Eagles 2014 - 2015

2014 / 2015 Season Totals:

6 a side: P54, W26, D12, L16
9 a side: P23, W13, D0, L10
TOTAL: P77, W39, D12, L26

Scored: 137

2014 / 2015 Achievements:

Hugh Christie End of Season Tournament: Winners & Runners Up
Paddock Wood Fiesta: Semi Finalists
Langton Green Fiesta: Semi Finalists (Plate Competition)
Forest Row Tournament: Runners Up (w/ Falcons)
Crowborough League Sportsmanship Award - Div E


The Eagles in front of the (soon to be gone) Langton clubhouse with their sportsmanship award from the Crowborough League

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Sunday, 12th July 2015 - Sedlescombe Fiesta

For their final tournament of the summer the boys travelled back to Sedlescombe to defend the title they won last season.

Their task was made somewhat harder by the format meaning that in a 7 team group only the top 1 side qualified for the knockouts! The harshest format of any fiesta we've played in to date and obviously a big challenge, but with the team we had out, the boys were confident they could manage it. Each game, in brief...

Langton Eagles 1 - 1 Sedlescombe Orange
(Will)

Perfect start - outstanding passing football. Finn, Alf and Sammy linked up beautifully to create a chance that Jack was unlucky to see blocked. Will scored after a brilliant run from him and a super finish to make it 1-0 and in total control. Second half was like watching a different team. Passes going astray, communication sorely lacking and a sloppy equaliser that was well taken by Sedlescombe to be fair. 2 late chances could have won it for the Eagles, but it wasn't to be.

Langton Eagles 0 - 0 Sedlescombe Black

Another Sedlescombe team, this one their "A" team by some distance and the eventual group winners, who won every other game they played. The boys were fantastic in this one, could and should have won it but for some excellent defending. Joel worked his socks off and Finn linked play up brilliantly from central midfield. Another Will run caused havoc in the Sedlescombe defence, a good save from Sam down low to his left kept us in the game and a good strike from Sammy could have won it but for a good save at the other end. A very decent result.

Langton Eagles 3 - 2 Sedlescombe Blue
(Sammy, Max, Joel)

We could have been forgiven for thinking we were only going to play Sedlescombe teams today, slowly going through the colours of the rainbow until at 11pm we were completing our day's fixtures against Sedlescombe Turquoise. This team were a decent bunch of lads, playing the game in the right spirit and with some very skilful players. A brilliant early goal from Sammy where he rounder the keeper after Finn's superb through ball was then countered by Sedlescombe scoring a fantastic solo strike of their own. Max then curled an absolute beauty into the far corner after showing quick feet from Alf's excellent pass, only for Sedlescombe to once again pin us back with another good goal (this time scored by us!). What looked to be headed for our 3rd draw in a row was finished in some style by Joel scoring with his hip to make it 3-2 to the Eagles after a great run forward from the back and give them their first win of the day. It was actually a very entertaining game with both sides really going for it. A big thank you to Kevin who was here coaching our U14 Rovers and very kindly refereed this one for us in the absence of a "proper" ref.

Langton Eagles 2 - 1 Wadhurst Rovers
(Alf, Will)

A tight game against a team we've played many times this season already. Wadhurst started well, but the Eagles were a match for what they threw at us, Finn and Jack combining to set Alf free to open the scoring with a deflected finish past the excellent Wadhurst goalkeeper. Once again though, the boys were pegged back after a bit of sleepwalking in the ranks saw Wadhurst grab a well-taken goal we really should have avoided. The game ebbed and flowed from there, with the boys finally winning it in the last seconds when Will and Alf somehow got themselves past the sea of Wadhurst defenders through sheer (Will)power for Will to smash home the winner. Sam made a couple of excellent decisions to come of his line and clear the late danger and the boys held out to win the game despite Wadhurst pressuring late on.

Langton Eagles 2 - 2 Little Common
(Alf, Jack)

A tough match against a very solid and committed Little Common team who possessed a couple of excellent players. The boys took the lead through Alf's excellent shot, Max doing some great work in the build up, only for (once again) that lead to slip after a bit of confusion. Half time saw the only need of the day for a slight wake up call with a few words from the management staff and the boys responded superbly, playing some of the best football they did all day in the second half. Sammy, Finn and Alf combined with a wonderful one-touch move that so nearly resulted in what would have been goal of the day before Little Common broke and completely against the run of play scored a well-taken second goal, leaving the boys right up against it in a game they had to win to have any hope of qualifying. They gave it their best shot, Jack scoring an outrageous goal from inside his own half, Finn pulling a lovely bit of skill out of the bag on the left side of the pitch to dribble along the goal line and cut the ball back only to be fouled very late for what surely would have beebn a penalty if the ball hadn't already left his boot and despite 3 or 4 late chances that were either put wide or well saved, we just couldn't force the ball over the line and the game finished in a very entertaining draw.

Langton Eagles 3 - 0 Hastings Rangers
(Jack, Sammy, Max)

All that meant the best we could hope for was second place, which the boys set about achieving with maximum effort. A fantastic performance from every single player saw us close off the early threat from Hastings before pushing forward and scoring through a brilliant run from Sammy down the left and unselfish cut back to Jack to fire in. Finn then played Sammy in with another great pass and Sammy smashed home the team's second goal with a great finish. Joel's energy and excellent decision making at the back was pushing things forward and when Max picked the ball up out wide and drove forward early in the second half he only had one thing on his mind and that was to slide the ball into the bottom corner to make it 3-0. Sam was called on to make a couple of solid saves and with Alf and Finn both nearly scoring late on it could have been more.

With an unbeaten record and finishing second in our group of 6 teams, you'd expect that to be good enough to progress, but in this tournament alas it wasn't to be. Shame - the boys deserved more - nobody outplayed them all afternoon and on another day they would have won every game but that's the way these tournaments go. We had a slice of luck to win this one last time and today it wasn't our turn.

Massive thanks to Alf for playing for us today - good to see him back on the football pitch after a spell out with a broken arm. Player of the day very difficult - all the boys played their part. Some of Finn's link up play and through balls were outstanding, Will looked dangerous all day and his dribbling was superb, Jack and Alf were  everywhere, showing quality and desire, Joel's decision making and work-rate was first-rate, Max showed some wonderful skill on the ball and Sam made some great decisions in goal to come off his line and clear the danger, but I'm going to give it to Sammy today. With 2 subs there was a lot of swapping on and off, and his attitude when not playing was first class, supporting his teammates and encouraging everyone. Aside from that he scored 2 good goals and some of his first time passes in the later games were outstanding.

(As an aside, well done to the U14 Rovers who battled through losing their striker Ben to play the rest of the day with the bare minimum of 6 players. They drew 5 of their games and by all accounts were very unlucky not to win at least 3 of those).

So, despite the disappointment of not making the knockouts today, the boys should be so proud of their summer, particularly the latter part of it. In the last 2 tournaments they've entered, they played 12 games, won 6, drew 5 and lost just one, but more importantly, they've progressed enormously as players, played some lovely football and represented the club with positivity, sportsmanship and with smiles on their faces. A really good achievement to finish off the summer in style.

That's it now. The end of the season is finally upon us and I will be having a very long sleep!

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Saturday, 4th July 2015 - Paddock Wood Tournament - SEMI FINALS

Crikey it was hot, but the boys played some scorching football to match, in what was comfortably their best set of performances so far this summer, conceding just one goal in six matches, scoring 8 times themselves and finding themselves horribly unfortunate to go out on penalties to a very good Rusthall side. Each match in brief...

Langton Eagles 0 - 0 Paddock Wood Predators

Classic opening game of a fiesta. Cagey start, neither team creating much and the Eagles rushing their final ball slightly. Second half was much better, culminating in a scumptious move on the left where Jack, Joel, Sammy and Brodie combined with some lovely one touch football that saw Brodie's excellent shot come back off the post. Paddock Wood had a breakaway chance at the death, which Will did superbly to get back and smother. A game we probably should have won but Paddock Wood would have felt hard done by to lose as well. 0-0 not a bad start and a special mention to Sammy for his outstanding work rate in this game.

Langton Eagles 3 - 0 Pembury
(Jack, Sammy 2)

A massive improvement from the Eagles against a team who have had an excellent season. Finn and Brodie linked up beautifully out on the right in another one-touch passing sequence that saw Joel freed down the wing. Brodie's wonderful crossfield pass then found Jack, who volleyed superbly first time past the keeper to make it 1-0 to the Eagles with probably the goal of the day. Second half saw Will go on a couple of barnstorming runs, dribbling past the entire Pembury team on one occasion before his shot was well blocked. The referee made our day with his white spray for the free kicks - just like the World Cup, except without any Brazilians getting beaten 7-1. Brodie was giving 100%, closing every loose ball down and took a knock for his efforts, having to come off, bringing Sammy back into the fray. He made an immediate impact, taking Jack's excellent pass in his stride after Joel had cleverly dummied to him and smashing home an unstoppable shot for 2-0. More good work from Will and Joel saw Sammy played through again and it was 3-0 after he fired in from close range. Pembury pushed and looked dangerous late on but Billy was more than equal to their efforts in goal for another clean sheet.

Langton Eagles 3 - 0 JC Tackleway
(Sammy, Brodie, Will)

A team we'd never faced before. JCT started well, but the Eagles saw off the initial storm through Joel and Will's brilliantly organised play at the back. Finn beat 3 players with a lovely bit of skill and slid the ball in to Sammy, whose shot was blocked. Moments later it was 1-0, Sammy firing an unstoppable shot into the back of the net after great work from Brodie and Jack. Will went on a great run. Sammy nearly scored direct from the kick off at the start of the second half, dribbling past half the opposition team before just finding the ball ran away from him. The Eagles won a corner, which Finn swung in low and Brodie stooped to power home a bullet of a header to make it two. Outstanding goal. With the Eagles 2-0 up, JCT pushed forward, the boys giving us my favourite moment of the day where despite being comfortably ahead, every single one of them got back within seconds to kill the space JCT had on a counter attack. Outstanding work rate in 25 degree heat. Billy dealt very calmly with a couple of long range efforts and from a breakway we scored with the last kick of the game, Joel sprinting clear before unselfishly setting up Will, who made no mistake to make it 3-0.

Langton Eagles 2 - 0 Hastings Rangers
(Finn, Sammy)

A cagey start against a team we weren't sure if we'd faced before or not, having played a number of Hastings teams now. Our defensive shape was brilliant, but we made little headway going forwards until Will went on a great run down the left. He played Sammy in, who squared to Finn. His first time left footed shot buried itself right in the corner for 1-0 to the Eagles. The rest of the game was fairly straightforward, Hastings goalkeeper making 2 excellent saves before Sammy made the game safe with an emphatic strike from the edge of the box to make it 2-0. We had more chances, Sammy going for an outrageous lob and an equally outrageous backheel in between a Rabona pass. Will and Brodie both had long range efforts skim the bar before the ref blew for full time and 3 more points for the Eagles. All that meant the boys were definitely through, with one game to go.

Langton Eagles 0 - 1 Rusthall Tigers

A bizarre game. The boys were through the group, but we hadn't told them this, so they can't use that as an excuse for sleepwalking through the first 10 seconds of the game where Rusthall scored direct from the kickoff without a Langton player touching the ball. 1-0 down but the best time to concede as we had the whole game to do something about it, which we set about with vigour. It wasn't quite coming off though, with plenty of effort but a few overhit passes and rushed shots seeing our passing game fall by the wayside after such a good morning. Second half was a massive improvement, Sammy, Will and Joel all going close. Finn was covering superbly as our defenders bombed forward but in the end it was just one of those games that the footballing gods decided we weren;t going to win, despite the majority of possession second half. Credit to Rusthall - they played well and were probably the toughest team we faced during the group stage.

This left us second in the group, which meant we played the winners of group B, who turned out to be the other of the Rusthall teams, a very good side who had won the Ridgewaye fiesta and boasted 2 or 3 absolutely outstanding district level players. The boys were up for the challenge in what we knew would be a step up.

Semi Final: Langton Eagles 0 - 0 Rusthall Lions
(Rusthall win 3-2 on penalties)

In a game where work rate and effort was always going to be the most important thing, every single one of these boys did what they'd done all morning and played out of their skin. Their defensive shape was superb, giving Rusthall hardly a sniff at goal all game. 2 speculative efforts from range and one strike from out wide that Billy made save of the day on were the only times they threatened in a game where everyone was shattered. We could have won it at the end, first Will going on a superb run that ended with a very good tackle from the Rusthall defender and then Brodie firing in a dipping shot that whistled just over the bar. With extra time golden goal ending goalless we were onto the dreaded penalty kicks and with the Eagles having never lost a shootout in 6 attempts I was quietly confident, especially when Rusthall saw their first penalty superbly saved by Billy. Unfortunately it just wasn't to be, but that's football and in particular, that's penalties. I should know - I've missed a few myself!

Massive credit to the 4 boys who stepped up to take their penalties. Those who didn't score should only feel pride that they were happy to take them and comfort in the fact that if you play football, at some time you will miss a penalty, whoever you are. Just ask Diego Maradona, David Beckham, Roberto Baggio, Andrea Pirlo, Neymar, Dennis Bergkamp and many, many others. I've seen the lads who didn't score today score excellent and game-changing penalties in the past and they will do again. If you ever need any comfort having missed a penalty, just watch this... numbers 4 and 5 are particularly comical. At least all our boys got theirs on target! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2Ybiqui9L0

All in all, I was simply stunned by how well the boys played today. They played the nicest football I saw all morning (something I heard parents and coaches from some of our opponents commenting on once again) and worked their socks off defensively, organising themselves and being disciplined at the back in a way I haven't seen before. Picking a player of the day is virtually impossible, such was everybody's input today but I'm going to give it to Billy, who had very little to do at times but when he was called upon he pulled it out of the bag every single time. Outstanding stuff. Massive thanks to Brodie for helping us out today - as always it was an absolute pleasure to have him involved.

Last one next week at Sedlescombe, where the Eagles will be defending the title they won there last year - bring it on!!!

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Saturday, 20th June 2015 - Forest Row Tournament - RUNNERS UP!

This wasn't officially an Eagles team, but 3 of the 8 players in the squad were Eagles, so this seems like the best place to put it.

A squad featuring Eagles Rami, Jack A and Tom, as well as Alex from the U11 Redhawks, William from the U9 Leopards and Alex, Ed and Harvey from the U11 Falcons all went over to our friends at Forest Row to take part in their inaugral tournament to mark the opening of their new pitches. To add to the excitement, there were several French sides taking part who had come over from Forest Row's twin town.

I wasn't there, so no match report from me, but results are below and the feedback I had from Richard and Scott, who looked after the boys for the day was that they played superbly well to get to the final where they were really unfortunate to lose on penalties to Forest Row. Here's what Richard, who was jointly coaching them for the day said:

"Some great goals from Alex T, William and Jack - outstanding saves from Harvey, including one that I’m still not actually sure how he got to! Tom and Rami displayed some solid defending at the back. Some great passing and support play shown from Alex P and Ed. They all played a part in the day."

Group Stage
Forest Row 2 - 0 Langton Green
Langton Green 1 - 0 Milly La Foret
Langton Green 3 - 0 Forest Row Utd
Langton Green 2 - 0 Forest Row U10
Langton Green 0 - 1 Ashurst Wood

Semi Final
Langton Green 2 - 0 Ashurst Wood

Final
Langton Green 0 - 0 Forest Row (Forest Row win 3-2 on penalties)


The RedhawksEaglesFalcons, with coaches Richard and Scott

All the teams who took part in the Forest Row tournament, including the Milly La Foret teams from France

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Saturday, 20th June 2015 - Ridgewaye Fiesta

P5, W2, D1, L2

Shattered, so very briefly...

Langton Eagles 0 - 0 Hastings United

Brilliant from every single boy. Worked their socks off against a very accomplished team who possessed some excellent individuals. Fantastic run from Will, who stood out for me in this game, to win a free kick in the final minute on the edge of the box and safe hands from Sam when the ball took a nasty bounce and nearly went over his head.

Langton Eagles 4 - 0 Yalding & Laddingford
(Jack, Laurie 2, Max)

Great poacher's goal from Jack just before half time in a scrappy first half for the Eagles. Much better second half with Finn and Laurie the standout performers with some beautiful passing and moving in midfield but in reality everyone did well in this one. The scoreline was a bit harsh on Yalding, who had a couple of good attacks of their own in the second period and could have scored but for some good defending from Jack.

Langton Eagles 3 - 0 Ridgewaye Jupiter
(Sammy 2, Max)

Brilliant run from Will to set Sammy up for a well-taken opener via his cheeky finish at the near post. Goal celebration apparently risked injury... Max was terrorising the opposition defence and very nearly scored a great goal of his own before Sammy struck again (and celebrated in equally acrobatic fashion). Some lovely link up from Joel and Jack nearly saw another goal go in during probably the Eagles' best half of the morning. Second half was more difficult, Ridgewaye coming back into it with a lot of pressure but tough defending through Jack and Joel and solid goalkeeping from Sam saw off the danger before Max grabbed a late 3rd after some superb combination play from Laurie and Jack to set Joel free on the right. His unselfish ball was cut to the far post where Max made no mistake.

Langton Eagles 0 - 4 Broad Oak & Horam

No idea what happened here. Broad Oak are a very good team, but not 4-0 in a the first 4 minutes level of good. I'm not sure the boys realised there was a game of football going on as they stood and watched Broad Oak pretty much walk through the entire team on four occasions. Second half much better, with a really spirited performance to keep the scoreline down and a couple of opportunities to grab one back. Laurie and Joel deserve a special mention for shoring things up in the second half and giving plenty of energy despite knowing the game was lost.

Langton Eagles 0 - 2 Tonbridge Sopranos

The boys needed a draw to guarantee qualification for the knockout stages (and in actual fact even a 1-0 defeat would have done in the end). They played really well in this one against the team who won the A division of the Crowborough League and who possess several outstanding players who we'd seen destroy every other team they faced all day. In a spirited, battling first half, everyone worked really hard (although the silence was concerning after we'd spent the whole of last week's training session focusing on communication) and we were tremendously unlucky to go a goal behind midway through the half when an angled shot found its way past everyone and into the corner. A better second spell in terms of chances created saw Will fashion a great opportunity for himself through his quick feet, Finn pull off a beautiful backheel into Will's path for a good strike that was well saved and Sammy have a long range shot well stopped. Joel and Jack worked incredibly hard, Finn filled in at the back as we searched for the goal we needed and Tonbridge scored a late second as we pushed forward. No shame in this result but lots of disappointment that it came on the back of such a tough result in the previous game.

All this meant that the boys sadly missed out on qualifying on goal difference by 1 goal! It feels like I keep saying the same things this summer, missing out by 1 point, 1 goal, 1 result etc. etc. The Eagles have had a tough ride of it in terms of the standard of the groups they've been drawn in but ultimately if you want to progress in these competitions you have to play and beat the best teams in the competition and unfortunately we weren't able to do that today.

Special mention today goes to Laurie, who gets my "player of the day" award for giving 100% and scoring 2 really well taken goals. I should also mention Finn, who was really unwell all week but filled in brilliantly when he needed to today despite still feeling under the weather.

For some of the boys that's it for the summer now. For others there are one or two more of these to go where hopefully they can get the rub of the green as well as put in some great performances. I for sure am definitely looking forward to a proper rest over the summer!

Well done to the Langton Green Rangers, who despite bowing out on penalties to a strong Tonbridge Angels in the quarter finals, had a very good morning in the group stages, finishing with 10 points and 2nd place in their group. Great to see. Our Giants team did fantastically well in the group stage too, winning their (very tough) group and were really unfortunate to go out on penalties in the quarter finals too.

I have to save the best until last though, having just heard as I write this that the other half of the Eagles (plus 3 lads from the Falcons) made it to the final of the Forest Row tournament, playing (and winning) their first international fixture against a French team along the way, before unluckily losing on penalties in the final. Absolutely outstanding achievement from the boys - well done!

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Sunday, 14th June 2015 - Broad Oak Fiesta
P6, W1, D2, L3

Each game in brief...

Langton Green Eagles 1 - 1 Style Soccer
(Jack)

Very even game of few chances. We could and should have taken the lead but the Style Soccer 'keeper handled outside the area to deny Jack a certain goal. Free kick well blocked. Billy made a great save at the other end. Gave away a sloppy goal with a minute to go and then scored with 30 seconds to go after Sammy beat a player, shot, with Jack sweeping home the rebound. A decent start, Joel outstanding at the back in the first half and Tom equally so in the second. Billy got a special mention from the referee for his performance.

Langton Green Eagles 1 - 3 Broad Oak & Horam
(Sammy)

No idea how we didn't win this comfortably. Dominant in the first half with 4 or 5 chances created but stopped by a very good goalkeeper. Scored first after Sammy pinched the ball off a defender and slotted home with calm assurance. Then instead of closing the game out we went on some kind of kamikaze mission to try and score a second and were hit 3 times in 3 minutes.

Langton Green Eagles 0 - 0 Hailsham

Very even game of few chances. Both teams played some nice stuff and could have won it. Finn played really well in this one, but as a team we just didn't move the ball quickly enough despite getting into some good positions. A shot from Will flashed just wide. Another from Max did the same after a good run. Billy made a good save at the other end, Tom put in an outstanding tackle to win the ball when in a 1v1 situation and Jack made an unbelievable goalline block when Hailsham seemed certain to shoot. In the blink of an eye the game was over for another draw.

Langton Green Eagles 3 - 1 Broad Oak Hurricanes
(Will 3)

Much better from the boys in this one. Sammy and Will linked up superbly at times. Max made a wonderful run for Will's first goal, pacy and strong down the right before cutting the ball back for Will to slot home for 1-0. Finn played a great through ball to Will for 2-0, before in the second half Sammy unselfishly threaded the ball to Will for 3-0 and Will's hat trick. A dodgy moment at the back had the boys on the back foot for a few moments but all in all a thoroughly deserved win, the only black mark being Finn turning his ankle and seemingly unable to play a further part in the tournament.

Langton Green Eagles 0 - 1 Foresters

Finn miraculously recovered. The best team we faced all morning. The boys held their own and played some really nice football though, cutting Foresters strong defence apart a couple of times. A crazy piece of set piece defending where we had all our smallest players marking Foresters' tallest lads led to a headed goal that could have been avoided but no shame in the result at all against a very good side who made it to the final of the Langton fiesta a couple of weeks ago. Joel was outstanding in the first half of this game and a moment of link up play from Finn, Jack and Max had the Foresters coaches applauding too. Nice to see. A mention also has to go to Tom's unbelievable tackle to deny Foresters another chance moments from time.

Langton Green Eagles 0 - 1 Eastbourne Town

The boys knew a win would send them into the semi finals and they played like they wanted it, attacking from the start. Finn took a ball in the face whilst closing down the opposition defenders after 30 seconds of the game and had to come off (lovely to see the Eastbourne keeper and defender rush over and check he was okay - appreciate that). We then played some outstanding stuff at times, Will, Max, Jack and Joel all fashioning chances to score and so nearly doing so but for some good goalkeeping. Sammy burst free in the second half but his cross was cut out and when Will did brilliantly to find some space on the edge of the box we thought that was the moment but his fine strike just flew over the bar. When we then had a 4v1 situation in attack I thought we must score but Eastbourne somehow scrambled back to make a block. Finn was back on, nosebleed in check, and a great piece of control from him followed up by a clever pass to Will almost made another chance but Eastbourne defended stoutly. Billy got in the on the act with a great sweeper-keeper moment to rush out and clear (and not just clear, but play an excellent pass too) the ball and Tom snuffed out the only Eastbourne chance of the game until that point with a great challenge. With everyone bombing forward (a draw wasn't enough), the boys were caught out with Eastbourne scoring with the last kick of the game. Shame, but that's the way it goes sometimes.

A difficult team talk at the end. Some very disappointed boys, but this was an incredibly tough group (probably the hardest we've been in all summer) and whilst there are plenty of things to work on, what pleased me most was that once again, against a lot of supposedly stronger teams, the Eagles held their own and actually played the better football in many of the games. Player of the day goes to Jack, who was everywhere. If you were looking for an example of the effort and energy levels any youth football coach expects from their players, Jack was that example today, with bags of top quality attacking play too.

Ridgewaye next week. Bring it on!

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Saturday, 30th May 2015 - Langton Green Fiesta

Langton Eagles Green - Semi Finalists (Plate Competition)
P8 W4, D1, L3)

Langton Eagles Yellow - Quarter Finalists
(Plate Competition)
P7 W3, D1, L3)

What a fantastic afternoon. With 2 Eagles teams entered into our home fiesta it meant that all the boys got to play and to make up the numbers we also welcomed help from Mattie and Milo, who both stepped in and did brilliantly. It also meant that with the games coming thick and fast, one game was barely over before the other team were starting their game on the next pitch and I was dizzy to the point of seasickness within the first hour. To have managed to end up with BOTH Eagles sides progressing from their groups was a fantastic achievement, especially with the quality of opposition we faced.

So, briefly, because quite frankly I'm shattered...

Langton Eagles Yellow 0 - 1 Shoreham

Tough start. Conceded a very sloppy goal from an opposition throw in and then dominated but couldn't quite find the back of the net. Laurie played particularly well and a very good Milo shot nearly levelled it but the opposition keeper made a great save. A disappointing result but an encouranging performance.

Langton Eagles Green 1 - 0 Rotherfield
(Mattie)

Outstanding first half where we played some superb football. Mattie was everywhere, Sid nearly scored with a really powerful strike, Mattie did score and at 1-0 I thought we'd kick on. A sloppy second half saw Rotherfield nearly get an equaliser but Jack was on hand for a trademark goalline clearance and Billy was brilliant between the posts. 2 beautiful through balls from Finn so nearly saw Sid through 1 on 1 but the goalkeeper was quick off his line to deny Sid a certain goal. The minutes ticked down and I was pleased to see the game finish when it did. 3 points on the board.

Langton Eagles Yellow 2 - 1 Langton Niners
(Jack A 2)

Jack A - beautiful opening goal showing great composure and then we conceded a well taken equaliser from our Langton counterparts (who were playing 2 years above themselves, having reached the final of the under 9 tournament in the morning - and what an excellent team they are too). Jack then scored the winner from a similar position after brilliant work from Milo. Tom was solid at the back and did brilliantly in this one, whilst Sam made one particularly good save.

Langton Eagles Green 3 - 0 Sevenoaks Tempest
(Jack H, Max, Mattie)

A cagey start. Mattie made an opportunity for himself with a wonderful turn and strike, but the Sevenoaks keeper pulled off a worldy of a save to keep the scores level. The deadlock was broken by a super goal from Jack H after good work from Finn and Sid. Wonderful feet and a calm finish from Jack to put his team 1-0 up. This was followed up by a quite outstanding solo goal from Max to make it 2-0, slotting the ball between the goalie's legs after a superb run. Joel was on fire at the back, mopping up everything and Billy made a couple of great saves before Finn slid a perfect pass to Mattie who made it 3-0 with a great finish. Perfect start to the group.

Langton Eagles Yellow 0 - 5 Thamesmead Town

No shame in this result. An absolutely superb team who played some really good football and were a lovely bunch of people to boot. The behaviour of their players in a resounding victory was outstanding and their concern for Vincent when he went down injured was lovely to see. In comparison to some of sides who moan and whine their way through their football, it was refreshing to see a genuinely excellent team who behaved in a sporting manner. Eagles performance was as good as it could have been in a game like this. A couple of great saves from Sam kept the score down and some brilliant energy from Milo and Rami were the high points.

Langton Eagles Green 3 - 0 Foresters
(Sid, Mattie, Finn)

I got an insect in my eye during the first minute. Painful. Couldn't get it out initially and finally removed it just in time to watch Sid stroke the ball in the corner of the net for 1-0 after brilliant work from Jack H and Mattie. A superb finish from Mattie made it 2-0, following some outstanding combination play from Finn, Joel and Max. Second half saw the Eagles dominate, Finn scoring from a Mattie corner with an absolute bullet of a header into the corner of the goal. Super goal and a great result to make it 3 wins from 3. Should also mention Max's wonderful solo run that ended with him hitting the post. It would have been goal of the day.

Langton Eagles Green 0 - 1 Ridgewaye Galaxy

The boys played brilliantly in this one. Conceded a scrappy goal after Billy had pulled off an excellent save and then the boys dominated the rest of the game without managing to score a goal. Billy had nothing to do, mainly because Joel and Jack were so outstanding just in front of him. Max nearly got clear to shoot, Mattie nearly did the same and so did Sid but every time Ridgewaye got a player back to just nick the ball away. A draw was deserved, but in these short games you so often don't get what you deserve.

Langton Eagles Yellow 0 - 0 Ringmer Rovers

How the boys didn't win this one I'll never know. Chance after chance was blocked, saved or cleared. Vincent was outstanding in midfield. Ali was outstanding at the back and Sam was a virtual bystander. In fairness to Ringmer, they defended stoutly and worked their socks off. Laurie again had a very striong game, keeping things ticking over in midfield, whilst Milo so nearly scored with a powerful late strike that whizzed past the post.

Langton Eagles Yellow 2 - 0 Broad Oak Hurricanes
(Jack A, Milo)

The disappointment of the previous match saw the boys head into this one determined to get a result and so they did, Milo waging a one man war against the opposition in the opening minutes, which saw him smash home an outstanding strike from out by the right touchline to make it 1-0. Tom had a blinder in this game, blocking and clearing everything but also passing superbly out of defence. When Jack A made it 2-0 with a really excellent finish after Laurie moved the ball wonderfully quickly into Jack's feet, I felt we had this one swen up and the boys saw the game out expertly to make sure of the points. Rami also deserved a mention for one phenomenal pass to set Milo free.

Langton Eagles Green 1 - 1 Wadhurst United
(Mattie)

Toughest game so far against a side we'd beaten comfortably at the Pembury fiesta just 2 weeks ago. Wadhurst started brightly but the Eagles fought back well from a base of Joel and Jack. Mattie hammered home a fantastic goal to make it 1-0 to the Eagles midway throught the second half, Finn, Max and Sid combined superbly in the middle of the pitch, Billy pulled off a great save when called upon and we looked to have our passage to the knockouts confirmed when we conceded a late corner and the ball was scrambled home as we switched off and we were left with a disappointing draw despite all the hard work from the boys.

Langton Eagles Yellow 1 - 0 Tonbridge Lambos
(Milo)

We were pretty much certain a win would see us through and so it proved, Milo scoring the only goal of what was ultimately a bit of a scrappy game after a superb pass from Laurie. Ali and Tom played brilliantly at the back, clearing everying with aplomb and Vincent was on a one man mission to make it 2-0 but despite some really strong play from him the boys couldn't extend their lead. 1-0 probably a fair result and it left one half of the Eagles on 10 points and through to the quarter finals of the plate competition to face the team who finished 3rd in the other half of the Eagles group...

Langton Eagles Green 0 - 2 Langton Giants

And so to the final group game, the result of which didn't actually matter too much as the boys were already through, against the eventual winners of the competition and good friends of ours, The Langton Green Giants. The boys were out on their feet by this point but battled bravely. The way the Giants move the ball is breathtaking at times and despite Mattie and Finn tearing everywhere, closing the ball down and generally giving 100%, we couldn't create much in a first half where the Giants took the lead through an excellent solo goal. Max, Sid and Mattie all had sight of goal during the match but couldn't quite get a shot away due to outstanding defending from the Giants, who scored a late goal and in the end 2-0 was a fair result against a very good team.

All this meant that both teams were through to the quarter finals of the plate competition, each with 10 points and a 3rd place finish out of 7 teams, which pleased me greatly after the amount of time I'd spent faffing about which team to put in each group... the only downside was that they had to play each other!!! Noooooo!!!!!!!

(QF) Langton Eagles Green 1 - 0 Langton Eagles Yellow
(Sid)

Horrible to coach. Difficult to play in I imagine. The coaching part of me kept wanting to give advice to both teams but the neutral part kept telling me I shouldn't open my mouth (advice I haven't always followed wisely during my 39 years). Hence an atmosphere somewhat resembling a training match. I really didn't want penalties and someone having the disappintment of missing the decisive spot kick, so I was relieved Sid finally put the seal on a scrappy match after a really good run from Max, to see one of the sides win outright. With the Eagles seemingly incapable of losing a penalty shootout (6 wins from 6), we'd probably still be there now taking penalties in the dark.

(SF) Langton Eagles Green 0 - 1 Tonbridge Angels

The Eagles Green boys saved the best until last and comfortably their best game of the day against a very good Angels team. We conceded early, despite Billy's excellent attempt to keep the ball out and thereafter dominated possesion. Finn was superb, Mattie was superb, Sid was superb and Jack and Joel at the back were beyond superb, with Billy decisive, organised and totally dependable in between the sticks. We created 5 or 6 really good chances, only to be denied by the best goalkeeper we faced all day - this lad was a one man wall. Max came on in the second half and was mesmeric at times, his skill and ball control bamboozling the opposition defence. 2 minutes left, we bombed forward, got caught on the break, Billy pulled off another unbelievable save to tip the ball onto the bar, followed by Jack making a ridiculously good goalline clearance and we still managed to create 2 more chances. The pick of these was Sid's brilliantly arrowed shot that I was certain was going in until the Angels goalie came out of nowhere and tipped the ball round the post to see them win and progress to the final at the Eagles' expense. A cruel way to go out after playing so well, but the boys can be really proud of themselves.

All in all, what a super achievement for both Eagles teams. To progress from some difficult groups and hold their own throughout, I came away feeling so proud, particularly as the boys played some really lovely football along the way. A final would have been nice and the boys deserved it no doubt, but today it wasn't to be. You all played superbly, but a special mention from each team has to go to Mattie, who was brilliant for the Eagles Green and to Jack A, who took all 3 of his goals wonderfully for the Eagles Yellow side. Well done to everyone though and a massive thank you to the parents and boys for my lovely (and totally unexpected) gift at the end of the afternoon. You obviously know me too well!!! I (and my stomach) really do appreciate it enormously.

...and as everyone drifted away for the evening there was just time to head over to pitch 4 and watch our very good friends from the Giants win the cup final 1-0 against Foresters. Great to see and very well deserved. Well done boys.

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Saturday, 23rd May 2015 - Uckfield Soccer Sixes

Very briefly today... The Eagles took to the field in their second fiesta of the summer with a new look line up after several players were unavailable due to half term. No Sammy, Max or Sid saw us lacking goalscorers and so Harvey came into the fold, along with Will, who was making his Eagles debut. In a very tight group where only the top 2 were guaranteed to progress, the Eagles held their own and played some lovely football at times. Each match in 150 words or less... (I think!!!)

Langton Green Eagles 2 - 1 Uckfield Rockets
(Harvey, Will)

Dream start. Will scored after 20 seconds. Harvey scored after another 20 seconds. 2-0 up within a minute and by the looks of things the boys thought "this is easy". It wasn't. Uckfield were better than the scoreline suggested and scored a speculative long ranger and we scrapped out a result with the opposition finishing the game as the better side.

Langton Green Eagles 0 - 0 Marle Place Wanderers

First 5 minutes Marle Place were all over us, with the game totally transformed for the final 5. We hit the post 3 times in quick succession, absolutely dominated the game for the second half. Some debate over whether one of the shots that hit the post also crossed the line. Rami worked really hard closing the opposition down. A game we should have won in the end.

Langton Green Eagles 0 - 1 Style Soccer

A team we'd beaten in the final of last year's Sedlescombe fiesta. A good academy side who play some fluid football. We had our chances, matched them all the way and ultimately lost out when we switched off to a high ball and they scored a header. Jack played really well in this one, combining brilliantly with Finn and Will to set Harvey free but the ball was closed down. Best football the boys had played so far.

Langton Green Eagles 0 - 0 Lewes Bridge View Orange

The strongest team in the group and we matched them all the way. Could have scored ourselves and an absolutely outstanding save from Sam saw us keep a clean sheet. Joel was man of the match though - brilliant defensive display all round against big, strong, skilful forward. Great to see Finn providing cover when needed rather than bombing forward.

Langton Green Eagles 5 - 0 Westfield
(Will, Harvey, Jack, Joel, Finn)

Final group game and after a scrappy first few minutes the boys switched themselves on and played some good stuff. Excellent goals from Will and Harvey set the tone. Jack then scored a beauty. Joel got on the scoresheet with a great finish after some lovely combination play from Finn and Rami. Finn finished things off with a lovely long range finish.

So, 8 points should have comfortably seen us through and would have seen the boys win either of the other groups with their +5 goal difference. Unfortunately though, the strong Lewes team lost their final game to Marle Place and we were pushed into 4th place in the group. To understand how tight it was, had one of the shots that hit the post against Marle Place gone in, the Eagles would have won the group! Tiny margins indeed. The boys deserved more from this morning and on any other day I'm sure 8 points would have been enough. They worked hard and played some nice football, but that's the way it goes in these tournaments sometimes.

Well done to all. Very impressed. Player of the day goes to Joel, who worked his socks off. A special mention also to Will, who did brilliantly alongside a set of players he'd not played with before.

See you all next week for Langton!

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Sunday, 17th May 2015 - Pembury Fiesta

Group D:

Langton Green Eagles 0 - 2 Rusthall Tigers
Langton Green Eagles 0 - 0 Tonbridge Pirahnas
Langton Green Eagles 4 - 0 Wadhurst United (Sammy 2, Sid, Jack H)
Langton Green Eagles 0 - 1 Chipstead Falcons

R16: Langton Green Eagles 4 - 0 Yalding & Laddingford (Finn 2, Jack H, Sammy)
QF: Langton Green Eagles 0 - 1 Pembury

So, fiesta season again and a return to a very happy hunting ground for the Eagles where last year they reached the semi finals of the cup competition, despite being drawn in the group of death. Hoping for better luck this time with the group fixtures, I received the groups through last week to find we were in an even more hideous group than the previous year, playing 4 teams who all play in much higher divisions than the Eagles.

Langton Eagles 0 - 2 Rusthall Tigers

First up were Rusthall Tigers, who scored an early, scrappy goal after some decidedly dodgy defending from the boys, but from then on it was all Eagles. Holding our own against the team who went on to top the group, beating everyone along the way, was very pleasing. Sammy and Jack combined brilliantly to very nearly score an equaliser, but with the ball bobbling tantalisingly towards the line, a Rusthall player somehow got back to hook it away. Finn was having a brilliant game, his ball control outstanding at times and some clever passes freeing Sid and Sammy out wide, but good defending from Rusthall snuffed any chances out. With the boys pushing for an equaliser, Rusthall scored again through their very talented number 10, comfortably the best player I saw playing all day and an absolute joy to watch play. A 2-0 defeat but actually a very pleasing performance from the boys.

Langton Eagles 0 - 0 Tonbridge Piranhas

Our second game saw us play Tonbridge Piranhas, the winners of the Crowborough League both last season and this season. A tough task indeed, but the boys defended superbly to see out a 0-0 draw. Sam was brilliant when called upon, making several excellent saves and Joel was man of the match in this one, denying Tonbridge multiple times from getting shots away with some first rate defending, ably assisted by Rami, whose pace and strength saw him make several excellent tackles.

Langton Eagles 4 - 0 Wadhurst United
(Sammy 2, Sid, Jack H)

The next match was against Wadhurst United, a team we beat 1-0 last year in this competition and who play 3 divisions above us usually. An absolutely superb performance from the Eagles saw them start on the front foot, scoring an brilliant early goal through Sid, who slammed home Max's inch-perfect cross to make it 1-0. Finn then hit the post after a lovely touch and swivel in the area saw him get a really good shot away. A few minutes later it was two as Jack scored the goal of the day, timing his run from defence brilliantly to volley into the roof of the net from nearly the half way line. Outstanding effort. He then did it again but this time the ball crashed back off the bar for Sammy to hammer home the rebound and make it 3. Sammy then scored another with a fine finish from close range after more fantastic work from Max, to make it a 4-0 win to the Eagles.

Langton Eagles 0 - 1 Chipstead

Our final group game saw us come up against a Chipstead side who are a very strong team. The Eagles had the better of the game from start to finish, playing some absolutely fantastic football, passing out from the back beautifully, but as is the way so often in these short format games, the boys missed a couple of golden chances and then conceded late on and lost 1-0 in a game they deserved at least a draw from and quite possibly a victory. Sam deserves a special mention in this one for 2 or 3 outstanding saves but in truth all the boys played well and this was probably their best performance in the group stage, despite the result. A real shame after working so hard, but the way it goes sometimes.

All that means the Eagles would play their friends from Yalding & Laddingford in the round of 16 of the plate competition.

R16 - Langton Eagles 4 - 0 Yalding & Laddingford
(Finn 2, Jack H, Sammy)

The game started well for the Eagles, Finn and Sid combining well to free Sammy, who shot into the side netting. Y&L were trying to play some good football of their own, passing the ball around nicely, but it was the Eagles who struck first, Sammy and Jack sending Finn through, who finished with aplomb to make it 1-0. Jack then scored a really good goal with an arrowed finish into the bottom corner and shortly after half time Sammy showed absolutely superb skill to dribble past 2 players an unselfishly cut the ball back to Finn, who tapped home his second of the game to make it 3-0. With victory all but assured, Joel moved further forward and it was his tenacity that shaped a chance for Sammy, the goalkeeper saving his first shot before he tapped home calmly to make it a 4-0 win. What a way to start the knockout stages!

QF - Langton Eagles 0 - 1 Pembury

So onto the quarter finals and a tough match against a good Pembury side who we beat 1-0 in a friendly just before Christmas. A scrappy first half, the worst of the afternoon for the Eagles, saw no goals scored, but a much improved performance in the second period saw the Eagles dominate possession and create the better opportunities for the most part. A very good strike from Max was well saved, Pembury were back pedalling, but despite 2 or 3 situations where we had an overload in attack, we were guilty of picking the wrong option on several occasions and just as penalties looked to be looming, Pembury nicked the ball off us and scored on the break. Still enough time for Sammy to have an excellent strike that just took a deflection wide when it had looked destined for the bottom corner and one last corner where even Sam came forward, but a short one fizzled out of play and it was all over, the Eagles out to a 1-0 defeat despite playing some really good football. Credit to Pembury.

So, a mixed afternoon in terms of results. Despite a few sketchy moments where the boys switched off, they can be very proud of how they played today. Some lovely football at times, the Eagles once again one of the more pleasing teams to watch in terms of their style of play and improving all the time, which is all you can ask for. Well done to all the boys, but a special mention to Joel and Jack today, who were outstanding at the back for us.

Well done to the Giants, who won the cup compeititon, beating the other Chipstead team 1-0 in a very entertaining final. Thoroughly deserved.

Roll on next week!!!

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Saturday, 9th May 2015

End of Season Mini Tournament

Langton Green Phoenix - P5, W4, D1, GF5, GA0 (Goals: Rami 3, Laurie, Jack A) - Winners!
Langton Green Eagles - P5, W2, D2, L1, GF7, GA2 (Goals: Harvey 5, Jack H, Brodie) - Runners Up!

With 8 teams entered into our traditional end of season tournament, the Eagles fielded 2 sides, one in each group. With Brodie and James joining us for the morning from the Giants and Harvey and Billy also playing for us, I was confident that we had 2 strong teams with the ability to do well and after our last tournament outing last Christmas where we struggled for goals, I was hoping we'd be able to register a few more shots on target this time round.


Some very tired and happy Langton boys at the end of a long morning's work

Langton Green Eagles 0 - 0 Ridgewaye

A classic start of tournament game. Both teams cagey, nobody really creating any out and out chances. Possibly deserved to win on the balance of play and possession, but overall a very slow start from the Eagles, who didn't play at all how we know they can. The ball spent a lot of time in the air and that's not how these boys have been taught to play. One good save from James, some excellent link up from Finn and Brodie and the game was over in the blink of an eye just as the boys were starting to look dangerous.

Langton Green Phoenix 2 - 0 Wadhurst
(Laurie, Rami)

Phoenix had a very strong defensive side, with 3 of our regular defenders lined up for them, meaning Rami got an opportunity to play further forward. It was their attacking play that really impressed me in this game though. Some outstanding work from Laurie and Rami set Laurie free to score a really well taken first goal. A brilliant run from Ali then set Rami up to score the second, whilst at the other end Billy was solid in between the sticks and Vincent was imperious in defence. A clean sheet, a thoroughly deserved win and these lads were showing the rest of the Eagles how it's done.

Langton Green Eagles 5 - 1 Raw Skills
(Harvey 4, Brodie)

Raw Skills scored an early goal and coupled with the Eagles' realisation of their poor performance in the first game, this seemed to kick start the boys into action, as they started playing some lovely attacking football. A good move involving Finn and Brodie set Harvey free to slam home the opener, with a great run and cross from Sammy seeing Harvey grab his second with a sublime volley. Joel and Sam were doing a superb job at the back and with James organising them this seemed like a very winnable game. Some beautiful passing out from the back saw the team work the ball to Finn, who turned beautifully and slid an inch-perfect pass to Harvey, who smashed home his hat trick goal before Finn's fizzing shot was well-saved and Brodie fired home the rebound to make it 4-1. Harvey had time to score a slightly fortunate 5th (his 4th) when a clearance spun in as he closed the goalkeeper down - all down to his hard work though. With James mopping up any danger at the other end with Joel and Sam's help and Jack H looking dangerous down the left, the boys saw out a well-deserved victory to get their tournament up and running.

Langton Green Phoenix 0 - 0 Forest Row

A really good performance saw the boys draw with last year's winners in a game with a few hairy moments in front of both goals. Jack A had a chance that went wide after good work from Ali and Rami. Laurie was moving the ball beautifully in midfield and closing down the opposition quickly to give them no time on the ball. A sublime piece of play from the back where Tom passed to Ali, who played it in to Jack A, whose short pass to Rami saw him slip a great through ball back to Ali had those of us watching applauding profusely. Some lovely football. The game had the feel of one of those matches where you have all the play and then the other side pops up with a goal in the last minute. It so nearly happened to both teams, Billy making a good save at one end before Forest Row's defender got back brilliantly to close Jack A down at the other when he was about to shoot. 0-0 probably a fair result on the balance of chances.

Langton Green Eagles 2 - 0 Yalding & Laddingford
(Harvey, Jack H)

A really strong performance against a good Yalding & Laddinford side who passed the ball out from the back well and had several chances of their own. The Eagles started well, moving the ball around quickly in midfield and Sammy had an early chance that was well blocked after good work from Jack H. Finn played Brodie through, but he found himself surrounded and Harvey then scored with a well taken lob over the goalkeeper to make it 1-0 and increase his tally for the morning to 5 goals in 3 games. Plenty to do still as Joel and Jack H defended resolutely. Jack then moved forward onto the left wing and scored almost immediately, a fine run from deep setting him up for a 1v1 with the goalkeeper, which saw him come out on top with a great finish into the bottom corner. Despite some excellent attacking play from Yalding, two of their players playing particularly well, the boys hung on to see out a 2-0 win and top the table.

Langton Green Phoenix 1 - 0 Langton Green Redhawks
(Rami)

A difficult game against another Langton team, this time our friends from the Redhawks, who have improved enormously as the season has progressed and possess some excellent players. The Phoenix boys started on top, Rami first to everything in a brilliant display from him. The others followed his lead and soon Ali, Tom, Vincent and everyone else was pressing the opposition and given them no time on the ball. A fine burst forward from Rami saw him so nearly score and a minute later he did the same thing but with a difference result, slotting home expertly to give his side a slender 1-0 lead. Ali then had an absolutely outrageous shot from way out which we all thought had gone in. I was ready to create a second "goal of the season" certificate to go with the one I was handing out to Max (for his brilliant goal against Paddock Wood earlier in the year) and give the second one to Ali, but the ball had actually gone into the side netting, much to everyone's disappointment. The Redhawks came back into it, nearly creating chances on several occasions, but the luck was with the Phoenix lads, who hung on to win 1-0 and also top their group.

Semi Final - Langton Green Eagles 0 - 0 Forest Row
Langton Green Eagles win 4-3 on Penalties

After the 2 plate semis had both been settled on penalties, a largely disappointing game saw neither team create a massive amount. The Eagles probably deserved to win on the overall balance of play, but in truth they never got near to the level we know they can play at, some of their passing breaking down at key moments. Sammy and Harvey both had good shots that crept just wide. Finn and Brodie tried to get things moving but found themselves crowded out at times by the strong Forest Row defence. Jack H was excellent on the left and some of Joel's passing from the back was superb at times in combination with Brodie and Finn. With James making one brilliant save (the only time he was called upon all game) and Sam solid as ever in defence with some great interceptions, the boys saw the final whistle go and onto the dreaded penalties.

In short, Sammy scored a well placed first penalty that just crept over the line, Forest Row matched it, Finn then calmly placed his penalty bottom left, which again Forest Row matched. Brodie slammed his home with confidence (same again for Forest Row) and with Sam then scoring his (never any doubt there), James then made himself big and pulled off an excellent save to maintain the Eagles' 100% record in penalty shootouts (5 out of 5).

Semi Final - Langton Green Phoenix 1 - 0 Ridgewaye
(Rami)

Defensive performance of the day from the Langton boys. They were absolutely under the cosh for the majority of this game, nearly all the play happening in front of their goal, but a combination of great defending, outstanding goalkeeping from Billy and downright hard work saw the boys keep their 4th clean sheet of the day, whilst at the other end Rami scored with the only shot the Ridgewaye keeper had aimed at his goal all game. A "lob" according to Rami, that some bystanders claimed went in off his shin. Absolutely superb stuff from every single player on the pitch.

Final - Langton Green Phoenix 1 - 0 Langton Green Eagles
(Jack A)

And so, the situation I'd really hoped to avoid, which was our two teams playing against each other in the final. Phoenix came into the game as the form team, having not conceded all morning and adding Max to their ranks for the final after he turned up from his cricket match in time to play in the last game.

Both teams went for it from the start, despite all of them saying it was "basically a training match" before the game. Absolutely not - and they played like they both wanted to win. Having already decided to award the trophy evenly if the match went to penalties, it looked to be meandering to a draw until an explosive final 5 minutes. Jack A scored a well taken goal after great work from Rami and Max in midfield. Max went on another blinding run down the left and so nearly scored himself. It was then backs to the wall stuff as Sammy, Jack H and Harvey absolutely bombarded Billy's goal, ably supported by Finn and Brodie in midfield and Joel and Sam at the back. Sammy shot, Billy saved, Brodie shot, Billy saved, the ball was tipped onto the post (by Billy) and a second time onto the post. Harvey shot, Billy saved, Sammy shot from point blank range, Billy saved and then saved the rebound. It was an absolutely outstanding goalkeeping performance from Billy, who gets my vote for player of the day from both teams and was man of the match in the final, no doubt.

The final whistle went to give one half of the Eagles a well-deserved victory based on their performances across the whole morning. I was incredibly impressed with the quality of football they played throughout, with a special mention to Rami, who was absolutely everywhere, despite leaving half his knee (and his shoes on several occasions!!!) on the pitch.

Well done to everyone - a very entertaining final game to a very entertaining morning's football. Massive thanks to Billy, Harvey, Brodie and James for making up the numbers required for 2 teams today, each and every one of you contributed to a really good team effort from both sides. Massive thanks also to Kevin and Archie, who refereed way more than their share of games and to the other 6 teams who took part in the tournament and helped make it such a fun morning for everyone involved.

With the trophies presented (well done Raw Skills, who won the plate competition), it just remained for me to hand out the end of season awards, voted for by the players and the parents. They were as follows:

Player of the Season:
Jack & Finn (joint winners)

Most Improved Player:
Tom

Manager's Player of the Season:
Joel
(Joel also gets the award for the worst laces in the world. Never have I seen anyone's laces come undone so frequently)


Langton Phoenix with their cup winner's trophy. Thoroughly deserved.

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Saturday, 25th April 2015

Langton Green Eagles 5 - 2 Wadhurst Rovers
(Goals: Finn, Sammy, Jack H, Jack A, Max)

Today saw the Eagles finish their league season with a match against a Wadhurst Rovers team who defending fantastically back in March, a match the Langton boys won 2-0.

With everybody available, we already had 3 subs, which was increased to 4 when it turned out Wadhurst only had 8 players. One of them had no shinpads either, so after some loaning of shinpads and the planning of a shinpad swapping system amongst our substitutes, the game got underway with 8 against 8.

From the start the boys were up for it, Sammy and Jack H combining to create a chance for Finn, who shot with his left foot but saw the 'keeper pluck it out of the air. A moment later and Max made a great run down the right, cut the ball back to Jack H, whose shot was saved, only for Finn to volley in the rebound from a few yards out and put his side 1-0 up with just 2 minutes on the clock.

Wadurst threatened from the kick off, but great defensive work from Rami snuffed out the danger and a brilliant counter attack saw Sammy race clear and lob the goalkeeper, who did well to get a hand to the ball, but couldn't keep it from nestling in the back of the net for 2-0 to the Eagles.

Jack A came on for Sammy, working hard up front to try and find space and he so nearly scored with a great run onto a wonderful through ball from Joel, whose defensive display in the first half was outstanding. Having done brilliantly to get into the position to shoot, Jack A found the goalkeeper bearing down on him and his shot was just wide. Jack H then had a left footed strike go just wideof the post after some great footwork and interplay with Finn to get himself through on goal.

A moment later and it was 3-0, Jack H doing superbly to receive a ball from Max in the air, lob it back over the defender and then volley powerfully into the back of the net. A really excellent goal. Meanwhile, Sam wasn't having a massive amount to do, but what he did have to do, he did really well. One save with his foot when his defenders were caught asleep kept the Eagles comfortably in front and several quick runs off his line to close down the danger showed how alert he is between the posts.

Still the boys bombed forward, Laurie now on and controlling the midfield, with Tom ably supporting him and organising things from deep. A brilliant pass from Tom saw Joel surge into space, lay it through to Rami, who had popped up on the opposite side and opposite half of the pitch he was meant to be playing on (!?!?!). Rami may have been out of position, but there was nothing wrong with his footwork, dribbling forward and passing to Max, who played Jack A in on goal. This time Jack made no mistake, seeing his first shot blocked, but scoring from the rebound to make it 4-0 to the Eagles.

Cue some swapping of positions, Sammy taking up a rare stint in defence (he still managed to dribble into the opposition penalty box and get a shot away) and Tom moving up front, where he held the ball up fantastically and showed some great skill to dribble past 2 players before seeing his shot blocked. Vincent had a couple of good runs from deep and played one super pass first time to a teammate, showing great awareness of what was around him.

A lack of concentration perhaps brought on by being 4 goals ahead and lots of changing of positions let Wadhurst get back into things with a rasping shot that rebounded off the post and then a very good goal that gave Sam no chance - powerful and right into the corner. At the other end we missed chances to score goals 5 and 6, a bit of shooting from crazy angles with teammates lined up for a tap in from a couple of players who obviously fancied scoring a few today and one or two other occasions where we tried to overcomplicate it rather than get the obvious shot away. Laurie did really well to get into a brilliant position in the penalty area, but his shot was saved well by the Wadhurst goalie and Sammy continued to threaten when he got forward.

4-1 up at half time and we reverted to normal positions, with an immediate improvement. The only exception to this was Ali taking a stint in goal, which I was very grateful to him for doing as Sam wanted a half on pitch and nobody offered except him. The boys dominated the first spell of the half, Joel in fine form on the wing and Rami excelling at the back. Max scored a brilliant long range effort when he saw the goalkeeper off his line to make it 5-1 midway through the half and generally had a really good half on the right, attacking the space in front of him superbly and getting in 4 or 5 excellent crosses that our other attacking players were just half a yard off getting on the end of. Wadhurst scored another from a long range effort that nobody closed down and the Eagles had 4 or 5 chances to see the game to bed, but our shooting was half a foot off again and again, shots dribbling past the post on numerous occasions.

Ali was quick off his line to snuff out the danger on several occasions and his first half counterpart, Sam, now playing at the back did well to make a couple of really good clearances as Wadhurst pressured from a couple of corners.

A bit more silly shooting from crazy angles that was frustrating to see contrasted by some lovely interplay in midfield where Finn, Jack H, Joel and Max kept possession beautifully at times, always going backwards if nothing was on so as to keep the ball. Then came the moment of the match for me. Rami made a great tackle, surged forward, waited for the right ball and then played the pass of the season in behind the opposition full back to Sammy, whose fine run into space made the pass possible in the first place. No matter than a goal didn't come from it (Sammy did well to get a shot away but it was well blocked) - the thing that pleased me was seeing Rami, who at the start of this year would never have tried something like that, play such an amazing pass into a teammate from defence. It earned him a well deserved man of the match award today (along with his fine defensive display) and showed me what an improved player he is.

The rest of the half saw some good play from both teams, some tired legs and some opportunities for a few players in unfamiliar positions. 5-2 the final score and a good morning's football - particularly pleasing to once again see 5 different goalscorers on the scoresheet.

As I say, MOTM is Rami, but several players could have won it once again. Massive thanks to Ali for going in goal in the second half and to Martin for refereeing after the league ref didn't show up.

So, that's the end of the league season and all in all I'm very pleased. The boys have improved enormously whilst continuing to develop the sort of football we've always tried to play - out from the back, everyone comfortable on the ball, possession based football without resorting to kick and rush or just giving the ball to the lad who can kick it the furthest. Since Christmas the boys have really only had one bad half in 10 games, their other 3 defeats being by the narrowest of margins in games that could have very easily gone either way, so a massive improvement from the pre-Xmas period. The development of a few individuals in particular has been an absolute joy to witness this season and everyone has played their part in what is a very enjoyable team to be involved with. I should also mention the behaviour of the boys, which in stark contrast to one or two sides we've played this year, has been absolutely superb for the most part - sporting and encouraging to teammates and opposition (one or two sulks aside!). To have had a number of different referees come to me after games this year and comment on what nice football the boys play compared to most sides they referee has pleased me greatly - well done boys. You should all be very proud of how hard you've worked.

Massive thank you to Martin, David, Kevin and James who have all either refereed or run the line this season and to all the parents for their support and assistance with goal setting up, fox poo clearance, general applause for the boys from the sideline or whatever it's been. Also a big thank you to Brodie, James and Sid, who have all filled in for us when we've been short on players and given 100% every time. A special thanks also to Ben, who despite deciding to hang up his gloves, is always an honourary Eagle and saved us from defeat on so many occasions over the last 3 years.

Onto the summer tournaments!

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Saturday, 18th April 2015

Langton Green Eagles 2 - 3 Tonbridge Invicta Spitfires
(Goals: Sammy, Jack H)

After a long break the Eagles returned to play the penultimate league game of the season against a very physically strong Tonbridge Invicta side who the boys battled hard to beat 5-2 earlier in the season. We were very pleased to welcome Brodie and Sid along as we had several regulars missing due to the holidays.

The game started fantastically for the Eagles, some lovely slick passing in midfield between Finn, Brodie and Jack H keeping the ball moving quickly, ably assisted by Joel's excellent runs from defence to support them. Plenty of possession but no out and out chances, the Invicta defenders working hard to get back and snuff out the danger when Sammy made an excellent run into space and again when Sid turned beautifully on the edge of the area and so nearly found a route through to goal. With Tom and Sam organising everyone at the back and Laurie playing out from the back fantastically, the boys were looking comfortable and positive.

Brodie won the ball back with a well-timed challenge and played it to Finn, who looked up and spotted Sammy's perfectly timed run in behind the defence. He picked out a beautifully weighted pass that Sammy ran on to, touched the ball infield and struck a really good finish past the goalkeeper and into the corner to make it 1-0 to the Eagles.

The rest of the half continued in similar fashion, some wonderful pass and move football in our midfield backed up by Sam seeing off any danger at the other end, with Joel having a great game at left back, bombing forward whenever he could. When Jack H skipped past 3 defenders and hammered the ball into the corner we thought it was 2-0 only to be denied by a slightly confusing offside decision. No matter - a few minutes later Jack was at it again, this time having a shot well saved before hitting the post with the rebound and we felt it was only a matter of time before the second goal went in.

Jack A, Ali and Vincent all came on, Ali playing some lovely passes out from the back, Vincent making some good strong challenges and Jack A running into some good spaces up front to try and find space to receive the ball.

Half time and we talked about the need to not give away needless corners or throw ins as Tonbridge had some very powerful boys who could throw a long way and deliver a good corner, but all in all we were pleased to have not conceded a shot on target and to have dominated possession.

It didn't take long for the second half to yield the goal the boys deserved, Jack H finishing after wonderful work from Brodie and Laurie to link up and then Sammy to set him up. His first shot was saved but his second found the back of the net and this time it really was 2-0 to the Eagles.

Then we had a mad 5 minutes. First the opposition scored a really good individual goal, their striker lobbing the ball back over his shoulder and into the top of the goal - there was absolutely nothing Sam could have done about it. Then they scored another after some haphazard defending saw us allow the ball to bobble around in the box, nobody took ownership and cleared it and we were 2-2 in the blink of an eye having had all the play. And then it was 3-2, Tonbridge Invicta having a long shot well saved by Sam but scoring with the rebound. How could it have happened?!? Nobody had any idea, but I was interested to see what reaction we got from the boys and despite the final result, I couldn't have been happier with how they responded to their situation.

For the final 15 minutes of the half, the boys went back to playing the sort of football I like to see them play, keeping the ball on the floor for the most part, switching it quickly into space and looking to be positive. Joel was back on, this time further forward, and he got into a brilliant position to receive a delightful pass from Brodie that he was unlucky to see hit the post.

Brodie's pass of the day saw him release Jack H with a superb diagonal ball that Jack controlled into space and cut back for Finn, who played a clever ball to Sid, who squared it for Sammy. Sammy opened his body up and fired a lethal drive goalwards only to see it rebound off the inside of the post to a Tonbridge Invicta defender. The third time the boys had hit the woodwork during the game. Brodie had a couple of long range efforts that had the opposition backpedalling and some clever interplay saw Sammy played through but a good tackle saw the danger off.

We pushed and pushed for a result, Tonbridge dropped deeper and deeper, us ending the game with one defender back and everyone else piled forward, but it wasn't to be today. Despite some absolutely fantastic football at times, the boys lost out to a crazy 5 minutes and some really poor luck. Hit the woodwork 3 times and the opposition 'keeper made a couple of good saves too.

Man of the match goes to Joel - he worked really hard in defence today and played some lovely football too. A massive thanks to Brodie and Sid for helping us out - you were both excellent - and a mention to Jack H too for his constant hard work and for being involved in virtually every goalscoring opportunity we created.

Hard luck boys - absolutely didn't deserve that today, but that's football. final game of the season next week and we'll be looking to finish on a high.

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Saturday, 28th March 2015

Wadhurst Rovers 0 - 2 Langton Green Eagles
(Goals: Sid, Sammy)

A rather gloomy morning was lit up by some scintillating play going forwards from the Eagles against a determined Wadhurst side whose goalkeeper had an absolute blinder. We welcomed Sid along for his first game of the season and he fitted in brilliantly right from the start, linking up well with Finn and Max in midfield and making some clever runs to free up space for his teammates.

Jack H was in fantastic form on the right wing, jinking this way and that to get himself to the byeline and cut the ball back for Sammy to see his first time shot blocked. Sammy then returned the favour, an excellent mazy run down the left seeing him slide the ball across the 6 yard box but no yellow shirt was there to get on the end of it.

With Tom marshalling his defenders superbly at the back and making more than one brilliantly timed challenge and with Rami and Laurie offering plenty of energy and measured passing either side of him, the Eagles were looking solid and creative at the same time, Sam filling in between the posts despite suffering from a horrible cough. What he had to do, he did well, coping with several hasty back passes with the minimum of fuss and redistributing the ball intelligently to his defenders to play out from the back, as we like to when possible.

Finn was dominating in midfield, a couple of powerful runs from deep seeing him play Sammy and Jack H in behind the defenders, but the sheer number of bodies Wadhurst had in the box made out and out opportunities hard to come by, despite some super approach play. The ball broke to Sammy, whose shot was charged down, Finn had a long range effort blocked and Sid, not wanting Harry Kane to be the only player to score on his debut this weekend looped an excellent strike over the goalkeeper's head to open the scoring for a 1-0 lead. A really clever finish and dead chuffed for him.

Vincent came on at the back and showed plenty of energy, joining the attack on several occasions with barnstorming runs down the wing. Some of the link up play from Finn, Max, Jack H, Sid and Sammy was sublime and Wadhurst were having to do everything they could to keep it to 1-0 with some excellent defending. It felt like another goal was coming, and come it did, this time in familiar fashion off the boot of Sammy, a beautiful left footed strike after some clever play from Finn and Max and it was 2-0.

Ali came on and communicated brilliantly with his team mates, always looking to offer an option for the player in possession and half time came with the boys feeling positive and more of the same expected in the second half.

The lads actually played even better in the second half than they had in the first and probably created something in the region of 15 chances (as well as at least 10 corners!), but what they hadn't reckoned upon was the outstanding performance from the Wadhurst goalkeeper, who almost single-handedly put up a brick wall that we just couldn't get past.

Max was in imperious form, dominating the right wing with run after run and cross after cross. Laurie was everywhere, pinging passes around with the minumum of fuss. Finn put a solid header wide, Jack had a first time shot saved at the far post, Sid hit a dipping, swerving strike that the opposition 'keeper did superbly to claw onto the post and he also saved a penalty which was really well struck. Rami moved up into attack and made some great, roving runs forward with the ball to create havoc in the opposition defence and despite us being guilty of overcomplicating again at the back on occasion when in possession, the boys did a brilliant job defensively to ensure Sam didn't have to face a shot in the second half.

Corner after corner rained in, the ball bobbled round in the area, fell to yellow shirt after yellow shirt, but was always somehow scrambled away by one of the many Wadhurst defenders or their excellent goalkeeper. Finn had a powerful shot well saved. Vincent's forward run saw a strike from Sid that was blocked. Same for Max (on several occasions) and a cheeky "Rabona" from Sammy found it's way into Jack H's path only for his excellent cut back to be blocked by another white shirt. With Sid, Jack and Finn combining beautifully down the left the goal was surely coming, but the referee blew her whistle to signal the end of a very entertaining game against a Wadhurst team who impressed me with the way they tried to play football - no resorting to hoofing out from the back - measured passing and trying to play (what I think of anyway as) the "right" way.

Well done lads. Man of the match a tough one as usual, but the chocolate Easter bunny went to Sid this week for doing so well on his debut. A special mention also to Max and Jack H, who dominated the flanks, but in reality everyone did well and some of the passing and movement was lovely to watch. Progressing well. Plenty still to work on. As it should be. Big thanks as usual to Martin for running the line and to the trainee ref, who did a great job.

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Saturday 21st March 2015

Langton Green Eagles 1 - 2 Paddock Wood Predators
(Goal: Jack H)

A really exciting game of football to watch this morning against a Paddock Wood team that the boys had beated 5-2 earlier in the season in a game that was much closer than that scoreline suggests. The Eagles can feel incredibly unfortunate not to have won again today and a draw was the absolute minimum they deserved. The first 15 minutes were outstanding, some of the passing and movement absolutely top notch and our reward came when Max and Finn combined down the right, Finn shimmied his way into the penalty box and unselfishly cut the ball back to Jack who made no mistake to smash home the opening goal from the centre of the area. 1-0 to the Eagles and at this stage I was very happy with how the boys were playing and expected more goals to come.

The defensive three of Joel, Tom and Rami were doing an excellent job, snuffing out any Paddock Wood attacks before they got going and being ably supported by the excellent communication and distribution of James, playing in goal for us again this week now Ben's decided to hang up his gloves. When Paddock Wood did finally break through, James made an absolutely outstanding diving save to deny them a goal.

Laurie and Finn were bossing central midfield. More chances were created, one or two opportunities to cut the ball back for teammates to tap in weren't taken - something to work on in training in terms of decision making - but the boys were playing well and looking dangerous going forward. Max and Laurie both fashioned long range efforts that needed good hands from the Paddock Wood 'keeper to stop and he then had to make a brilliant save to deny Max what would have been a definite goal. Sam came on and added some steel to central midfield and Ali came on up front and ran his socks off trying to create chances for himself against the strong Paddock Wood defenders.

Then we had a crazy 5 minutes. 3 or 4 defensive clearances didn't quite get the ball away from our lines and it fell to a Paddock Wood player wide on our right. He let the ball bounce, was given too much time to set himself and struck what you have to say was an outstanding volley into the top corner from 25 yards out. All we could do was applaud what was a great piece of technique from their player.

With half time beckoning and feeling slightly hard done by to be on level terms, we then gave away a slightly unfortunate free kick for what appeared to simply be a tangle of legs, in a dangerous position on our right. Up stepped the same player, who has a very powerful long range strike and absolutely walloped it into the back of the net. Another top corner finish that James could do nothing about in goal and we were suddenly 2-1 down.

The boys rallied themelves after half time though, Sam replacing James in goal after he'd had to come off with an injury we all agreed was better served by not playing the second period. A shame for James - hopefully he'll be fine and we all wish him well.

The second half was a wonderfully entertaining affair. Paddock Wood were more ambitious in their attacking and created some real problems for us down the left particularly, where Joel had to be at his tenacious best to stop their winger time and time again. We were guilty of overcomplicating things at the back on occasion, dribbling out of defence or passing across our own box, but once the boys settled down they spent the rest of the half attacking with great movement and pace. Finn, Jack H and Laurie were ever-dependable in their interlinking passing and with Max marauding down the right we thought a goal would come. When Paddock Wood did attack on the counter, Tom was a rock in defence, stopping several attacks and Laurie had an absolutely outstanding game at the back where he made at least 4 game-saving tackles in the second half, supported by his midfielders making great recovery runs to cover the danger areas.

Unfortunately though, we just couldn't get the ball into the back of the net, which is ultimately what it's all about. Their goalie made 4 or 5 really excellent saves from long range efforts and was quick off his line to smother several through balls that Jack H did brilliantly to run on to. Sammy had a shot go just wide. Jack H had a shot dribble past the post. Finn had a long range strike that he did well to craft out saved by the diving 'keeper and Ali had a strike that just whistled over the top after he did brilliantly to get into a great position in the area.

A succession of corners which saw every single Eagles player in the opposition penalty box, including Sam (who was in goal) were well defended and despite the ball bobbling round in the box and Max, Jack H and Joel all having strikes blocked, we just couldn't quite score that crucial goal. The fact that Paddock Wood only had one shot in the second half, which Sam saved well by the way, shows how well the boys played after the break when looking for an equaliser.

A valiant effort, some great play from several of the boys today and just a really good game of football where both teams played some good stuff - exactly what you want from youth football. Another really difficult choice for man of the match. Laurie just gets it for his outstanding second half performance in goal and a great first 15 minutes in central midfield. He got a Kinder Surprise for his troubles which contained a small model of someone I was meant to know who it was but didn't, which shows what my knowledge of popular culture is like at the moment.

Well done all. You didn't deserve to lose and on another day would have won. That's football. On to next week.

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Saturday 14th March 2015

Tonbridge Invicta Spitfires 2 - 5 Langton Green Eagles
(Finn, Jack H, Sammy 2, Jack A)

An absolutely outstanding performance from the Eagles this morning saw them put in probably their best ever display at 9 a side against a very physically strong Tonbridge Invicta side who have had some excellent results so far this season. We welcomed James back in goal, with Ben unavailable, but in truth he didn't have a massive amount to do over the course of the game, such was the brilliant work of the defence and midfield in front of him, who worked their socks off. As usual though, what he did have to do, he did very well.

The Eagles started superbly, in the manner in which they meant to go on, the midfield 4 of Laurie, Finn, Jack H and Max pinging the ball around beautifully and linking up superbly with Sammy up front. A couple of early half chances were blocked, Jack H doing particularly well to jink into the penalty area and cut the ball back for Sammy, who just couldn't quite connect with it.

Invicta's main weapons were their excellent corners and long throws, both delivered lethally into the heart of our defence and it was to once such corner that one of their tallest players headed goalwards. James made a great save, but the rebound wasn't cleared and in the ensuing scramble the ball was slammed home to leave the Eagles 1-0 down after 7 or 8 minutes of the first half.

No matter. The boys knew they were playing well and they responded immediately. Joel showed excellent feet to slide the ball to Sammy, who bombed through on the left. His shot was saved, but Finn was on hand to control the rebound, turn and smash home for his second goal in 2 games to pull his team level.

The rest of the half was a tense affair. Tom was outstanding at the back - again and again he made chance-saving tackles and organised his teammates superbly. Rami came into central midfield from the back and excelled there again, his energy levels astronomic at times. He was played through by a lovely pass from Max, which Finn controlled into Rami's stride, but just pulled his powerful shot wide of the post with the opposition goalkeeper bearing down on him.

Jack A came on for Jack H and laid a lovely ball back to Sammy, whose long shot just didn't have the legs to trouble the 'keeper. Sam came on at the back and added some much needed discipline and tough tackling, his clearances just what we needed during another spell of Invicta pressure before half time and when Ali came on up front he combined really well with Finn and Jack H a couple of times to create good opportunities.

Second half started in difficult fashion, another spell of corners and long throws seeing us hemmed in, but the boys played their way out beautifully to set Jack H running free. He showed great speed to leave his defender behind, set himself and went for the nutmeg, but the keeper saved well. Jack was switched on though and seeing the keeper hadn't picked the ball up, nicked it away from him, cut back inside the covering defender and powered a shot into the back of the net to make it 2-1. That was his 50th goal for the Eagles and thoroughly deserved.

Some of the play was now oustanding. One move where the boys played it from Joel to Max to Finn to Jack H to Laurie to Sammy nearly resulted in a goal that would have been one of the best I've ever witnessed from anyone, anywhere, such was the conciseness of the one-touch passing. A few moments later it was 3-1, Sammy picking the ball up and driving forward to strike a low long-range effort into the corner. Tom broke down every attack the opposition had with brilliant support from Joel and Rami, who worked their socks off second half and passed the ball out of defence superbly at times. With James marshalling them really well, making some excellent no-nonsense catches and clearances when called upon, I was feeling more and more confident in our defending particularly. James' goal kicks are also worth mentioning - always looking to start an attack with an accurate kick to a teammate.

Sam was doing a great job in his second half role up front. His hold up play was brilliant and he nearly got a great strike away only to see it blocked. Ali came on in central midfield and linked up beautifully straight away, combining with Rami (who had a really strong second half) and Finn to set Jack H on another rampage down the right hand side, where he went past 3 players before cutting the ball back for Sammy to shoot. Another block, some more great combination play and Sammy found himself free on the edge of the box. He looked up, struck a thunderbolt of a shot goalwards, but the opposition 'keeper parried it back out. With a lot of work still to do from the rebound, Jack A had a tough job on his hands but his first time shot was beautifully curled into the corner to make it 4-1 to the Eagles.

Ali then had reason to feel really hard done by, a great piece of conbination play from him, Finn and Max (after Max had somehow first time controlled a ball dead, that came from so high up it might have had snow on it when it came down) saw him get a powerful shot away that was headed for the top corner before one of the oppositon defenders (yes, defenders) made an outstanding save with his hands to tip the ball onto the bar. The ref didn't see it, and pointed for a corner. Finn and Max both came off for well earned breaks, Laurie and Rami rejoining the game and both slotting in brilliantly.

Invicta didn't give up and won another series of corners, their aerial threat paying off with an excellent near-post glancing header that gave James no chance. 4-2 and with 5 minutes left there was the danger if our opposition scored another that things could get hairy. The boys showed great composure to simply continue playing their game. Pass and move, keep the ball on the floor, look for the space and they did all that brilliantly, with James, Tom, Joel and now Sam snuffing out any potential danger with great organisation at the back.

Some more wonderful passing, a fantastic piece of skill from Laurie wide left, pulling off a double drag back that nearly resulted in a goal from the following cross and then the goal of the match, 5 or 6 Eagles combining beautifully in midfield to set Max free on the right. He dribbled his way past 2 players, cut into the area, looked up and delivered an inch-perfect lobbed cross to the far past that Sammy swept home with an outstanding finish first time to give his team a 5-2 victory they thoroughly deserved.

Man of the match again really hard. Every single player contributed today and on any other day 7 or 8 of the boys could have won the award. Tom deserves a special mention for a wonderful centre-back performance, but Jack H gets the award today for sheer quality of play on so many occasions. His dribbling, passing, decision making and hard work were outstanding and he scored a fine poacher's goal that he thoroughly deserved. A real captain's performance.

Well done all - it was a joy to watch you play football today. Another big thanks to James for helping us out and to Martin for running the line. Another tough one next week against Paddock Wood but the boys will be up for it I'm sure.

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Saturday 7th March 2015

Raw Skills Bears 1 - 5 Langton Green Eagles
(Sammy, Max 2, Finn, Jack H)

After last week's rather woeful second half against Sevenoaks, the Eagles arrived at new opponents' Raw Skills' excellent pitches in determined mood to put right the problems we faced in that game. This mostly revolved around resolving not to let heads drop if things didn't go our way and battling right to the end whatever the result.

The game started well, the boys in yellow passing the ball around nicely in the spring sunshine, Rami excelling in his new central midfield role with some great tackles and passes to set the tone for the game. Finn was once again a ball of energy alongside Rami and his quick pass out to Max nearly created the game's opening chance, an excellent cross from Max's right foot just evading Jack H and Sammy arriving in the box. Sammy was then almost played through by Finn, but the pass was slightly overhit and Jack H dribbled cleverly into the area before his pass was just a touch ahead of Sammy. Things were starting to tick.

Tom was once again outstanding at the back all morning, communicating brilliantly to his teammates (it's no accident that the only goal we conceded this morning was when he was off the pitch) and bossing the defence superbly, reading the game brilliantly on a number of occasions to make defending look easy by intercepting the ball before danger was created.

Laurie's calm passing under pressure helped at the back immensely and Joel's energy on the other side of defence was superb, winning the ball time and time again to start attacks down the left hand side. The boys weren't afraid to go back to Ben when required and he dealt with those backpasses well to keep the game flowing.

Sammy opened the scoring with a poacher's finish midway through the half, latching into Finn's pass to get the ball out of his feet, look up and pick his spot to make it 1-0. The key words there are "look up" - something the boys failed to do last week every time they were through on goal. A good finish to add to his tally for the season and give the boys a bit of breathing space. Crucially though, they didn't play like they had breathing space, continuing the pressure and high intensity I'd asked for from them. Sam came on at the back for Laurie and put his mark on the game straight away with some excellent covering (great to see intelligent play like that) and really good passes out from the back to Max, who was growing into the game as it went on. A couple of times in the first half he got down the wing only to see his excellent crosses not met with the same quality of run they deserved. When Jack A came on up front Sammy moved out wide and offered the same from the other wing.

Jack H had a superb run past 3 defenders before cutting the ball back to Sammy, who prodded just wide and with the ball bobbling round the opposition penalty box we so nearly scored the second goal that was required but for some good goalkeeping from the Raw Skills goalie. Jack A then found himself in a great position and unselfishly squared for Sammy when he was quite entitled to shoot, only to see the toe of a defender nick the ball away.

Second half saw the boys step up another gear. Tom was again immense at the back, starting so many attacks as well as stopping the opposition with some perfectly timed tackles. Joel was now playing further forward on the right, with Max switching to the left wing and Joel had a great half, energy and commitment in everything he did, closing down defenders to give them no space or time on the ball and driving the Eagles forward all the time.

A clever ball from Finn to Jack H, a lovely bit of interplay between the two of them and Joel was freed on the right. He was tackled, but in a classic example of the above comments, worked his socks off to win the ball back and from the resulting rebound Max found himself free in the middle. He drove forward, looked up and found the corner with an outstanding finish with his left foot that had everyone applauding. 2-0 to the Eagles and thoroughly deserved for their hard work. Wouldn't have happened but for Joel's tenacity. The same level of commitment was being shown by Rami, who time and time again got back down the right wing to tackle Raw Skills' excellent left winger in a display full of hard work and good passing.

The lads continued to play some lovely football. Finn was also working really hard in midfield, covering for his defenders one moment before popping up in the middle of the pitch to win a ball and surge forward. With Laurie now alongside him the two of them combined beautifully for Laurie to sweep a wonderful pass out wide. Max collected it, cut inside onto his right foot, powered forward and scored an even better goal than his first one (this time with his right boot), curling it into the top right corner of the goal to make it 3-0 to the team in yellow. 2 top class goals from the same player in one game and for both he did what...? Looked up. Excellent stuff. It wasn't all Eagles. Ben was called on to make a clearance that otherwise would have led to an almost certain chance and Laurie tracked back brilliantly to make a last ditch tackle to deny another certain effort on goal.

Further forward, Jack A and Sammy were both making much smarter runs in the second half, holding their position so as not to be offside and then looking for space in behind the defence. Sammy used some really good tricks to get free and had a shot blocked. I think it was 3 'reverse-L' moves in the space of one spell of possession from him. I was dizzy watching it. Jack A then got through but was well tackled. Having seen a couple of great individual goals, the Eagles then scored a really good team goal, the ball working its way from Rami to Joel to Laurie to Jack H, who played a delightful pass with the outside of his foot into the space behind the defence. Finn had timed his run perfectly and took a touch before, yes, LOOKING UP and smashing a powerful striker into the corner to make it 4-0.

Finn then hit the post with a low shot another Jack H pass after some more lovely one touch passing in and around the penalty area from Sammy, Laurie and Max and Rami's energy carried him into the box only to see himself tackled. A moment later and he was popping up back in defence to make a goal-saving tackle in what was one of his best games for the Eagles. A very close contendor for man of the match.

We then swapped things round a bit, some of our defenders moving further forward and one or two attacking players tacking a turn at the back. Tom came off for a rest and the change seemed to throw things into disarray slightly, the sort of confusion we've worked really hard to remove from our game gifting Raw Skills a goal when someone just needed to take responsibility and clear the ball. A similar situation a minute later gave me the feeling that despite there only being 7 or 8 minutes left, we could easily play our way into trouble if we carried on like that. Jack H calmed the nerves though with a super solo goal, shimmying one way and then the other after a speedy breakaway involving Joel's quick thinking to get the ball forward. Jack's finish was lethal, right in the corner to give the 'keeper no chance and make it 5-1. Another contender for man of the match.

Sam nearly got on the scoresheet in the dying moments with a really good shot after some clever forward play from him but the ball whistled wide before the final whistle went to see the boys home with an excellent 5-1 victory.

Mention has to be made of the ref, who was excellent, plus a big thanks to Martin once again for running the line.

Man of the match was once again very tough. All the boys played their parts today but it goes to Joel for sheer work rate, effort and energy, combined with some lovely passing combinations when playing further forward. He gets the jellybeans! Well done boys.

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Saturday 28th January

Langton Green Eagles 0 - 6 Sevenoaks Tornado

What a bizarre game. Having got up at 5.30am in Bournemouth to travel back for this match I was pleased to see a superb first half performance from the Eagles where they totally dominated in terms of chances created. Finn and Sammy worked a route to goal beautifully after just a few minutes only for Finn's powerful shot to be well saved. Jack H then cut inside on the left before crossing the ball along the goal line only for it to evade the touch of Joel sliding in and 2 Sevenoaks defenders doing the same. Sammy had two well-worked shots saved by the 'keeper after being well played in, Max had the same after a couple of super runs that have become his trademark and Laurie's excellent effort was charged down. It was only a matter of time, surely.

Any danger at the other end was snuffed out by Sam, who performed brilliantly in goal with a display full of assuredness and dominance in between the posts and a combination of Rami, Vincent, Joel, Ali and especially Tom at the back. Joel came on on the right hand side and worked hard to win the ball and keep things moving, Max moving to central midfield where he was able to pick out some great through balls to Sammy up front. Jack A came on and looked to find space behind the defence too. We had reason to feel hard done by when Sevenoaks' only clear chance of the half produced the opening goal just before half time, their excellent striker giving Sam no chance with a shot he had way too much time to tee up after we were all caught ballwatching.

Half time and we discussed the tweaks we needed to make and that the goal would come if we kept plugging away.

Then I have no idea what happened. Either I got the half time team talk horribly wrong or we went just had one of those crazy half hours, but the tone was set about 20 seconds into the second half when we were caught overcomplicating things on the edge of our penalty area and Sevenoaks nicked the ball and scored. Another similar situation a few minutes later and they scored again before going on to get 3 more goals in a tough half for the Eagles that they will hopefully learn from and will make them more determined in future games to keep trying right to the end. Credit to Sevenoaks - they took their chances with some good finishing.

A special mention needs to go to Sam, who continued to play brilliantly in goal despite being freezing cold, Finn, whose encouragement to his teammates and energy levels to desperately try and get things going despite the scoreline was fantastic to see, Tom, who as usual communicated with his team brilliantly and made some great tackles and finally Rami, who excelled in a more advanced role in the second half, showing energy, encouragement and great sportsmanship. Sam and Rami shared the man of the match award in the end.

So, a strange morning with a scoreline the boys definitely didn't deserve on the balance of play. The difference was that Sevenoaks took their chances when they dominated in the second half whereas when we were on top in the first we didn't take ours. That's the way it goes sometimes. No shame in losing to the team who've beaten everyone in our league so far but the nature of the second half will leave everyone disappointed but with plenty of lessons learned hopefully.

Thanks to Martin once again for his help setting up and packing away the goals in the freezing cold (and running the line) and to David for refereeing. Well done to Sevenoaks. Hopefully we'll meet again next season.

Roll on next week when we hope to get back to our best against Raw Skills.

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Saturday 14th January

Paddock Wood Predators 2 - 5 Langton Green Eagles
(Brodie, Max, Jack, Sammy, Sam)

After waking up this morning fully expecting another cancellation, we were pleased to be able to play this match after torrential overnight rain. The surface wasn't great, but it was deemed playable and with the boys keen to go ahead, we kicked off bright and early at 9.30am.

With 3 regulars missing, we were pleased to be able to welcome Brodie back into the side for this morning's match, helping us out once again in our hour of need. After the respect handshake, straight from the kick off the boys set the tone that would continue for the rest of the game, retaining possession for the first minute or so with some lovely passing, using their defenders when needed and keeping the ball on the floor, patiently looking for an opening. Paddock Wood were full of energy though and not making things easy for us. After winning a throw-in, they quickly countered and won a corner, which we did well to turn away after a good delivery from the opposition winger.

After a spell of brief pressure, which the boys absorbed fantastically and during which Ben made an oustanding save low to his right to deny a certain goal, we started to create good chances of our own. Sammy broke free and was found with a great ball from Finn after Brodie and he had combined well in midfield. Despite an excellent first touch and a sharp run and shot, a Paddock Wood defender just stretched a leg out to deflect the ball over the bar for a corner of our own. A great delivery from Sammy was well cleared, with Joel right on his toes out from defence to keep possession.

Tom was marshalling the defence fantastically, making several excellent clearances to the feet of our players to start our own attacks and was unfortunate not to win a free kick when he was pushed to the ground when in possession of the ball. The opposition attacker showed good alertness to nip in and finish well, low into the corner to put the Eagles 0-1 down midway through the half. No matter - the boys pushed on and continued to play some really good football, camped for some time in the opposition half, Max in particular showing really quick feet to get down the right touchline several times and put dangerous crosses in. Jack H had made a great run to the near post and so nearly connected with one such cross but was unlucky to see the ball flash behind him and Sammy for a throw in. Ben was proving alert at the back, making himself available for his defenders to pass to when we wanted to retain possession and making another excellent save late in the half.

Jack A came on when Jack H limped off with an injury, working hard to create chances and Rami was growing into the game with some excellent tackles and sensible passes from the back. When Finn picked up the ball from Tom, played it to Brodie, he drove forward into space and hit an unstoppable strike into the roof of the net to level the scores at 1-1. Excellent stuff. He then got a ball in the face for his troubles and had to come off, Sam having come on originally up front then covering brilliantly for him in central midfield to see us safely through to half time. Sam has now played in goal, defence, midfield and up front for us this season and done brilliantly in all those positions. Mr Versatile!

We spoke about a few things we could do individually and as a team at the break and the second half was one of the best I've seen from the Eagles. We played 10 minutes of excellent football after half time, attacking down both flanks, Max playing superbly, but were unable to create any clear cut scoring opportunities, a couple of half chances being snatched at too early and rolling harmlessly to the goalkeeper.

Paddock Wood won a corner, Finn blocked it, then blocked the follow up, knocked the ball into space and ran the length of the pitch, taking on one player with really quick feet and driving forward goalwards. I felt sure we'd score, and with Jack A in space across from him, he looked up to pass across but the one defender the opposition had back did superbly well to get a foot to the pass and stop a definite chance - excellent defending. Speaking of which, Joel was like a man possessed at left back for the Eagles, again and again he tackled superbly, showed brilliant awareness to nick in and steal the ball before the player could turn and always looked to push us forwards with a useful pass. Brodie and Finn were bossing central midfield at this point, finding Max out wide again and again, but then we were sucker-punched, Paddock Wood breaking away to score a really well taken goal through their strong right sided midfielder to put us 1-2 down. Again, no worries, the boys dealt with the situation brilliantly with heads staying high. They knew they didn't deserve to be behind and they weren't for long. We'd talked at half time about Max getting more shots away and sure enough, after picking the ball up deep in his own half, he drove forward down the right, skipped past one played, cut in on goal and scored with a sublime lob after seeing the 'keeper off his line. One of the best goals of the season so far and absolutely what Max deserved for all his hard work.

Jack A nearly put us ahead after running through brilliantly but his powerful shot was saved illegally by the opposition goalie as he was out of the area. Sam then nearly scored with the resulting free kick, a piledriver of an effort that whistled past the far post and Finn saw a good strike well saved. From the resulting break, Tom made an outrageously good tackle and drove forward into space, Max nearly getting away to score his second.

2-2 and the game could have gone either way if Paddock Wood had scored another breakaway, which they threatened to on several occasions, but with the confidence they had at this stage, the Eagles weren't to be beaten and within 5 minutes the lads scored two more goals. Firstly, Jack H showed great tenacity to make a real nuisance of himself to the last defender when in possession, winning the ball back superbly and slotting home to make it 3-2. Sammy then wasn't to be denied, scoring his 100th goal for Langton Green with a close range finish after more outstanding work from Brodie saw him dribble past two players and cut the ball back for an expert finish.

Sam then got in on the action with a really good curling strike from distance to make it 5-2 after Paddock Wood defended well from our corner kick. Well done Sam - your 4th goal of the season - no mean feat from a player who spends the majority of his time in goal or defence. There was still time for Tom to pull off the best piece of defending of the game with a brilliant defensive header off his bobble hat from a high cross to cut out a definite chance and for Rami to make a really good tackle and stride down the wing to nearly set up Max for another chance. Finn nearly scored at the death, Jack H nearly scored at the death, Jack A might well have scored at the death but the ref blew his whistle as he bore down on goal to finish a really good morning's football from the Eagles.

Man of the match had to go to Max for his best performance so far for the Eagles - his effort levels were fantastic, which was what pleased me most and his constant threat down the right wing gave the team many of their best moments today. Everyone played brilliantly though and all in all I was really pleased with the boys today - coming from behind twice shows real character. Thanks to Brodie once again, to Martin for running the line and to Paddock Wood for getting the game on.

Next week I'll be arriving at our game directly from being on a stag do in Bournemouth the night before, so I'm hoping the boys remember to speak nice and quietly.

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Saturday 24th January

Sevenoaks Tornados 4 - 2 Langton Green Eagles
(Sammy 2)

Wow - nice to finally actually play some football and what a lovely morning of football is was for the most part, the Eagles showing some fantastic stuff with a couple of players seemingly done the world of good by a Christmas break turning in their best performances for the team since the move to 9 a side.

Sevenoaks are a very good side, with a couple of outstanding individual players who ran us ragged last time the teams met back in December (a 6-0 defeat for the Eagles). This was a very different game, thanks largely to the brilliant work ethic of the whole team, everyone communicating much better than they have in the past, especially Tom, who has been excellent in that regard since joining the team at the end of last year.

The game started very evenly, the Eagles having the better of the possession with some tidy passing and good runs from Jack H and Joel out wide but Sevenoaks playing some good stuff themselves, forcing a couple of early corners that the boys defended well through Tom, Vincent and Rami at the back. Finn and Max combined nicely to set Sammy away down the left and when he cut back inside, me mentally screaming for him to pass, he curled an absolutely outstanding goal into the top corner from an obscenely difficult angle to open the scoring. 1-0 to the Eagles. Sam and Laurie came on and both slotted straight in, Laurie's passing outstanding in the middle of the pitch and Sam dependable at the back as usual, showing a good range of passing.

Unfortunately, we conceded almost immediately after scoring ourselves, Sevenoaks' excellent left winger beating our defenders for pace and despite Finn brilliantly getting back to clear off the line, the ball was fired back in and a Sevenoaks striker tapped it in on the line. With Jack H injured in a collision with the post, we had a reschuffle, Jack A coming on and Max moving out to the right with Sammy taking up the left wing position.

Finn was playing as a centre back virtually at this stage and he was everywhere, putting in a massive effort to close down the opposition, making one awesome tackle to deny a certain cross and generally showing us a side of his game we've never really seen before.

Then we had a mad 5 minutes, all the good work of the first 20 minutes coming apart in a sorry spell where we were tentative, indecisive in possession and too often caught on the ball. Very much on the back foot, we conceded twice more, both really preventable goals, which left us 3-1 down at half time.

The second half started well, the Eagles playing some lovely stuff. Finn and Laurie were absolutely outstanding during this spell, their passing and calmness on the ball matches by their efforts off the ball to track back and Max a constant threat out wide, his running and crossing drawing applause from both sets of supporters. Jack A had a very strong run down the middle, shrugging off 2 defenders with his strength and showing great pace to get through on goal, the opposition goalie doing well to close him down and force his good strike just wide of the post. We then had possible our best spell of the game, our forward players closing down the opposition in possession and winning the ball back high up the pitch again and again. Max got to the bye line but his low shot hit/pull back hit the post and Jack H got in some brilliant positions down the left and centrally, jinking his way through but being denied by a last ditch tackle.

Sammy then got us back within touching distance, another outrageously good goal to add to his one from the first half and very similar, receiving the ball out wide, this time on the right, turning and looking up before curling the ball over the 'keeper into the top of the net. 3-2 and very much game on!

Tom continued to play brilliantly at the back, marshalling his defence superbly. Ben made a good save and Joel worked his socks off at right back, always looking to push forward. Vincent had a couple of his barnstorming runs down the middle and forced panic in the opposition defence as the boys looked for an equaliser.

Unfortunately we then had another 5 minutes where we didn't seem to be able to get out of our half, lots of good attempts to pass out of defence being cut out and eventually finding ourselves punished for our tentativeness with another Sevenoaks goal where we got caught in possession, 4-2 down with 10 minutes to go.

Sam took Ben's place in goal to give Ben a break and immediately made an excellent save to keep us in the game. He followed that up with a great catch and some good distribution to start us attacking ourselves. Finn and Laurie continued to put in a massive shift in midfield, both of them coming off exhausted at the end and for the final 10 minutes we went with 2 strikers, Jack A joining Sammy up there to try and force a goal. We cam close a few times, either we were caught offside, or the final pass just didn't quite make it through. Max and Joel combined superbly down the right and Max's excellent cross just evaded Sammy. Jack A forced an error from a defender which Finn nearly pounced on and Laurie and Jack H both had chances to shoot as the ball bobbled around the penalty box but were blocked out by a sea of defenders, witht he final whistle signalling the end of what was a really entertaining game, played in an excellent spirit between 2 very well-matched teams. Just what you want to see and I have no problem losing a match like that, especially with some lovely passing football on display from the boys.

Well done to all. Man of the match was jointly shared between Finn and Laurie for their outstanding work rate in central midfield - they were everywhere at times and started much of our good attacking play with their tenacity and effort to break up the opposition attacks. Sammy deserved a mention for his 2 brilliant goals - both in contention for goal of the season and Joel also for his constant hard work out wide in both an attacking and defending sense. But really, nearly all the boys can be proud of themselves today - a really good team effort.

Thank you to Sevenoaks for hosting us and being such good sports all round and to Martin for running the line. Roll on next week!!! Plenty to build on.

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Saturday 20th December

Pembury Broncos 0 - 1 Langton Green Eagles
(Sammy)

For their last game of 2014 the Eagles travelled to face a very strong and unbeaten Pembury Broncos side, missing Manager Ian (suffering from a bout of the life threatening "manius fluious") and influential Finn, Laurie, Ali and Rami, but buoyed by the inclusion of Alf and Brodie from the Giants. Thanks to an absent caretaker the 9-a-side goals were locked away so the much smaller 7-a-side goals had to be used, the pitch was 7-a-side in length (just a little wider) and there was a howling wind all of which made for challenging conditions despite the perfect 3G pitch.

The Eagles adapted quickly though, starting the match on the front foot, Jack H showing quick feet before hitting a powerful shot that was tipped over the bar by the Pembury goalie and Max went on a couple of strong runs down the right wing. Pembury soon showed their quality though, a fine pass putting their striker through seemingly with just Ben in goal to beat, only for Alf to sprint back and block the shot with a last ditch tackle. Brodie skipped past a couple of challenges and found Sammy who was desperately unlucky to see his sweetly struck shot across the goalkeeper come back off the face of the post. He wasn't to be denied a few minutes later though, Jack H went on an excellent run down the left wing before pinging in the perfect cross which Sammy slammed into the back of the net off the inside of the post with a brilliant shot with the outside of his right foot. Having seen Sammy hit the face of the post, Brodie then hit the face of Alf, with a powerfully struck clearance, which had to sting on a cold morning so Tom came on take over in the middle of defence and took to it like a duck to water, tackling anyone who came within 5 feet of him and communicating superbly with his fellow defenders Vincent and Sam, who were both also putting in very strong performances. Jack A came on upfront and worked hard to win the ball back high up the field and get into some good positions. Joel was busy in midfield, tenacious in the tackle and showing a good passing range, one of which found Brodie who was rather unceremoniously dumped to the ground to earn a free kick, which he then struck wide of the tiny goal. Pembury won a free kick of their own in a dangerous position, which was half cleared, but the shot which was fired back in was goal bound until Jack H cleared it right off the line to secure a deserved 1 nil lead at half time.

The Eagles started well in the second half too, Brodie shooting narrowly wide with a left foot volley and Jack H going agonisingly close to doubling the lead with a superb shot which hit the near post, the smaller goals again denying a certain goal under normal circumstances. Max went on another great run down the right before delivering a brilliant cross that Sammy very nearly got on the end of, before Sammy himself went on a great run only to see his shot saved. The boys were working so hard and the wind was getting worse, as our talented opponents started to get on top. Thankfully, the defenders were all on great form, Sam, Joel, Vincent and Tom took it in terms to perform last ditch tackles, block shots, clear their lines and throw themselves into everything for the rest of the match. Tom was especially impressive, like a young Vincent Kompany, showing real leadership as well as great timing of his tackles. As Pembury pushed forward, they created some chances, but Ben stood tall in goal, twice dealing with high balls brilliantly in the wind and twice more making great saves. A series of Pembury corners caused panic, but the boys stood firm, Sam helping out with some lengthy goal kicks to earn us some breathing space and the boys still looked dangerous on the counter attack, Sammy striking a sweet volley wide. In the closing minutes we sacrificed our striker, opting for an extra pair of legs in midfield (Max's legs to be precise, and the rest of him) and this helped us see out the agonising last few plays of the game to earn a hard earned victory and become the first team to beat this very strong opponent this season.

Well done to all the boys, every one of them was magnificent and should be proud of their efforts. Tom thoroughly deserved his man-of-the-match award, a unanimous choice from the boys, watching parents and caretaker managers. What a great end to the year, roll on 2015, Merry Christmas.

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Saturday, December 13th

Xmas 7 a Side Tournament

It just doesn't seem to be a good spell for the Eagles at the moment - another ultimately very disappointing morning, missing the last two weeks men of the match in Max and Joel, the team started slowly, drawing a game they dominated against Wadhurst Rovers 0-0. Classic opening game of a tournament, birthday boy Tom doing particularly well when he came on but neither team really threatening enormously, despite some tidy play. Sammy came close with a late shot and Ben saved well at the other end. With the 12 minute format seeing the games come thick and fast and the team who scored first winning every game all morning, the lads then lost 1-0 to eventual winners, Forest Row in a game they probably deserved to lose on the balance of play. Frustrating against a side we twice beat this season in the 9 a side format.

Ridgewaye were then defeated 1-0, Sammy scoring a poachers goal inside the first minute, Jack H going on several mazy runs and Finn dribbling through the defence to be denied by a good challenge before the boys defended magnificently to see out the victory, Ben making two exceptionally good saves to keep his team in the lead. Laurie was outstanding in this game, fighting for every ball and working his socks off. Tom and Vincent defended well and Sam was excellent at the back too, calm and assured with his passing from defence.

A 2-0 defeat to probably the best side we faced all morning, Sevenoaks, where Vincent defending strongly saw the Eagles finish 4th in the group of 6 and face Ridgewaye again in the quarter finals. Despite playing their best game of the morning and dominating from start to finish, the result wasn't the one we hoped for. Finn played some superb through balls and tried his heart out despite a nasty cough which had threatened to keep him at home. The team nearly scored through Sammy and Jack H on several occasions, Laurie and Finn passed the ball around beautifully in midfield, but we just couldn't quite get the ball in the back of the net. Sam had a great long range effort fly over the bar, there were goalkmouth scrambles, possession in the oppositon half, but the ball just wouldn't cross the line. In the final minute, against the run of play and with penalties looming, Ridgewaye scored on the counter to knock the boys out. Still we pushed for a goal, but it wasn't to be. Credit to both sides though - they never gave up and Ridgewaye did well to battle their way to the final.

Well done to the Langton Redhawks, who finished 3rd in the end and played some lovely football. Congrats also to Forest Row, who won a tight final against Ridgewaye 1-0.

Final match of the pre-Christmas season next week against Pembury - the best team in our division. Should be fun!

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Saturday, December 6th

Langton Green Eagles 0 - 6 Sevenoaks Tornados

Oh dear. What a disappointing morning for the boys, who for the most part tried really hard but struggled to really get going on comfortably the worst pitch we've ever played on. The grass was really long, the mud was really sticky and trying to dribble or play any kind of slick passing game was virtually impossible for the lads. It suited a direct, physical approach and whilst Sevenoaks can play some lovely football as they proved the last time we faced them (a 3-2 win for the Eagles back in October), they adapted far better than we did to the conditions and as such won comfortably.

Some notable points were Tom showing some good strong defending on his debut, Brodie (helping us out again in the absence of a couple of players) trying desperately hard to get things moving in midfield with some powerful play and a good range of passing, Max (man of the match) always looking for a pass and Ben making several good saves to keep the scoreline from getting really large in the first half.

We made some chances too, Jack H going close in the first half after great work from Finn and Brodie, Max and Jack H working really hard on the flanks to get into brilliant positions but not having the support they needed and in the second half both Finn and Sammy made good opportunities for themselves before being thwarted by excellent goalkeeping and strong defending.

Rami was busy as usual and a move into midfield in the second half saw him use that energy well whilst Joel and Sam worked hard at the back (and Sam up front for a bit) in difficult conditions. Ali was calm at the back and Jack A played a nice one-two to set Max free on the right but the final cross just couldn't be turned in.

A really tough morning for the boys where they were caught offside more than they have been all season in all our other games combined. We'll come good again - somehow we've managed to win and lose against every team in our division that we've played twice - often by big margins in either direction. What a weird game!

Credit to Sevenoaks - they played well and deserved their win. One of their players in particular was outstanding and they had a very good goalie too.

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Saturday, November 22nd

Langton Green Eagles 6 - 2 Tonbridge Invicta Hurricanes
(Goals: Sammy 3, Brodie 2, Jack A)

Another really entertaining match, playing in wet conditions, in which the Eagles played the best football they've played this season so far. Every single boy was oustanding today, despite missing Vincent and Laurie as well as Ben for the second half after an unfortunate thumb injury. Thankfully Brodie had very kindly agreed to play for us or we could have found ourselves down to the bare minimum of 9 players again.

The first few minutes looked like the Eagles could be up against it, struggling to get hold of the ball against opponents who beat us 6-0 in the return fixture earlier this season. Some poor control and sloppy passing allowed Invicta to control the opening exchanges without really threatening our goal due to the outstanding defensive play of Joel and Rami, either side of Sam, who was the epitomy of calm in the centre of defence.

The boys quickly found their way into the game, Brodie and Finn controlling the midfield with some excellent pass and move football, spraying the ball out wide to Max and Jack H, who were providing width and purposeful running on the flanks. A great ball from Brodie after a strong run found Jack H in the centre, unfortunate to see his first time shot miss the target. Sammy was causing all kinds of problems for the opposition, running off the ball into space and making himself available. Some more excellent play from Joel at the back helped set the boys going forward and when Jack H and Sammy combined to get Sammy into a good position on the edge of the area he still plenty to do, striking a low, powerful shot goalwards that took a slight deflection and nestled in the bottom corner. 1-0 to the Eagles.

It was quickly 2, Finn picking up the ball in space, turning beautifully and smashing a shot goalwards that the Invicta 'keeper did brilliantly to save. Sammy was lurking however, and made no mistake from close range to make it 2-0.

The boys were full of confidence as the rain started to come down, pressuring well from the front, denying Tonbridge any space and defensively outstanding throughout a first half where they were called upon frequently to use tenacity and strength in wide positions, Joel particularly impressive in this respect and Sam and Rami calm passing out from the back, such that Ben was rarely troubled, which was good as he was looking in some discomfort after picking up a thumb injury. Rami had a brilliant game today, where everything he went for he seemed to get to, with well timed tackles, and his calm passing from the back showed real intelligence.

With half time looming, Jack A came on and made an immediate impact, twice holding the ball up well and playing excellent passes back to his midfield and then finishing a sublime move that involved Brodie, Max and Jack H before Jack A's well struck, powerful first time shot rippled the net from the middle of the penalty area to make it 3-0 to the Eagles. A really good finish - well done Jack. A few minutes later he showed great strength to get into a similar position, but a very good last ditch tackle denied him a second goal. Finn then hit the post after ghosting into the penalty area unnoticed and volleying a difficult spinning ball first time, with Ali coming on and playing some lovely passing football from defence whilst also showing great strength and willing to carry out his defensive duties well and keep up the great work Joel had started. Finn was throwing himself in front of clearance after clearance to restrict the opposition's space, taking up a one-boy fight against the Invicta defence at one point and eventually winning his team a corner for his efforts.

Half time saw a request for more of the same, although with Ben needing to come off, our central defensive hero Sam willingly went in goal, meaning a reshuffle was needed in front of him, Brodie dropping into a new role for him in the middle of a back three.

Every game this season we've had a dodgy 10 minutes, usually when we've been a few goals up and complacency has set in. Today there was almost some of that, but it was far better than any previous game, focus remaining strong from Rami and Ali at the back with Brodie marshalling them well. We conceded a goal from a spell of sustained pressure when several corners led to Sam saving very nearly on the line, but with the ball adjudged to have crossed over. Tough one for the referee to call, but we've benefited from similar decisions in the past, so I can't complain, and the man in the middle was excellent today. 3-1 and we've struggled from positions like that in the past, often then conceding 2 or 3, so I was delighted with how the boys handled themselves from that moment onwards. Sam was outstanding in goal, rushing off his line to close down the angle and collecting several through balls that would have been almost certain goalscoring chances were he not so alert. His communication was excellent too, encouraging and organising his defence brilliantly.

Sammy was rampant up front, using his pace to great effect, shooting just high after Brodie's super pass sent him through. With Finn and Brodie running the midfield, we changed tactics again to go with a back three of Joel, Rami and Jack H, who were brilliant in those positions. That's a lot of pace at the back and it showed on several occasions when they won balls they had no right to get to really. Max went on several outstanding runs down the right, cutting inside and shooting with powerful strikes that the opposition goalie did well to save. An audacious backheel from Sammy found Brodie, who drove forwards into space and found Jack A, whose clever pass to Finn saw him shoot just wide but you felt a fourth was coming.

And come it did, in outstanding fashion from the boot of Brodie, who showed excellent strength to skip past 2 defenders and then execute a sublime lob with his left foot over the onrushing keeper. Goal of the day and no less than he deserved for his overall performance. Two minutes later it was 5-1, Brodie scoring direct from a free kick with a powerful strike that gave the 'keeper no chance and then Sammy bagged his hat-trick with an excellent piece of strength from Joel setting him up to shoot at the 'keeper and then score with the rebound to make it 6-1. Jack H then went on a marauding run that saw him dribble past 4 players, putting himself in a brilliant position to shoot, before unselfishly passing to a teammate when we were all willing him to score what would have been a wonderful individual goal. 

The boys should have made more chances, but some late, slightly "single minded" play from one or two who could have given team mates tap-ins but instead opted to shoot from crazy angles left the score at 6. Sammy hit the woodwork with an audacious (that's the second "audacious" Sammy's play has elicited in this match report) strike from range after brilliant hold up play, Ali laid off the ball cleverly to Finn for a shot which was well saved and when Tonbridge Invicta hit the boys on the break for a second goal which was a really well worked strike from them, we couldn't complain.

The game ended 6-2 to the Eagles, a great turnaround when you bear in mind the result last time the two sides met and mainly down to application and effort, which was sadly lacking in the previous rather "sleepy" game against Invicta last month. Today was completely different and I was so proud of how the boys played. Man of the match is so difficult to choose. Several boys (Jack A, Rami, Sammy) had probably their best all round games for the Eagles today and everyone played superbly - there wasn't one weak link. Overall though, I have to give it to Joel for his outstanding first half in particular, where I thought he played one of the best halves anyone has played for the Eagles this year. Well done Joel.

Brilliant stuff boys. Massive thanks to Brodie for helping us out (another potential man of the match today and a joy to watch that first goal) and to Kevin, Martin and James for coming down to help set up. Onwards to a tough inter-divisional game next week away to Ringmer, but if the boys play like this they have every chance of doing well.

Have a good weekend!

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Saturday, November 15th

Langton Green Eagles 3 - 6 Tonbridge Junior Porsche
(Goals: Sammy, Jack A, Jack H)

An entertaining game! Despite some great attacking play to pull themselves back to 3-3, the Eagles ultimately lost out this morning to a good Tonbridge side with some strong players. They pressurised our players better, were more energetic and quicker off the blocks, scoring 2 goals inside the first 5 minutes that were really soft from our point of view.

The boys improved after that, some tactical changes seeing us trying to utilise Sammy's pace up front and it paid off, him hitting the post before grabbing the opening goal with a great finish from Jack's pass after Max's pass and Finn's control and lay off had seen the Eagles put together their best move of the half. Ali played a couple of good passes out from the back and Rami showed good energy.

2-1 at half time and it was all about who scored the next goal, which unfortunately wasn't the Eagles. Despite Sam making a couple of great saves in goal in the second half, Tonbridge played very well and scored an excellent third.

The Eagles were riled. They put everything into the game for 10 minutes, scoring first through Jack A's finish after Sammy's excellent work out wide and then through Jack H, whose superb control from Sammy's fantastic, lofted cross was the moment of the game.

Pushing everything forward to try and get a winner, and despite some good defending from Ben, Vincent and Ali, the boys were hit on the break, an unfortunate moment gifting Tonbridge their fourth goal. Finn and Sammy combined superbly with a lovely one-two. Vincent pushed forward. Max was imperious at times in the middle with some lovely skill and footwork, nearly running past the entire Tonbridge team at one point. Joel had a good run down the right, but all that effort going forwards from the boys left even more space at the back and having already pushed another player forward to try and nick the winner, 2 late goals went in, to leave a slightly unflattering look to the scoreline of a game Tonbridge deserved to win, but only just.

Man of the match goes to Sammy. One goal, 2 assists and he was a threat all morning. Plus, his attitude was excellent.

Plenty to work on in training though for the team!

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Saturday, November 8th

Langton Green Eagles 1 - 4 Hailsham United
(Goals: Sammy, pen)

The morning started badly, me finding a snail in my football boot. I wasn't aware of any folklore that said it was unlucky to find a snail in your football boot but I don't usually concern myself with such things anyway, so set out in a positive frame of mind to Groombridge, where the Eagles were due to face their toughest test of the season yet, an inter-divisional game against a Hailsham side who are in a higher division then the boys and doing very well in that division too. 4 inter-divisional games pre-Christmas and all of them against teams from higher leagues is always going to be a challenge, but that's a good test for the boys and today proved to be just that.

The task was made even more difficult with the absence of both Max and Laurie and the unfortunate injury to Sam that forced him off after just a few minutes, leaving us with the bare minimum of 9 players on the pitch. It was a shame for Sam and for the team, as he was looking really good in his role as the main striker and had scored a few goals in recent matches.

The onslaught from the opposition we expected never came, and the Eagles looked much the better side for the opening 15 minutes, our defence of Joel, Ali and Vincent standing firm on the few occasions Hailsham got forward but most of the game being played in the opposition half, with Rami solid at winning the ball back and Finn spraying the ball around from just in front of him with real vision.

Early chances were scarce, as Hailsham defended solidly, but a good bit of interplay between Jack H and Sammy saw Jack's shot blocked and a nifty through ball from Finn almost found its way to Jack A, who just couldn't quite connect with it.

Against the run of play, Hailsham broke, we were slow to react, and they scored. 1-0 down and fairly unlucky to be so, the boys rallied and despite an upping of the tempo from the opposition, played some really good stuff for the rest of the half. Sammy had a good shot blocked, Jack H weaved his way through to almost set up Sammy again and Vincent had a couple of great runs forward that confused the opposition defence and nearly created goalscoring chances. Ali, meanwhile, was excellent in defence when he had the ball, receiving it countless times from Ben's goal kicks and playing inch-perfect passes out to Finn, whose clever movement had made space out wide or to Sammy, whose runs down the right touchline were causing Hailsham all manner of problems that were consistently dealt with by simply putting the ball out for a throw in.

Hailsham made some good chances of their own, one player in particular was very dangerous, and his runs carved us open at the back several times, the final finish just not being turned in on two occasions and Ben pulling of an outstanding save on another.

Half time saw no changes as we simply couldn't make any. Joel started the half brightly, bombing forward from the back and combining well with Jack. Rami broke up several attacks with strong challenges that were fair and well-timed and a succession of corners so nearly saw us score the equaliser, Rami's shot from close range just being tipped away by the goalie and Jack H and Sammy both so nearly turning the ball in through a crowded penalty area.

Just as we looked to be in the ascendency, Finn picked up a nasty blow to the arm and had to come off, leaving us with 8 players against 9 and this meant the boys were even more up against it. It seemed to galvanise them though, and Jack H particularly went on several weaving runs down the left which so nearly resulted in the ball ending up in the opposition goal. Joel was making some great runs but the final pass didn't quite get to him or when it did he found himself outnumbered by the strong Hailsham defence.

Unfortunately, their numerical advantage paid off eventually and some woeful penalty box defending where virtually every single one of our players had opportunities to clear the ball and didn't, left us 2-0 down after a scrappy goal.

Finn came back on and the break seemed to have done him the world of good as the next 10 minutes were some of the best I've seen from him since we've moved to 9 a side football, his through balls to Joel, Jack H and Sammy were absolutely oustanding and we had chances from these passes, but a combination of overunning the ball, good goalkeeping by the opposition goalie, who was quick off his line and just plain being outnumbered left us still searching for the goal the boys so desperately deserved from their fine performance.

It came from the penalty spot and no surprise who scored it, Sammy keeping up his 100% record from 12 yards with a powerful finish that really gave the boys belief, after Jack H was brought down in the area. At that stage I felt we would go on and win the game and we so nearly got on level terms when Finn's toe-poke nearly crept in, only for the Hailsham goalie to fling out an arm just claw it onto the post. The rebound fell to Joel, whose shot was blocked, then to Jack H, who laid it to Sammy, whose shot from a tight angle was saved.

Jack then had to come off with an injury, reducing the Eagles to 8 players again and with some very tired legs out there and a numerical advantage for the opposition, we struggled a bit to clear our lines. Hailsham hit the bar after we got caught trying to play out of defence and scored from the rebound to really deflate the lads. Such a shame as they so deserved something from this game. The boys pushed forward to try and salvage something, 10 minutes remaining, but got caught on the break to make it 4-1. Jack A cleared well as Hailsham nearly got a fifth and the boys then had another really good spell, despite the game being beyond them by then.

A couple more barnstorming runs from Vincent, some excellent passing from Ali out of the back and a couple more excellent through balls from Finn nearly led to goals. Rami went on a great run, seemingly fuelled by a sense of injustice at the scoreline and his pass almost set up Joel for a goal. The fit-again Jack's finish under the keeper nearly gave us a second but a defender got back to clear and Sammy produced an outrageous piece of skill to bamboozle 2 defenders and get a good cross in but there was nobody in the box to connect with it.

A tough morning for the boys with no subs and 8 players on the pitch for a lot of the second period but they battled well and definitely didn't deserve to be on the end of a 4-1 defeat.

Man of the match goes to Ali for his calm and assured passing out of defence but a special mention should also go to Finn for his metronomic through balls, Sammy for his skill and deadliness from the penalty spot and Joel for his outstanding running off the ball when playing on the right of midfield.

Thanks to Martin for running the line and we all wish Sam well and hope his ankle turns out to be a minor problem that gets better nice and quickly.

See you all next week for a return to league action against Tonbridge and hopefully a few more players than we had this week!!!

Turns out that snail was unlucky after all.

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Saturday, November 1st

Langton Green Eagles 2 - 0 Forest Row
(Goals: Sammy 2)

Langton Green Eagles 6 - 2 Forest Row
(Goals: Sam 2, Sammy 2, Finn, Jack H)

This morning saw the Eagles back at Groombridge for a pair of friendlies (40 minutes each) against Forest Row, a team we had been intending to play earlier in the year before other things got in the way.

The morning started badly, the local foxes having decided to have a Halloween party the night before and leave some rather unpleasant presents all over the pitch for me to clear up. This was not how I'd hoped to spend the first hour of my day.

Poor James, who was very kindly standing in for us again in Ben's absence, found himself injured in the warm up and with another important game for him to play for his regular Giants team tomorrow we all felt it best he sit this one out. Sam offered to stand in in goal but disaster struck again, when we realised he'd brought 2 left handed goalie gloves and no right handed ones!!! We managed to locate a very small right handed glove, which Sam paired with one of his much bigger left handed versions to leave himself looking rather curious in the glove department and finally we were ready to go.

The first match started well, Laurie and Finn both passing the ball well in midfield out to the wide players in the form of Sammy and Joel. Sammy burst forwards twice early on, playing a delightful one-two with returning captain Jack H, whose pace got him to the return ball in time to square for Sammy, who took a touch and smashed the ball into the corner to make it 1-0.

Another good move involving Jack and Finn so nearly saw Sammy grab a second goal, before Joel made a superb run down the right, cutting back inside before being tackled just as he was about to shoot.

Forest Row grew into the game, our defensive 3 of Vincent, Ali and Rami having to be switched on and communicating to snuff out a couple of good moves and when our players went back to Sam with the ball when under pressure, he dealt with it perfectly, passing back out calmly and decisively.

Finn was having a very strong game in central midfield, his passing crisp and accurate, and from a good through ball from him, Joel broke away and played Jack in. His pass found Sammy, who shimmied to the side and smashed his second goal into the roof of the net to make it 2-0.

Max came on and immediately showed great skill to carve out another chance for Sammy but the strong Forest Row 'keeper was equal to it and made a good save.

The second half saw a slight dip in the levels of energy on display from the Eagles and Forest Row created several good opportunities after a bit of defensive miscommunication let them in before first Rami and then Vincent got back to make crucial tackles. Ali and Sam combined nicely at the back (Sam managing to catch the ball fine, despite his different sized gloves) to set another Eagles attack going but Finn's powerful shot was well saved before Sammy, Jack and Max were all denied by the opposition's goalie in an intriguing second half which saw several players move into new and unfamiliar positions.

Sammy nearly grabbed his hat trick in the dying seconds but was thwarted again by the goalkeeper after a great run from Jack out on the left. Man of the match in this one goes to Finn - his passing was outstanding and he did exactly what we asked of him, looking for his wide players and then getting himself into the penalty area. Deserved a goal for his efforts but came up against an in form goalkeeper.

After a quick break the boys were back on to play the second game against the same opposition, everyone back in their regular positions with the exception of Sammy, who had a very eventful half in goal, and Sam, who had an equally eventful half in Sammy's usual position up front.

The game again started well for the Eagles, crisp passing from midfield and brilliant wing play from Jack and Max. Jack went on a superb run down the left, great footwork seeing him dart and weave past 3 defenders before squaring the ball to Sam for his second goal in a week with his first touch of the game.

Vincent went on one of his runs forward (somehow he got through the entire morning without getting hit with a football, injured, knocked over etc.) and played a good pass to Max. He showed excellent footwork to bamboozle a couple of opponents (and some of his teammates) before playing Laurie in with an excellent pass. Laurie shot well, the goalie saved. Finn shot, the goalie saved and finally Max shot just wide. From the resulting goal kick, Finn intercepted, played a smart ball into Sam's feet and despite having the goalkeeper bearing down on him, Sam kept calm to slot the ball into the bottom left corner and give his team a 2-0 lead.

It was so nearly 3-0 a few moments later, Finn receiving ball from Max's clever pass, cutting inside and curling an excellent strike towards the top corner only to find the goalkeeper equal to it, pulling off an unbelievable save. Sammy then showed some slightly "interesting" goalkeeping tactics, dribbling round 2 opposition players before playing a super pass to Max, who went on a great run half the length of the pitch before being well tackled.

As has been customary recently, we then had a dodgy spell. Caught with only 1 defender back, Forest Row scored 2 good goals through their tricky striker, the first one particularly good and all was level at 2-2. A bit of everyone trying to get on the scoresheet and a bit of tiredness. Changing players frequently, Rami pushed forward and made a great run before being tackled, some clever passes from Ali setting us going forwards again but it all got a bit scrappy until half time where we had a chat about focusing and remembering how we play.

A much better second half saw the boys play some lovely stuff although both teams were tired by this point.

It didn't start brilliantly, Forest row unlucky to see a free kick that would have made it 3-2 bounce back off the crossbar. Vincent, in goal in place of Sammy then made an excellent save as our opposition pushed for a winner with renewed confidence. They looked for a spell like they were the more likely team as tired legs with only 1 sub saw the boys flagging a bit. Sammy struck just at the right time though, running onto Joel's brilliant pass to slide the ball into the net and make it 3-2 to the Eagles with 10 minutes to go.

Forest Row pushed for an equaliser and that left space for Max to dribble round 4 players and so nearly score. He unselfishly passed to Jack and he slid home an excellent finish to make it 4-2. Joel then had a great weaving run of his own, beating several players before having his shot well saved and Rami, Laurie and Vincent started some great attacks with strong defending and passing out from the back. Ali took a turn in midfield and nearly got on the scoresheet with a blocked shot that he struck well.

Sammy then turned provider for Finn to get the goal his work rate deserved, smashing the ball into the back of the net from the middle of the box to make it 5 before returning the favour for Sammy, who scored the best individual goal of the day with a super arrowed strike into the top corner from the edge of the box.

The final whistle went to see the Eagles somewhat flattered by a scoreline their late flurry of goals made look more comfortable than it was. Forest Row pushed the boys all the way for the majority of the match and showed themselves to have several excellent players, most notably their goalkeeper who played really well. Man of the match goes to Sam for getting himself into so many good positions and scoring 2 good goals although a special mention should also go to Sammy who was superb all morning.

Thank you to all those who helped either running the line, refereeing, setting up, clearing away and so on. Much appreciated.

Well done boys. A tough game next week against Hailsham - see you then!!

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Saturday, October 25th

Langton Green Eagles 1 - 2 Broad Oak Hurricanes
Goal: Sam

Another lovely crisp morning for football and a very enjoyable, close match against a Broad Oak team we had beaten 4-2 earlier in the season.

The Eagles got off to a brilliant start, controlling the ball in midfield and playing some great stuff down the wings. Finn and Max combined brilliantly, with Finn then managing to pull of a banana split to get to the byline and cut the ball back for Jack A, who had got into a great position but couldn't quite connect with the ball.

Sammy was causing havoc down the other flank (playing there in the absence of captain Jack, who was on holiday), getting to the edge of the box with all manner of tricks and skills, before playing 2 or 3 excellent crosses.

Broad Oak were threatening themselves though and it took two excellent challenges from Vincent to keep their attackers at bay, Laurie also making a strong challenge when left one on one. Joel was the third member of the back 3 and his pace and tenacity was on show again this morning, tracking tirelessly back to win the ball back and then starting Eagles' attacks with some great play out from the back.

Behind them, James was once again excellent in goal, helping us out for the second week in a row in the absence of Ben and making several outstanding saves to keep his team in the game.

Midway through the half, Sam and Ali came on, Ali at the back and Sam up front, with instructions to hold the ball up and look for the runs of Max and Sammy out wide. He did this superbly, playing 3 or 4 excellent passes and getting himself into some really good positions.

Another strong bit of play down the right hand side saw Max release Finn and he showed great composure to look up and play a dangerous ball across the box. Sam had continued his run and found himself on the end of the cross, burying the ball in the back of the net to make it 1-0 to the Eagles. Great goal and Sam's first for the team since he joined us. Well done Sam!

Max continued to threaten, Rami showed fantastic strength to win the ball back, play it out wide to Sammy and he went on a mazy run, finally crossing the ball for Sam to so nearly make it two, only to be thwarted by the excellent Broad Oak goalkeeper.

Half time saw further changes and the second half started well, Max and Joel particularly dangerous, running at the opposition defenders at will and so nearly finding their team mates several times with great passes. Sammy worked superbly to get himself into a really good position, and with me already thinking "2-0" found his strong shot brilliantly saved, with the follow up bobbling wide off a defender. He did nothing wrong - just came up against a very good goalie.

Then it all went a bit scrappy.

We conceded possession needlessly on several occasions, started taking long shots from near the half way line when a simple pass would have been the right option and despite Vincent (who had to come off 3 times for injury today!!) going on several of his barnstorming runs forward, we just couldn't seem to string more than two passes together.

Broad Oak scored a well-deserved goal after their hard work in pressuring our defenders paid off and suddenly the boys looked even more nervy. A second goal minutes later left us 2-1 down and James was called on to make two wonderful saves to keep the scoreline respectable. With only 6 or 7 minutes left and defeat on the horizon, the lads finally woke up and started to play like they did in the first half again. The urgency propelled them forwards, Joel pushing up out of defence down the right flank and going on a couple of great runs and Laurie and Max combining nicely to set Finn and Sammy moving forwards.

A great pass from Max found Sammy, who cut inside and hammered a shot goalwards, only to see the goalkeeper make another save with his feet and keep his team ahead.

With the clock running down, the boys desperation to find a winner showed, the ball not quite running for them and a combination of poor fortune and some wrong decisions leaving them coming up just short today against a team who played very well themselves.

A draw would have been a fair result, but I said the same last week when the Eagles came away with a win, so you have to take it on the chin when it goes the other way like it did today. We had the chances, but just couldn't quite find a way past the excellent Broad Oak goalie in the second half.

Thanks to all the parents for their support, to Kevin for running the line, David for refereeing and James for standing in for us in goal again. He was superb. Man of the match goes to Vincent, although Finn deserves an extra mention for his first half performance today too, as do Sammy and Max for some great forward play.

A friendly next week against Forest Row and a return for captain Jack, who was on holiday this week.

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Saturday, October 18th

Langton Green Eagles 3 - 2 Sevenoaks Town Tornados
Goals: Jack (2), Rami

Langton Green Eagles and Sevenoaks Town before the match, photographed together as part of the FA's Respect Weekend

What a game of 2 halves!

After the disappointment of last time, the boys were given one overriding message at the start of the game - their effort levels needed to be 100%. Mistakes, fine, wrong decisions, no problem, but anything less than trying their best would not be enough against a very accomplished Sevenoaks teams who have had some excellent results so far this season.

Unfortunately, it didn't start the way were hoping and the Eagles found themselves 1-0 down almost straight from the kick off, the excellent James (standing in in place of the absent Ben), finding himself abandoned by his defence and unable to stop the sharp Sevenoaks striker giving his team the lead. Not what we'd hoped for.

Sammy was vocal, trying to encourage his teammates and the boys started passing the ball round nicely, Finn and Max showing some good footwork in central midfield to spread the ball out wide. Jack H and Joel were lively, getting into promising positions, but all our attacking players were guilty of picking the wrong option with the final ball and Sevenoaks looked fairly solid, a long range effort from Max all we could muster in the first 15 minutes, despite having the bulk of the possession and James not being tested at all at that stage.

I had a feeling what was coming was coming and when our defenders bombed forward to support an attack, we were left woefully short at the back and poor James was once again left outnumbered as Sevenoaks cleverly played their way through to score their second. Not ideal and all the previous game's mistakes seemed to be flooding back. Jack A came on and got in some promising positions up front, Jack H and Sammy dangerous out wide but the final ball still just not quite coming off.

At 2-0 you always feel in with a chance and the final 10 minutes of the half were much better. Ali came on at the back and passed brilliantly out of defence. Jack H got himself into some excellent positions through fearless running and showed great feet to skip away from his marker, only to see his shot snuffed out by the strong Sevenoaks 'keeper. Sammy had a good shot blocked from Finn's clever pass and another Max long shot went just wide.

The best move of the first half saw Vincent burst through, play the ball to Finn, who found Max, whose wide pass sent Sammy clear but his powerful shot went just over the bar. The boys were getting closer.

Again though, the Eagles' enthusiasm to get forward left massive gaps at the back and we relied on James to make an unbelievably good save just before the break to keep us in the game.

Half time saw us feeling slightly hard done by to be two goals down but determined to make amends in the second half with a change, Rami moving into central midfield, Sam going up front and Joel pushing into defence.

It paid dividends almost immediately, first Sam and then Rami showing great tenacity and strength to win the ball back, Joel and Max then combining to play Jack H in, who made no mistake with a powerful finish into the bottom corner. Game on.

The boys played with renewed confidence and it was like watching a different team. Ali, Vincent and Joel were assured and disciplined at the back, Joel showing great energy to get up and down the left hand side like a real left back, Vincent going on some rampaging runs from deep and Ali playing some lovely passing football out from the back. Crucially for the team, Rami played the half of his life in central midfield, allowing Finn and Max to get forward more and support their forward players.

And it was Rami's athleticism that got his team back on level terms, bursting forward to latch onto a great ball from Finn, showing excellent strength to hold off two defenders and race clear to dink the ball over the onrushing goalkeeper and level the scores at 2-2.

Jack A and Sammy came back on, Jack playing some nice passes out from the back and Sammy combining immediately with Jack H and Max to get himself into a great position. His bullet of a shot beat the goalie and we were almost celebrating, only to see the ball come back off the post and evade the follow up from Finn.

Jack H was proving a real handful down the left, time and time again combining with the excellent Joel and getting to the byline, only to find his crosses cleared or just missing a Langton boot for a tap in. Sammy swapped back up front, with Sam dropping back into defence and Sammy's pace continued to cause problems for the Sevenoaks defence time and time again. He played a delightful 1-2 with Max, another with Jack H and so nearly found the back of the net with a clever shot, only for the Sevenoaks goalie to palm the ball back to Jack H. His first strike was saved but he lashed the rebound into the roof of the net to nearly knock the goal over and make it 3-2 to the Eagles and complete a wonderful comeback.

Nothing's ever simple though, and so it proved again, the defence having to dig deep again and again. An exhausted Finn and Max came off, Jack A moved into the back 3 and made 2 superb clearances as well as one partiularly good pass out of defence. Sam had to rely on a spectacular overhead kick to clear the ball of the line and James made 3 back to back saves that were simply outstanding. His reactions are so quick and between him and the last ditch desperate clearances that nearly every Eagles player contributed to, we somehow held on.

Jack H had another chance, Joel made a super run down the left, Rami went on another barnstorming run and Vincent pulled a Maradona-turn out of the hat whilst dribbling out of defence to show what a skilful player he can be. He was outstanding today once again. A late injury to him saw more changes to help with the rearguard action, Sam and Joel both instrumental in getting the ball clear late on in penalty box ping pong that wasn't particularly pretty football but was definitely effective. Another great save from James and the final whistle went to signal a hard fought victory for the boys in yellow.

Massive thanks to James for helping us out today. He was excellent. Man of the match could have gone to any of about 5 or 6 players in all honesty. Jack H deserves a special mention, as do Vincent and Joel, but I'm giving Rami the award today for his discipline and energy in central midfield in the second half. Well done Rami - thoroughly deserved. Lovely to see our goals coming from all quarters this season - lots of players getting on the score sheet which shows what a great team you boys are!

I should also mention what a good side Sevenoaks were. It was nice to play an even game against a team with a similar approach to us in terms of trying to play football on the floor rather than in the air and with such a good attitude too. This weekend was the FA's Respect Weekend and both teams and their respective supporters did themselves proud in terms of their attitude in a very well refereed game.

Thank you to those of you who helped pack away and to Martin once again for running the line.

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Saturday, October 4th

Langton Green Eagles 0 - 6 Tonbridge Invicta Hurricanes

Not a lot to say this week really. Rami played really well - man of the match and Ali kept his head up and tried to play out of defence well. Sam, as usual gave 100% and made some important clearances during a much better second half. All part of the learning curve for the boys.

See you all next week!

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Saturday, September 27th

Langton Green Eagles 5 - 2 Tonbridge Junior Porsche (Home)
Goals: Sammy (3), Joel, OG

This morning saw the Eagles at a new location, playing at The Tanyard in Groombridge - a ground that will double with Langton Green as our home venue this year. With a shiny new goals and nets up, some freshly marked lines (thank you Allan) and a lovely flat playing surface, we were exciting about the game against our friends Tonbridge Porsche who we shared some close 7 a side games with a couple of years ago and for whom Joel used to play.

With Max unable to make it, we were very lucky to once again have Brodie join us, slotting in brilliantly alongside Finn in central midfield, the two of them making some great early interceptions and showing off a good range of passing, finding Jack H and Sammy in some excellent positions early on.

Jack A started the game up front and had the first meaningful chance of the game, showing great strength to shrug off two challenges before seeing his well struck shot brilliantly saved by the excellent Tonbridge goalkeeper. Brodie and Sammy combined well on the left, Sammy nearly cutting the ball back to Jack H, who had timed his run perfectly but was well tackled by an opposition defender. Tonbridge were causing us a few problems down the right hand side particularly, Rami and Vincent needing all their pace to track the strong Tonbridge striker, who did well to win his team a corner. Finn intercepted said corner on the edge of his own 6 yard box and embarked on a piece of wing play that saw him run the length of the pitch, skipping past 3 challenges, before laying the ball back to the edge of the area for Jack H, who had bombed forward in support but when Jack tried to lay the ball back to Brodie, another Tonbridge challenge came in and nicked the ball away.

Ben was playing the ball around well at the back, with Sam just as confident in his positioning as he was last week and calm on the ball when receiving it. He started several attacks with his assured passing out from defence but we weren't having it all our own way, Tonbridge showing they're a good side with some strong players of their own.

A scrappy few minutes, a few free kicks won, Sam stepping up to superbly send one of them into the box for Tonbridge to scramble wide and the Eagles were then back to their passing best, Vincent time and again winning possession back with a well-timed challenge before releasing one of either Brodie or Finn, whose passing was finding Sammy or Jack H in space with unerring accuracy. Some clever one-twos, a couple of tricks and turns and Jack H sent a shot goalwards that was clawed away. We were getting closer.

The breakthrough came in familiar fashion a few minutes later. Finn and Jack combined, Brodie sent an excellent ball across to Joel, wide on the right and after a clever drag back, Joel's ball across the area fell to Sammy, whose lethal finishing gave the keeper no chance. 1-0 to the Eagles.

Laurie came on and immediately got himself involved, his passing and combination play with Finn, Joel and Sammy was really strong and when he picked the ball up on the edge of the box, he shaped to shoot, sending a rocket of a shot goalwards, only for the Tonbridge 'keeper to make an outstanding save. Unfortunately for him, Sammy was lurking and showed his predator's instinct for the second time in 5 minutes to smash home the rebound and make it 2-0 to the Eagles just before half time. Laurie then did it again, another wondrous strike from distance shaving the post. He deserved a goal today. Someone else deserving a mention for how his play has progressed recently is Rami - today he was excellent, always looking to pass out from the back and timing his challenges brilliantly at times.

Ali was on at the back, harrying and hassling the opposition into the corners, not letting them get settled and making a couple of really good clearances. Vincent then had a run that took him from his own penalty area right to the opposition's six yard box, dodging several tackles on the way before passing to Jack in space and then bombing all the way back to his own half to take up his defensive duties again! Clearly he'd had his Weetabix!

The half time reminder was that we were not at all home and dry and that Tonbridge had caused us all sorts of problems without really testing Ben too much at that stage. But that all changed...

Brodie made a powerful run down the right almost straight from the kick off, sending in a superb cross towards Joel, which took an unlucky deflection to leave the excellent Tonbridge goalie unable to stop the ball crossing the line to make it 3-0 to the Eagles. And then it all went very scrappy.

The Eagles spent 5 minutes struggling to clear the ball. It bounced off our own players, off opposition players, into gaps that shouldn't have been there, the entire way along our own goal line from a corner whilst everyone watched it as if it were an alien object and suddenly we couldn't pass the ball, couldn't run with it, couldn't string together any kind of coherent move at all. Tonbridge scored through an unlucky own goal of our own and then through a well-worked goal that left us with no chance.

Enter Ben...

Having a corner of our own cleared well, Tonbridge counter-attacked superbly, sending their quick striker through one on one with Ben. He did everything right, narrowing the angle, making himself big and smothering the shot superbly, sending it just wide of the post. What could have been 3-3 and a very confident Tonbridge in the ascendency was kept at 3-2 and gave his teammates great confidence. Another outstanding save several minutes later after some scrappy defending and some excellent passing to feet when in possession and we were looking like a one man team for a spell.

We then started to find out feet again, Laurie and Vincent calm at the back in the absence of Rami (off with an injury) and Sam making some outstanding clearances and putting in a couple of excellent corners we were unlucky not to make more of.

Brodie and Jack H combined wonderfully in the middle to release Finn, whose well-struck shot was brilliantly saved by the oppositon goalkeeper and we were looking at 2 really good goalkeeping performances. Ben was then called upon again in a one on one situation and again came out on top with an even better save than the first one, narrowing the angle again and blocking the ball wonderfully.

From the resulting rebound, Laurie released Joel with a clever pass, he combined with Brodie, who fed Sammy and what we all expected would happen did, Sammy lashing the ball into the bottom corner to complete an excellent hat trick and give his team some breathing space.

Ben had time to make one more save, Sam made a great clearance and then my pre-match prediction came true, Joel ending his goal drought with a fine shot from an angle after Finn had played him in with a cunning reverse pass. Ali came on up front and worked hard, nearly getting onto the end of a good through ball from Brodie and Jack A had another really strong run down the left cut out just as he was about to shoot.

The final whistle went to signal the end of what had been a really entertaining game, played in a fine spirit by both sides. Man of the match has to go to Ben, for his excellent spell in the second half and all that despite being unwell.

Thank you once again to Brodie for stepping in for us and to Martin for running the line - he's becoming something of an expert.

And I didn't have to clear up any on-pitch dog poo this week - first time this season!

Away at Tonbridge Invicta next week. Looking forward to it.

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Saturday, September 20th

Langton Green Eagles 4 - 0 Wadhurst Rovers (Away)
Goals: Finn (2), Sammy (2 (1 pen))

It really is up and down from week to week at the moment. The boys arrived bright and early at Wadhurst's ground, eager to put last week's disappointing performance behind them and play some good football. After a brief warm up during which time we lost (and found) nearly all our footballs in the bushes and I had to continue my superb dog poo clearing up record, we were ready to start.

James very kindly stepped in for us in goal after Ben had had to pull out through illness (get well soon Ben) and he set the tone early on with a couple of excellent passes out from the back to the feet of the superb Sam, who was always looking to make an angle for him to pass to. From here, Sam invariably found Jack or Finn, who were both busy in the opening exchanges as the Eagles set up in the opposition half for a long spell. Jack had a couple of early runs into the box halted by some good defending from Wadhurst and Joel's quick feet saw him get to the byline before being well tackled too. Laurie and Finn were passing the ball well in midfield and with Rami and Vincent solid at the back and bursting forwards by turns, we looked well placed to score an early goal, Jack A making some good runs off the ball into space.

The goal didn't come however, and with a high defensive line and so many players pushed forwards, the opposition so nearly opened the scoring themselves, James saving us once with a stunning save after a defensive mix up saw us fail to clear our lines and Vincent superbly tracking a runner and clearing the ball on another occasion.

From there we broke, Joel finding Finn, who dinked into the penalty area, shimmied past a defender and was tripped by an opposition player just as he was about to shoot. Penalty!

With our usual penalty taker, Sammy, off the pitch, we turned to Finn, whose record in practice and several tournament shootouts has been excellent. He went for placement over power but was really unlucky to see his side footer skim the outside of the post. Everyone misses penalties, it's how you deal with it afterwards that counts and we couldn't have been more pleased with his attitude, not letting his head drop at all. I was really pleased with the encouragement the other boys gave him too. Well done lads.

Sammy came on shortly afterwards to add some extra pace up front and was involved straight away, combining with Jack brilliantly and running at the opposition with real pace. Laurie was showing what good passer of the ball he is, spraying several excellent passes out wide to Jack or Joel with pinpoint accuracy and then finding himself unlucky with a good shot from the edge of the area that rolled just wide.

Then came the breakthrough. A super pass from James to Sam, a ball into Laurie, who switched possession out wide to Joel, a good pass from him and the ball broke to Finn out on the right hand side of the penalty area. He looked up and struck a fantastic shot into the roof of the net to put his penalty miss firmly behind him and his team 1-0 up. The thing that pleased me most about the goal was how the boys played it from James at the back all the way up the pitch in less that 10 seconds to score. All made possible because Sam found space out wide to start with.

Ali came on at the back and was calm and assured on the ball, passing his way out of defence well, just as he had done on Tuesday at training. Jack nearly got on the scoresheet but saw his effort blocked and at half time we were 1-0 up and looking forward to a second half shooting downhill.

A second dog poo clearup session was conducted, after one of the lads found a rather unpleasant something on the pitch and we also had to remove a dead slug which was causing some problems in the middle of the park - not something they cover in the FA Level 1 course.

Rami started the second half in midfield, with instructions to stay disciplined and break up the opposition attacks before finding a pass to launch our own forward momentum. Within 2 minutes he had intercepted the ball superbly, run the length of the pitch before cutting the ball back to Sammy, who was really unfortunate to see his shot skim the post. So close.

Vincent was in usual imperious form at the back, his awareness of when to come and intercept a pass and when to stay back was brilliant today. I couldn't have been more pleased with his efforts, especially as he was the only outfield player to play the entire game without a rest. He combined well with James, fed the ball to Laurie, whose clever pass found Jack A in a good position. His excellent pass saw it's way to Jack H, who evaded two tackles, cut inside and slid the ball to Finn who side footed home for his and the team's second of the morning. 2-0 to the Eagles and a lovely team goal, again from the back.

Joel and Sam came back on, both eager after suffering slight knocks just before half time. Sam had a brilliant second half, bombing forward to take the corners (what a brilliant corner taker he is) before then bombing back to get into position again up the hill and then seeing us win another corner which meant he had to get all the way back up the pitch to take that! I reckon he ran 3 times as far as anyone else today. He did a great job though, performing his corner taking and defending duties with equal composure and skill.

Joel also excelled in the second half, playing in the middle for a while when Finn was off the pitch before drifting out to the left and having 4 or 5 superb runs down the left wing. One of these led to a chance which was well saved by the very good Wadhurst keeper and the next led to our second penalty of the morning for a handball. Sammy stepped up and absolutely leathered the ball into the back of the net, nearly knocking the goal over. 3-0 and a deserved goal for Sammy.

A ball was then lost in the bushes. There were a couple of injuries and the game started to descend into a bitty affair, only for Sammy to pop up after another brilliant move involving nearly every player on the team and smash home his second goal with a really well-taken finish from a natural goalscorer. 4-0 to the Eagles and 10 minutes to go... at this point the boys lost a bit of focus and were perhaps guilty of trying to score themselves when team mates were better placed. Nearly all our forward players were guilty of this at least once, but some of the passing football that preceded these chances was excellent.

Ali was really unlucky not to get a goal during his brief cameo up front, striking an excellent shot that the opposition 'keeper clawed away brilliantly. Joel and both Jacks deserved goals for their excellent second half performances and Rami was always a threat, bombing forwards from midfield.

I was really pleased at the final whistle, not because of the result but because of the performance of every single one of the lads. Outstanding pass and move football at times and some really strong individual performance along with a great attitude all round. Man of the match goes to Sam today for his excellent awareness when playing out from the back.

Well done all. A home game next week and plenty to work with in training. Another thanks to Martin for running the line and another excellent referee. Also hugely impressed with the folks at Wadhurst - really nice bunch of coaches, spectators and boys.

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Saturday, September 13th

Langton Green Eagles 1 - 6 Pembury (Home)
Goal: Zach

Oh well... after the brilliant start we had last week, today was a bit of a jolt back to earth for the boys, who despite a really good first half where they played some outstanding football, found themselves on the end of a heavy defeat.

It all started well, Zach (who was making his competitive debut for the Eagles) scoring a brilliantly taken goal after 5 minutes to put his team ahead after good work from Sammy on the right. 1-0 up and in control, with the boys fashioning 2 more chances for Joel and Zach, the opposition keeper making some good saves to keep the scoreline down.

Finn was playing some lovely passes in midfield alongside Joel, with Rami, Vincent and Laurie strong at the back and passing the ball out well, with Ben's guidance and calmness when receiving the ball setting the tone for a good opening 20 minutes, after which I felt slightly hard done by on behalf of the boys that they weren't 3 or 4 goals up. A Finn long range effort so nearly made it 2, but for some good goalkeeping from the opposition.

Max and Josh came on, Josh immediately troubling Pembury down the right and Max threading the pass of the match through to Jack H, who just couldn't connect as a defender cleared. Jack was causing all sorts of problems for Pembury on the left hand side, jinking past several defenders before putting in a low cross that was well cleared.

Pembury were growing into the game though, and scored a powerful long range strike shortly before half time, following it up with a second goal moments later as we got caught trying to over-elaborate in front of our own penalty area.

Moments later we thought it was 2-2, Josh scoring superbly after a wonderful pass from Max after good strength from Jack A to hold off a defender and slip a pass through to Max's feet, but the goal was ruled out for offside and so we went in at half time 2-1 down but with all to play for.

Unfortunately, the energy and zip of the first half had deserted us in the second. Combine that with us losing our shape drastically at times and we had a second half to forget. Chasing the game, playing uphill, everyone was desperate to make the difference and unfortunately it left us very light at the back, Pembury scoring a well taken goal from a tight angle before banging in 3 more after indecisiveness in all areas of the pitch meant we didn't clear the ball or keep the ball when we did win it back. It happens and will happen again. The positive is that it's given me plenty of opportunities for work we need to do in training!

We'll continue with our philosophy of how we play. Sometimes it will yield results like this, but every defeat is an opportunity for learning from our mistakes and the thing that impressed me most about the boys today was that they continued to try and play their game rather than resorting to hoofball. Their attitude after the game during our post-match chat was also first-class. They all spoke up, helping each other to understand where we went wrong and took defeat on the chin. Well done boys.

Man of the match goes to Zach - aside from scoring our only goal of the morning, he worked hard all game long and was always a threat in attacking positions.

A mention should go to the excellent refereeing from Finlay, who helped us out at the last minute when our appointed ref dropped out. Thanks!

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Saturday, September 6th

Langton Green Eagles 4 - 2 Broad Oak Hurricanes (Away)
Goals: Jack H, Rami, Jack A, Sammy

What a wonderful morning of football. Flat pitches, good weather (not too hot, not too cold) and a bunch of eager Eagles ready for their first ever 9 a side football match. Max was unfortunately unable to make it this morning due to illness (get well soon Max!), so we had the very kind last minute help of Brodie, who stepped in to play for us in Max's absence.

The game started brilliantly with some great attacking play on the left from first Jack H and then Sammy, causing all sorts of problems for the opposition with their dangerous running with the ball and neat interplay. Finn and Brodie were pulling the strings in midfield, Brodie launching a superb crossfield ball into the path of the excellent Joel, who was asking questions of the Broad Oak defence with some great diagonal runs behind their full back.

Our back 3 of Sam, Vincent and Rami were always making themselves available in the opening 15 minutes, superbly marshalled by Ben in goal and it was from Sam's super interception that Finn found Sammy out wide with a probing ball through 2 opposition players. His pace took him beyond the last defender to slide the ball through to captain, Jack H, who made no mistake with a deft finish for 10 yards out, slotting past the onrushing keeper and into the back of the net. 1-0 to the Eagles.

Laurie came on for Finn and slotted in well alongside Brodie in central midfield. His ball control and range off passing were excellent all morning and he set Jack H off down the left on another marauding run only for Jack to see his shot hit the side netting. Sammy hit the outside of the post moments later from a similar position after a great 1-2 with Jack H and at the other end Rami and then Vincent made some brilliant blocks.

An unfortunate spell for both teams saw each of us concede and indirect free kick yards from goal for a picked-up back-pass, thankfully neither of them coming to anything (not how you want to see any team concede a goal) although Brodie's powerfully struck shot skimming the post very nearly made it 2-0. At the other end Ben was called on to make a number of excellent stops and the Eagles did well to defend a series of corners during a 5 minute spell of intense pressure from our strong opposition.

Ali and Jack A came on midway through the first half, Ali proving what a good ball-playing defender he can be by calmly passing out from the back when under pressure and Jack A playing some neat touches on the right.

Half time came and went and the Eagles started the second half in the same way they had the first, Finn threading a superb through ball to Joel, who was unfortunate to find a sharp defender come across and block his first time shot and then Jack threading his way to the touchline, only for his cutback to be cut out but another good piece of defending. Broad oak nearly got through on goal following a great pass from their midfielder, but Sam was absolutely brilliant with a perfectly timed challenge that summed up his excellent performance today. What I really liked about Sam's play this morning was that when he won the ball back, he looked to play a pass, rather than just hoof it as some defenders can be prone to do. Unsurprising, given his years with the Giants where pass and move football has been instilled in him from a young age. Great performance Sam!

Then came a moment I'll remember for a long time. The Eagles won a corner after some great interplay from Joel and Laurie. Rami came forward from the back. I called out repeatedly for Rami to drop back. We had enough players oin the box I said and the opposition were dangerous on the break. Brodie stepped up and put a wonderfully flighted ball into the box. Rami leapt like a salmon, directing a powerful header right into the corner of the net. 2-0 to the Eagles and proof that I'm not always right (most of the time, just not always)... what a header!

Ali was excellent throughout this spell in defence, playing some lovely passes down the line to Jack and Ben was always offering himself as an option at the back. This was one of things I was most pleased about today, how the defenders and Ben played the ball out from the back and didn;t just hoof it.

As well as scoring at the other end, Rami was having an absolute blinder at the back - 3 or 4 times he marshalled his opposite number out superbly when one on one with him, not letting anything past and alongside him, Vincent's play from the centre of defence was awesome, winning the ball again and again and bursting forwards with powerful run after powerful run to turn defence into attack.

One of these runs saw him play a great ball to Finn, who swivelled and played Joel in. His burst of pace saw him find Sammy on the left. Sammy ran, cut inside and played Brodie in, who feinted to shoot but instead swept a ball into the path of Jack A, playing up front for the first time. Having hit the post with a similar chance minutes earlier, he found himself with some work to do but took his chance brilliantly, slamming home a powerfully struck shot which gave the goalie no chance at all. 3-0 to the Eagles and a moment of real joy for everyone, seeing Jack A score on his debut. His calmness in front of goal was excellent. Well done Jack!

Then the wheels didn't come off completely, but they definitely wobbled. Whether it was a case of over-confidence in being 3-0 up or just concentration or whatever, Broad Oak suddenly found themselves right back in the game after a well taken breakaway goal was followed up by some scrappy defending by us and a good finish from their striker. Suddenly it was 3-2 and we were (almost) in trouble. Broad Oak had the wind in their sales and with some very good players of their own, had every chance of going on to equalise or even win the match.

Cue some brilliant defensive play. Ben made 3 wonderful saves, one of them out of this world. Vincent had the best 15 minutes of football I've seen from him (and he's played some excellent games in his short time with the Eagles) alongside Sam (who was outstanding today) and Rami (equally outstanding). The three of them, with first Laurie and then Brodie rampaging in front of them in the defensive midfield role were brilliant. Joel and Finn did their bit getting back to help, Sammy and Jack H providing the pacy outlet the team needed when they won the ball back.

Vincent's outrageous runs from defense continued, what a performance, turning defense into attack with ease and when he pulled off some kind of Maradona turn type trick in front of his own goal I knew it was going to be our day! One run nearly resulted in goal of the season before he just overran the ball after going past 4 players. Another saw Brodie pick the loose ball up and strike an excellent shot that the keeper did well to save. Another set Jack up to cross for Finn, who was unfortunate not to score after some good covering from the opposition defenders.

Joel had a spell where his attacking down the right looked certain to lead to another goal, his clever feet proving too much for the opposition defence on a number of occasions and his crosses finding first Finn and then Laurie in space but their shots were well blocked by some brave defending. Joel then nearly had a sight of goal himself after Sammy's fine pass but the slope just took the ball away from him.

Another corner in the final minutes from Brodie saw Finn flick a clever header on, the ball scooting over the defender's head and falling to Sammy, who absolutely wallopped a powerful volley into the corner to make it 4-2 to the Eagles and give us some daylight again. A goal his performance fully deserved.

The final whistle went to signify the end of a very entertaining morning of football where every single on of the boys played really well. Man of the match goes to Vincent for his Bobby Moore-like display at the back and a special mention has to go to Jack A for scoring on his debut.

Thank you to Brodie for helping us out today (as always Brodie, a wonderful performance in central midfield) and to Martin for running the line. Whether he prefers that to refereeing I don't know! The referee was excellent too - something worth noting.

League table: http://full-time.thefa.com/ProcessPublicSelect.do?psSelectedSeason=796234099&psSelectedDivision=7340655&psSelectedCompetition=0&psSelectedLeague=4344945

We have Pembury next week, who also won their opener, so hopefully that will prove to be a good match! Looking forward to it.

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