drink), the boys started the game superbly, putting the disappointment of defeat firmly behind them. Rami was imperious, running at the opposition at will (as well as secretly rugby tackling one of them!). Laurie was calm, collected and accurate with his passing and Eddie looked like he’d been playing with the team for years, such was his creativity and assuredness on the ball and it wasn’t long before we took a deserved lead.

Rami beat two players on the right, played a clever pass to Eddie, who squared the ball to Finn, who made no mistake to firmly strike the ball in to the corner from 6 yards out. GOAL! A great team effort which was met with rapturous applause from the crowd.

Instead of sit on their lead though, the boys continued to press forward in numbers, Alex playing a sublime pass to Jack (now recovered from frostbite and back on to torment the opposition), who slid the ball to Rami. He played the pass of the match over the top to Eddie, who controlled the ball expertly and played Finn in again. “This is like watching Barcelona” I thought to myself. With an Uckfield defender bearing down on him and still a fair way out, Finn was unable to shoot, instead passing back to Rami who twisted and turned but was eventually squeezed out by several defenders – but the signs were positive. A couple of dangerous corners from Finn were scrambled away by Uckfield and Laurie had a good shot well saved by their keeper.

At the other end Ben was less busy that in the first game but was still alert to make a couple of excellent saves and was lucky to see a very good shot from Uckfield rebound off the crossbar. Daniel’s solid play in defence was evident once again, with him brushing aside his magically untying shoelaces to hurl himself in front of the ball on several occasions to block goal bound chances.

Half time was a quick and cold affair, and with the boys shooting downhill in the second half, they started well with William seemingly everywhere in defence and Elliot continuing his brilliant form at the back with some solid tackles and good distribution. Alex was now in midfield and he shone there for a spell where he tackled with measured ferocity and passed brilliantly to set up a couple of Eagles attacks.

Eddie was once again involved as The Eagles scored their second, playing a superb pass to Rami, whose pace got him clear of the defence, allowing him to slide in and shoot past the Uckfield goalie’s lunge to give his team a 2-0 lead. Another great goal from our top scorer.

With confidence high, the boys pushed for a third, Finn, Rami and Jack all having chances in a desperate goalmouth scramble which Jack was unlucky not to finish off. At the other end there was more of the same, with one brilliant moment that saw nearly all 12 outfield players from both teams packed into an area about 3 metres square. “This is not like watching Barcelona” I thought to myself. Nobody had a clue where the ball was, legs were flailing wildly, parents and coaches were shouting, and frankly anything could have happened, the ball eventually hitting Ben in the face as far as I could see and going out for a corner.

Seconds later Uckfield hit the post, and just as it looked like it wasn’t going to be their lucky day, they pulled a well taken goal back, taking advantage of some confusion in the Eagles defence to score with a few minutes left.

I still felt confident, but unfortunately we couldn’t see out the victory, and just as Elliot very sensibly said to me on the touchline “We don’t need to worry about attacking now. We just need to defend really well”, Uckfield’s striker found himself through on goal and made no mistake with the finish, putting the ball right in the corner to make it 2-2.

Even after that we had chances to snatch victory, Rami seeing his shot skim the post and Jack’s corner bobbling about in the box and just not falling on a Langton toe.

All in all, a fair result when you think that Uckfield hit the woodwork twice, but on the balance of play we were disappointed not to win, especially having been 2-0 up. A really good performance from the boys though and one they should take a lot of heart from, in difficult conditions and without any training for over a month now. Well done everyone, especially the two new lads, Eddie and William who were superb. Well done!!!

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Saturday 13th October

Langton Green Eagles 2 – 1 Langton Green Yodas
(Goals: Jack, Finn)

Man of the Match: Ben

Langton Green Eagles 1 – 6 Langton Green Devils
(Goal: Rami)

Men of the Match: The crowd!

With training cancelled the previous weekend, our preparations for these matches were not ideal, although with our opponents being two of the other Langton Green teams – The Yodas and The Devils – they were in the same boat, meaning everyone came into the game with the potential of being slightly rusty.

First up were The Yodas, a team The Eagles knew well and had played during our first ever training session (a 4-3 defeat). We started well, with Rami, Jack and Laurie bossing the midfield from the kickoff and our good early play quickly paid off with a smartly taken goal from Jack, who skipped past several defenders before sliding the ball calmly under the onrushing goalkeeper. The Yodas are a good team though, and they recovered quickly, presenting plenty of problems for us down our right hand side. Only the excellent last ditch tackling of Elliot and Daniel (both of whom are showing themselves to be very promising defenders) saved us from giving up our early lead.

Play moved quickly from end to end, with Finn and Rami both having half-chances to make it 2-0 and Ben making several crucial saves for us at the other end. Alexander was his usual calm self on the ball, helping to spread the play out wide to the ever-dangerous Jack, whose pace and quick skills were causing the opposition all sorts of problems. Alex came on midway through the first half in place of Alexander and was immediately involved making some good tackles and playing one particularly clever pass which helped set up an attack of our own.

Just before half time however The Yodas drew level with a good goal that the excellent Ben had little chance of saving. 1-1 at half time was probably a fair reflection of the game up to that point and our half-time team talk was focused on keeping The Yodas’ dangerous attacking players away from our goal and reminding the boys to “pass, pass, pass”.

Man of the match, Ben’s superb goalkeeping form continued after the break as he saved a barrage of shots, with Elliot (who I would like to single out as having played particularly well), Alex and Daniel again being brilliant in defence and our attacking players helping out with some crucial clearances at corners, Finn heading off the line for the second game in a row. Going forward Rami nearly got through on goal twice with Laurie and then Jack playing excellent through balls to him and Alexander also causing problems for the Yodas’ defence with some nifty dribbling.

With time ticking away and the action going from end to end it was a game either team could have won, and with just a few minutes left The Eagles scored what turned out to be the winning goal, Rami bursting down the right hand side, beating two players and sliding an inch perfect ball across the box to Finn, who expertly tapped home with the outside of his foot as a Yodas defender slid in to try and clear the ball. His first goal for the team, and what an important one it turned out to be. Despite having to weather another attack from the opposition, the boys held out brilliantly, Daniel and Elliot holding strong at the back with the help of Laurie to see us to full time and a 2-1 victory. Well done!!!

With the second match approaching the team went off to refresh themselves, many of them returning with armfuls of celebratory chocolate. Unfortunately, the combination of the high of winning their first match, tiredness from their efforts and the attention of half the boys being more on their sweets than the match (4 boys volunteered to be sub so they could finish eating) meant the game against the Devils was not at all what we’d hoped. The excellent passing, communication and tackling we’d seen in our last three matches seemed to have evaporated and The Devils were better in every area of the pitch. By half time it was 4-0 to the opposition and despite a much improved second half where Rami pulled back a well taken goal, set up brilliantly by Ben (who had asked to play out on pitch for a half, replaced in goal by Finn), The Eagles lost the game 6-1 in the end. The Devils are an excellent team and we wish them all the best for the rest of the season. But – a defeat of this magnitude is no bad thing – it will give us a lot to focus on in the next training session and hopefully give the team a determination not to be in that position again.

All in all, the fact that after 6 games this season we’ve won 3, with a new team who’ve only had 3 training sessions together is brilliant. The boys should be proud of themselves!

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Saturday 29th September

Langton Green Eagles 3 – 2 Rotherfield Spitfires
(Goals: Jack 2, Rami)

Man of the Match: Jack

Langton Green Eagles 3 – 2 Rotherfield Hurricanes
(Goals: Rami 3)

Men of the Match: Ben & Rami (joint)

Our first home games of the seasons saw The Eagles up against two very accomplished Rotherfield sides. Having worked tirelessly in their last training session on their passing, and coming off the back off excellent performances, despite losing in their first matches, the boys and myself were confident we could put in an even better showing this time round.

The first match, against Rotherfield’s Spitfires team started well, with Rami, Alexander and Jack keeping hold of the ball with some excellent passing and dribbling, Rami twice coming close to opening the scoring only to be denied by some superb goalkeeping by the opposition’s number 1 and Laurie and Alex looking comfortable at the back. As with our last match however, our good start wasn’t to be rewarded with the first goal, as Rotherfield scored a good individual effort against the run of play, their striker shooting high into the net, leaving us all slightly shell-shocked to be 1-0 down. The opposition clearly took confidence from this and had their best spell of the match for the next 5 minutes, scoring again to make it 2-0 and leave us staring defeat squarely in the face.

Within minutes however we were deservedly right back in the game, the ball breaking to Finn who had just come on as a sub. He found Jack in the penalty area with a clever pass between two opposition defenders and Jack made no mistake with his shot to score a brilliant goal from a tight angle, leaving The Eagles delighted. Having been marshalled superbly by our goalkeeping captain Ben, our defence was looking a lot more solid by this stage with Daniel carrying on where he left off in our last match, sliding all over the place to block anything that threatened to extend Rotherfield’s lead. I think we all felt that half time came too soon for us, such was our dominance at that stage of the game.

The second half saw Elliot move into midfield to replace Rami and Jack move up front for a spell where we again kept possession brilliantly. Daniel and Elliot’s tackling and blocking saved us from a couple of difficult situations and Laurie’s awareness of where his team-mates were meant whenever we won the ball back we were almost immediately on the attack again. We went close to equalising on a couple of occasions, Alexander having an excellent shot he was unfortunate not to see end up in the back of the net and Finn making a wonderful run into the box to find the Rotherfield keeper snatching the ball from his feet just as he was about to slide it into the net. The goal we were threatening eventually came though, mid-way through the second half. Rami came back on and was not to be denied the moment of glory his excellent all-round performance deserved, finishing low underneath the goalkeeper to draw us level at 2-2.

At this stage it could have gone either way but I felt confident that having come from behind we had the momentum. Ben was busier than he had been in the first half and made a couple of excellent catches to snuff out potential danger and in defence Alex was back on alongside Daniel who continued to throw himself in the way of any Rotherfield shot. With not long left, the ball was being passed around beautifully by the boys, with Laurie’s measured play complemented by Rami’s power and Jack’s pace and it was Jack who scored the winner and his second goal of the game with a wonderfully measured strike beyond the despairing grasp of Rotherfield’s excellent goalkeeper to leave us on the brink of our first victory. Despite some late pressure from the visiting side, The Eagles held on magnificently for the last few minutes to leave the home support cheering heartily.

After a quick break for a drink and a snack, the boys were right back into the action with their second match of the morning against Rotherfield’s Hurricanes. Despite the fact that several of them were still at the snack counter when the game started, we began brilliantly and our early dominance paid off with Rami scoring almost immediately, his clinical goalscoring instinct ensuring he found the back of the net with the first opportunity he got, the ball having been won by Elliot and Finn’s excellent work in midfield.

Alexander and Alex paired up in defence, with both of them seeing off danger with a series of last ditch tackles. When our defence was breached, the opposition found Ben in great form, making catch after catch to deny their strikers even the slightest sniff of a goalscoring opportunity. When you add that to his brilliant distribution and organising of his defenders, Ben is proving himself to be an excellent goalie.

At 1-0 up you’re always looking over your shoulder and so it proved to be, with Rotherfield’s talented number 3 scoring to leave us 1-1 at half time. Confidence was still high though and sent back out with a warning to keep a close eye on the number 3 and make sure we didn’t give him too much space, the boys started the second half under some pressure, Daniel again saving us with some heroic tackling and Alex making several strong challenges that denied the Rotherfield forwards the space they needed to score again.

The game looked to be heading for a draw until an eventful 5 minutes where we initially looked to have lost the game as their number 3 jinked through our defence to score another excellent solo goal. Jack came back on at this point and nearly made an immediate impact, Finn playing the pass of the match to him from wide on the left. Rushing on to the ball, Jack was only stopped by a perfectly-timed tackle from one of the Rotherfield defenders, leaving the crowd on the edge of their metaphorical seats. Chances were flying around at both ends by now, with Rotherfield hitting the woodwork, Ben making several game-saving catches and Finn clearing off the line with his head to keep us in the game. The boys who were subbed off at this point were cheering the team on and provided us with the extra momentum we needed to claw our way back – Elliot in particular proving a great team-player as he hugged the touchline shouting to the boys.

It was Laurie’s composure in midfield combined with Rami’s power and pace that rescued what looked to be a draw for us when Rami scored his second goal of the game with another deft finish past the goalkeeper with just a few minutes left, treating us all to his version of Mo Farah’s “Mobot” celebration, but then in truly dramatic fashion, with the last kick of the game he popped up again to score the winner and get his hat-trick, having pounced on a loose ball in midfield after great work from Alexander and powered past a defender on his way to sealing victory.

An unbelievable home debut for The Eagles, with 2 wins we couldn’t have expected this early in the season and brilliant performances from all the boys as well as fine support from all the parents, brothers, sisters and grandparents who came along to watch. Well done Eagles!!!

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Saturday 15th September

Paddock Wood Predators 1 – 0 Langton Eagles

Man of the Match: Laurie

Paddock Wood Warriors 4 – 2 Langton Eagles

(Goals: Rami, Alexander)

Man of the Match: Rami

After just 2 training sessions together, our first ever matches saw us pitted against two strong Paddock Wood teams. With nobody knowing quite what to expect from the games, parents, brothers and sisters hugged the touchline in anticipation, hoping to see a good first performance and perhaps a goal or two.

The first match, against Paddock Wood Predators started in difficult fashion for The Eagles, with the opposition scoring after just a few minutes with an excellent strike that Joe Hart would have had trouble getting to. Ben played brilliantly in goal but there really was nothing he could have done about the opener. Far from letting this early blow get them down however, the boys rallied magnificently, with Rami and Jack carving open the opposition several times in the first half with their pace and trickery, only to be denied by some strong defending from Paddock Wood. With Finn and Alexander’s measured passing feeding them they always looked a danger to the opposition defence and when Luke came on to join the attacking force he added to the danger we were posing with his direct running and excellent dribbling. Elliot made some invaluable clearances from defence, keeping The Eagles in the game on several occasions along with his defensive partner Laurie, who wins my vote as man of the match for his strong, calm performance at the back which included one occasion where he dribbled past 2 players before unleashing a superb 20 yard pass to Rami. Behind them Ben was proving himself to be a reliable goalkeeper with some great positioning and commanding catches.

We changed things around slightly in the second half with Finn moving back into goal and Daniel and Alex coming on in defence. Daniel’s tireless tackling and Alex’s strength and hard work meant we kept a clean sheet in the second half, with Finn making several good saves in between some superb distribution, but unfortunately the boys just couldn’t get that stroke of luck at the other end they needed to get an equalising goal. Ben and Luke both had good runs at the heart of the opposition’s defence, Elliot had a clever through-ball intercepted and Rami and Jack continued to impress, but at the critical moment Paddock Wood always seemed to have a defender back to make that crucial tackle. The game ended 1-0 to Paddock Wood, but The Eagles left the field with their heads held high.

Our second game was a more entertaining affair for the crowd, with a total of 6 goals scored and although The Eagles lost the match they had flashes of excellent play that showed plenty of promise for what we can expect when they have more experience playing and training together.

The match started well – The Eagles bossing the game for the first 5 minutes with some slick passing in midfield. Rami was again instrumental to much of our attacking play, with Jack and Luke linking up well with him. Completely against the run of play however, Paddock Wood took the lead with a breakaway goal, and doubled their advantage almost immediately. As in the first match, the boys responded magnificently and within a few minutes of the restart we had a goal of our own and what a goal it was!!! Alexander and Finn combined in midfield to feed Jack out wide on the right. He skipped past 2 tackles before playing an exquisite ball through to Rami, who had run into space beyond the Paddock Wood defence. With just the keeper to beat he stroked the ball beyond the goalie’s despairing dive to give The Eagles their first goal in a competitive match to the delight of the watching supporters (and the coach, who may have done a little dance).

With Daniel, Elliot and Alex moving up into midfield and keeping the opposition at bay with some great tackling, I really felt at this stage that we had a good chance to go on and win the game, but just before half time we were caught out at the back and the clinical finishing of Paddock Wood left us with a 3-1 deficit at half time.

The second half started at a furious pace and our attacking persistence was rewarded with a penalty for a handball by one of the Paddock Wood defenders. Jack, whose performance was superb, bravely stepped up to take the spot kick and although he struck it hard and low towards the corner of the goal it just missed to the left of the posts. Jack will undoubtedly score many goals for The Eagles in the future and his response to the penalty miss was exactly what we wanted, with an even better display of dribbling and trickery afterwards, almost rewarding the team with a goal when he played Finn through, only for his shot to be well saved by the keeper.

Having survived a couple of near misses where Paddock Wood struck each post, we weren’t to be denied a second goal however, with Alexander pouncing on a loose ball on the edge of the box to strike a shot low and hard that the opposition goalie couldn’t prevent from hitting the back of the net. At 3-2, with only a few minutes left, The Eagles pushed forward to try and get the equaliser and naturally that left us a little open at the back. Despite an unbelievably good tackle from Daniel which almost certainly denied a goalscoring opportunity to Paddock Wood, and a fingertip save by Laurie to push a shot onto the bar, we were undone by a long ball over the top which the Paddock Wood striker powerfully despatched into the net. The final score ended 4-2 but The Eagles finished with a lot of positives, some great individual performances and plenty of hope for our next set of matches.