Eagles 2015 - 2016

2015 / 2016 Totals / Honours

League Cup Runners Up (P5, W4, L1)
Crowborough League Division B Runners Up (P18, W13, D1, L4)
Xmas Tournament 2015 Winners & Runners Up

Summer Tournaments (P54, W30 D10 L14)

Overall a fantastic season that's seen enormous progress. The Eagles have gone from a team who lost more games than they won to a side who reached the cup final, finished runners-up in their division and qualified from the group stage of every summer tournament they entered (bar one), winning their group in 2 of them this summer and finishing 2nd in 3 more. Positive results obviously breed positivity, but none of this progress would be satisfying if the boys were playing ugly football or winning through brute force or having one superstar player. As it is, they've played some absolutely fantastic team football, commented on by opposition coaches and parents throughout the year and done so with a great spirit and attitude. I'm not going to list goalscorers - it's a little unfair on the boys who contribute from less prolific positions to highlight all the goals individuals scored, when their achievements are just as important and many of those goals started with a cleverly thought out ball from defence or the goalkeeper, but I will give Will the mention of top scorer with a phenomenal 49 goals throughout the season in all competitions, finishing as the league's top scorer for our division. Player of the season was Mattie, most improved was Rami and Sam got the manager's award.

Congratulations to the teams we missed out to (Paddock Wood in the league and Raw Skills in the cup). It was a fun year and we enjoyed tight games with all our opponents.

Thanks to everyone who helped put up goals, mark pitches, clear up dog poo, referee or run the line and of course thank you to Martin and James for their assistance this year in training and on match days.

Well done to all the boys. Everyone contributed and with us merging with the Rangers next season we look forward to a new adventure and wish Jem, Jack A, Laurie, Mattie and Billy all the best with them leaving the team and of course a special good wishes to Rami, who is not just moving on to a different team or sport, but to a different country!!! Good luck in Tanzania Rami. We'll all miss you and hope to see you when you return for a holiday.

Now I'm going to hibernate for 6 weeks.

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Sunday, 17th July 2016 - Faygate Tournament

The final tournament of the summer saw the Eagles travel the significant distance to Faygate, near Horsham, for a day that was probably just one tournament too many this summer. A long, hot day (nearly 8 hours!!!) in one field wasn't ideal and with several of the lads looking exhuasted from the first whistle of the first game, the Eagles didn't get anywhere near the level of consistency they've shown so far this summer. It was nice to play some new teams, some of whom were excellent but all in all a really disappointing end to what has been an excellent season all round.

Goals came from Evan (2), Will (2), Jack (2) and Finn, plus one OG. Highlights were the superb performance in a 4-0 win against a good Horsham team including Ben's excellent reverse pass for the opening goal by Jack and Will's 2 well-worked goals before Finn lobbed the keeper for the final one, plus a clinical 2-0 victory in the second game of the day against Royal United where Evan scored twice in the first and last minutes. The final match of the day against Billingshurst was also a good game that could have gone either way, highlighted by Sam's wonderful saves, Jack's excellent finish after a brilliant team move and Finn's full-of-energy performance and excellent passing, but in between we suffered as a whole from a lack of energy and communication that meant we struggled against the strongest teams in the group, who I'd normally have expected the Eagles to compete with. Richard also deserves a mention for giving 100% in every game and putting in some great tackles and driving forward from defence when he won the ball.

The end of a long season and a well-earned break for everyone. Hopefully the boys have enjoyed themselves this year and we all look forward to the challenge of 11 a side football next season.

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Saturday, 2nd July 2016 - Jarvis Brook Fiesta

Nice to play in a tournament that was well organised and finished by midday! The Eagles played some of the best football they have so far this summer and were thoroughly unfortunate not to make the final after 5 excellent matches, each of which they played superbly in...

Langton Green Eagles 3 - 0 Jarvis Brook Madrid
(Jack, Finn, Sammy)

The best start possible, Jack stealing the ball from the kick off and scoring with a weaving run and precise finish before any other player on the pitch had so much as touched the ball. Finn made it 2-0 a minute later with a firm close range effort from Jack's powerful corner and the boys were playing some lovely stuff, Richard and Will providing a solid base for the rest of the boys to attack from. A brief shaky spell saw Sam called into action to make a fine reflex save and when Mattie stole the ball from a Jarvis Brook striker in the second half and drove forward, he found Sammy with an excellent pass and Sammy finished well under the goalkeeper. Finn and Mattie both had late chances to make it four, but the Jarvis Brook goalkeeper made a couple of fantastic saves. Our opponents proved they were a good side, making the final of the plate competition and 3-0 was probably a little harsh on them but the Eagles did play very well.

Langton Green Eagles 1 - 0 Ratton Rangers
(Will)

The strongest performance of the morning, every single boy working phenomenally hard off the ball and the passing they showed in possession second to none. This was a close game against a good team who passed the ball well but the Eagles limited them to one long range shot by defending superbly, Richard and Will's positioning excellent and Mattie, Finn and Jack all filling the gaps in front of them. Sammy made a great run forward that was picked out by Finn but the goalkeeper saved well. Another shot from Mattie was tipped round the post and just when it looked like it wouldn't happen, Richard intercepted a through ball, drove forward and played his defensive partner, Will, in with a precise pass. Will had plenty to do still, but did it brilliantly, surging forward and rounding the goalkeeper to finish with finesse into the open goal. A cracking result against a good team, whose goalie in particular was a very fine player.

Langton Green Eagles 2 - 1 Uckfield Rockets
(Sammy, Mattie)

This was a physical game, against a good Uckfield team who possessed some talented players and one lad with a phenomenal long throw that was a real weapon in its own right. We started slowly, not looking like the Eagles we know and with a lot of passes going astray it was a scrappy first half, lit up by one moment of excellent play. Sam out from the back to Richard, whose quick pass found Jack, who squared the ball to Mattie, to pass first time to Will, whose excellent through ball found Sammy running forward on the left to finish low into the bottom corner. One touch passing throughout, everybody playing for the team and a super goal. The only player not involved was Finn, because he was subbed off at the time. Unfortunately we followed this up with some woeful defending to concede virtually from the kickoff, an Uckfield player running straight down the middle of the pitch with the strongest tackle being a vague leg wave and he finished well to even the scores. Second half was more cohesive, Finn adding some calm passing in the middle and linking up well with Mattie and Sammy. Mattie broke the deadlock in the last minute with a fine finish after being the most determined player on the pitch to get to a loose ball and poke home with seconds left.

Langton Green Eagles 3 - 0 Forest Row
(Jack, Finn, Mattie)

A much better performance from the Eagles, who had won the group before the game even kicked off courtesy of so many of the other games ending in draws. Our friends from Forest Row are a good team who we've always enjoyed close games with, penalties needing to decide the previous meeting of these two teams in a tournament. We started well, Jack scoring early on with a clever finish after a fine move involving Will's excellent turn and run, followed by a superb, unselfish pass to Jack on the edge of the box. Forest Row pushed forward and Sam made a fine save from a corner to see us 1-0 up at the break. A half clearance fell to Finn early in the second half, his powerful header taking a deflection off a defender to wrongfoot the goalkeeper and make it 2-0, with Mattie adding the last with a super finish from Sammy's pass. Another unselfish decision to show what a good group of team players these boys are.

All that meant the Eagles topped their group (again) and found their way into the main, cup competition where they would face Ridgewaye Galaxy in the semi final, avoiding the very strong Foresters team who won the other group, which was something we'd hoped we'd do at this stage.

Langton Green Eagles 0 - 0 Ridgewaye Galaxy
(Ridgewaye win 3-2 on penalties)

The game itself was a fairly cagey affair, Sam having nothing to do apart from collect one long range effort and watch another shot go just wide, with Richard brilliantly mopping up everything in front of him. The Eagles dominated possession, played some good football without reaching the level of their earlier performances and had several excellent chances to win the game, Will, Mattie and Sammy all seeing their shots superbly saved by the excellent Ridgewaye goalkeeper. A late chance for Jack from Finn's pinpoint pass befell the same fate, the keeper diving low to keep out his powerful effort before the referee blew his whistle and it was penalties.

Always a lottery, I was quietly confident with the penalty takers we had available but alas it wasn't to be today, the luck with Ridgewaye and like Italy later in the day, we saw a game we'd played really well in lost in the cruellest way. Hard luck boys - to those who missed their penalties, you only have to look at the fact that in the last week alone we've seen penalty misses from Messi, Ronaldo, Muller, Pelle and many more to know that it really does happen to everyone. Being brave enough to take one in the first place is far more of a victory than scoring one, even though it may not feel like it at the time. I know - I've missed enough myself! A couple of years back the likes of this Ridgewaye team were comfortably beating the Eagles every time they played, so the progress of the boys has been enormous and they can rightly be really proud of themselves.

We wandered back to the cars afterwards, stopping to watch our Rangers team win the plate competition, deservedly beating Jarvis Brook 2-0 in the final. Well done to all involved there - we look forward to joining the strengths of the two sides together for 11 a side football next season.

All in all a fantastic morning of football. Some of the passing moves and goals were simply sublime. Gracious in victory (unlike some teams we've come across over the last few weeks) and equally so in defeat. Well done boys.

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Sunday, 25th June 2016 - Ridgewaye Tournament

Very briefly...

Langton Eagles 1 - 2 Tonbridge Angels
(Will)

No shame in this result at all against comfortably the strongest team in the group. They scored a good opener, seconds later we scored through Will's barnstorming run and cracking finish and despite some fantastic rearguard action and a good save from Sam, we ended up on the losing side when Angels scored a well taken second near the end. Still time for Ben to nearly find the back of the net and Jack to go close with a late effort.

Langton Eagles 1 - 0 Paddock Wood Predators
(Jack)

Much better performance against a team we know well and who pipped us to the divisional title this season. Some lovely passing from Finn, pulling the strings in midfield and a couple of crunching tackles from Richard were the high points of a first half that ebbed and flowed before Jack put us ahead with a sweet finish into the bottom corner after Sammy's run and cross.

Langton Eagles 1 - 0 FC Tackleway
(Sammy)

Sometimes you need a bit of luck, and we got it in this one, a superb save from Sam to tip the ball onto the post the best moment of a really off-key performance from the Eagles before Sammy popped up with a late winner from close range with almost the last kick of the game. Poacher's goal and great following up after Ben's initial shot was saved. This was a cracking result against a very good team and one we probably didn't deserve on balance but we've lost enough games we've dominated to know that football doesn't always turn out fair. Harsh on Tackleway, whose football was good to watch and who played in the right spirit.

Langton Eagles 0 - 0 Maidstone Utd.

Probably the best performance of the day against a very strong and physically dominant Maidstone team who also played some excellent football. We limited them to a couple of long range efforts and could have won it when Will burst through only to be denied by the keeper. Finn made a couple of superb challenges in a really hard working display in midfield, with Richard an absolute rock at the back.

Langton Eagles 1 - 0 Westerham
(Ben)

Another good performance, the boys passed and moved well in this one, Jack giving 100% and looking dangerous from the back, combining well with Finn, whose through ball found Sammy to unselfishly cut back for Ben to open the scoring. We could have had another one a few minutes later, the roles reversed but Ben's ball across the box just evaded Sammy's outstretched foot. A late save from Sam and another solid performance from Richard and we kept our 4th clean sheet of the day.

All this meant we were joint second in the group with Maidstone, with exactly the same goal difference and goals scored, so a coin toss was used to decide who went into the cup and who into the shield. It was a coin toss we lost, meaning we ended up in the shield, with a 90 minute wait until our first knockout game after our final group match, which the boys spent wisely eating ice creams and running around.

Quarter Final:
Langton Eagles 0 - 1 Phoenix Sports

As a team who have comfortably qualified from the group stage of every tournament we've played in so far this season, I was hoping today would be the day our luck would change and we'd then go one step further and win a knockout match. Alas, it wasn't to be, despite a much improved performance, particularly in the second half and probably just shading the game on chances. Phoenix Sports took their goal well, and were a very tidy team who played some nice football, but we created 3 or 4 excellent chances of our own that we unfortunately just couldn't quite convert. Jack was a ball of energy and at the heart of a lot of what we did well. Richard solid at the back and passing brilliantly out from defence. Ben and Sammy both provided pace and attacking threat. Another excellent save from Sam kept the score down and a well worked move when Finn played Will in with a great pass so nearly led to a last second equaliser, only for the ball to brush the post after a great run from Will. Finn then had time to make a last ditch tackle and we created one final chance that just bobbled wide. A decent effort all round and some really strong performances. Well done boys. Just remember - when you pass the ball you play some really nice stuff. Keep reminding yourselves!

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Saturday, June 11th 2016 - Ditton 5 a Side Tournament

A new tournament, a whole load of new teams to play and plenty of new faces ahead of next season for the Eagles / Rangers combo who are merging for 11 a side football after the summer and all in all a really positive afternoon... this really shouldn't be on the "Eagles" page as it was a joint effort between Rangers and Eagles, but it needs to go somewhere...

Langton Phoenix 3 - 0 Ditton Minors Blue
(Tristan, Max, Jack)

Wonderful football. Tristan worked so hard up front in this one, pressing the opposition defenders high up the pitch and winning the ball back to give himself a great early chance, which he took to make it 1-0 to Langton. Jack and Will were solid at the back, taking turns to bomb forward and join the attack, with Finn linking things together nicely in midfield. Ethan was called on to make a great save at the end of the first half to keep his team ahead, rushing off his line to narrow the angle and tip the ball wide. Second half saw Max join the fray and he scored a sublime finish after good work from Jack to set him up. The final goal was the best, a brilliant team move involving every player on the pitch, finished by Jack after a superb lobbed pass from Max found him in the penalty box to stroke home the third. Outstanding stuff.

Langton Eagles 4 - 0 Ditton Minors Red
(Alf 2, Sammy, Evan)

Anything you can do, we can do better seemed to be the message from the second half of the Langton contingent, the 3-0 win they'd just witnessed met by a superb 4-0 win. Alf opened the scoring with a powerful strike after Toby created space out wide before whipping in an excellent cross that was slammed home. Sam made a couple of solid catches in goal and Richard was an absolute rock at the back, allowing Evan, Toby and Alf to play with attacking threat. A second goal for Alf early in the second half was deserved after Evan's powerful strike was well saved. Sammy followed this up with a fine finish for the third goal after Alf's shot came back off the keeper and Evan rounded things off with a brilliant strike to get his name on the scoresheet.

Langton Phoenix 1 - 0 Yalding Utd.
(Will)

A very tight affair that our friends from Yalding can feel unlucky to lose. Their very pacey striker kept us wary at the back, Ethan making several excellent stops / clearances and Jack doing a fantastic job defensively. Finn played a scumptuous ball into Tristan, whose shot was well saved and it was Will who popped up with the winner in the second half, Jack and Finn combining to set Max free to set up Will for a tap in.

Langton Eagles 0 - 0 Galactico Blue

One of those games that Langton felt unlucky not to win, but we just couldn't find the back of the net thanks to some superb goalkeeping from the Galactico keeper and some excellent defending. Toby and Sammy combined brilliantly again and again, Richard was once again brilliant at the back, intercepting everything that came through and on the one occasion our defence was breached, Sam made a superb save to keep it nil-nil. Evan and Alf both looked dangerous but that goalkeeper kept popping up to deny every player on several occasions. A very entertaining 0-0 draw.

Langton Eagles 0 - 0 Maidstone Utd. Rangers

Maidstone were the toughest team in the group and the game reflected that, with not many out and out chances for either team. Alf was brilliant in this one, as was Evan, both of them making several last-ditch tackles with Richard off the pitch. Sammy volleyed just wide with an excellent shot after Toby played him in with an arrow of a cross-field pass and when Richard did get on he continued his superb form from the first two games and didn't let anything through, using the ball intelligently when he won it. Wonderful stuff and a very good result against a strong side.

Langton Phoenix 1 - 1 Maidstone Utd. Royals
(Tristan)

Another Maidstone team for the Phoenix this time and a game we could have won after Tristan finished superbly early on, the ball just crossing the line before it was cleared and Langton then enjoyed the majority of the chances and possession. Maidstone worked hard though and in the second half they pushed us all the way. Finn made a great tackle, Jack made another, Will nearly broke through to score, but eventually Maidstone equalised, Ethan doing well to save initially before a bobbly ball found its way into the back of the net. Another very good result but one we came away feeling could have been even better on balance.

Langton Eagles 4 - 1 Bredhurst Juniors
(Sammy, Alf, Toby 2)

Sammy scored a Rabona in this one. I didn't see it, so in his words... "A lovely through ball from Toby left me one-on-one with the keeper. I decided to go for a cheeky Rabona, which wrong-footed the keeper and glanced in off the post". Great stuff. Alf also scored early on with a more conventional finish and despite conceding their first goal of the day, the Eagles team continued to apply pressure and Toby scored two well deserved goals later on, showing quick feet and deadly finishing to round off the fourth group game in style. A late save from Sam and a very good strike from Evan at the other end showed the quality throughout the side.

Langton Phoenix 1 - 0 Sittingbourne Lions Purple
(Tristan)

This team were top of the group going into this one, having won all 3 of their games until this point, so we knew we were in for a tough game. Another cracking goal for Tristan after Finn turned his man and played the ball into Tristan's path for him to finish with a lovely strike from range. Max then showed quick feet, combined with Finn to break through and nearly scored, only to be denied by a last ditch tackle. Sittingbourne pressured us at the other end, Ethan rushing out to clear quickly and then to save well at the opposition striker's feet with a brave dive. Will and Jack kept things tight at the back, Finn and Tristan combined again but this time the goalie saved well and the final result was a good one that put the boys top of their group.

Langton Eagles 0 - 1 Snodland Nomads

Credit to Snodland, who worked very hard early on and scored a well worked goal. After that it was the Snodland goalkeeping masterclass, their keeper saving something in the region of 15 shots with every part of his body imaginable. We could have played for the rest of the afternoon and not scored in this one - it was just one of those games. The boys played some lovely stuff, Toby and Sammy dangerous up front and Evan, Alf and Richard supporting them with some great threaded passes and superb interplay. Sam had very little to do in the second half but what he had to do he did well. The ball just wouldn't go in at the other end and it was a win that was needed to qualify, with only the top one from each group going through. Sadly this half of Langton Green missed out, just, but they played some wonderful football and can be very proud of their afternoon - it really was a case of being denied by some excellent goalkeeping for the most part.

Langton Phoenix 3 - 0 Galactico Red
(Jack 2, Tristan)

The final group game for the Phoenix half of Langton was a scrappy one, the boys not reaching the excellent performance level of their first 4 games, but getting the job done nothetheless. Jack scored early on after good work from Finn and Tristan. Jack scored again early in the second half with a powerful strike into the corner and then with everyone bombing forward we were lucky to have Ethan alert in goal to rush out and clear with 3 opposition players bearing down on him. A late goal from Tristan that nearly sent the goal into the next field with its power rounded off a very pleasing group stage from the boys, who won four and drew one of their games, topping their group ahead of a Kent Youth League side and scoring in every match.

Semi Final:
Langton Phoenix 0 - 3 Borough Green

Sadly, the semi final wasn't quite the game we'd hoped it would be, getting off to the worst start conceding after 20 seconds didn't help and when Borough Green won a free kick that was absolutely leathered home at the end of the half, we knew we were up against it, especially as we seemed to have gone from being Barcelona in the first few games to a non-league version of Stoke City in this match. The ball spent more time over the other side of the field than it did on the pitch and our 40 yard wellies upfield weren't pleasing on the eye. After half time we upped our game enormously and the second half was a much better display against the eventual winners. Sadly we just couldn't find the net, Jack having the best chance that flashed just wide and Ethan making a fine save to deny Borough Green at the other end. Tired by this point after a long afternoon and pushing forward looking to get back into the game, we conceded again on the break to see a slightly disappointing end to what was actually a really positive afternoon for both teams overall. Well done to Borough Green, who went on to deservedly win the competition, beating Maidstone in the final.

When you consider these boys have never played together before, to see both teams do so well against strong opposition, playing some lovely football, was really positive. Player of the day goes to Richard for some outstanding defending and play out from the back but a special mention should also go to Tristan, who I thought was especially good in front of goal today. Everyone had a good afternoon though and all can feel proud of how they played. Thanks to Martin for running the "Eagles" team and to Alf for filling in for us once again when we were short of players.

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Saturday, June 4th 2016 - Langton Green Fiesta

Highlight of the year, the Langton Green fiesta saw beautiful weather and a wonderful atmosphere once again...

Langton Green Eagles 6 - 1 Forest Row 1
(Finn 2, Jack H 2, Sid, Mattie)

A cracking start to the tournament, featuring some beautiful football played with real pace and intelligence. Richard shone at the back in terms of his passing out from defence and every goal was a real team effort, Finn starting things off from close range before Jack H got in on the action with 2 excellent finishes either side of another well taken goal by Finn, with Sid and Mattie finishing things off in the second half with excellent strikes after good passing moves. The best goal of the game was actually scored by Forest Row though, with an absolute thunderbolt of a strike from inside their own half. Other than that Sam had little to do in goal but what he did, he did well, with Tom and Will in front of him solid and intelligent in their passing.

Langton Green Eagles 1 - 0 Paddock Wood Warriors
(Will)

Another good performance, particularly in the first half saw Will score an unbelievable solo goal with a run from just outside his own penalty area, finished with a clever finish through the goalkeeper's legs. Sam was called on to make 2 or 3 excellent stops and despite a lot of late possession we just couldn't double our lead. Paddock Wood fought really hard and made this one difficult for us, but in the end Will's goal was the difference.

Langton Green Eagles 1 - 4 Crawley United
(Finn)

In a game we knew would always be a challenge, against the eventual tournament winners, the boys put up a very decent fight in the first half, although perhaps forgot how we like to play slightly, giving Crawley a bit too much time on the ball. An early goal that Crawley worked well saw the boys chasing the game and when Crawley scored again we knew it would be tough to come back. An excellent save from Sam kept the score to two but the second half saw us concede again after giving possession up cheaply and then again in a similar fashion. At this point the boys actually started playing, Finn scoring a brilliant volley to make it 1-4 (this was the only goal Crawley conceded all day!) with Will then going close after a superb turn in the box and Mattie battling through from Sid's clever pass to see his well-hit shot just skim the top of the bar. In the end it could have been much closer, the Eagles having 3 excellent chances to score and 2 of Crawley's goals coming from our sloppy passing, but it wasn't to be. The worst thing about the game was an injury to Sid that saw him miss the next 3 games and the only thing that disappointed me in terms of our play was that we were slightly over-awed and if we'd played the same passing game we had in the first 2 matches I think this would have been a very tight game. A lesson to learn.

Langton Green Eagles 4 - 1 Langton Green Chiefs
(Jack H 2, Mattie 2)

We knew facing our friends from the Chiefs (or one half of them anyway) would always be a challenge and so it proved. A first half where the Eagles played out of their skin saw us 4-0 up at the break after Jack H scored 2 wonderful goals after flowing team moves and Mattie score 2 of his own (one a great solo effort and the other another cracking piece of passing football). Second half was a different story, the Chiefs scoring a really good goal of their own from long range and Sam having to make a couple of solid saves to deny further shots. Tom scored his first Eagles goal only for it to be ruled out for the ball having gone into touch and Richard worked hard in a more forward role, also unfortunate not to score with a blocked shot. The Chiefs showed real character with their second half performance and can count themselves unlucky with the scoreline on the basis of both halves.

Langton Green Eagles 0 - 0 Foresters Spartak

This was a great result against the team who knocked us out last week at Uckfield in the quarter finals. Finn was tenacious and hard working alongside Mattie in the middle, both making some crunching tackles early on. Richard and Will put in a brilliant performance at the back, winning headers and 50/50 balls all game long. When Tom came on he continuing that excellent work rate and defensive solidity and Jack made 2 or 3 brilliant saves (moved in to goal for this one). Sam worked really hard when he came on and we could have scored late on through Mattie's ferocious strike.

Langton Green Eagles 2 -  1 Tonbridge Samurai
(Mattie 2)

We've played this Tonbridge Side on many occasions and have an excellent relationship with them. A thoroughly good bunch of people, it's always a pleasure to play them. On the last few occasions the Eagles have probably just shaded it and ended up deserving their narrow victories on balance but this was a completely different story. Tonbridge worked so hard, giving us no time on the ball and creating several good chances in a first half where the Eagles never really got going offensively, Sam's clever layoff up front to Mattie the only note of distinction. We were indebted to Tom and Will for some excellent tackles and to Jack for a couple of very good saves. Second half saw us change things round slightly, with Jack returning on pitch to add his energy and dribbling skills on the left. It seemed to work, a much better second half performance seeing Mattie score a belter of a first goal with a volley from the right that the Tonbridge goalie did well to get a hand to, before doubling our lead with an excellent team goal finished in style. Tonbridge pulled one back with a clever finish and the end was nervy but we saw it through to finish winners in a game Tonbridge really didn't deserve to lose.

Langton Green Eagles 1 - 0 Shoreham
(Finn)

A very solid display saw us finish the group stages with a narrow victory over a strong Shoreham team, who we've never faced before. Tom nearly scored a blinding goal with a powerful, long range effort that the goalkeeper blocked well, the rebound falling to Finn, who volleyed in brilliantly from the edge of the box in the first half. Second half was all about keeping the ball, Sid returning to action being the main bonus and it was him who very nearly doubled our lead with a super shot on the turn. Will went on a mazy run, nearly scoring near the end, with Richard passing brilliantly out of defence again.

All this meant we were tied for second place with Foresters, so the decision as to who went into the plate and who went into the cup came down to a penalty shootout. A calm first penalty from Finn saw us take the lead when Foresters missed, but despite Sam's belter of a strike, it wasn't to be and Foresters prevailed to take the place in the cup, with the Eagles going into the plate quarter finals.

Quarter Final:
Langton Green Eagles 1 - 2 Withdean Youth
(Mattie)

An absolute horror start saw us 2-0 down after a minute. With Will limping off, things weren't looking great for the Eagles but a brilliant team effort after a ridiculously tiring day saw the boys work their socks off against an excellent Withdean side who I thought played comfortably the best football we faced all day. Sam made 2 outstanding saves, Jack H and Finn worked so hard closing the opposition down, Richard as solid as a rock at the back alongside Tom, who made a couple of crucial tackles and Mattie an absolute whirlwind of energy. Sid came on in the second half and passed the ball brilliantly. Mattie scored to give us a lifeline with a couple of minutes to go, a belter of a strike from the left that nestled in the corner of the net and when Will returned to action, his turn and run in the final seconds saw us with a glimmer of hope for an equaliser before Withdean snuffed the chance out well. A monumental effort to come back from such a desperate start, but in a 10 minute game it just wasn't enough time for us to do it. Withdean deserved winners, but we made them work for it.

All in all a cracking day of football, 9 games played, 6 wins, a draw and 2 defeats, both to excellent teams, with a whopping 18 goals scored. All the boys did themselves proud today and some of the football was sublime. Well done all.

Langton Green Phoenix...

The other half of the Eagles joined with several of the Rangers. Results and goalscorers as follows, with a brief summary of what I saw (the pitches going out of sync meant I couldn't watch as much as I'd hoped).

A brilliant defensive display from James in goal and Evan and Matthew at the back in the opening match against Pembury saw the Phoenix solid at the back and passing well out of defence but a lack of decisiveness in attack and some tentative play from one or two of the Eagles boys saw the game drawn when they probably deserved to win on balance. What a goal in the second match, Rami sliding an inch-perfect ball through for Joel to strike home early on. 1-0 up against a very good Rusthall team, who came back well, scoring 3 good goals. A valiant effort but just too much quality in a strong Rusthall side made this a game that was always going to be one of the harder ones. After defeat to Tonbridge Angels (who topped the group comfortably), the fourth game saw a victory against Langton Chiefs, Max scoring a beauty of a goal with a curling effort from distance and Laurie passing the ball well before the Chiefs goalie pulled off 4 or 5 unbelievable saves to keep the score down, Jack A creating 2 good chances that were well saved and Evan having a piledriver of a strike somehow blocked with a magnificent save. Another win in the next game with a superb header from James, this time against Rotherfield, with Laurie putting in a brilliant performance in goal saw the boys in a very good position with 2 games to go, but sadly both of these ended in defeat against Broad Oak and Withdean, meaning the boys finished 5th in the group and just missed out on a place in the knockout rounds. Bearing in mind the difficulty of the group (it was probably the hardest of all four), the fact that these boys hadn't all played together before and the lack of a dedicated goalkeeper (the boys took turns), it was actually a really good performance in general, but obviously the lads were disappointed.

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Sunday, May 29th 2016 - Uckfield Soccer Sixes

A slight change of scene from the 40,000 seater Stamford Bridge saw us back Uckfield, a tournament we like because it tends to feature plenty of teams we haven't played before and today was no exception. A very, very attacking Eagles line up took to the pitch on a beautifully sunny afternoon, with Ben joining us for his first tournament for Langton Green, Jack in goal after his heroics last week at Chelsea and the boys keen to do well.

Langton Green Eagles 2 - 0 Ringmer Rovers
(Finn, Will)

A classic opening game of a fiesta in that neother team created masses of chances, although in the longer 14 minute format we knew that if we kept going we had time on our side as the team with the majority of possession. Unfortunately we just couldn't turn that possession into out and out chances as Ringmer defended well and in numbers. Some nice skill from Ben set Mattie on his way only to see a powerful shot blocked, before Finn finally broke the deadlock with a deflected finish from close range with just 2 minutes to go. Will then made a great forward run from the back to score with another deflected shot and the boys finished this one strongly after the majority of the game had passed in slightly disjointed fashion.

Langton Green Eagles 2 - 0 Sovereign Saints
(Sammy, Mattie)

A much better performance in the first half saw the boys play some cracking football. Sammy was lively on the left, linking up well with Finn before setting up Mattie for the opening goal with a crossfield pass that Mattie smashed goalwards with power, once again seeing a deflection help the ball into the net. We were enjoying these deflections! A slight dip in the second half saw the boys struggle a bit despite Rami's superb energy levels and tackling setting an example as to what we were expecting in terms of effort. Another good run from Ben was well saved by the goalkeeper but Sammy followed up with some clever skill to cut inside and smash home the second goal. Jack had a save to make late on, wich he did with aplomb and Will was a rock at the back and chipped in with a couple of great runs forward.

Langton Green Eagles 1 - 0 Uckfield Rockets
(Mattie)

An unbelievable game of football in which Uckfield's keeper put in one of the best performances I've ever seen in a fiesta game, saving with his feet, hands, face, whatever body part was closest and meaning that despite something like a whopping 20 shots, we had to wait until the final 10 seconds for one to go in. Finn had a piledriver of a strike blocked, Mattie and Will both nearly knocked the goalie and the goal into the car park, but the Uckfield number 1 stood tall and was horribly unlucky to finally see his defences breached when Mattie picked the ball up ont he right, cut inside his defender and absolutely leathered the ball into the back of the net, with the referee blowing his whistle 2 seconds later. Very unfortunate for Uckfield, who defended resolutely, but a deserved win for the boys after they dominated the game.

Langton Green Eagles 3 - 1 Lewes Bridge View Orange
(Finn, Ben, Sammy)

The performance of the day, without a doubt in a game we knew that winning would lead to topping the group. A terrible first 2 or 3 minutes saw Jack the busiest he'd been all day, making 2 or 3 outstanding saves early on as the team in orange bombed forward. The Langton boys grew into the game though and just as we were looking dominant, Will made a last ditch tackle only to find his toe rather mangled and he had to come off with what I initially suspected would leave him unable to play any further part in the tournament. The rest of the boys seemed to realise they needed to raise their game to have any chance of winning this one and so they did, Rami superhuman at the back and Finn, Ben and Sammy combining beautifully for the opening goal, a well struck shot from Finn on the break after Sammy had crossed with precision from Ben's clever pass. When these lads pass the ball they look as good as anyone they've come up against and are a joy to watch.

Within seconds it was 1-1, Lewes Bridge View scoring against us with the first goal we'd conceded all day and nothing the excellent Jack could do after he was somewhat let down by the players in front of him. No matter, the boys stepped up a level again and Mattie put in a wonderful second half performance, winning every 50/50 ball and working so hard for the team. It was from his superb pass down the line that Ben cut inside and scored a cracking goal with a powerful finish into the roof of the net from the right hand side. 2-1 up and a few minutes to go.

Lewes Bridge came again, pushing for an equaliser, but they made with an immoveable object in Jack, who saved 3 times in the second half from powerful shots, before Finn's clearance was chased down by Sammy, never giving up what looked like a lost cause, before cutting back inside from the byline and smashing home the third goal. A 3-1 win against a very good Lewes team and the boys had won the group, winning all 4 of their games. No mean feat. Well done.

Langton Green Eagles 0 - 1 Foresters (After Extra Time)

After what seemed like at least an hour of waiting, we finally got going against a very strong Foresters team who had finished 3rd in the "Group of Death". Another terrible start saw Jack once again the hero, tipping the ball round the post with feet and hands to keep Foresters out. Once again though, the boys grew into the game and a brilliant piece of skill from Will (back on with a bandaged toe) saw him break through only to be tackled at the last. The Foresters number 14 was dangerous, getting through twice to just shave the woodwork once and come up against another fine save from Jack on the other occasion.

Finn was linking up well with Ben and Sammy, Mattie was everywhere and Rami came on to provide some much needed steel in the tackle. 0-0 at the end of full time and we went to extra time with the Eagles on top at this stage. A great run from Ben down the right saw his shot from a tight angle saved and the rebound hit the side netting. Moments later we struggled to clear the ball and Foresters scored a well taken goal. With just a few minutes left it was always going to be tough to equalise and the game petered out slightly with a succession of Foresters corners. Sammy got free in the final few seconds but when his cross was cut out the referee blew his whistle to see the Eagles out at the quarter final stage.

A real shame after all the hard work they'd put in, but in these short games anything can happen and whilst the boys didn't deserve to lose the match, Foresters definitely didn't deserve to lose either and on chances created, probably just shaded it.

Well done to all. A lot of positives. I'd have liked to have seen us move the ball a bit quicker and look for teammates a bit more than going alone but I'd be churlish to suggest today wasn't a good performance overall. When these boys pass the ball well they are a really good team - they just need to remember that and do it with pace, so some things to work on. What can't be faulted are the effort levels, everyone working so hard in hot conditions. 5 different goalscorers always a pleasure to see and a special mention should go to Jack in goal, keeping 3 clean sheets and making several crucial saves.

Langton next week. We'll see you there. For those on holidays now, have a great break.

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Sunday, May 22nd 2016 - Chelsea Tournament @ Stamford Bridge



Langton Green Eagles on the Stamford Bridge Pitch before their run to the semi finals, May 22nd 2016

A long day! Coach trip up there very quick and fairly uneventful. Sam told me off for eating onboard (chocolate buttons. Mmmm). Lots of waiting around before the excitement of putting boots on in the home changing room and then being whisked onto the pitch via the players' tunnel to kick off within seconds of arriving on pitch 4, a pitch we grew to associate with both good and bad as the day progressed...

Langton Green Eagles 0 - 2 Reeve Rangers

Very little to say about this game except a hearty well done to Reeves Rangers who thoroughly deserved their win. We just didn't turn up. The boys knew it and were determined to improve... which they did...

Langton Green Eagles 2 - 0 Margate Youth
(Alf, Jack H)

A much better start, passing the ball around nicely and causing Margate some problems immediately through Sid's clever movement up front. A Sammy shot was parried and Alf turned in the rebound through the goalkeeper's legs to make it 1-0. Will and Tom were proving tough to break down at the back but when they were breached, Sam pulled off a superb save to keep things level. Mattie's through ball found Jack, who turned it cleverly into the goal to make it 2-0. A great run from Finn ended with a Sid shot well saved and Jem came on to work extremely hard on the left. A fantastic team performance and the boys were up and running.

Langton Green Eagles 2 - 0 Pace Academy
(Sid, Sammy)

Great start again, Sid scoring a clinical early goal from a tight angle after some superb work from Mattie and Will down the right. Jack was in goal for this one, saving well from a Pace attack before Finn picked the ball up and went on a weaving run that looked like it would end with goal of the season before he unselfishly passed to Jem, whose shot was well blocked. Another Finn run and a similar one from Will were well stopped with last ditch tackles before Sam came on and was twice denied by very good saves from rasping shots. His hold up play was excellent and him, Sammy and Finn combined nicely to set Sammy up for the second goal, a low, accurate shot into the bottom corner. With Tom making a couple of excellent challenges at the back and Alf linking things up nicely in midfield, the team looked on top and were only denied a third at the death when the very good Pace Academy goalkeeper made another super save from Mattie.

Round of 16
Langton Green Eagles 1 - 0 Eckington Eagles
(Mattie)

It was Eagles vs Eagles in this one, the first knockout round and we once again got the perfect start with Mattie cleverly nipping in to lob the ball into the roof of the net for 1-0 after a minute of the game. Eckington were very unlucky not to score a goal of their own, some brilliant rearguard action from Tom and Will, with the busy midfield of Alf, Will and Finn working hard too. Sammy was pressing well up front and nearly scored with an instinctive shot, Sam also going close with another low drive. With Jem on and working hard on the right, we were giving it everything and when Jack made 2 excellent saves in a row and a third shot flashed just wide we felt lucky to hear the final whistle that signalled a place in the quarter finals.

Quarter Final
Langton Green Eagles 1 - 1 Perrywood Sports (Langton Green win 3-2 on penalties)
(Jem)

Our quarter final saw us up against a very strong Perrywood Sports team who had topped their group comfortably and were big, strong and direct with some very good players. The boys turned in possibly their best performance of the day though, working incredibly hard all over the pitch, Jack again making several crucial saves between the posts as Langton started the stronger. A brilliant curling effort from Alf was saved by the Perrywood keeper and when Jem followed up with what he later admitted was actually a cross, he found the ball nestle in the bottom corner for the opening goal. 1-0 and a very surprised looked Jem was congratulated by his team mates.

Mattie went on a weaving run that was finally stopped by a good tackle, but the subsequent loose ball was played across to Sammy, whose first touch was excellent. With a chance of 2-0 coming, he curled a delightful shot goalwards that the goalie somehow clawed away. It was backs to the walls stuff after this, Will and Tom superb at the back, Finn coming on to make a brilliant last ditch clearance and Sid arriving to hold the ball up well along with Sam. A scrappy goal was conceded (well taken by Perrywood) but the boys held out a late assault to take the game to penalties and as we know, the Eagles definitely fancy themselves with penalties.

Sammy, Alf and Sam made no mistake from the spot, Jack getting a hand to both Perrywood's successful shots before a Perrywood player sadly hit the frame of the goal. Very disappointing for the lad, who had played really well in the game. Testament to our boys that there was no ridiculous celebrating at the final whistle, just a lot of good sportsmanship, most notably from Sid, who went to see if the lad who had missed was okay. Well done boys.

Semi Final
Langton Green Eagles 0 - 4 Kew Association

A slightly disappointing end to our day in that we didn't play anywhere near the level we had done in the previous match but in fairness to the boys they were exhausted after putting so much into their earlier performances and our opposition were a very good side who had strolled through the tournament to this point. A slightly fortuitous opening goal was followed by a very well taken one and before we knew it we were chasing the game. A few good moments saw a barnstorming run from Will, a good strike from Mattie and some nice interplay between our midfield but Kew thoroughly deserved their win, scoring twice more as we pushed forward trying to get back into the game.

It was just left for the boys to collect their certificates, get the freestyle footballer who was showing us his tricks to sign their boots and then a very tired set of boys, coaches, parents and relatives to do several laps of Stamford Bridge to try and locate our coach. Lots of traffic on the M25, several parents falling fast asleep and a couple of hours later and we were home, pleased to see England had won their friendly 2-1 and we could all go and relax.

All in all, a great day out, lots of really good performances and every individual can say they did well today. I'm exhausted, I'm sure the boys are too. I hope they all enjoyed it and making the semi finals of a strong competition was a really enouraging achievement but it wasn't about results - playing on a Premier League ground is something not a lot of people get to do, so I hope it's a special memory for all the lads involved.

Phew!


Chelsea's dressing room, complete with the Langton Green Eagles


Langton Green Eagles before their quarter final win (3-2 on penalties)

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Sunday, May 15th 2016 - Pembury Fiesta

So, the season is over and we get into the summer tournaments, which the boys always love. Plenty of touches of the ball on small pitches makes for an enjoyable experience for them and as usual, their opening tournament of the year was the excellent Pembury fiesta, with its smooth pitches and good organisation. Each match in brief...

Langton Green Eagles 4 - 0 Paddock Wood Predators
(Jack H, Mattie, Will, Finn)

The perfect start and some outstanding football against the team who pipped us to the league title this season. With Richard making his competitive debut for the team and solid at the back from the word go, we had a great base to play some really good attacking football. A lovely bit of combination play from Finn and Mattie saw a cross turned in by Jack for the opening goal after a minute of the game. The boys looked lively and it was soon 2-0 thanks to Will's precise, powerful finish into the roof of the net. With Billy forced into a couple of excellent clearances, the second half saw Mattie make it 3-0 with a lovely finish after Max's barnstorming run and unselfish cut back, Finn rounding off the scoring with a piledriver of a shot after the Paddock Wood goalkeeper saved well from Mattie. A great start to the day.

Langton Green Eagles 2 - 1 Raw Skills Bears
(Jack H x 2)

A sluggish start saw the boys play some sloppy stuff and Raw Skills deservedly took the lead with a well struck shot into the corner. The rest of the half was fairly nondescript, with the exception of a couple of excellent tackles from Richard that kept the score down. A brief half time discussion lead to the boys making some suggestions as to how they might improve things in the second period and so they did, playing probably the best football they did all morning to score two wonderful team goals. The first was a great solo effort from Jack after some wonderful build up play from Mattie and Will, the second a sublime piece of interplay, Billy passing out quickly (I just reread that and should clarify that he passed the ball out quickly, not that he 'passed out' quickly), Mattie to Jack, who played a quick one-two with Finn and slid the ball into the bottom corner with a minute to go. Will nearly made it 3-1 but his shot was well saved and 6 points from 6 was just return for all the hard work the boys had put in over the opening 2 matches.

Langton Green Eagles 1 - 1 Pembury Broncos
(Will)

Another sloppy start saw us 1-0 down very quickly again, but the reaction this time was instant and some of the play was excellent in a game we knew we didn't deserve to lose. Credit to Pembury, they played some really nice stuff themselves and this was a good match to watch. Mattie was excellent, tracking back and winning the ball again and again. Finn's passing was looking dangerous and when he slid the ball through to Will, he opened his body up and smashed a low shot under the goalie to make it 1-1. The boys wanted the win and went for it, Max nearly scoring with a curling effort and Jack almost scoring with a clever flick from the last kick of the game. A fair result in a well-fought match.

Langton Green Eagles 0 - 1 Tonbridge Invicta

Not a lot to say about this one except that eventual group winners and semi finalists Invicta thoroughly deserved their victory in a game they looked hungrier for and were first to every ball in. Several of the Eagles looked a bit jaded at this stage and we could have no complaints with the final result in a match we never looked like winning, even if clear cut chances were difficult for the opposition to find thanks to some solid defending from Richard and Jack. All this meant we finished 3rd in our very tight group and therefore qualified for the main cup competition.

Round of 16 - Langton Green Eagles 2 - 0 Tonbridge Junior Samurai
(O.G, Will)

A complete transformation from the last game, the Eagles playing some lovely stuff and only staying at 0-0 for so long thanks to the excellent goalkeeping from Tonbridge's number 1. He pulled off a superb save from Mattie initially, another from Jack's powerful strike and another from Finn before a Mattie run and cross from Max's quick feet in the middle was unfortunately turned into his own net by a Tonbridge defender. Says a lot about our boys that not one person celebrated what must have been a difficult moment for the lad who scored the own goal - a position anyone who plays football will find themselves in sooner or later and not one that requires any compounding of the subsequent misery. If the first goal was the sort we didn't really like scoring, the second was absolutely outstanding. In a second half that saw some scintillating play from the boys, where Finn's piledriver of a shot came cannoning back off the post, Will stole the show with a powerful run out from defence and an absolute peach of a strike that nearly ripped the net to make it 2-0. A goal worthy of winning the game and one we all enjoyed immensely.

What this meant was that we were into the quarter finals, where we would face, of course, the Langton Green Giants.

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

We've played the Giants at least once in a tournament every summer since the Eagles began and on every occasion until now I came away with the feeling that we'd thoroughly deserved to lose to a much stronger team. It was a shame we had to come up against them so early in a competition where we had a very good chance of progressing all the way in, but on this occasion, despite the Giants being an even better team than they were this time last year, I was able to say to the boys with absolute honesty at the end that they'd matched the Giants all the way in this one and made them fight hard for their victory.

Both teams hit the post, the Eagles through Mattie, who got free early on with a jinking run and went agonisngly close with a toe-poked finish that came off the inside of the upright and just wouldn't spin over the line. The Giants scored what looked to be the opening goal only for the referee to rule it out for the ball having gone out of play and near the end of the first half they scored a goal that was no doubt whatsoever, with a great strike from Simba after we'd been caught upfield on the attack.

Second half was scrappy, very even and saw a couple of moments of quality from both sides but no out and out chances. Richard stole the show at the back though, solid as a rock to deny the Giants on 3 or 4 occasions in 1v1 situations. When Finn picked the ball up and drove at the Giants goal I was willing him to let loose with a strike but he saw Jack's clever overlap and slid the ball to him instead, only for the Giants to get back in numbers and mop up the half chance in the way they do so well. Will nearly got through but was tackled, Billy was off his line quickly and sadly the clock ran down to leave the Eagles disappointed. No shame in losing to the Giants at all, who went on to win the tournament, but on this occasion it felt like at least half an opportunity missed rather than our inevitable fate, which shows what progress the lads have made this year.

Well done of course to the Giants but also to our friends from Yalding and Laddingford, who showed what enormous progress they've made as a side this season to reach the final and suffer the same fate as we did to the Giants. A great achievement from a thoroughly nice bunch of folks - well done guys.

On to next week, where we're off to Stamford Bridge to play on the Chelsea pitch. I've told the boys that any individual can eclipse the home scoring record this season of Eden Hazard by scoring just 3 goals in the course of the tournament.

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Sunday, May 1st 2016

Langton Green Eagles 3 - 4 Hailsham United
(Will 2, Sam)

I'm afraid a stinking cold and hayfever combination is leaving me feeling decidedly under the weather, so you all get the added bonus of not having to read a lengthy match report today and I get the bonus of not having to write one!

In brief...

1-0 down after a minute, attacked virtually the whole of the first half (great header from a corner Finn, powerful strike from Mattie that was well saved, a good goal from Will following up to make it 1-1 and some excellent pressure). A penalty that even the opposition seemed unsure what it was for left us 2-1 down, Mattie dribbled through Hailsham and unselfishly passed the ball - a great run - Jack A provided some pace up front and did well to skip past one challenge before being tackled and Tom made a couple of important clearances. 2 more good finishes from Hailsham on the counter saw our opposition 4-1 up at half time despite a half that we felt we'd dominated in attack whilst being sloppy defensively at times.

Second half immeasurably better all round. Jack H wonderful on the left, cut back to Mattie, shot saved and Will blasted in the follow up. Battling 20 minutes followed including a goal line clearance from Rami, a wonderful save from Billy and a number of good moves in midfield. Effort of Joel at right back was superb, Laurie calm at centre back, Sammy a threat on the right, as was Max. Sid showed some great skill on several occasions and linked well with Finn and Mattie. Lovely to see him playing with freedom today. Shot after shot saved by the Hailsham 'keeper, who had a blinder before Sam scored late on after great work from Jack H on the left and an unselfish cutback.

3 minutes to go, we desperately wanted another goal, but it wouldn't come and a spirited fightback ended with a 4-3 defeat. Our last ever 9 a side game and pretty much a perfect summary of the Eagles football this season - ie: lots of goals at both ends of the pitch. We're probably the most entertaining team in the league to watch because you're almost guaranteed end to end action. Man of the match went to Rami, with Mattie and Finn earning the other 2 Kinder Eggs for their tireless work rate in midfield on a hot day and in difficult circumstances. Rami had a corker of a game - well done.

A mention should be made of Will, who with 2 more goals to add to his tally finished the season with 29 league and cup goals - the top scorer of all 10 teams in our division by some distance. Well done Will.

So some disappointment at the end, but actually the result made no difference - Paddock Wood won against Tonbridge and sealed the league whatever our result today and the effort the boys put into the comeback said a lot about their character. If you'd told me at the start of the season these lads would finish in the top 2 of the league and make the final of the cup I'd have bitten your arm off. They've surpassed all expectations in terms of results but more importantly they've played some outstanding football along the way, lost and won with dignity and sportsmanship and in the case of several boys in particular, have improved enormously as the season has gone on. Well done all - I've thoroughly enjoyed coaching you this year and the improvement from the previous season has been immense.

Congratulations to Hailsham today, a great performance after a flurry of games (6 in 10 days) that must have left them exhausted and in need of a well-earned break.

Congratulations also to Paddock Wood, who put a brilliant run of 6 straight wins together at the end to win our division. They're a strong team and we look forward to playing them again next year. Well done to all involved over there. We enjoyed the contest as the games ticked down and it has to be said they handled it very well under pressure.

Thanks to all the referees, parents, helpers and most of all the boys for a memorable year of football. See you on Tuesday for our end of season awards but in the words of Hot Chocolate... everyone's a winner.

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Sunday, April 24th 2016

Langton Green Eagles 1 - 0 Sevenoaks Town Tempest
(Ben)

Langton Green Eagles 1 - 1 Sevenoaks Town Tempest
(Will)

Langton Green Eagles 3 - 3 Sevenoaks Town Tempest
(Will, Jack H, Sammy)

This was the first experience of 11 a side football for the majority of these lads (on both teams) and we also had 2 players trialling for the team today with an eye on next season, so we had no idea what sort of game we were going to get. Setting out in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with 3 x 25 minute games planned, off we went...

An excellent start saw Jack H link up fantastically with Ben, who made no mistake with a clever finish into the bottom corner to make it 1-0 to the Eagles. Jack then nearly repeated the trick, a clever flick taking the ball into Finn's path, who cut a sweet pass back to Max, whose curling strike was blocked. With Sammy attacking down the right, the Eagles were looking dangerous and nearly scored a second when Mattie burst forward, went past 2 players and laid the ball out to Jack, for another strike that was charged down.

Richard was excelling at left back, solid in the tackle and intelligent with his forward passing. He linked up well with Jack H ahead of him and made some nice overlapping runs that provided us with a couple of 2v1 situations down the left flank. With Sam and Tom communicating well in the middle of defence and Joel making some equally clever overlapping runs on the right, the boys were looking good.

Sid came in to provide some clever link up play in the middle, Jack A some energy down the right. Both were involved early on, Sid's passing outstanding and Jack A nearly getting a shot away only for Sevenoaks' excellent left back to close him down. With Will on in the number 10 role just behind Ben we were making some progress down the middle, a couple more moments of lovely one and two touch passing seeing the boys work their way through only for the goalkeeper to come out and save well at Ben's feet. Billy then did the same at the other end as Sevenoaks worked a nice passage to goal and we were nearly caught out with a clever late free kick from the team in blue but some good covering play from Finn saw the ball scrambled away and the final whistle went.

The first game ended 1-0 to the Eagles, but it was a very even contest and Sevenoaks were unfortunate not to find the back of the net themselves.

Second match saw a change in formation to trial a 4-4-2 and it's safe to say initially it was a bit of a struggle. Roles were less familiar and space was harder to find. Jem came in and made a couple of nice passes in midfield, Rami showing lots of energy, but in general it was a tough opening 10 minutes and Sevenoaks quite rightly took the lead with a well worked goal that gave Billy no chance.

A quick reshuffle saw the Eagles put on a better performance in the second part of the game. Twice we worked good chances for Will, Max playing a lovely through ball for the first, which went agonisingly wide before Finn, Max and Mattie linked up well with Ben, his clever reverse pass finding Max, who played another great through ball into Will, who made no mistake this time, firing low into the corner.

Some lovely skill from Ben saw him escape a very tight spot, Jack H was full of energy and clever forward play, as was Joel on the other side, Jack jinking into the area to lay off for Finn, who squared for Max to have a cracking strike well saved. A quick dash of his line from Billy saw the dangwer cleared and Richard showed great tenacity and positional awareness in a brief cameo in central midfield. Another good close game ended 1-1 with both teams showing some really nice football.

The final match saw us revert to the original formation and saw a number of players back in their preferred positions. It instantly looked more fluid, Sam absolutely immense at centre back in an opening spell that saw the boys take the lead through Will's powerful long range strike.

Sevenoaks equalised with a very well worked goal and both teams were starting to look tired. We then gave a way a penalty, which was duly despatched by Sevenoaks and suddenly it looked to be a bit of a struggle. Step forward Jack H, poaching in the 6 yard box after a really nice move involving nearly all our attacking players. Mattie nearly had another, Finn nearly got in on the act, before Jack powered home to make it 2-2.

Some very tired legs by this point saw more space open up and Sammy made use of it, scoring the goal of the game after some really nice interplay involving Ben, Finn and Richard saw Max pass to Jack H, who switched it to Sammy. He cut inside, looked up and curled a wonderful strike into the top corner from the edge of the box. Another goal for Sevenoaks completed a very entertaining match, the tiredness perhaps reflected in the fact that 6 goals were scored in the final 25 minutes whilst only 3 were scored in the first two games.

All in all a very interesting morning, with some excellent performances, not least from the 2 lads who were new to the team today. Both played really well and can be very proud of themselves. Man of the match went to Sam, whose communication and efforts to play out from the back were both excellent. Well done boys, lots of positives and most importantly it looked like you enjoyed yourselves.

Back to league action next week, our final game of the season, home to Hailsham. In what's ended up being a 2 horse race, Paddock Wood are in the driving seat after they've impressively won 4 games in a row to give themselves a great chance of winning the league. We'll be hoping someone else does us some favours and takes points off them, but in reality it's been a fantastic season regardless of the final results. Fingers crossed...

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Sunday, April 17th 2016

Langton Green Eagles 0 - 4 Sevenoaks Town Tornados

Oh dear. Not a good weekend for the Eagles sadly. Missing several key players and facing our bogey team we were hopeful for a change in fortune against this particular opponent and the boys arrived full of energy and seemingly well up for the game as it kicked off at 9.30.

Fast forward 10 minutes and we were 2-0 down and struggling horribly to both keep the ball and to contain Sevenoaks' fantastic number 9.

The boys kept their heads up and grew into the game, Jack H creating plenty down the left hand side, squaring for Will, who so nearly scored with a belting long range effort that came back off the bar. Finn and Rami combined beautifully to send Max away and his cross was just too deep for Sammy to connect with. It still felt "flat" though. We were second to most of the 50/50 balls and Sevenoaks were finding it easy to defend against us. For a team who've scored a ridiculous 77 goals this season we just didn't look like creating much in the way of chances. One of those things and as the boys know full well, everyone has days like that.

Hoping for a lucky break before half time was all we could do but it was Sevenoaks who scored next and it was 3-0 at the break.

More talk of Liverpool's wonderful comeback against Borussia Dortmund on Thursday and a much better second half performance saw the boys put a lot more effort in during the first 20 minutes and so nearly got back into the game, a beautiful flowing move involving Jack H, Finn and Sammy nearly being turned into the goal by Will with a sweet first time shot. Max then went on a fantastic run, trying to lob the goalkeeper with an audacious effort that went just wide. There were some really nice spells in the second half where we enjoyed a lot of possession and some lovely moves. We looked much more like scoring, Joel and Rami were everywhere, Tom was putting in a cracking stint in central midfield, Jack H was lively and quick down the left and Sam solid in central defence. 2 brilliant saves from Billy kept the scoreline just within reach but then the killer blow, Sevenoaks putting together a lovely passing move to score the 4th.

A late 5th was avoided when Sevenoaks smashed a penalty against the bar and the boys kept plugging away until the end with Rami particularly shining in the last 5 or 10 minutes when others looked exhausted but our 3 up front formation at the end couldn't scrape the ball over the line for a consolation, despite a couple of goalmouth scrambles where the ball could have gone anywhere and a spell of dangerous looking corners.

Part of playing football is knowing how to lose and these boys did themselves proud for the most part, not resorting to moaning at their opponents or the referee and trying until the very end. The fact that the last time these lads dropped points in the league was before Christmas to the same Sevenoaks team shows what a good run they've had and of course it had to end at some point. Man of the match was jointly shared between Jack H and Joel, but in retrospect I would like to also include Rami in that. He was outstanding today and I shall bring a third man of the match Kinder Egg to training on Tuesday Rami.

We should mention Sevenoaks, who I thought were far and away the best side we faced this season (and I include all our cup opponents from the division above in that), playing some really nice football and as with our lads, trying to do it in the right way. A great advert for how youth football should be played and some cracking individual players too. We wish them all the best with whatever they decide to do next season (and hope to play them again at some point). Thanks to Ben for another impeccable game with the whistle and of course to Martin for once again running the line.

One more league game to go, but first an 11 a side friendly next week against another Sevenoaks team.

Looking forward to it and in the meantime we'll be watching results from elsewhere with interest.

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Sunday, April 10th 2016

Langton Green Eagles 5 - 2 Tonbridge Junior Samurai
(Jack A, Will, Mattie, Sam, Sammy)

Sunday mornings all seem to be sunny and glorious recently and today was no exception, the Eagles returning to league duties after the excitement of last week's cup final meaning the order of the day was avoiding a cup hangover. The return of Rami and Sid from their holidays was a welcome boost, Rami having spent 2 weeks on safari in Africa. I did ask him if he'd made sure he didn't play cards with any of the Cheetahs. The boys surprisingly didn't find this very funny though...

The team we were welcoming to sunny Groombridge this morning were our very good friends from Tonbridge Juniors, who we always enjoy a great sporting relationship with and thoroughly enjoy playing, in what are always well contested, close matches, today being no exception.

The game started in cracking fashion, Langton full of energy from the off, with the front 3 of Will, Sammy and Jack A pressing really high up the pitch, ably supported by Finn and Mattie in central midfield. A lovely bit of skill from Jack H on the left played Sammy in, who showed great feet to jink his way through the penalty area and cut the ball back for Will, who unselfishly laid it off to Jack A, only for his shot to be charged down well by Tonbridge's energetic defence. It was a good start.

A few minutes later it was 1-0, Mattie and Jack A combining with a lovely one-two which saw Jack A through on goal. He was calm, taking the ball round the 'keeper and slotting it home from a tight angle to open the scoring. A really good team goal that Jack finished with aplomb.

Tonbridge pushed forward and Billy had to be quick off his line to smother a through ball, Tom made a good tackle and Rami brought the ball out of defence beautifully on several occasions, passing calmly and sensibly. A good link up between Finn and Mattie played Jack H in as he pushed forwards, him then finding Will, who turned well, beat a defender and smashed the ball into the far corner to make it 2-0 to the Eagles. Another excellent finish from Will and another great bit of team play leading up to it.

A couple of Sammy corners were nearly turned in, Rami went on an outstanding run from the back, taking on 2 players and beating both before just running out of space in the box. Tonbridge's goalie saved really well from Finn and then from Will (twice) before Sammy hit the bar with a thunderbolt of a shot that cannoned out to Mattie. He made no mistake from a difficult bouncing ball, volleying into the corner to make it 3-0 with a cracking finish.

A few changes saw Joel come on on the right, Laurie at centre back and Sam up front. Joel's first contribution was to outmanoevre one of his opponents and run virtually the length of the pitch, taking on 3 players on the way. Sid then joined the action, after a long time out with injury and looked at home immediately on the left and then in central midfield, tackling with tenacity and resilience and playing the sort of clever passes we've come to expect from him. He really nearly got into a great shooting position after somehow keeping the ball when he was horribly outnumbered but a last ditch tackle saw his shot deflected. The boys were still pressing brilliantly up front, with Mattie and Jack H particularly doing a wonderful job of smothering out any Tonbridge attacks with some solid tackling and play from defence, doing their usual job of appearing to be in several places at once.

Laurie looked assured at the back and his excellent ball control meant any passes back to him were controlled impeccably and played forward with intelligence and accuracy. He slid an inch-perfect pass across to Finn, who played it to Mattie first time and his ball through to Sam was received well on the turn. Sam got the ball out of his feet, looked up and struck a wonderful shot goalwards and into the roof of the net for his first goal of the season (and what a goal it was too!)

4-0 at half time and the big danger was complacency in the second half after one of the best halves of football I'd seen from the boys. We talked about this and everyone seemed to get the message. Whilst waiting to kick off the second half, as Tonbridge finished their half time talk, I told the 4 boys who were subbed off a joke I'd heard about 3 bits of string who go into a pub. It's one of my favourites...

The problem was, this left the 4 substitutes in stitches, rendering any chance of them joining the football action useless for at least 10 minutes. Not to matter, we had 9 players on the pitch who hadn't heard the joke and thus, in theory, should have been full of energy. Alas... energy didn't seem to be on the menu as the second half began, the boys seemingly playing like they thought they'd already won the game.

Tonbridge, by contrast, looked well up for it and deservedly pulled a goal back when they did exactly what we'd been doing so well in the first half, pressing high up the pitch and winning the ball back. Despite an excellent save from the first shot by Billy, Tonbridge were quicker to the follow up and it was 4-1 all of a sudden. Will had a great chance to extend the lead, doing everything right and striking a sweetly struck shot from the edge of the box but the onrushing Tonbridge goalie made an absolutely outstanding save, tipping the ball away when a goal seemed certain.

It was then 4-2 and the alarm bells started ringing, Tonbridge again quicker to the loose ball from a short corner and scoring off the post. We were heading for a potentially very demoralising second half here. Thankfully Tom was on form as captain, organising his team and making 3 or 4 outstanding tackles to deny almost certain goals. Tonbridge were buoyed and the next goal looked likely to come from them. Thankfully that wasn't the case, Finn and Mattie combined superbly to set Joel free down the right. His run into the box was clever and his pass across to Finn was accurate, Finn receiving the ball with his back to goal and trying an audacious backheeled shot that the Tonbridge goalie did well to save before Sammy, lurking exactly where we wanted him in the penalty box, smashed home loose ball to make it 5-2.

Tonbridge came back again, nearly scoring a third after some good play, but again Rami and Tom stood firm at the back and then Billy made a great save, diving low to his right to tip the ball round the post. A series of corners followed, scrambled away. Jack H went on a superb run down the left, taking on 2 players and squaring for Finn, who found Sam with a good pass. Sam held the ball up beautifully, possibly could have shot after working a space for himself in the box but unselfishly laid it out to Joel. His cross ricocheted out to Mattie, who struck a powerful drive goalwards only for the Tonbridge goalkeeper to pull off ANOTHER excellent save. Still time for a really good clearance from Billy under pressure, time for Tom to have a stint up front and for Jack H to make yet another goal saving tackle and a wonderful forward run, ably covered for by Finn, who has made it his job to tuck in and be the extra defender when one of the full backs bombs forwards.

The full time whistle went to signal a 7th straight league win for the Eagles, despite a very good second half comeback from Tonbridge, who played superbly after the break. Thankfully for us, the first half performance and some dogged defending near the end saw the Eagles come out on top. Man of the match was jointly shared between Sammy (for his outstanding work rate to press the opposition defence up front) and Sam (for playing exactly the role I'd asked of him when he was up front, linking play up beautifully and chipping in with a cracker of a goal). Well done boys, but in truth, once again, you all played really well today. Great to see 5 different goalscorers on the score sheet again and some really unselfish team play. One of the lads even said my keepy uppies were "sick". I still don't understand if that's a good thing, just as I'm still confused as to what "top bins" means. It's like they speak a whole different language.

Thank you to David for refereeing, to Martin for running the line, to all the parents for their wonderful support and of course to Tonbridge, who were superb, both in terms of their football and their attitude. Another home game next week, this one against Sevenoaks. See you there!

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Sunday, April 3rd 2016 - CUP FINAL

Langton Green Eagles 1 - 4 Raw Skills Sharks
(Will)


Langton Green Eagles with their runners-up medals from the 2016 Cup Final

A beautiful morning for football, 2 teams unbeaten since before Christmas and a first cup final for the Eagles in their first season playing cup football. An irresistible force meeting an immovable object and something had to give. Playing a side who are currently well clear at the top of the top division of the Crowborough League was always going to be a challenge but it was one the boys were well up for and had earned the right to contest.

The Eagles looked a bit nervy in the opening few minutes but those nerves were soon settled by Max, battling through flu to take the game to Raw Skills with some excellent, positive play down the right to go past 2 players only to be unceremoniously taken out with a clumsy tackle that left even those of us on the touchlines with our teeth rattling. The resulting free kick was scrambled clear but I was quietly pleased to see that the gap of a division didn't seem to be reflected in the way we were attacking, if anything looking the more likely to score in the early stages, a great bit of play from Max and Finn on the right leading to a cross that evaded Will and then Sammy, possibly because despite looking like a good surface from a distance, the ground was one of the bobbliest pitches I've seen all season. A great clearance from Tom and a quick dash off his line by Sam saw us repel Raw Skills' counter attack.

Then came a real sucker punch. Raw Skills were also looking dangerous when attacking and some good combination play from them put us on our back foot. We tried to clear the ball several times but unfortunately it kept falling to a red shirt, one of whom decided the ball would be better off in the back of our net, which he duly saw was the case. 1-0 down but a position the Eagles have been in in every round of the cup with a win the final result, so we weren't too worried. A great save from Sam out to his left kept the score down, a wonderful tackle from Joel did the same and then Mattie went on an outstanding run where he cut through 4 tackles before placing a brilliant shot towards the bottom left hand corner. Unfortunately, the Raw Skills goalkeeper pulled off an unbelievable save to tip the ball past the post, despite Mattie doing everything right. Joel's excellent overlapping run didn't go unnoticed during this move either.

A corner really wasn't much of an advantage on a pitch that was the full width of an 11 a side pitch and so working a short corner was the best option, something Sammy and Jack H did well. The ball played in by Jack was low and true, but again, nobody could connect and Raw Skills cleared. Brodie had a good strike from distance saved and then an excellent through ball from him just ran beyond Will as he raced to get there.

A moment later it was 2-0, a long shot from Raw Skills looping horribly up into the air and into the back of the net. Things then went awry for a 10 minute spell where the boys struggled to keep possession. Despite being up against it, Jem made a good tackle, Jack A played a nice pass out to Sammy and Finn showed great control to turn and evade 2 tackles before linking well with Brodie and Jack H, Mattie picking the ball up and going on another mazy run which ended with a good tackle from Raw Skills. Laurie steadied the ship with a couple of fine clearances but the tide was threatening to overwhelm the Eagles lads, Raw Skills scoring a third goal after we didn't close them down quickly enough.

3-0 down at half time and we talked about Liverpool's remarkable escape in the 2005 Champions League final. We also talked about going home feeling proud of their performances, as a team and individually, something I wanted every boy to be able to do, regardless of the result.

The half started much better. Brodie, Finn and Mattie were dominating in midfield. Max was still defying his flu to make things happen and Jack H was looking like our most attacking player from left back. Billy started well in goal, making a quick run off his line to clear and a couple of solid catches. An early goal was what we needed and that was what we got, Finn keeping possession superbly out wide on the left under significant pressure, laying the ball back to Brodie, whose turn in the box led to a cracking low shot that the Raw Skills keeper couldn't hold and Will followed up to slam home the rebound. 3-1 and 20 minutes to go - anything could happen.

It very nearly did, Will turning well and nearly getting a point blank shot away, Max bending in a lovely curling effort that was well saved by the goalie and then Mattie once again running the defence ragged, linking with Finn and shooting just wide. A Raw Skills shot at the other end hit the side netting, but other than that this spell of the game belonged to Langton Green, who showed for 15 minutes some really good stuff. Another goal at this stage would have made for a very interesting final 10 minutes, but it just wouldn't come and as often happens in these situations, pushing players forward leads to being hit on the counter, Raw Skills' lightning quick striker arriving in the box to turn in an excellent cross to make it 4-1, despite Billy getting a hand to the ball and almost keeping it out.

Back at the other end, some wonderful combination play between Mattie, Will and Brodie led to Mattie's shot being saved with the best save of the game. Unfortunately it wasn't the goalkeeper who saved it, but in all honesty it would have been very hard for the lad to not put his hands up as it would have meant he'd have been hit right in the face with a very powerful shot. Desperately disappointing, but ultimately it didn't affect the final result.

The boys kept going until the end, Jack H weaved his way into the box, cut the ball back to Sammy, whose powerful shot was blocked. A couple more corners went our way, but the simple distance from the corner flag to the goal made it very hard to use them as we usually would. Joel battled bravely, Tom too, but it wasn't to be and the final whistle went to mixed emotions - disappointed to have lost the game in the first half but very proud of how the lads turned it around in the second half.

A massive thank you to the Crowborough League for making the morning so special for the boys with the programmes and runners-up awards they received and to the parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters and friends who made the effort to come along and support the boys. I'm so proud of how well these lads have done to get to the final in the first place - some truly excellent performances over a great cup run to be one of the final 2 teams of 30 left in the competition (not forgetting Sid and Rami, who couldn't be here today but have both contributed enormously to the team getting this far). So 4-1 a slightly harsh scoreline on the balance of play - on another day they might have won - but overall, Raw Skills were worthy winners and to suggest otherwise would be churlish. Well done to them, their pacy number 10 particularly was outstanding and he rightly won the league's man of the match award.

Our own man of the match award went to Mattie, who was superb today and jointly between Jack H and Finn, who both ran themselves into the ground for their team, providing plenty of control and skill as well. A special mention should go to Brodie, who we were very thankful to for stepping in when we knew the cup final was happening in the middle of the Easter holidays, thereby robbing us of several players (although Tom did cut short his holiday at the last minute to get back for it!)

Back to league action next week against our very good friends from Tonbridge Samurai, who we look forward to seeing for the 4th time this season.

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Sunday, March 20th 2016

Langton Green Eagles 2 - 1 Tonbridge Junior Ferrari
(Jem, Jack H)

The great thing about the league the boys have played in this season is how close in terms of ability all the teams are. There have been no games where the Eagles have found it "easy" and equally there have been no games where we've been outplayed. Every single match is a real challenge and so it's credit to these boys that they keep meeting those challenges, with every player contributing.

Today was one of the toughest matches the Eagles have faced. Games against this Tonbridge side seem to follow the same pattern every time. Langton go 2 goals behind and then wake up just in time to win the game in the second half. Must be the half time team talks ;-) We decided today to try and not let that happen, and started well, creating 2 early chances for Will and Rami that were well blocked by Tonbridge. At the other end, Sam got down early to make a smart save from a well-struck Tonbridge shot but the general feeling we were getting on the sidelines was that something was amiss, namely the energy levels and effort that we've seen in recent games, which was in short supply during the first half.

Our most dangerous outlet looked to be down the right, where Max was running with positivity. A pinpoint cross saw Will hit the post after a deflection and the goal we probably didn't quite deserve was proving elusive. Joel, Tom and Jack H were working hard at the back but a bit of chaos in our box when we didn't challenge a 50/50 ball saw Tonbridge take the lead midway through the half with a smart strike that took a deflection and went in. 1-0 down and not looking like we wree firing on full cylinders. Laurie made some good passes forward when he got on, Finn was covering well and keeping possession under pressure and a couple of lovely switched balls from Max to Sammy and then Sammy to Max gave me some hope but all in all it was bitty and scrappy and despite the crossbar denying us an equaliser, Jack A going on a nice run that nearly saw his cross reach Will and then Will himself creating a superb chance that just flashed wide, Tonbridge were good value for their half time lead.

"What are we doing well?" - always the first question I ask the boys at half time. "Nothing" came the reply today from several of the lads. A little harsh perhaps, but they understood they weren't at their best. There had been good moments, just not enough of them linked together to provide any fluidity. So we set about changing that and as has happened so many times this season, the second half was enormously better than the first.

A change of positions saw Jack H move into midfield to play alongside Finn in an attempt to offer a bit more tenacity in the central part of the pitch. We  instantly looked livelier, Finn and Jack linking well and playing Max in, who ran at the opposition defence and laid the ball back for Finn to shoot from distance. Just wide. Will then had a couple of great runs where he did everything right but was just wide with his shots. Joel was like a machine at this point, working so hard at right back and giving Tonbridge's left forward no space or time. Sam did what Sam does at centre back, his reliability with Laurie alongside him seeing our passing from the back much improved. Several good catches and smart clearances from Billy kept any potential threat away and when Jem came on with instruction to work exceptionally hard he went one better and worked exceptionally, exceptionally hard. For a 5 minute spell he was like a one man wrecking ball, winning 3 or 4 challenges in a row, storming forward and scoring a goal within 30 seconds of being on the pitch to draw the Eagles level after a great run and some good combination play from Sammy, Finn and Will to play him in. His second goal for the Eagles and as per the last one he scored, a crucial moment to get on the scoresheet.

1-1 and 10 minutes to go. We won a free kick that Sammy struck sweetly but saw just rise over the bar. A brilliant Tom clearance saw Will played straight in but his shot skimmed the post and when he laid the ball to Max, Max drove forwards, his clever cut back just evading a yellow shirt. Sammy picked up the loose ball and his shot hit the side netting. I was pleased with the effort levels now though - suddenly the boys had a spring in their step and were looking like the Eagles as I've got used to seeing them - giving 100% and working hard for each other.

Another Tom clearance, Laurie and Sammy's outstanding link up fron the back, Rami crashing into a wonderful challenge and winning the ball superbly and suddenly all those 50/50 balls we were losing out on in the first half were going our way. Then it was 2-1 to the Langton lads, Jack H showing cracking tenacity to keep pressing, win the ball back and toe-poke a great effort beyond the opposition goalkeeper. Deserved for the massively improved second half performance.

The best move of the game came next, lovely back to front one touch football from the boys, Joel overlapping brilliantly to drive into the penalty area and deliver a superb cross from the left that Finn was really unfortunate not to convert. His run was excellent, perfectly timed, but the connection saw the ball just squirm wide. Max picked up the loose ball and hammered a wonderful shot goalwards that just flashed wide. It felt like a third goal was coming. Another good bit of play saw Will turn cleverly in the box but his shot was smothered and then Jack A went on a great run only to be denied by a good tackle after showing pace and strength to bear down on goal from the left.

The final whistle went after a scrappy couple of minutes where we defended our hearts out and that was that. Another win for the Eagles in a really tricky game. Tonbridge played well and definitely owned the first half, but I was so pleased to see the reaction we had after the break. One or two of the boys seemed disappointed with their own performances. As I said at the end - forget it - everyone has the odd game where things don't quite go their way and every team has the odd disjointed team performance. The fact you all kept plugging away today even when it wasn't quite flowing shows your character so well done.

Man of the match was jointly shared between Jack H and Jem. Jem's second half impact swung the game back in our favour with a great goal but it was his work rate after the first half hadn't gone our way that impressed me the most. Jack, as usual, gave everything. Plenty of other good performances and well done to Billy who overcame asthma to play a really solid game in goal. Well done boys - keep it coming. A week off next week and then the small matter of a cup final the following Sunday against Raw Skills Sharks. We look forward to it with relish...

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Sunday, March 13th 2016

Langton Green Eagles 3 - 1 Jarvis Brook Junior
(Finn, Will, Max)

A glorious morning, a manager with a broken (and dislocated) finger (not recommended) and a tough game against a physically strong Jarvis Brook team with plenty of skilful players.

The Eagles started quickly, first Will and then Mattie (twice) forcing the opposition goalkeeper into fine saves as the boys peppered the Jarvis Brook goal with shots. Having dominated the first 5 minutes, we were then on the back foot for the next 5, Jarvis Brook earning a corner after some last ditch defending and looking dangerous with the aerial ball. Back and forth, a cracking bit of combination down the left from Jack H and Sammy to play Mattie in and a switch to Max, whose dangerous cross just evaded Will and Sammy at the back post. The boys then switched off from a corner and the flick-on the Jarvis Brook coaches were encouraging their players to put into play was executed to the letter by their striker, the ball falling to a blue shirt in the box and the shot unsighting Billy to leave the Eagles 1-0 down midway through the half. A decent enough time to concede all in all as we had plenty of time to do something about it.

Unfortunately, the next 5 minutes saw us looking more likely to concede a second as we had a shambolic spell in front of our own goal, unable to clear our lines or string more than 2 passes together. It took some brave goalkeeping from Billy to stamp some authority on the situation and it was pleasing to see Tom and Jack trying to organise everyone at the back. A lovely bit of play out from the back from Rami after Billy's quick distribution found him on the right saw a slide-rule pass into Max. He attacked the opposition full back with positivity and pace, combined with Mattie and then Sammy, to send a pass across the box. Finn timed his run perfectly to arrive in the area and stroke the ball into the back of the net to make it 1-1. A calm finish and a great team move.

Finn then went on a mazy run, played a cracking pass to Mattie, whose power and pace took him through on goal but a brick wall of defenders meant he had to lay the ball off to Jack. He cut it back to Sammy, Max made a great run in at the far post but Sammy's cross / shot just evaded his lunge and the post. The boys were cranking up the pressure and it was a good spell, Joel now on at right back and showing great tenacity to win the ball back whilst Laurie was excelling at centre back, a wonderful crunching tackle his first contribution to let the opposition striker know he was there. 2 great runs from Jem so nearly saw the boys score a second, once Max crossing from Jem to do brilliantly to make a connection and hammer the ball agonisingly past the post and then for Jem to go on his own but see his mazy run ended by some quick work from the opposition goalkeeper. In the dying moments of the half some slapdash defending from us saw Jarvis Brook hit the bar with a powerful strike that cannoned out to be cleared by Jack.

Half time and a fair scoreline with the boys knowing they had plenty of work to do. The first 5 minutes of the half saw the Eagles under the cosh slightly, Jarvis Brook looking the more lively and dangerous on the break. We were indebted to Billy for a smart save and an even smarter clearance to see off some danger but we were struggling to clear our lines. When we finally did, we won a corner that Max swung in, Finn connecting with it with an absolute rocket of a header that hit the underside of the bar and appeared to cross the line a la Frank Lampard in 2010. A very tough one for the ref to call though and a fair decision not to award the goal. Moments later Will had turned his defender superbly and just shot wide, before Mattie hit the woodwork with a fantastic lobbed volley that would have made for a cracking goal. Max was working himself into the ground at this point, defensively tracking back and doing lots of the unglamourous work for his teammates whilst also showing great skill going forwards, making 3 or 4 excellent runs down the right to see his crosses either blocked or just not quite turned in by a yellow shirt. Sammy then saw his free kick whistle over the bar and we were feeling confident in the way the boys were playing but wary of the danger on the break.

With the game so evenly poised, it was going to take a moment of brilliance to break the deadlock and we were treated to exactly that from Will, who picked the ball up from Joel's quick pass around the half way line, ran past 2 players and struck an absolute thunderbolt of a shot into the top right corner from the edge of the box. A wonderful solo goal and possibly the best he's scored for the Eagles (and there have been some good ones!)

Sammy nearly repeated the task a moment later, dribbling past 3 or 4 players with consumate skill before just seeing his dinked shot saved by the goalie when I was already proclaiming it goal of the season. A clever short corner between Sammy and Jack so nearly led to the third goal, Finn then playing a scumptuous one-two with Mattie, finding Max, who laid it back to Mattie for another brilliant strike from him. Tom to the rescue with a solid clearance and a great tackle, Rami with some never-say-die defending, Jack H everywhere at once, defending, attacking, blocking, popping up in the right forward position (as a left back) and being at the heart of a lot of what the Eagles were doing well. Laurie on and playing so calmly at the back, his passing from defence a joy to watch and Jem working seriously hard in midfield.

Time running down and a hard-fought victory looked to be won when Jarvis Brook broke and found themselves 2v1. Cue another solid piece of goalkeeping from Billy, who got down quickly to stop a powerful shot. Ball out to Mattie, to Finn, to Max, to Will, who laid it back to Max. Max attacked the full back, jinked inside and slotted the ball under the Jarvis Brook goalkeeper to make it 3-1 to the Eagles and see the points safe with a minute to go. Still time for Tom to have a cameo up front and very nearly turn his defender, showing great strength, before the final whistle went to signal the end of a cracking game.

A really tough game of football, possibly one of the hardest games the Eagles have faced all season against a very strong team who I think defensively have been the tightest team in the division. Very pleasing to see how the lads stepped it up in the second half to work so hard and play such good football. Some of the passing and movement was outstanding. I sound like a stuck record but again, man of the match was so hard. Finn just gets it this week for his massive work rate in midfield, a good goal, cracking header that might have been a goal and excellent covering when his team mates pushed forwards but as in every game since Christmas, there were 4 or 5 who could have won it today. Well done boys - you have really stepped it up a notch since Christmas and are a joy to watch (and coach). Thanks to Jarvis Brook for getting the game on when so many others are being cancelled and thanks to the young referee, who was excellent and of course to Martin for once again running the line. The final act of the morning was to let the boys vote for "supporter of the match", who earned themselves a Cadbury's Cream Egg. Jenny won it for "sometimes cheering for the other team", which is actually very sporting and what we like to think we encourage. Well done Jenny!!!

4 league games to go and some tough ones at that. Plus of course the cup final in April. Before that though, our good friends from Tonbridge Ferrari next week, who we always share highly entertaining games with - we look forward to it.

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Sunday, March 6th 2016

Langton Green Eagles 4 - 2 Ridgewaye Galaxy
(Sammy, Mattie 2, Max)

A short match report today due to the combination of Mother's Day and a family birthday meaning I didn’t get a chance to do it yesterday...

A beautiful crisp morning. Ridgewaye a thoroughly decent team and a very close game as we were expecting. Sammy scored after a minute to settle the nerves with a close range finish after Max and Finn combined well to play him in via Will's clever flick-on. Cue 15 minutes if pressure from the opposition where the boys looked a bit jaded and held on by the skin of their teeth and Tom's excellent communication and leadership from the back. Probably too many Mother's Day chocolates for breakfast for some of them.

A fantastic save from Sam kept the boys ahead, Rami put in several superb tackles and Jack H was his usual self on the other flank, pushing forwards to support the attack superbly and combining well with Mattie and Finn to play Will in, whose excellent strike was superbly saved by the Ridgewaye 'keeper. Mattie then scored a wonderful long range volley after Brodie set him up (thanks to Brodie once again for stepping in for us for another cameo this morning). Ridgewaye then scored after Sam saved well from the initial shot but they were quicker to the follow up and it was 2-1 at half time.

A Tom header early in the second half cleared the danger, Jem on at left back, then centre mid and then right back doing a sterling job in all 3 positions. It was a good 10 minutes from the Eagles, positive football and twice they nearly extended their lead through Will's strike that was brilliantly saved by the Ridgewaye 'keeper and Finn's excellent header from a corner. Sid came on and played a cracking 10 minutes as he comes back from injury, calm and intelligent on the ball as always. Max outstanding down the right in the second half and so nearly scored with a powerful strike himself before Jack H played Mattie in with a lovely pass, Mattie then dribbling past 2 players in the slippery mud and finishing superbly under the goalkeeper for a great solo goal. 3-1 to the Eagles. A few minutes later it was 4-1, Brodie jinking into the box from Finn's pass, unselfishly playing a square ball to Max, who got the goal his game deserved. Several well-taken corners from Sammy but the Eagles were caught on the break several times and Ridgewaye looked dangerous.

It could have been 5-1 but Will hit the post from Rami and Jem's combination to play him in. Sammy had a great second half and very nearly won a penalty but he just evaded a lunging tackle and the ball was cleared. Finn went on a weaving run that took him through 3 or 4 challenges with lovely quick footwork before passing to Mattie, whose powerful forward run and cross saw Will's shot charged down. Jack A played a great one-two with Will that almost saw a chance created and Sam pulled off another super save. Ridgewaye then scored a late consolation and piled on the pressure, once again us having Sam to thank for a cracking save in the final minutes. Another excellent Tom clearance at the death, a brilliant forward run from Jack H and Jack A's powerful run and shot all meant the last few minutes were filled with excitement. The final score 4-2 and a cracking result for the boys in difficult pitch conditions against a strong opponent.

Thanks to Ben for refereeing - once again a faultless display in the middle and of course to Martin for running the line. Man of the match was Mattie for his tireless display (with a cold) and 2 stunning goals. Special mention also to Rami, who played really well today but once again, nearly every one of the boys could have won the award today for their outstanding effort levels in a tough match. Jarvis Brook next week. Looking forward to it, if I ever recover from the ridiculous amount of food I had at our birthday / Mother's Day lunch. A wonderful bird is the pelican...

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Sunday, February 28th 2016

Langton Green Eagles 3 - 1 Paddock Wood Predators
(Will 2, Sammy (pen))


The Eagles after their 3-1 win this morning against Paddock Wood

This was always going to be a tight game and so it proved. Paddock Wood started the day a point ahead of the Eagles and had beaten us 3-1 back in November. They're a strong team, another side with an excellent goalkeeper and we knew it would tough, so to get off to the best possible start was extremely pleasing, Will picking up a through ball and weaving a path to goal before finishing with aplomb into the bottom corner with just a minute of the game gone.

The next 5 minutes saw the Eagles on top, so nearly scoring twice more through Will and then Sammy, but on both occasions the Paddock Wood 'keeper made himself hard to beat. A Finn run saw him jink through 3 tackles and lay the ball out to Max, who had a wonderful run down the right halted by an excellent covering tackle. At the other end Tom pulled off a fantastic defensive header to clear a dangerous ball over the top and Joel was showing great tenacity on the right to make several crucial tackles. Paddock Wood fashioned a chance that went just wide and then Billy twice rushed off his line to intercept through balls. His distribution out to Jack H was excellent and Jack played a lovely one-two with Mattie before pushing forwards and combining with Sammy and Finn to set Will through again but his shot flashed just wide. Mattie then had a brilliant run at goal which saw him taken off with an injury after he was fouled and from the subsequent free kick the ball so nearly found its way through a sea of players but was cleared at the last minute.

The half ebbed and flowed, half chances coming at both ends. Jack A came on and made a cracking run to pick up Max's pass. His first time cross looped into the box and Finn met it with an absolute bullet of a volley, lashed goalwards with power but again the boys were thwarted by the Paddock Wood 'keeper who made possibly the save of the game from almost point blank range. Mattie recovered and came back on to play his usual energetic game, clearing on the edge of the 6 yard box one minute and suddenly appearing as the furtherest player forward just seconds later. With Laurie on first in midfield and then at the back and Sam on at centre back, the boys looked solid in defence in the closing minutes of the half, Laurie passing calmly out of defence despite carrying an injury and Sam showing the same sort of solid performance we had from him last week. The second goal came when the excellent Max played a wonderfully timed through ball to Sammy, who bore down on goal with a speedy, powerful run. His intelligence in possession was spot-on, squaring the ball across the box for Will to smash home his second goal of the game. A really good team goal involving passing, running with the ball and accurate shooting. There was still time for hearts in mouths moments at the end of the half after we gave away a silly free kick and then 2 corners but the danger was cleared by first Sam and then Joel.

Half time saw a reminder that the game was far from over and so it proved, Paddock Wood scoring early in the half after a bit of a mix up from us and a well-taken goal by them. No matter - the boys were playing well and knew they needed to stay calm, which they did brilliantly, soaking up the inevitable pressure that comes after a team gets a goal back and creating several chances of their own to extend their lead. All well worked moves that saw Will, Sammy and Mattie get shots away but go a whisker wide. Finn then had a cracking left foot effort that looked destined for the top corner until the goalkeeper got across and plucked the ball out of the sky.

More backwards and forwards. Tom clearances. Sam clearances. Billy made a wonderful fingertip catch from a looping long shot. Excellent support play from Joel and Jack H, who went on one of his trademark overlapping runs all the way into the opposition penalty area to win a corner which Jack A nearly connected with. Laurie back on and working hard in midfield and another chance well snuffed out by Billy with some quick thinking to get off his line and pick up a dangerous through ball and then Max running at the defence and cutting in to shoot left footed towards the corner only to see his effort saved.

The minutes ticked by. It was tense stuff and both teams could have scored in the final 3 minutes until Sammy weaved his way into the penalty area after a lovely combination from Mattie, Finn and Jack H, only to find himself clipped as he shimmied his way towards goal. Penalty. And of course who else to step up and put it in the back of the net than Sammy himself. Never a doubt in my mind whether he'd score or not and of course he did, to make it 3-1 to the Eagles with the final kick of the match.

A really tight game of football. Very tough. The boys' workrate and effort levels were superb. Man of the match went to Mattie, who worked himself into the ground despite picking up an early knock and was at the heart of a lot of what the team did both creatively and defensively. Outstanding stuff, but as with every game at the moment, I could have singled out any of a large number of the boys for praise today because they were superb, from Will continuing his excellent goalscoring through to Billy at the other end of the pitch with his match-saving catch, each and every one of them did themselves proud.

Ridgewaye next week, which should be a good, close game, so we look forward to it.

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Sunday, February 21st 2016

Langton Green Eagles 6 - 2 Broad Oak Hurricanes
(Will 5, Finn)

The day didn't start brilliantly, an already depleted squad then sadly denied the skills of both Sid and Tom who had succumbed to injury and illness respectively. We wish them both a quick recovery and hopefully we'll see them back next week. It meant that we were down to the bare 9 players (we could have fielded a very strong 6 a side team from the lads who were missing) with Brodie kindly agreeing to play a supersub role as cover, although with a game of his own in the afternoon, we were keen to limit him to not too much time on the pitch so he didn't leave us already exhausted.

The game in question was against a strong Broad Oak side who had beaten the Eagles earlier in the season and on that occasion displayed one of the best passing performances we've seen all year. With this in mind, we knew it would be a tough game.

The boys were up for the challenge though and started well, Rami busy in an unfamiliar central midfield role that he took to with real intensity and sense of purpose. An early chance Will brilliantly fashioned from Max's clever pass at one end flashed just wide, with Broad Oak repaying the favour with a well worked move of their own that so nearly saw our defences breached. End to end and entertaining stuff.

Sam was outstanding at centre back, passing and clearing from defence with calm and certainty that you need in that position, with Joel and Jack H both tenacious and busy either side of him, Jack getting forward brilliantly to nearly run the length of the pitch at one point only to be denied at the death. It was hard work and Broad Oak were playing well themselves but the boys were slowly getting a foothold in the game and scored a well taken goal when Will picked up Max's super cross and smashed home off the post to make it 1-0. Finn then dribbled through 3 challenges showing quick feet and found Will in space. Another strong run from him and a brilliant low finish and it was 2-0 to the Eagles, despite the Broad Oak 'keeper weighing in with 2 outstanding saves from Sammy in the mean time, Sammy's positioning excellent to find space in the box but unfortunate to come up against one of the strongest goalkeepers in the league.

At the other end Billy was off his line quickly to smother a through ball and then saved well from a powerful Broad Oak shot. Brodie came on for a 10 minute spell where he worked his socks off and played in a couple of brilliant through-balls, first to Sammy, who unselfishly cut the ball across for Will to see his shot saved and another where he played Max in, who battled through to strike a shot at goal but again be denied by the Broad Oak goalie. A Sammy corner was then met by Brodie with a really powerful header that flashed wide.

Second half saw a sluggish start from Langton (must have been my inspiring half time team talk), Broad Oak scoring a well taken goal that Billy did brilliantly to get a hand to but the power saw it just creep in. Sammy switched play superbly to Max, who ran at the defence with real purpose before crossing only to see the ball evade everyone. From the resulting thrown in, Broad Oak pushed forward and levelled the scores with a cool finish into the corner. "Oh no" I though, this could be complicated...

But the collapse that may have plagued these boys a year ago didn't happen. They got up, dusted themselves off and fought back superbly, Finn and Brodie playing a couple of sublime one twos in midfield to set Rami scampering down the left wing (a new position for him that he played with so much energy). When the ball was switched to Max he drove into the area, played Will in and Will unleashed an absolute bullet of a shot that drew an oustanding save from the Broad Oak goalie that everyone had to applaud. Billy then did the same at the other end to keep the scores level and both Joel and Sam made last ditch tackles to deny certain strikes at goal. End to end, the next goal was crucial and it went to the Eagles, Will completing his hat-trick with a wonderful finish from Sammy's clever ball. Corners rained in at both ends. Last ditch clearances. Heart in mouth time a couple of times but still the boys kept going, Jack H somehow popping up on the right wing when he was playing at left back. I didn't mind - the midfield lads were clever enough to drop in and cover and Jack did brilliantly to work a route into the penalty area, so nearly finding Sammy with an excellent cut back.

We then saw a piece of skill from Sammy that he reliable informed me afterwards was "the Neymar touch". It was the kind of thing the boys would call "sick", a phrase I still don't fully understand having spent a lifetime associating the word sick with only unpleasantness. But I am now 40 and that means I'm officially totally out of touch with "Youth Speak".

Brodie worked a great chance, seeing his long range effort skim past the post. Joel then went on a one man mission to stop Broad Oak scoring, making about 74 tackles in one minute before finally playing a great ball to Rami. He switched it to Sammy, Sammy to Finn, Finn back to Sammy and Sammy slid an inch perfect ball into Will, who was in no mood to miss the target, slotting in his fourth goal of the game and the best team goal the boys scored all morning and drawing considerable praise from our U16s manager, Sarah, who was getting ready for their game.

Another crunching tackle from Sam released some pressure at the other end and his quick and accurate pass into Finn saw Finn dribble through 2 challenges, release Max with a great ball and Max cut it back to Sammy, who again unselfishly found Will. His turn in the box was excellent and his finish equally so, scoring his fifth goal of the game and give his side some breathing space. The lads kept working until the end though, Rami still seemingly having as much energy as he had at the start - another one who had his Ready Brek this morning - and it was from Max's athletic run down the right that someone other than Will finally scored, Finn slotting home expertly from a cracking cross from Max to make the final score 6-2.

Broad Oak were tough opponents and the final scoreline didn't reflect how tight the game was for the majority of the time. As is so often the case in these games, a couple of quick goals can change the momentum and we were lucky enough that the Eagles got those goals today. Man of the match tremendously hard. Each boy worked so, so hard for the team today, but I gave it to Joel for his sheer work rate and effort in the second half. The back three of him, Sam and Jack (and of course Billy) were oustanding, not only defensively but also as an attacking force in keeping possession.

Will of course also gets a special mention for scoring five goals in one game, but in reality none of those chances would have come about were it not for the unselfish and positive play from our midfielders and wide players, who attacked with pace and intelligence. Will then of course finished them with lethal accuracy. Well done to all, thank you once again to Ben for another faultless performance with the whistle and to Martin for running the line. Thanks you also to Brodie for turning out for us despite having a game of his own to play in the afternoon.

Paddock Wood next week, who are top of the league. The boys will be up for it I'm sure.

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Sunday, February 14th 2016. Friendly

After the excitement of last week's semi final win, the Eagles were back in action in a friendly against our good friends from Tonbridge Samurai on a surprisingly well-drained pitch at Ashurst. The boys played two matches - one 9 a side and one increased to 11 a side with an eye on next season. With 4 regulars unavailable this week, we only had the bare 11 available so everyone got plenty of game time on what was a deceptively cold day.

Each match, in brief (did I say brief?)...

Langton Green Eagles 3 - 2 Tonbridge Samurai (9 a side)
(Will 3)

Stodgy start with only a couple of the lads looking like they'd woken up initially, some great play down the left from Jack H leading to the opening goal. Max received the ball from Jack's clever pass, took a player on and then slid an inch-perfect pass in to Will, who turned brilliantly and slammed the ball home to make it 1-0. A few minutes later, Tonbridge equalised with a well taken goal after a bit of uncertainty at the back from the Eagles. Take nothing away from the goal though - a very good finish right into the corner.

Jack A had an excellent run, Finn was starting to move the ball around nicely in midfield with some clever touches and Max continued his positive form from last week with some cracking runs. Will made it 2-1, picking the ball up and driving at the defence before sliding a great shot underneath the 'keeper. The Eagles were starting to look a lot more dangerous and had a really nice spell at this point, playing some lovely football, particularly down the left where Jack H was doing a great job of pushing forwards whilst Tom, Joel and Rami took turns covering for him. A lovely overlap from Joel nearly created another chance for Will but Jack A's excellent cross just flashed past Will's outstretched boot. With Billy solid in goal with some great catches and decisive runs off his line, the boys were looking really positive and like another goal was coming, which indeed it was...

...just not at the end we were hoping for. Tonbridge scored next with an outstanding goal, a lovely backheel bamboozling our defence before their forward slotted home well to finish a back-to-front passing move that any team would have been proud of. Had to applaud that one - a really well-worked goal. 2-2 looked like it would be the final result, but Will had other ideas, latching onto another great through ball from one of his teammates to make it 3-2 to the Eagles and complete his hat-trick. Jack A then had a good strike well blocked and Finn nearly burst through after taking the ball past 2 players but was stopped just before he was about to shoot. With Jem playing some nice passes in midfield and Sammy putting some excellent balls into the box both from corners and open play, it could have been four but the opposition goalie saved brilliantly, Will's powerful header from Sammy's cross skimmed the bar and a couple of strikes went just wide at both ends, Joel and then Tom clearing off the line as Tonbridge piled forward for a final corner of their own. 3-2 the final score in that one and a man of the match award for Will with a hat-trick but a special mention for Jack H who was superb.

Langton Green Eagles 2 - 0 Tonbridge Samurai (11 a side)
(Will, Sammy)

So to the boys' first ever 11 a side match (on a 9 a side pitch with 9 a side goals), which started in somewhat messy fashion, everyone seemingly having forgotten how to kick a ball to a teammate and finding the congestion on the small pitch a problem. In a first 10 minutes where one of those heat map diagrams would have shown nearly every player around the Eagles' penalty box, Tonbridge were hugely unlucky not to score after some nice passing moves were finally hacked clear by last ditch defending and even more unlucky when we took the lead, a rare spell of pressure at the other end leading to Finn's shot being saved and falling to Will for the simplest of his 4 goals today, which he took brilliantly, having hit the bar moments earlier.

We had a quick time out. And a chat. I say a chat but I didn't really have to say anything - the boys knew they weren't at the races and vowed to improve, which they did, enormously. Jack H even had some ideas about how we defend from kick offs, which was good to see - love the boys coming up with their own ideas on how the team can improve. The second half of the game was infinitly better, Sammy looking increasingly dangerous on the left, linking up well with Jack H, who got forward superbly. A clever short corner between the two of them nearly created another goal but a fine tackle from Tonbridge's right back denied Sammy. Max was starting to pull the strings in midfield, ably supported by the tenaciousness and hard work of Finn and Jem. One glorious pass from Max found it's way to Jack A on the far side and his brilliant cross just eluded Will's attempt to connect.

Tonbridge still bombed forward looking for the goal that would bring them level but a scumptious move involving Jack H, Finn, Max and Will led to Sammy scoring a well taken goal after the goalie had saved Will's original strike, Sammy doing what all good forwards do and following the ball in for the rebound, which duly fell to him. Great stuff.

Corners at both ends. Billy forward to try and get on the scoresheet. The Tonbridge 'keeper doing the same. End to end stuff, Tonbridge nearly scoring with Billy out of his goal but Tom and Jack H hurtling back to make a goalline block between them. Rami bursting forward, Finn's shot blocked, Jem's shot blocked, Sammy's shot blocked and Jack A putting another great cross in from the right only to see the Tonbridge goalie make a super catch.

2-0 the final score (man of the match to Max for some really positive passing and dribbling) and then some penalty practice which saw some distinctly ropey penalties go in and some really rather good ones saved. There were also some distinctly ropey ones that were also saved, but best not to think about them. Billy and Tonbridge's 'keeper both made some good saves and when we decided to decide it with a parent from each team taking the decisive penalty James stepped up and made no mistake from the spot to ensure he didn't go home to any grief. As a Chelsea fan he's had a hard enough time this season, so it was good to see him emerge from his penalty with his head held high.

Massive thank you to Tonbridge for not only agreeing to a thoroughly enjoyable friendly but also for their incredible goodwill in lining up to congratulate the Eagles on making the cup final. A lovely gesture and the Samurai chant we were honoured to receive was as fine as any Haka I've ever witnessed. As always when we play this team I came away thinking what a positive bunch of lads (and coaches) they are who play the right way with the right attitude. They played some superb football at times this morning, their short passing and movement particularly effective in working through the congested pitch when we went to 11 a side. And of course thank you to Ed for refereeing - another perfect performance from one of Langton's young referees and to Martin for running the line.

Back to league action next week against Broad Oak. Enjoy half term!

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Sunday, February 7th 2016. Cup semi-final.

Langton Green Eagles 5 - 4 Crowborough Athletic Colts
(Will, Mattie, Sid, Sammy, Max)

After spending Saturday watching the weather and wondering if we'd be faced with yet another cancellation, I was pleased to wake up to blue skies and dry(ish) ground that meant the boys could finally resurrect their cup run which last saw some action back on November 1st! A semi final against Crowborough, an excellent side from the division above, was their reward for that quarter final win 3 months back and boy were they up for it...

The lads got off to a dream start, scoring inside a minute after Will burst through and slotted home with aplomb. With two more chances created in quick succession it was the team in yellow who started the livelier, but we were very aware of the danger posed by Crowborough and particularly their pacey striker who burst free on one occasion only to be met by Sam steaming off his line to smother the ball. With Jack H and Joel both tenacious and intelligent at full back and Tom in between them giving plenty of chat to everyone around him, the defensive side of our game was looking good.

Mattie and Finn were like whirling dervishes, closing down the ball and hunting as a team, giving Crowborough no time to settle, with Max and Sammy doing a great job providing width either side of them. A Finn through ball was just out of Will's reach and a clever reverse pass to switch play, again from Finn sent Sammy through but Crowborough were quick to get back in numbers. Sammy then found Mattie. Mattie then tackled a Crowborough player. Mattie then crossed for Sid. "Hang on a second" I thought. "Have we fielded 3 Matties?". No - it just seemed like that, such were his unbelievable energy levels. A nifty ball through from Crowborough and it was 1-1, that same striker scoring with a lovely outside of the foot finish that gave Sam no chance. It was end to end stuff at this stage, goals being threatened with every attack and it was youth football as it should be, 2 teams both going for it and playing the game in a great spirit with real attacking flair.

A couple of corners were well turned away. Sid (on for Finn) was doing a cracking job of linking up with Will and Sammy, with Jack H overlapping superbly on the left and then popping up defending a moment later. He'd obviously eaten his Ready Brek. It was from his clever interception that the Eagles burst forward and won a corner that Sammy curled in beautifully. It was sent back out to him, he cut back, crossed dangerously into the box and Mattie lost his marker to turn home at the second attempt and put his team back in the lead. 2-1 and a very entertaining game.

Rami came on for Joel, immediately filling the same role with just as much energy as Joel had given and not letting Crowborough have any time on the ball. The boys looked like they wanted this. First half coming to a close, the Eagles created several chances, Will just seeing his powerful drive hit the side netting and both Sammy and Mattie having shots well saved by the excellent Crowborough goalkeeper. Jack A came on against his old club and looked every bit at home, his first contribution being a lovely lay-off pass, one two and then run on goal that so nearly saw him get a shot away before he was well tackled. Crowborough had the last chance of the half, a good move leading to a one on one with Sam but the Eagles 'keeper equal to it, tipping the ball over the bar with a wonderful reflex save. The subsequent corner was bundled away and the whistle went to signal the end of the half.

A brief chat at half time simply to remind the boys that Crowborough would come out all guns blazing and so it proved. After the Eagles nearly extended their lead to 3-1 following Max's brilliant run and cross that just evaded Will's outstretched foot, Crowborough equalised with a well taken goal and then took the lead moments later with an even better goal. 3-2 down and suddenly up against it, this was where the real test came and the boys passed it with flying colours. Max seemed to go to a different level in the second half, skipping through tackles and every decision the right one, a particularly driven shot just skimming the post. Jack A was superb, some lovely link up play and Finn showed brilliant feet to keep possession, looking like he was finding time and space where there should have been none. The ball was switched to the left. Jack H burst forward, dribbled past 2 players, played a great one-two with Mattie and then jinked his way into the penalty area before cutting the ball across to Sid. He made no mistake, turning the ball home expertly to level the scores and give the boys refreshed hope.

Billy was on for the second half in place of the super Sam and he continued Sam's great form with 2 or 3 decisive dashes out to claim the ball and a brilliant save to tip the ball round the post.

Moments later it was 4-3 to the Eagles, Sammy getting in on the action with a wonderful turn in the penalty area, followed by a low strike into the corner. Some lovely build up play from Jack H again down the left. Then it was the Max show. He picked the ball up wide on the right, went past one player, then two, then three and finally a fourth before slamming a pinpoint finish into the bottom corner to make it 5-3 with 10 minutes to go. What a goal!!!

We then lost a ball in the river. I looked for it at the end but I think it might be somewhere in the English Channel now. Shame - it was one of the yellow ones and I've always had a special affinity for them. No matter. The ball was substituted for a replacement. We were back on...

Crowborough came back strong, Finn and then Tom making crucial tackles. Mattie was once again doing his trick of appearing in several places at once, his energy levels beyond comprehension at times, both defensively and attacking-wise showing great skill and tenacity. Joel went on a one-man campaign to head the ball clear as many times as he could in succession, I think managing 4 defensive headers in a row and clearing the ball with real intelligence. Tom was still there alongside him, doing a brilliant job as captain, one last-ditch tackle saving a certain goal and then Rami came on and his energy and forward passing both deserve a mention.

5-4 all of a sudden, an unfortunate own goal that was just one of those things and then 5 minutes of backs to the walls stuff, every player contributing defensively and Billy making a superb save at the death that surely saved the game from extra time and the dreaded penalties. Will was shattered by this point but he was still working himself into the ground up front and had a shot from range that just went wide. After facing about 10 corners in a row, including one where the Crowborough goalkeeper was up, the ball was scrambled clear and the final whistle went to the great relief and joy of everyone supporting the team in yellow. What a game!

A joy to watch and great to see these boys play as well as I've ever seen them play. They were a real team today and their work rate was first class. Crowborough were excellent opponents - their managers positive towards our players throughout the game and kind enough to call me after the game to praise the performance of Ben, our young referee, who was in the Crowborough manager's opinion the "best ref he'd seen all season". I'd have to agree. Hard luck on Crowborough - it was a tight game and I felt for their lads at the end. Man of the match was tough (as usual) - every single one of the boys who played today could have won it, but I have to award it to Max for his simply sublime second half performance and stunning goal. It was everything we wanted from him and lovely to see him play with such positivity. And of course thank you to Martin for running the line. And to the parents for their, as usual, brilliant support. Dopey manager Knapp forgot to take a team photo today. Must have been the excitement.

On to the final, where the Eagles will face Raw Skills Sharks at Hailsham's stadium on April 3rd for a chance to win the cup. If they play like they did today then you never know...

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Sunday, January 24th 2016

Langton Green Eagles 5 - 2 Sevenoaks Town Tempest
(Will 2, Sammy 2, Finn)


Some happy Eagles after their morning's game at Sevenoaks finished with a 5-2 win...

A return to league action after 5 weeks of holidays and terrible weather saw the Eagles travel the short journey to Sevenoaks to play their Tempest team, who the boys shared an exciting 2-2 draw with before Christmas. The Eagles' manager was feeling slightly dodgy after a late night last night and that must have rubbed off on the boys as the warm up wasn't the most energetic display I've ever seen and the match started in similar fashion. Sevenoaks were first to most of the 50/50 balls and camped in the Eagles half without creating any clear cut chances but the warning signs were there. A couple of breakaways saw Sid get a good strike in that was well saved and Jack H have a half chance after he showed great awareness to intercept a clearance but Sevenoaks were the team in control.

Back and forth and a bit more pressure from Sevenoaks resulted in the opening goal, their forward striking the ball superbly into the top of the net to give Billy no chance and leave the boys 1-0 down and deservedly so. Thankfully, as often seems to be the case, going behind woke the Langton lads up and they began to grow into the game. Rami had an outstanding half, passing really well out from the back, with Laurie doing the same on the other side and both of them linking well with Tom at centre back and Billy in goal to keep possession, which pleased me greatly. Sevenoaks were defending well too though and it was tough to break down their bank of 4 players at the back. Mattie, Jack and Finn were trying to work a way through, all one-twos and clever through-balls, but the final pass just didn't quite come off. A couple of runs down the wing from Sammy nearly came off but Sevenoaks were handling everything we threw at them despite a lot of Eagles possesion and Tom's excellent captaincy driving the team forward with plenty of chat. Mattie and Finn worked their socks off to win the ball back in midfield time and time again but it still wasn't quite coming off.

Will came on and immediately made an impact, nearly slotting home after a great turn in the penalty area, with Jem and Max also joining the action and working hard out wide. There was still a slightly pedestrian feel to the Eagles' performance though and when Sevenoaks broke through we were thankful to Billy to make a smart stop to keep the score to just one. Jack H then did superbly well to latch onto Finn's clever through ball and lob the goalie, only for the ball to sail agonisingly over the bar. Mattie then went on a jinking run and had a good shot well blocked. It felt like a goal was coming...

Games often change drastically in the space of just a few minutes and so it was the case here. Sammy delivered an outstanding cross with only his second touch since coming back on which Will gambled on at the far post and slotted home deftly. Within a minute it was 2-1 to the Eagles, Sid pulling off an unbelievably good pass from midfield into Sammy's path. Sammy delivered another inch perfect cross which Will again connnected with to put the boys ahead just seconds before the referee blew for half time.

The lads knew they needed to up the energy and effort levels enormously and so they did, looking a completely different team after the break. Jem was superb on the right hand side, slotting a wonderful pass through to Will, who so nearly completed his hat-trick. The trio of Will, Sammy and Jem worked tirelessly up front to press the Sevenoaks defenders and won the ball back high up the pitch again and again. On one of these occasions Will turned provider for Sammy, playing a brilliant ball to the back post for Sammy to control and curl into the corner to make it 3-1. A few minutes later it was 4-1, Sammy again smashing the ball into the back of the net with an unstoppable strike after Will's clever flick sent him in between the two defenders.

Jack H had a blinding half, pushing forwards from left back again and again and showing great feet to make space to pick a pass and combine well with Finn and Mattie. Sublime football, all short passing and clever movement, Sammy being slotted through but just being thwarted as he looked to shoot. Laurie keeping things calm with some wonderful passing from defence and great positioning to make several interceptions, Rami maintaining his excellent performance alongside Laurie at the back.

A spate of corners, some wonderful combination play between Sid and Max and a good save from the Sevenoaks 'keeper. Two more well-worked chances for Will that were really well saved and then a lovely move, Max being positive to drive into the area before having his shot blocked. Jack then nearly scored an unbelievable own goal, would have been goal of the season, just at the wrong end and Sevenoaks then cut the defecit after we dithered a bit from a corner and gave away a cheap free kick that was slammed home. 4-2 and about 7 or 8 minutes left - still time for a collapse to match that which was going on for the England cricket team's batting line up at the exact time we were playing this morning's match. Sevenoaks nearly scored but Billy was alert to get off his line and block. The Eagles broke, Jack to Mattie, Mattie to Sid, who switched play out brilliantly to Jem, who played Max in with a clever pass. More positivity from Max, who burst into the area, found Finn, who turned with a lovely Cruyff turn and was tripped on the edge of the box. Finn stepped up himself to take the free kick and made no mistake with a beautifully placed effort that hit the back of the net to make the score 5-2 and the result safe. Still time for Sevenoaks to nearly score a third, Rami to make a barnstorming run down the right, Mattie to show great skill to turn and combine with the excellent Sid and for both Will and Sammy to nearly complete their hat-tricks but none of the nearlies became reality and the whistle went to leave the boys very happy with a fantastic second-half performance.

Man of the match was even harder than usual - several of the boys put in their best performances of the season in the second half, but it had to go to Laurie today, who was calmness personified in possession and didn't put a foot wrong defensively. As usual, thank you to Martin for running the line and to all the boys for such a brilliant effort in the second 30 minutes. Sevenoaks were strong opposition and great hosts. Another touch test next week at home to an excellent Hailsham side.

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Sunday, January 17th 2016

Langton Green Eagles 4 - 4 Tonbridge Junior Ferrari
(Sid, Will, Sammy, Max)

Some cold but generally happy Eagles plus team mascots in the snow after this morning's friendly game against Tonbridge Ferrari.

It was meant to be a league game, but a couple of inches of snow overnight meant that despite the best efforts of the Langton parents and coaching staff, who used brooms, pieces of wood, their feet, portable blow torches, pet dragons and anything else that was to hand, the teams agreed that an attempt at a friendly game was the best we could manage. The warm up was a snowball fight, naturally. I'm not sure who won. We were considering just carrying on on that note and awarding the 3 league points to the team with the last player standing but decided at least some football should be played.

These two teams had shared 18 goals in their previous 2 matches, so we knew we'd be in for plenty of goalmouth action and so it proved, another 8 goals being shared between the two sides despite the fact that the ball could only move 3 feet before it was so covered in snow that it simply wouldn't roll any further.

The boys did their best.

A great opening 5 minutes from the Eagles brought about the first goal, Sid slotting home from the edge of the area to make it 1-0 to after good work from Jem and Jack H, who unfortunately had to come off injured a moment later. Our lead was soon cancelled out by Tonbridge to make it 1-1 with a good equaliser and the remainder of the half was "played" with the snowball bobbling round all over the place. We cleared the ball. It stuck in the snow. Tonbridge shot. It stuck in the snow. Some of the boys who were subbed off threw some snowballs. One of them nearly hit me. Highlights of the half included a lovely one two between Finn and Sammy, a cracking slide tackle from Tom and obviously Sid's goal. Mattie was bursting with energy and was setting the tone for his teammates, some of whom appeared to still be in their pyjamas. Not Joel though, who defended near-perfectly for the entire half and played some really nice balls forward too.

We all applauded a lovely "Rabona" effort from one of the Tonbridge lads and a save at the other end from their goalkeeper that stopped a certain goal for Mattie after he dribbled past 3 players superbly. Half time and 1-1 a fair score.

The second half was all round a better affair. Less snow (although "less" still meant "a lot"), more energy and a more open half saw the Eagles roar into a 3-1 lead thanks first to Will's superb run and shot after Sid's excellent pass and then Sammy's scumptuous long range strike which was followed by a wonderful celebration where he made a snow angel. Finn and Sid were linking up really well in the middle, some brilliant one touch stuff in the sludgy snow showing what good football the boys are capable of playing even in horrible conditions like this. Then came the Sam show - save after save as Tonbridge piled on the pressure, one or two of which defied belief. He was on fire, which helped melt some of the snow.

Jack A had a cracking run down the right, turning brilliantly inside and laying the ball to Max, who surged forwards and passed to Sammy, who was denied by a last ditch tackle. Tom made an outrageous tackle to deny a certain goal, the ball bobbling round in the icy penalty box for Finn, Mattie and Jem all to clear off the line. Will was then upended for what looked like a cast iron penalty but with a Tonbridge player already down injured the referee and players all very sportingly gave the ball back to Tonbridge. A cracking save from the Tonbridge goalie denied Will and it was then 3-2 after Tonbridge scored a good goal on the counter. A mention should go to Jem at this stage, who with Jack H off injured did a great job at left back, showing strength and tenacity to make a number of brilliant tackles. One turn he pulled off to bring the ball out of defence was top drawer.

By now the pitch was only about 50% snow and this meant the lads could at least vaguely play football, some really fine link up play from both teams in the closing stages, with Max taking full advantage of a brilliant pass from Mattie to drive forward, hold off two defenders and slot the ball superbly into the back of the net to make it 4-2 to the Eagles with 10 minutes to go. The lads on the sidelines were still doing a great job with the snowballs and we even had some canine action on the sidelines in the form of Mattie's dog and our dog Nell. One of them nearly got on as a sub with Jack and then Sid injured, but I wasn't sure players using 4 feet were allowed. Jack H then came back on, creating one great chance and so nearly another with some quick-footed play down the left. Tom cleared off the line again. Sammy, gamely slotting in at left back then cleared off the line with a brilliant piece of positioning and it was backs to the wall stuff as Tonbridge surged forwards. Max broke through again on the break with a lovely first touch and run but a defender just got back to deny him and then Will so nearly scored with a brilliantly timed header from Max's sublime cross but the ball flashed just wide. A cracking turn from Finn saw Jack A played through again but more strong defending from Tonbridge denied him at the last moment after he did well to turn inside the first defender.

A bit of a defensive mish-mash-mix-up meant we gave away a silly goal for 4-3, Sam making 2 superb saves either side of that and then we gave away a penalty after about 3 of our players slide tackled one Tonbridge lad at once. Sam made himself big and the penalty went just wide - Tonbridge thoroughly deserved the equaliser and they got it in the last seconds, more chaos in the penalty area meaning they scored with the final kick of the game.

A 4-4 draw very entertaining on a snowy morning and probably the right decision not to play the match as a league fixture - it was virtually impossible to play any sort of football for the first 40 minutes of the game and the boys from both teams did admirably to make it look like such a coherant match.

All did really well. Man of the match went jointly to Sam and Joel, who were both superb, but I thought all the boys did well in very difficult conditions, despite a bit of lethargy from one or two in the first half.

Massive thanks to our very own Ben for refereeing and to all those parents who helped sweep snow from the pitch to start with, pack goals away and so on and so forth, not forgetting Martin for running the line.

Back to league action next week against Sevenoaks Tempest...

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Saturday, December 19th 2015

Christmas 7 a Side Tournament @ Hugh Christie School


Langton Eagles, Phoenix and Chiefs enjoyed a great morning of Christmas football...

To round the year off the Eagles took part in our regular Christmas tournament, won last year by Forest Row and expanded this season to include 8 teams, including 2 made up from the Eagles squad with the addition of Alf from the Giants and Josh from the U10s to make up the numbers after Sammy had to withdraw with a possible broken arm (get well soon Sammy!). Suffice to say the boys had lots of fun, won a trophy and played some really good football. In brief...

Langton Eagles 2 - 0 Forest Row
(Jack H, Josh)

Probably the Eagles' best performance of the morning. Some great interplay from Jack H and Josh saw Jack hammer home the opening goal before Forest Row pushed forward and nearly scored but were well denied by a good stop from Billy in goal. A mazy run from Finn nearly led to another on the break but looking for an equaliser left Forest Row susceptible to the counter attack and Josh took full advantage to guide home a cracking finish to make it 2-0 near the end after a brilliant pass from Mattie.

Langton Phoenix 3 - 0 Yalding & Laddingford
(Sid, Will, Max)

The eventual winners of the plate competition, Yalding & Laddingford played very well in this game and were unfortunate to lose it by 3 goals. The Phoenix lads played well and scored early on through Sid's excellent finish right in the corner. Y&L pushed forward in a really positive manner, looking for an equaliser and were unfortunate to concede a second on the break, Will guiding the ball under the goalkeeper. The Yalding goalie then made an outstanding save to deny Max after Joel's brilliant run down the right and Sam made a cracking save of his own at the other end from an excellent volley by the Yalding number 8. Rami made a super tackle and bombed forward brilliantly. Tom had a stint up front and created a chance for himself with great control and a strong turn and shot before Max rounded things off with a positive run and finish just before the end.

Langton Eagles 0 - 0 Ridgewaye

A very entertaining game against our good friends from Ridgewaye. Alf was on fire, dribbling his way through the defence on several occasions only to find a sea of white shirts blocking his path. Laurie and Jem combined well in midfield to so nearly create a chance for Laurie to shoot before Jem was forced to limp off with a recurrence of an ankle injury that had been bothering him, which was a shame as he was playing really well and looking lively. Jack H created probably the best chance of the game after Mattie and he played a delightful one-two but the Ridgewaye goalie stood firm. As the clock ticked down the boys got more and more desperate as first Josh was denied by a  good save and then Finn and Alf both hit shots that were also well saved.

Langton Phoenix 3 - 2 Sevenoaks
(Joel, Will 2)

Probably the most entertaining game of the morning that I witnessed saw Sevenoaks take the lead with a well taken goal before Joel equalised moments later with an absolutely blinding strike from inside his own half. The ball was cleared by a Sevenoaks defender only for Joel to strike it beautifully over the goalkeeper and into the back of the net for undoubtedly goal of the season. "It was meant to be a clearance" said Joel afterwards. Joel has much to learn about bigging himself up. Will then made it 2-1 with a low finish under the goalie and with Rami and Tom standing firm in defence and Sam making several excellent catches in goal it looked to be heading for a Langton win until Sevenoaks scored a second with a cracking finish after some really good football in the build up. Jack A then did superbly to create a chance for himself in the dying moments but the Sevenoaks 'keeper saved well. With 10 seconds to go, Will picked the ball up on the right of the penalty area and somehow squeezed the ball into the corner to make it 3-2. A brilliant finale to a very entertaining game but really harsh on Sevenoaks who played excellently and didn't deserve to lose at the death like that.

Langton Eagles 0 - 0 Tonbridge Samurai

Another 0-0, this one against our friends from Tonbridge who we always share enjoyable games with and who played some great football, as did the Eagles. Jack H and Alf were outstanding at the back. Finn played a beautiful pass in to Josh, whose shot was blocked. Weaving runs from Jack H and Alf ended with a wave of blue shirts in their way and a very good 'keeper stopping the shots that did get through. A great strike from distance by Mattie was also well saved and Jem's clever pass to Finn to switch play saw Finn push into the space in front of him and cut the ball back to Josh for another blocked shot. Billy was tested on the counter attack and saved well, Laurie chipping in with a brilliant tackle and sublime pass forwards to set Alf up for another blocked shot. All this saw the Eagles end on 5 points, which in an incredibly tight group saw them finish top, with 2 sides on 4 points and one other on 3. A cup semi final against the runners' up in group B was their reward.

Langton Phoenix 0 - 1 Langton Chiefs

A cracking game that the Chiefs thoroughly deserved to win, thanks to a brilliant volley that gave Sam no chance in goal. They were first to every ball, played like they wanted it more and the Phoenix half of the Eagles looked a bit jaded for the first time in the morning. Jack A gave us something to cheer with a superb first time strike that was brilliantly saved by the James in the Chiefs' goal and Max had a long shot that was well blocked. Thankfully for the boys, they'd already won the group before the game even kicked off, but we discussed how much effort the Chiefs had put in after the match and agreed a similar level of energy was needed from the boys in their next game, a semi final against Tonbridge. Well done Chiefs.

Semi Final: Langton Eagles 1 - 0 Langton Chiefs
(Mattie)

A far more impressive performance from the Eagles against a strong Chiefs side. Finn and Laurie were brilliant in this game, Finn showing great strength to keep possession against several much physically bigger players and Laurie tackling and passing superbly. A run from Finn found Mattie out wide and combination between him and the impressive Jack H saw Josh set up after good movement in the box but his shot was saved. Alf then dribbled through 3 tackles and found Finn, whose through ball found Josh, whose movement again created space but the excellent James saving at his feet. Jem came on and worked really hard, closing down defenders and making life very difficult for the Chiefs. A counter from our opposition saw Billy make a good clearance and the game looked to be heading for another 0-0 and penalties. Mattie had other ideas, picking the ball up on the left, cutting inside and smashing a strike right into the corner off the far post. It had to be accurate to beat the superb James in goal and thankfully for the Eagles, it was. 1-0 the final result and probably deserved on the balance of play.

Semi Final: Langton Phoenix 1 - 0 Tonbridge
(Will)

I didn't see all of this game, but from I what I heard the boys played really well. After nearly conceding early on they pushed forwards, Sid particularly impressive before Will scored the only goal of the game with a good finish after he won possession high up the pitch and finished with aplomb.

Final: Langton Phoenix 2 - 1 Langton Eagles
(Will, Sid) - (Josh)

So, Langton Eagles vs Langton Eagles in the final. The third time we've played ourselves in the last year and having already agreed that a draw would mean a shared trophy rather than penalties, that was the result I was hoping for and most likely expecting with 2 very even teams. The Eagles half of the Eagles started on top, bossing possession through some lovely passing and interplay between Mattie, Finn, Alf and Jack H. Laurie was lively in midfield and after Alf burst forward and found him with a pass that he switched quickly to Finn, Mattie was played in, cutting the ball through for Josh to cleverly strike the opening goal. Alf had to go at this point before it was nearly 2-0 a few minutes later but Sam saved brilliantly from Mattie and that was when the tide turned.

A brilliant run from Max saw him find Will with a pass that Will then turned across the box for Sid to firmly smash home to level the scores. A great finish that showed Sid's predatory instincts. Rami made several brilliant tackles in a row, Tom encouraging him well and taking up some great positions alongside him. When Jack A burst down the left and crossed I thought that would be another goal but Laurie's excellent block stopped the attack in its tracks. Jack H then went on a great run forwards, Finn turned well and laid the ball on to Mattie, who nearly scored but a deflection took the ball into the grateful hands of Sam. End to end and the Eagles caught out as Joel burst forward superbly and found Max. More positive play from him saw Will draw an unbelievable save from Billy but Will did well to work space from the rebound and score the winning goal.

30 seconds left and both Jack H and Mattie nearly equalised but Sam stood strong and pulled off one of the saves of the day to keep Phoenix ahead and give them the win. A really entertaining final and though I didn't get the draw I wanted, the boys played their hearts out and it could have gone either way.

Well done to Yalding & Laddingford, who won the plate competition on penalties after a string of excellent performances throughout the morning. Thank you to everyone who took part and also to our two young referees, Ben and Edward, who were superb all morning. A final thanks to Hugh Christie (and Jon in particular) for loaning us the pitches.

Great fun before Christmas. Nice to go away with a trophy but nicer to see some really good football from both teams. Player of the day went to Mattie, picked by James and a thoroughly deserving candidate although Joel deserved a special mention for his all round play and his unbelievable goal. Josh also deserves great praise for playing so well 2 years above his age group. His all round play was excellent at times and he scored a couple of cracking goals. It just remains for me to say Merry Christmas to all - I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday and I shall see you all in the new year where my new year's resolution will be to write shorter match reports.

 
Langton "Phoenix" with their winners' trophy at the end

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Sunday, December 13th 2015

Langton Green Eagles 1 - 4 Sevenoaks Tornado
(Will)

I need to put my Christmas tree up, so you can thank your lucky stars this is going to be quick...

Sevenoaks Tornado are our bogey team. No idea why but we always play really well against them in the first half, get to half time on level terms and then implode in the second half. An injury hit Eagles squad fell to the same unfortunate fate today. The boys tried really hard and hit the post twice in an entertaining first half the Eagles deserved to end ahead. Billy injured in the warm up but came back on to pull off two cracking saves. Finn and Mattie full of bags of energy in the middle, Mattie hitting the post after a great run and Finn having the ball in the net but being flagged for offside.

Will hit the post after a great turn, well tackled on several other occasions after excellent turns in the box. Sam, Jack H and Joel energetic and solid at the back, Jack in particular showing great tenacity in defence and positivity going forward. Rami came on and played some cracking stuff, combining well with the energetic Jem and we felt hard done by to be 0-0 at the break.

Second half started badly, conceded a very well taken goal after holding onto the ball too long and losing it with players up the pitch. Nearly equalised immediately. Conceded a second and we were up against it. Max nearly worked his way through with a cracking run through the middle. Ali and Will both had good chances saved. Mattie's long ranger was saved. A lovely bit of skill from Finn played Jem in, who did brilliantly on the left but his cross was well blocked. Jack H then went on a mazy run and did superbly to work his way through several challenges in typical Jack fashion before finding Will with a clever pass but his shot was blocked.

Billy made an awesome save but Sevenoaks were quicker than the Eagles to the follow up and it was 3-0. Will pulled one back immediately with a clever finish after more good work from Jem. Sam joined Will up front as we went two at the back and tried to force another goal. Good one two between Will and Sam nearly set Sam up for a strike. The goal nearly came through Mattie and Finn's brilliant interplay to set up Sammy, who came along to watch and ended up playing the last 15 minutes as we looked for a goal. Sammy then showed some great skill to weave through several challenges and his shot nearly found the far corner. More good play, end to end and the boys conceded an unfortunate 4th when trying to get on the scoresheet themselves. No shame in that - we had to go for it and it backfired. Fair enough.

4-1 a very harsh result in what was actually a pretty even game aside from a 10 minute spell in the second half when Sevenoaks stepped it up. They're a good team though and took their goals very well. First game after Christmas is against... Sevenoaks Tornado. We'll need to take the positives from this one and go forward. The league is so tight - 3 points between first and sixth so everyone is right in it. Just how it should be and will hopefuly make for a very entertaining second half to the season.

Man of the match tough but Billy gets it for coming back from being injured in the warm up to make two brilliant first half saves that kept the game at 0-0. Well done to Sevenoaks - they played well and did brilliantly to actually get the game on after a lot of rain overnight.

Tournament next week for a bit of Christmas fun. Look forward to it.

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Sunday, December 6th 2015

Langton Green Eagles 2 - 0 Ridgewaye Galaxy
(Mattie, Jack H)

The Met Office seem to have taken to naming storms in the UK this year, apparently in an attempt to get us to take them more seriously. I'm not sure the English need any encouragement to take the weather any more seriously than we already do, but it seems to have caught the public's imagination to have a storm with a name. I was pleasantly surprised that this morning's game against Ridgewaye went ahead after Tunbridge Wells seemed to be virtually the only part of the UK to escape the attentions of Storm Desmond.

Ridgewaye started on top, no doubt about it, pressuring our goal from the kick off and with the wind against the Eagles, the Langton boys were struggling to clear their lines. A bobbling ball in the box caused some panic and after several scuffed clearances, Finn finally wellied the ball away from our goal to a sigh of relief from those of us on the sidelines. It wasn't the start I'd been hoping for.

But, credit to the boys, because slowly but surely they edged their way into the game, Max in particular showing some great awareness to switch the play on several occasions to the opposite flank - particularly pleasing after we'd worked on that in training this week. The pitch was small, the game was cramped and the mud was everywhere, making playing any kind of football very difficult for both teams, especially with the wind whipping up, but the Eagles made great attempts to keep the ball on the floor and play the sort of passing football they've so effectively played this season. One of those excellent switch passes from Max to Jack A on the right saw him control the ball brilliantly and power forwards into space, holding off the attention of the defender with aplomb before crossing for Mattie to smash home the ball from close range, having come from nowhere to arrive in the box. A great team goal that settled the nerves somewhat. From that moment on the boys were superb.

Finn and Mattie combined beautifully in midfield to release Will, whose strike was blocked. Sid then joined the action and showed fantastic awareness on the right to do exactly what Max had been doing from the left and switch the play into space. With Jack H bombing forward from left back, a goal looked certain until Jack was bundled to the ground for what looked like it could have been a penalty. A tough call for the referee though, who did an excellent job all game and one of those "some you win, some you lose" moments.

A few seconds later and I thought the luck wasn't going to be with us, Ridgewaye countering brilliantly and the Eagles bombing back to try and snuff out the danger. The speed with which Joel, Tom and Mattie got back was outstanding but slippery ground, a slide tackle, what looked like another 50/50 but this time it was a penalty, against us. Thankfully, we had Sam in between the sticks and he knows a thing or two about saving a penalty. He stood tall and strong and repelled the strike with force, smothering the follow up and keeping his team in the lead.

Tom then cleared about 5 chances in a row with his head, Jack H to his left causing all manner of problems for the opposition going forward and solid as a rock defensively. He combined well with Max to work the ball out from the back and another chance was created for Will, who struck it well but just wide of the target. Sid had a lovely spell out on the right, controlling an outstanding pass from Joel, going past 2 players before playing a clever ball for Finn, who turned it out wide for Jack H on another fantastic forward run. Jack jinked past a defender and cut the ball back, Finn arriving to get on the end of the move and see his first time shot just squeak past the post. The boys were looking good. A couple of solid catches from Sam, a wonderful ball from Jem (on for Mattie, who was having a boot change) into the path of Jack H and then 2 chances for Jem that he fashioned himself with great runs that were well saved by the opposition goalkeeper. With Rami now on at right back and playing a fantastic final 10 minutes of the half, passing and tackling with real vigour, we saw out the half with a 1-0 lead.

The second half started well and continued that way in terms of performance. Jack H was immense on the left of defence, tackling everyone, linking up play and causing havoc with his clever runs and never-say-die attitude. On the right Joel was showing similar positivity and he very nearly got into a scoring position only to be denied by a last ditch tackle. A great pass from Finn slid Max through and his shot flashed across the face of the goal with nobody following up for the tap-in. Mattie was everywhere at this point, tackling, moving off the ball and playing some outstanding stuff with the ball at his feet both in terms of dribbling and passing. The boys were attacking relentlessly and deserved another goal, which they eventually got, Jack H weaving his way past 2 defenders and curling the ball into the far corner for a cracking solo goal to make it 2-0 and give the lads a cushion.

15 minutes left and plenty of time for nervous moments if we'd conceded, which we nearly did. Sam came to the rescue twice though, once with a brilliant point-blank save and then with a fantastic clearance when it looked like he'd be second to the ball. With Tom digging in really deep and putting in a real captain's performance at centre back, I was feeling like things were going our way in this one. Will nearly made it 3, but his fine shot cannoned back of the post and the wind took it away from Sid's excellent follow up run. Jem weaved his way into the area with some clever footwork and nearly got a shot off but was tackled at the last moment. Sid made a couple of brilliant runs, as did Jack A on the right, another of his crosses whipping across goal only to be saved by the 'keeper before Finn's outstanding pass in to Sid had us on the edge of our seat only for the goalkeeper to come to his team's rescue again and just get to the ball first. Jem then closed the opposition defence down superbly on the left and so nearly found a way to get a shot in but some good defending just saved Ridgewaye. Really hard work from Jem and great to see. Jack A then took a beautiful touch inside his defender but again, last ditch defending saved Ridgewaye just as Jack was about to shoot.

More marauding from Rami (who was outstanding in the second half and played some top, top passes forwards) and Jack H, great covering from Mattie and Finn when the full backs bombed forward and some fine link up play in attack saw the final chance of the game fall to Max out wide. His first touch was great, positive and infield towards goal. His shot was bending beautifully into the corner, but the wind had other ideas, just taking the ball wide when it looked sure to nestle in the corner. The final whistle went and that was that - a really good game of football between 2 positive sides and a wonderful performance from the Eagles all over the pitch. The last 4 Eagles games have seen 8 different goalscorers - fantastic stuff and great to see a team not relying on any one player to do everything, but working hard all over the pitch to do well as a group.

Man of the match went to Jack H, who was quite simply outstanding this morning and Sam also got a special mention for his brilliant display in goal. Well done everyone - possibly one of the best Eagles' performances ever - the quality of the football was outstanding at times in very difficult conditions, which was what made it do impressive. Thanks to James for running the line, to Ridgewaye for hosting us and to Watkin for refereeing. Roll on next week and a trip to Sevenoaks.

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Sunday, November 29th 2015

Langton Green Eagles 2 - 2 Sevenoaks Tempest
(Jem, Will)

A rare post-lunch kickoff from the Eagles and in an attempt to guarantee the game went ahead, we'd booked the 3G for the boys to play on, a surface that suits the style of football we like to see. Our opposition were Sevenoaks Tempest, a team we'd never faced before in a 9 a side fixture and a side who have had some impressive results this season. Unfortunately, both teams were having to play in gale force winds that threatened to make the game very difficult indeed, but suffice to say that each set of players dealt with it really well.

The match started at a furious pace, both teams pushing forwards, Will very nearly breaking clear on several occasions but some strong defending from Sevenoaks saw them clear the danger. At the other end Billy was called on to make a couple of decisive catches, coming off his line. Despite our excellent play going forwards, we just couldn't quite create a clear cut chance and a lack of communication at the back saw us concede a cheap corner, from which Sevenoaks took full advantage, bundling the ball home as it bobbled around in the penalty area to see us 0-1 down midway through the half.

Finn and Mattie were playing some good stuff in midfield, some nifty footwork from Finn releasing Mattie, who dribbled past 2 players but was tackled at the last moment just as he was about to shoot. The wind was making things really difficult, but defensively Sam was having an absolute blinder, clearing everything that came his way and reacting superbly to the danger every time. As stand-in captain today he also organised his team brilliantly.

Alongside him, Jack and Joel were both doing a fantastic job defensively and going forwards. Some of Joel's clearances were outstanding, really accurate balls to teammates rather than aimless hoofs up the pitch and Jack was doing the same on the other side, pushing into midfield, beating players on several occasions to start attacks. Joel, Mattie and Jack A combined brilliantly on the left, Jack A bombing forwards and checking back to play a fantastic pass in front of Mattie. His first time ball out to Sid on the right was expertly controlled by Sid, who shimmied past a challenge and played a cracking cross across the face of the box that just couldn't quite find a connection.

Jem, Max and Ali came on midway through the half. Max was instantly involved on the right as Sid moved up front, the two of them combining well before Sid fired a brilliant ball into the box. Jem had made a superb run to get on the end of Sid's pass, took a touch and dinked the ball past the goalkeeper to score his first ever Eagles goal and put his team back on level terms at 1-1. With the wind in their sails (quite literally), the boys so nearly scored again, Sid's brilliant shot coming back off the post and Mattie having a strike well-saved.

Second half the Eagles were shooting into the wind, which actually seemed to be a little bit easier in that the ball didn't run away from them so much. The half started well, with a sustained period of pressure that very nearly saw Max score what would have been an excellent solo goal, but some more strong defending from Sevenoaks saw him tackled at the last minute. Jem was on fire, tracking back and bombing forward in equal measure, combining superbly with Jack A on a couple of occasions and then feeding Sid, whose long range effort was well-saved by the excellent Sevenoaks goalkeeper. Jack A then broke free after a cracking through ball from Will, but the shot wasn't on and his clever pass inside saw Sid's first time shot deflected for a corner.

Midway through the half and a fantastic clearance from Sam found Max, whose pinpoint pass slide Will through on goal. He made no mistake to tuck the ball home past the goalie and make it 2-1 to the Eagles. An excellent finish from a very good pass.

With 15 minutes to go the next goal was going to be crucial. Sid so nearly got it, latching onto a brilliant pass from Jack H and rounding the keeper only to see some more superb defending deny him. At the other end Billy was alert to clear several through balls as Sevenoaks threatened and with Jack H pushing forward brilliantly down the right I was convinced we were going to score again. He jinked his way through several challenges, played a delightful one-two with Mattie and then played a great pass through to Ali on the right wing, who had made an outstanding run to get in behind the defender. His cross was blocked and Sevenoaks broke, end to end stuff, with Sam again clearing when danger threatened. A free kick that Sam blasted into the area was so nearly stabbed home by Jack H at the far post but Sevenoaks scrambled it away and a series of corners nearly made it 3-1 but Sevenoaks defended well, their goalkeeper in particular having a very impressive game.

The wind had picked up, the ball behaving very strangely when in the air, several clearances ending up back where they'd started. Joel had a brilliant second half, with nobody able to get past him on the left and when Finn slid Will in with another cracking through ball we all held our breath only for the Sevenoaks goalkeeper to make another great save.

A few minutes to go and a clearance from Sevenoaks was well kept in by their winger, who did superbly to find his teammate with a cross. Billy pulled off an outrageous save from the first shot but could do nothing about the rebound, Sevenoaks scoring to make it 2-2 late in the half. 5 minutes to go and still time for either team to win it. Both nearly did, Finn making a great run in behind the defence only to see his cross blocked and Sevenoaks so nearly scored from a great move that ended with the ball whistling past Billy's far post.

Mattie was doing a great job at this stage, tucking in as Jack H pushed forwards to join the attack and from the deeper position he found himself in he picked up a wayward clearance and drove forward, skipping past 2 challenges and playing Max in, whose shot rebounded wide and the final whistle went to signal the end of a very entertaining game that both teams did really well to play some nice football in, depsite the awful wind that threatened to decide the match one way or other at times. Thankfully both teams scored good goals that relied on their skill rather than the elements and a draw was a fair result in a game that was played in an excellent spirit. We look forward to the return game next year very much.

As some rather frozen parents, brothers, sisters and grandparents came over to collect some wonderfully non-muddy children, it was just left to give out a man of the match award. Tough as always, as all the boys played really well today. Jem played brilliantly and I was dead chuffed to see him score after so many games when he really deserved to but was denied by the post, bad luck or good goalkeeping. Well done Jem - and lovely to have got a goal with all your fans watching today! But, I have to give it to Sam this afternoon, who played the whole game at centre back and was as solid as a rock all game. Well done Same - thoroughly deserved. Thank you to Archie for refereeing and to Will's brother for running the line. Back on the grass next week at Ridgewaye, assuming the rain stays away.

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Sunday, November 22nd 2015

Langton Green Eagles 1 - 3 Paddock Wood Predators
(Max)

A frosty but sunny morning for football saw the Eagles take on Paddock Wood, a team we've always had good, close games against in the past. It all started very well, despite some frozen toes, Will getting clear only to be denied by some excellent defending by Paddock Wood's strong back three. Joel made a cracking clearance from the back, straight to Max, who dribbled his way through 2 players and smashed home an unstoppable strike to put the boys 1-0 up. It was nearly 2-0 a few moments later, Will again being denied by some good goalkeeping and some cracking forward play from Max, Mattie and Sid nearly created a chance for Sammy, who made a great run to the far post.

At the back Jack H and Joel were solid either side of Tom, but Paddock Wood were creating some chances of their own and had an excellent spell of pressure where Billy was called on to make 2 brillint catches and some excellent covering by Sammy saw us clear our lines as Paddock Wood were about to score. Jack H then made 3 or 4 brilliant clearances in a row, all of which started attacks and we were looking good.

Finn, whose participation was seriously in doubt for this game, came on midway through the half, hand strapped up, and he slotted into central midfield well, playing Will in with a great through ball which then saw Will's strike well saved. Finn then had a chance of his own after a great pass from Mattie, but the shot was again well saved by the strong Paddock Wood 'keeper.

Jack A came on and made some good runs, nearly finding Mattie with a cleverly thought out pass and with Rami and Ali also now on the boys were defending well and looking good in the run up to half time.

More of the same was the message at the break, with a bit more focus on our defensive duties and communication and an instruction to try and keep it tight for the first 10 minutes. Sadly the half couldn't have started worse, some sloppy play out from the back leading to Paddock Wood winning the ball back high up the pitch and scoring a well taken goal. A free kick given away on the edge of the box made it 2-1 to our opponents and with barely 5 minutes gone in the half we were 3-1 down after failing to clear the ball on 3 separate occasions. Paddock Wood were the first to every ball at this stage and we were properly under the cosh. It was the sort of comeback the Eagles usually make themselves and another occasion, as is so often the case in these games, where the team in the lead end up conceding several quick goals.

The boys were up against it and responded pretty well. Chances were created by excellent forward play, but it was just one of those days where the ball ran an inch too far or bounced an inch wide of its' target. Will found himself in great shooting positions after good link up play in midfield but the opposition keeper made some cracking saves. Max so nearly scored a second only to see his shot scrambled off the line and Finn jinked his way into the area before being tackled well. Sid could have had a penalty when felled from behind when clean through on goal, but the referee waved play on and to be fair to him, he had an excellent game all round and refereed very fairly. A couple of brilliant blocks by Rami, a good forward pass from Ali and a cracking save from Billy (whose decision making to come off his line was top class today), with further chances for Sammy, Mattie and Jack H saw a strong end to a game that was very even and could have gone either way. Should mention Paddock Wood hitting the bar with a brilliant long range effort too.

Well done to Paddock Wood, who took their chances well and thank you to Martin once again for running the line. Plenty to work on at training but all in all some decent football at times after several weeks without a game.

Man of the match jointly shared between Jack H and Mattie, whose work rate was phenomenal. As I said to the boys at the end, if every one of the players worked as hard as those two, the Eagles would be virtually unbeatable. That's not to suggest the other 11 players didn't work hard - many of them did - but there were one or two out there today who could have done with a bit of an energy boost at times when not in possession. Billy deserves a special mention for his outstanding goal kicks from hand - really intelligent distribution - and Max should get another mention for a wonderful goal.

On the 3G next week against Sevenoaks, which should be a good game. Looking forward to it.

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Sunday, November 1st 2015 - Cup Quarter Final

Langton Green Eagles 10 - 2 Langton Green Chiefs
(Sid 3, Finn 2, Sammy, Mattie, Max, Will)

The halloween fog isn't playing tricks on you. There really are 3 goalies.

I woke up to find that I couldn't see the end of my road and this wasn't because I drank too much beer whilst watching the rugby world cup final. The fog that had been promised by the folks at BBC Weather came thick and heavy and as we drove to Groombridge for a tasty cup quarter final against our good friends the Chiefs in the U12 cup, there was genuine concern we may not be able to see enough for the boys to play the game.

Thankfully, pitchside the fog was a little less intense and after negotiating lost keys to the changing rooms, a new "away" kit for the boys (actually an old 1990s white Langton U10 kit) and a lost referee who never did show up, the match got going shortly after 9.30 with David once again donning the whistle at short notice (thank you). The match didn't start well for the Eagles, the Chiefs beginning the livelier team and forcing an early save from the excellent Sam in goal. After some confusion in playing out from the back, we conceded a free kick in a dangerous area that the Chiefs slammed home expertly to leave the boys 1-0 down with just 5 minutes gone.

The dodgy start didn't last long and the Eagles were soon level, a free kick of their own (this one indirect) inside the area was powered into the bottom corner by Finn for his first goal of the season. A few minutes later it was 2-1, cracking wide play from Sid after Mattie's outstanding pass leading to a cross that was well left by Will for Sammy to curl a beauty of a shot into the top corner. Barely 10 minutes gone and the game had seen 3 good goals - with the goalscoring records of these 2 teams so far this season we knew we'd see a few goals but this was a treat even by Langton Green standards.

The Chiefs threatened again, some excellent attacking play from them testing us on several occasions and the game was swinging from end to end and promising further goals at every attack. Tom, Rami and Jack H were working their socks off at the back, Jack pushing forwards again and again to join the attacks and the three of them communicating brilliantly. More combination from Sid and Finn saw Mattie pick the ball up on the edge of the box and shimmy through 3 challenges, showing outstanding strength and skill to weave his way into the penalty area and score and absolute beauty of a solo goal to put the Eagles 3-1 up. An absolutely top class save from the Chiefs' goalkeeper saw Will denied and another cracking save moments later forced Mattie's strike out for a corner and the Eagles were enjoying a good spell.

Laurie, Joel, Max and Jem were now on, all contributing fantastically in their respective positions. Joel was showing bags of energy and great ball control at the back and his pass out from defence nearly led to a goal for Sid, again the Chiefs' goalie making a brilliant save. Their central defender then denied Will and when the ball broke back to Laurie he played a sumptuous pass forwards to Jem, who turned brilliantly, played out wide to Max on the left, who ran through a challenge and then began what was probably the best passage of Eagles play all season. Max to Jem, Jem to Mattie, Mattie to Sid and Sid into the back of the net to make it 4-1. Every pass quick, accurate and first time, the boys displaying some truly excellent passing football that sums up exactly how we like to play the game and finished the half perfectly.

Billy came on for Sam in goal for his first game back after fracturing his finger and was immediately tested, clearing well before the Chiefs scored their second of the game with a brilliantly worked counter attack that gave us no chance. Camped in their half, the boys had started the half well before the ball was won back well by the Chiefs' centre back who launched a bullet of a pass into their forward players. They moved the ball quickly and finished with a wonderful strike and you had to applaud what was a really good goal that got them right back in the game.

Sam was up front now and so nearly worked his way through to create a shooting opportunity, eventually stopped by sheer numbers from the opposition and a good tackle. Will had been threatening a goal all morning and he got it midway through the half, arrowing his excellent strike into the bottom corner after a great pass from Sid after Jack H won the ball back brilliantly and drove forward with pace and purpose. Finn did a Maradona turn type thing to bamboozle a couple of defenders and laid the ball to Mattie, whose clever turn and shot nearly saw the net bulge. Jem then went close with a cracking strike that was well saved, Max, Mattie and Sammy then played a lovely bit of 1 touch football to release Sid, who smashed home his second of the game with what we hoped was the goal that made the tie safe. Max's brilliant pass from out wide was then turned into the back of the net by Finn for possibly the most outrageous Eagles goal ever, a cheeky first time backheel from the edge of the 6 yard box to give him his second. This was followed by a brilliant goal from Max, continuing his great form from the last few weeks with a wonderful goal that he fully deserved and worked hard for. His play off the ball today was superb, as was his play when in possession. Billy then had to be alert to clear several through balls by coming off his line to show great awareness and Sam, now playing at the back (his third position of the game) did a top job defensively with some excellent passes out to his teammates.

Joel's excellent ball control and Rami's passing from defence both impressed me enormously in these closing stages, both linking well with their team mates and Joel almost working his way through several tackles with quick feet for a shot, only to be denied by a good tackle from the Chiefs' defender. Laurie was in central midfield by now and he came close to scoring on several occasions, his calm passing and energy to get forward really adding to the team performance. Both he and Jem desperately deserved a goal today for their efforts and only some very fine goalkeeping and defending kept their names off the scoresheet. With full time looming Sid scored his third for a hat trick with a brilliant strike after more lovely interplay between Mattie, Jem and Jack H. Jack then rounded things off with a fully deserved goal of his own which was partly great solo play to dribble through several tackles and partly good team play with Laurie and Sam combining well to set him going to start with. I have to say the scoreline doesn't reflect how well the Chiefs played, particularly in the first half when they were a constant threat going forwards and tenacious and energetic in defence. I also thought their goalkeeper was absolutely brillliant - he made a number of unbelievably good saves and drew plenty of positive comments from the watching parents after the game - thoroughly deserved praise for a very good goalie who I understand hadn't played for a month, making his quick reactions even more impressive.

Man of the match went to Jem, who never stopped running and showed some real quality on the ball. Special mentions to everyone else - the boys were fantastic but particularly Sid, who I wish I'd had in my fantasy football team this week after his 3 goals and 4 assists would have handed me at least 26 points, double if he'd been my captain. Instead I had Alexis Sanchez, who got me virtually nothing. Wenger has been on to me about a trade but I told him Sid would never consider playing for Arsenal and is holding out for a move to Charlton so he's ours for the time being thankfully.

Thanks to Martin for running the line and to David for stepping in as "Super Ref". He's going to have to start wearing his underpants on the outside of his clothes from now on.

After the match we were treated to cake from the Chiefs' parents who were raising money for the new Langton clubhouse and what a treat it was. The lemon drizzle cake (I had 2 bits) was awesome and the chocolate cake I sampled was also first class. In danger of pretty much funding the entire clubhouse project single handedly through cake I had to eventually tear myself away. All good things have to end and so off we headed, very happy to be in the semi finals of the cup but also very happy to have seen the boys play some absolutely outstanding football against a very good Chiefs team who played some fine stuff themselves.

Back to league action next week against Ridgewaye, so pretty much a home game. Bring it on!

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Sunday, October 25th 2015 - Friendlies


Some very happy Langton boys after a couple of fine performances this morning...

A rare week off from league action saw the Eagles play two friendly matches against Wadhurst and Forest Row, two teams we've always enjoyed good games against in the past and were delighted to welcome to a sunny Groombridge, complete with freshly painted lines of the highest quality (I did them myself and they were, quite frankly, at Premier League level, if you ignored the wobbly bits and the molehills).

Langton Green Eagles 1 - 1 Wadhurst United
(Mattie)

The first game was against Wadhurst and the Eagles started a little slowly, the energy and tenacity shown by Mattie and Jem in midfield negated by a series of loose passes from nearly every one of the lads at one stage or other, James coming to the rescue early on with a series of cracking saves to keep the boys on level terms. We had chances of our own, Sid playing a couple of outstanding passes that were well read by Wadhurst and Will bursting through on two occasions only to see the final shot smothered both times. Jack A then had a great run from Jem's clever first time pass that ended with a blocked cross and things were starting to look a bit better for the boys. Sammy hit the crossbar with an absolute beauty of a strike that left the frame of the goal shaking and we thought a goal might be coming. We were right...

With half time looming and the score level, the boys were caught out trying to play the ball out from the back, which I've always encouraged them to do (and as I write this it appears the Argentinian rugby team have also been encouraged to do the same thing, with slightly more calamitous results!!!), so no problems there. It will happen again but long term it will make for better footballers. With the ball nicked away, our defence of Rami, Tom and Sam, who had played really well during the first half, just couldn't get back to deny the Wadhurst forward a well taken goal which left the Eagles 1-0 down at the break.

Second half saw a few changes, Sammy and Finn joining the action and Sid getting back on up front. The lads started the half well and played much, much better for the next 15 minutes. Mattie was everywhere, tracking back and pushing forwards with equal vigour and finding himself unfortunate to see his well struck shot saved brilliantly by the Wadhurst goalkeeper. A crazy spell followed, with Finn, Max, Mattie and Will all seeing shots blocked as the Wadhurst 'keeper single handedly kept his team ahead through a string of fine saves, one of which defied belief.

After Wadhurst's fine start it was all Eagles at this stage, wave upon wave of yellow attacks being thwarted by either great defending from Wadhurst, great goalkeeping from the Wadhurst goalie or unfortunate finishing from Langton. Wadhurst were dangerous on the break though and Rami made several fantastic tackles to break things up when our opposition did attack and some of his passing out from the back was outstanding today, calm and assured. He found Sid with one such pass and Sid's clever play saw Finn drive forward and pick out Will with a wonderful through ball only for his strike to skim the post as the clock ran down and we began to think it would be "one of those games".

With 1 minute left, Mattie had other ideas, getting to a corner first to turn the ball into the back of the net with a sublime first time finish that he and his team thoroughly deserved after all their hard work in the second half. There was still time for James to bravely catch a tricky long shot, for the Wadhurst goalie to bravely save from Sid and for both teams to try and win the game at the death, testament to the excellent attitude they both played the game with - attacking football with positivity from the two teams and a real joy to watch. In the end a draw was probably a fair result in what was a very entertaining game of football. Some excellent performances all over, man of the match going to James, who single handedly kept the Eagles in touch during a tricky first 10 minutes. Pass of the game by Jem also deserves a special mention, as does Mattie's outstanding finish for his goal.

Langton Green Eagles 4 - 0 Forest Row
(Sammy, Max, Jack A, Will)

After a break whilst the other two teams played each other and the Eagles enjoyed a game of "power and finesse" (which saw James end up wearing a brown kit and me facing a potentially expensive trip to the launderette), the boys were back on to face Forest Row, a team who the lads played several times last season and who have always proven to be tough opponents with some skilful players.

The Eagles again started slowly, possession being lost on several occasions and Forest Row nearly breaking through early on only to be denied by Tom's excellent last ditch tackle. This seemed to wake the boys up and for the remainder of the half they played some really good football. Finn and Mattie were dovetailing brilliantly in midfield, pushing forwards and dropping back to defend when required. Finn had a 5 minute spell where he seemed determined to score, first putting a shot just wide after great link up play with Sid and then having 2 shots in quick succession superbly saved by the Forest Row 'keeper. He then came the closest he did all game, hitting the inside of the post with a cracker of a shot from the edge of the box, with nobody on hand to follow up for the rebound.

A couple of moments later it was 1-0, Sid's outstanding pass inside the full back finding Finn out on the right, his first time cross arrowing in to Sammy, who was lurking on the edge of the 6 yard box, where he just doesn't miss from. And he didn't. A really well worked team goal full of slick, confident passing and a great finish. Very pleasing to see and well received by the excellent Eagles parents (and grandparents) who were positive and full of lively support all morning.

Max then got in on the act, playing a wonderful pass through to Will, who was really unlucky to see his shot just hit the side netting. Sam showed fantastic strength to hold off a player when they seemed sure to break through and then to play a measured pass to Mattie in midfield, whose excellent jinking run so nearly saw him score an unbelievable goal.

Half time saw us notice Rami's excellent stripe of line paint on his hair. It was truly artistic. We made a few changes plus a request for more of the same. And we got it. A firecracker start saw the boys go 2-0 up almost immediately with one of the goals of the season from Max, who picked the ball up in his own half, dribbled past 3 defenders, showing great positivity and curled the ball into the bottom corner with a sublime finish. What a goal and thoroughly deserved by Max for all his hard work and unselfish passing earlier in the game.

Finn and Jem them both nearly scored in a great spell that saw the Forest Row goalie pull off several outstanding saves and Sammy then showed wonderful skill to weave past 3 defenders before being blocked well by a brilliant bit of defending from the team in green. Jack A then scored a goal every bit as good as Max's, Sid again the orchestrator with a super through ball inside the full back and into Jack's path. He powered forward towards the penalty area and unleashed an absolute rocket of a shot that looped over the goalkeeper and into the roof of the net. Brilliant stuff and as with Max, completely deserved for his excellent work rate. A few moments later he nearly turned provider, a brilliant cross from the right nearly finding Will, who had bombed forward from the back. Jem filled in at right back and did a cracking job, him, Will and Rami showing some lovely interplay to pass out from the back and into Mattie's feet. Mattie, Sid and Finn combined superbly to nearly send Sammy through but a Forest Row player did a great job to get a tackle in. James showed great awareness to come off his line and claim several through balls and the lads linked well with him, playing the ball back when under pressure and showing some nice interplay with James to work the ball out from the back.

3-0 and a few minutes left. Several players really deserved a goal for their outstanding work rate, none more than Sid, who played 4 or 5 simply superb passes in this game, showing what a clever player he is. Jem and Finn also deserved to get on the scoresheet and were mightily unfortunate not to in the last few minutes, both having shots saved well before Will, who had come forward for a corner, scored a birthday goal with a well worked turn and shot from Sammy's accurate delivery. 4-0 to the boys in yellow and a few minutes to go that saw Mattie go close, Tom make another superb tackle and both Sam and Max play brilliant forward passes that pleased me enormously.

The final whistle went to signal the end of another very entertaining game which we finished off with a penalty shootout at the boys' request, Forest Row and Langton both scoring some cracking penalties and the 2 coaches even getting in on the act at the end. Such was the effort I put into my penalty kick, I think I may have pulled a muscle.

Man of the match in the second game goes to Sid for showing such wonderful vision for those passes behind the Forest Row defence but a special mention to Max and Jack A for their goals, both of which were outstanding. An all round entertaining morning which was brilliantly finished off by Will very generously sharing a birthday cake with everyone. Rami somehow made off with 5 pieces. Whether they were to share with his family or all for himself we shall never know.

A massive thank you to James, for filling in in goal after Billy unfortunately fractured his thumb last week and also a big thanks to his brother Ed, who refereed superbly all morning. Shame he didn't get a chance to send his brother off but I'm sure we can arrange another opportunity in the future. And of course thanks to Martin for running the line and to all the parents for their wonderful support.

Cup quarter final next week against another Langton team... should be fun!!

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Sunday, October 18th 2015

Langton Green Eagles 3 - 2 Jarvis Brook (League)
(Will 3)

Back at our "home" ground at Groombridge, it was a very early start for the Eagles' manager, who had to mark the lines out after they'd all been rubbed away in last week's rain. This was easier said than done and thankfully some slightly wibbly wobbly lines went mostly unnoticed by the boys. A somewhat gloomier day weather-wise than recent Eagles outings, but with a cracking training session midweek we were confident the lads would put in a good performance against a strong Jarvis Brook side that we hadn't faced before.

The game started in dream fashion, Will scoring after about a minute, following great work from first Jack H at the back and then Finn and Sid to play Will through on goal. He made no mistake from a tight angle, finding the back of the net with a clever strike.

We then had a decidedly dodgy 10 minutes, where we just couldn't clear our lines, Jarvis Brook unfortunate not to score during this spell as they pressured our goal with a series of corners and some good possession. We countered once, Will really unlucky not to score a second after a quick break from Sammy, who unselfishly played him in with a great pass, the ball whistling millimetres past the far post.

The goal that was coming came, Jarvis Brook scoring after we were caught in possession and this seemed to spark the boys into life, much improved for the remainder of the half. Tom, Joel and Jack were communicating brilliantly at the back in front of Billy, who was once again quick off his line to claim the ball on several occasions. He made a superb save from a corner, tipping the ball away from the onrushing striker. The defence had Sam filling an unfamiliar role just in front of them with fantastic energy and quality on the ball - his clearances as usual were well thought through rather than just aimless lumps up the pitch - well done Sam. Jem came on to take the central midfield role and immediately carried on the great work Sam had been doing, harrying the opposition into losing possession and playing some great passes forwards. With Max now on the pitch too, showing wonderfully quick feet to skip away from a couple of tackles, we were looking dangerous going forward and sure enough we took the lead again with some quick interplay in midfield after Joel had played a great forward pass that saw Jem control the ball brilliantly and send an inch-perfect through ball into Will's path. Will beat 2 defenders for pace and sent the ball low under the 'keeper to make it 2-1 to the Eagles.

The boys kept their fine form up at the tail end of the half, Finn tenacious in midfield to win the ball back again and again and Jack A playing some lovely stuff on the right hand side, using his pace to take him clear on a couple of occasions.

Just on the stroke of half time we gave away a free kick and the resulting strike flew through a sea of defenders and into the back of the net for 2-2. A shame, but these things happen - maybe some stronger organisation from our outfield players (and some more work in training on these situations from me!) would have given Billy a little more protection in goal. The half time whistle went to signal the end of a very tight half and the score probably about where it should be after both teams had good spells and not so good spells.

Some half time changes saw Tom, Finn and Will take a break after all their hard work in the first 30 minutes, Sammy moving up front where he showed cracking awareness and pace to cause a few early problems for Jarvis Brook. A bullet of a long range strike was well saved by the opposition goalkeeper, who had a really good game today and some great skill saw Sammy pull away from his marker and combine brilliantly with Sid, who was doing a fantastic job in central midfield, controlling the middle of the pitch with a range of passing that saw him play first Max and then Jem through before both were closed down. Jack A was putting in a corker of a performance down the right, losing his marker on several occasions and unselfishly squaring the ball to Sid, whose return ball put Jack through but the goalie was quick off his line.

The half ebbed and flowed, Jack H making a couple of outstanding tackles on the left to deny Jarvis Brook clear cut opportunities, and the Eagles were slowly dominating possession and territory, only for Jarvis Brook to counter superbly. We all thought they'd score and the shot deserved a goal, but Billy had other ideas, leaping to his right to pull off an absolutely outrageous save and keep his team in the game. Particularly impressive bearing in mind he'd barely had to touch the ball for the whole of the second half until that point. Jarvis Brook's goalie then pulled of a great save of his own before Finn picked the ball up in the middle of pitch, did some bit of skill that has a name I can't remember and threaded a perfect pass through to Will, who timed his run superbly and slotted the ball into the corner for 3-2 to the Eagles with 10 minutes to go and a very well taken hat trick.

Sam and Tom were dominant in defence, clearing with precision to launch counter attacks, Will so nearly scoring a fourth but seeing the ball dribble just wide with Sammy bursting forward to offer support in a great piece of off the ball play. Jack H and Joel were tenacious and positive going forwards, Joel making a couple of cracking overlapping runs (and a couple of super tackles when retreating as J.B attacked) and Jack dribbling nearly the length of the pitch on one occasion before playing a smart one-two with Sid and being really unlucky to see the ball skid past the post. What pleased me enormously on these occasions was that either Finn or Sid nearly always had the awareness to tuck in and offer cover when one of the full backs pushed forwards whilst Jem offered great support with his tireless running pressuring the opposition when in possession to win the ball back high up the pitch.

A couple of excellent corners from Sammy saw Finn nearly score with a header and Max nearly put the rebound in with a clever shot, but the sheer number of opposition players in the box denied the lads another goal as they saw out the final few minutes, Billy twice being alert to snuff out the danger when the ball was played through and once to catch superbly as a tricky high ball got lobbed back into the box. The final whistle went to much relief and a very pleased coach after the boys did so well in the second half to play some really good stuff in possession and deal brilliantly with their defensive duties too. Their communication in particular was outstanding today and the positive support from the substitutes made a massive difference - really impressive boys.

So tough (as usual) to pick a man of the match. The trophy I purchased for such occasions unfortunately died a death during shooting practice at the start of the game (2 broken arms, one missing leg and one leg that now points in the opposite direction). I'm fairly certain this was a ploy to get me to go back to the old style man of the match award of chocolate. It worked. This week the recipient of the chocolate will be Billy, who thoroughly deserves it for making several (and one in particular) outstanding saves as well as showing great awareness to come off his line and claim a succession of through balls. Jem deserves a mention for his hard work in midfield and obviously a hat trick should never go ignored, so well done to Will for his 3rd (third!!!!) hat trick of the season. All the boys did brilliantly though, with a lot of very unselfish work off the ball that particularly impressed me.

It was just left for Max to share round a very tasty birthday cake (thank you Max). Jack H has invented a new way of eating icing, which was good to see and I must mention Sammy's excellent crossbar challenge at the end!

Thank you for your support of the boys this morning and particularly to those of you who helped set up / pack away / clear dog poo up / mark lines with me and thank you also to David, who did a great job with the whistle (and Martin once again on linesman duty).

Friendlies next week before a return to cup action against one of our other Langton sides the week after!

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Sunday, October 11th 2015

Langton Green Eagles 6 - 1 Hailsham (League)
(Will 3, Sammy, Mattie, Max)

We're being treated to some rare consistently good weather on Sundays at the moment. My new jacket that arrived this week was all ready for torrential rain but alas it's moment in the proverbial sun will have to wait a while. With the glorious weather seems to come glorious football too, the Eagles playing their part in another highly entertaining match and showing us probably the best football they've played so far this season against a very strong Hailsham side who comfortably beat the lads last year and possess several excellent young players of their own.

Missing captain Tom this week and also without Jack A and Sam, Laurie started at centre back, a position he hasn't played very often, but one which he played marvellously in today, starting the way he meant to go on with an early interception and fabulous pass out of attack. Sid's excellent hold up play saw the ball laid back to Will, whose curling far post ball was smashed home by Sammy for an early lead and his 100th goal for the Eagles. Outstanding stuff.

With Finn and Mattie pulling the strings in midfield, more chances came. Sid nearly put Will through with a beauty of a pass and Will then returned the favour only for the opposition's very strong number 10 to get back and smother the opportunity. Billy was called on to come off his line quickly on a couple of occasions as the excellent number 11 from the opposition used his pace to get behind us, but more often than not it didn't get that far as Jack H, playing at left back today, got back to make tackle after tackle and then set the play going forward with an excellent range of passing.

It was soon 2-0, Finn threading a cracker of a ball through to Will, who used quick feet to take the ball into space with his first touch and produce a perfect finish, low into the corner. Finn then very nearly made it 3-0 with quick feet and a good low shot, but a nick from a defender took the ball into the goalkeeper's hands to thwart the boys in yellow.

The half ebbed and flowed. The sun continued to shine. There was something mighty suspicious lurking in the grass very near me on the touchline that I had to be aware of for fear of treading in it - this required some nimble footwork on a couple of occasions but I managed to avoid the worst. A local gentleman came and talked to me for a while about the game. He wasn't a Hailsham parent, just an interested passer by and I was very pleased that our boys were showing him such positive football.

Jem came on and played a couple of outstanding passes in midfield as well as closing down the opposition and Mattie was becoming more and more of an influence, tracking back tirelessly to win the ball and then spraying it out wide to Max and Jem. With Finn dropping deeper to cover, Mattie got more and more opportunity to push forward and so nearly got on the scoresheet with a great strike that was well blocked and again with a looping shot that the excellent Hailsham 'keeper did well to hold onto.

Rami was closing down the opposition superbly and tracked back to make a couple of super last ditch tackles, a job Joel carried on wonderfully when he moved from midfield into defence. Both of them played some outstanding passes out from the back too, matched by Jack on the other side and Laurie in the middle. We did have the traditional Eagles heart-in-mouth moments on several occasions when the ball bobbled around in the box with nobody dealing with it but there was definitely an improvement in the communication of recent weeks and with Laurie's steady presence in there we weren't threatened too often, Billy dealing with it well when we were. Ali came on up front to give Will a rest and ran himself into the ground looking for space, Finn finding him with a great pass and Ali then playing Mattie in, who made wonderful progress to skip away from 2 tackles before the number 10 again got back and made another solid challenge. A spate of foul throws from both teams provided some entertainment and 3 corners in a row yielded goal number 3, or we thought so, Jack H really unlucky to be flagged for offside when he had the ball in the net via a sublime backheel nutmeg. As Martin commented later - it should have been worth 2 goals!

Half time saw more changes and the boys started the second half on fire, Will, Sammy, Mattie and Max dominating going forward and finding themselves with an overload in attack again and again. Will got his second with a fine finish after great work from Sammy, Mattie then getting on the scoresheet after a wonderful turn in the penalty area from Will saw him lay the ball into Mattie's path for an angled finish for 4-0. It was quickly 5, Jack H pushing forward from the back and starting the attack off by beating 3 players and linking up well with Finn, who found Sid, who found Will, who played the ball unselfishly into Max's path for a great strike from him from a tight angle. Will then scored a 6th and his third, his first time shot well saved by the Hailsham goalie (who had a very good second half and made several outstanding saves) but the follow up cleverly lobbed over the 'keeper's head into the roof of the net to make it 6-0 to the Eagles midway through the half.

The attacks continued, Rami bombing forward after a great interception to play Sammy in, Jem unfortunate to see his powerful strike come back off the post and then a second shot saved well by the goalie. Sid nearly got in on the action, a couple of outstanding passes from him nearly setting teammates up before he had an arrowed shot well blocked. Finn dribbled his way into the box and unleashed an excellent strike only to see the goalkeeper once again come to his team's rescue before Jack H powered forward again and so nearly found the corner but for a last minute block.

With 10 minutes to go the boys took their foot of the gas slightly and were made to pay as Hailsham had a good spell which led to a well taken goal after Billy had made an oustanding save from the initial shot. He then pulled off an unbelievable save on the line when Hailsham looked nailed on to score and came off his line quickly to clear a dangerous through ball. Laurie intercepted about 10 different passes / runs with calm assurance and then set our attacking play going with intelligent passing from defence. With Joel and Jack solid either side of him (one of Joel's tackles was out of this world) and Mattie hurling himself everywhere to block and tackle like a one-man forcefield, the boys rode out that difficult spell and started to look like the team they had until then.

Sammy had the ball in the net again but was called for offside and Ali played a couple of lovely one-two passes with first Will and then Mattie but the boys were just unable to force another goal. With more changes seeing a couple of players get a well deserved rest near the end the Eagles saw out the rest of the game in relative comfort to seal an impressive 6-1 win against a very good Hailsham side who are much better than this scoreline suggests. We'll expect a tough game from them after Christmas.

All in all, an outstanding performance all round. Man of the match incredibly difficult. Jack H put in an unbelievable performance at left back, Laurie was awesome, Mattie once again played superbly in central midfield but I have to give it to Will today, partly deserved because of his second hat-trick of the season but mainly because his decision making was first class - he passed when he needed to and he shot when he needed to. A very unselfish performance from him but every single boy was magnificent today. A special mention should go to Sammy, who received an award after the game for scoring 100 goals for the team. It was, I'm sure everyone will agree, a most "understated" trophy which should tastefully sit on Sammy's parents' mantelpiece for many a year. I ordered it online and it looked smaller and slightly less blingy (if that's a word) on the website!!

Well done all. Once again, thank you to Martin for running the line, to the referee who was brilliant and to Hailsham for being such good hosts. Another tough game next week, but this time at home, so a shorter journey!

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Sunday, October 4th 2015 (Cup)

Langton Green Eagles 5 - 3 Tonbridge Junior Ferrari
(Sammy 2, Will 2, Mattie)

Some very happy Eagles after making it through to the quarter finals of the cup...

Yet another spectacular morning both weather and football-wise, the Eagles taking full advantage of the league's decision to reinstate them in the knockout cup with a display of two halves that ended with some scintillating football from some very tired boys after the game was taken to extra time. Tonbridge were magnificent too and we very much enjoyed another exciting encounter against them.

After an interesting warm up that involved being first of all on the wrong pitch and then using a 5-5-2 formation to comb the pitch for sticks and dog poo to help the referee out (we didn't find any), the game started in a similar vein to how last week's ended with some promising attacking play undermined by a reluctance to release the ball when we had players in space and some shambolic defensive play across the team leading to us giving the ball back to the opposition in dangerous areas time and time again. The danger signs were there and when Tonbridge headed home completely unchallenged from a corner it felt like we were all in a football version of the film Groundhog Day and reliving last week's second half. Thankfully, going forward we were showing some nice stuff, Jack H and Finn linking up well and forcing a corner on the left that Sammy curled in beautifully. We all thought Finn got a head on it, Finn claimed he didn't, but it didn't matter because the ball was in the back of the net and it was 1-1, the goal awarded to Sammy direct from the corner.

Mattie was playing his first game for the Eagles in the 9 a side format and he was everywhere, hunting the ball down with determination and then trying to start the team moving forward. Unfortunately, despite some excellent link up play in midfield and some really promising opportunities down both flanks, we conceded twice in quick succession when we didn't clear our lines to leave us 3-1 down and with a mountain to climb. Changes saw Jem and Jack A come on, both of whom worked hard and made some great runs but we just couldn't seem to make the final killer pass and the half time whistle went to signal the end of a very disappointing 30 minutes.

Once again, we had a little chat at half time, and once again the boys responded magnificently, barely putting a foot wrong for the rest of the game.

The second half started at a furious pace, Will now playing up front and causing all manner of problems for the Tonbridge defence with his strong dribbling seeing him get into some great positions. He burst through on one occasion only to be brought down with what looked like a definite free kick. The referee played the advantage and the ball broke to Sammy on the right, whose excellent shot from a very tight angle cannoned back off the crossbar to leave those of us on the sidelines feeling like the luck just wouldn't be with the boys today and the crossbar shaking for the next few minutes. But - you make your own luck and the boys certainly did that, Laurie magnificent at the back with some crunching tackles and intelligent forward passing, Tom organising his team mates superbly from centre back with lots of chat and Jack H now filling in at left back and looking assured on the ball and positioning himself well to intercept Tonbridge's dangerous through balls time and time again.

Finn and Mattie were dominating centre midfield by this point, Mattie looking like a one man whirlwind, tracking back and winning the ball again and again and starting attacks whilst Finn's clever passing alongside him set our wide players free on several occasions, Sammy and Max both showing great feet to dribble through walls of defenders only to see Tonbridge's excellent goalkeeper repel their goalbound efforts with some solid saves. The 'keeper then made an outrageous stop from Mattie's powerful drive that you had to applaud. Rami then showed wonderful skill to intercept a through ball and drive out of defence, playing a superb pass to Will's feet. Will turned, drove into the area and struck a sweet shot that came back off the post.

Billy was then called on to make an outstanding save low down and another brilliant catch came after a succession of corners threatened to give Tonbridge an unassailable lead. They also hit the post after some clever play and the game looked to be slipping away from the Eagles when with 6 minutes to go Finn picked the ball up on the right, slalomed through 3 challenges and unselfishly laid the ball across the box for Will to power home and give the boys some hope. Billy was then called on to be the hero again, rushing off his line to smother a dangerous through ball and then to clear with his feet in a real sweeper-keeper moment a few seconds later. His quick thinking has saved several goals already this season and so it was again today.

Jem then showed a piece of sublime skill to turn his marker in the middle of the pitch and so nearly work a shooting position. Jack A played a great pass to Sammy but the ball just ran away from him and then the moment the boys worked so hard for in the second half came as Will dribbled into the area, laid the ball back for Mattie, who smashed it into the back of the net to make it 3-3 in the final minute of the game and force extra time after a nervous couple of minutes with two or three well taken corners for Tonbridge scrambled away by first Billy and then Jack H.

Finn took a break at this point, with Jem joining Mattie in centre mid and they were both showed wonderful tenacity and skill to keep the team moving forwards into extra time. Laurie was still excelling at the back, playing brilliantly both defensively and going forward and it was from his pass that Sammy nearly broke free before being well tackled. It was cagey, both sets of players looked shattered, but the momentum was slowly shifting towards the team in yellow as the confidence of coming back from two goals down filled the boys with an extra bit of energy they desperately needed. With the scores still locked at 3-3 at half time in extra time we started thinking about penalties, but the lads had other ideas. Finn linked up well with Mattie, who pinged an outstanding through ball into Sammy's path on the left. He took a touch into space, another to get him in front of goal and with the deadly marksmanship that we've come to expect from him, smashed the ball into the top corner to give his team a 4-3 lead.

Still the game ebbed and flowed, but with more fresh legs on now the Eagles boys had a spring in their step and despite a couple of nervy moments where Tonbridge did well to break through, Tom, Rami and Jack defending magnificently to keep the scoreline the same whilst Mattie and Finn worked tirelessly in front of them to linked defence and attack. With a couple of minutes to go Will picked the ball up in a central position after Jem played a great pass into his feet. His first touch was excellent, taking him into space on the right where he beat a player and absolutely leathered a beauty of a shot into the top of the net to make it 5-3 and the game safe.

With a couple of minutes left Jack A played a brilliant pass out wide to Jem before the referee blew his whistle to signal the end of the game and a closely fought victory for some very happy Langton boys. As the lads celebrated even Will's dog joined in with a good old fashioned roll in the grass. It was just left for me to receive news that our quarter final opponents will be none other than the Langton Green Chiefs!

Man of the match was ridiculously hard this week - second half and extra time saw some scintillating performances all over the pitch but I gave it jointly to Mattie and Finn who were both superb today in central midfield. A special mention should also go to Will for his excellent stint up front where he looked really dangerous but in reality there were brilliant performances from so many of the boys today that it almost seems unfair to single anyone out. I should say that Sam missed today's match to once again play for the Giants and helped them to a 4-2 victory to stay top of the Tandridge A division - well done Giants and well done Sam!

Thank you to Tonbridge for hosting us once again and to Martin for running the line and to all the parents for their support across a very entertaining game. The referee was excellent too. Back to league action next week against Hailsham.

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Sunday, September 27th 2015 (League)

Langton Green Eagles 4 - 8 Broad Oak Hurricanes (yes, that's eight!!!)
(Sid 2, Sammy 2)

Another perfect morning for football and a very entertaining one too, especially if you were a Broad Oak supporter. In an excellent first half the Eagles played some sublime stuff at times going forward, Sammy opening the scoring with an outrageous strike from range. The problem was, for every goal we scored, we gifted Broad Oak one back with some calamitous decision making at times leaving Sam horribly exposed in goal. There really was very little he could have done about the opener, which was sidefooted home well by the Broad Oak forward after we didn't clear the ball despite a multitude of opportunities to do so.

Sid then scored an outstanding goal to make it 2-1 to the Eagles, Sammy working hard down the left before cutting the ball back to Sid for a wonderful finish as Jack H also rushed in, having made a great run from the left. But before you had time to catch your breath, Broad Oak had scored again, another goal we really shouldn't have conceded and some good training material for next week! Will had a couple of decent runs down the right well blocked before suddenly it was 3-2 to Broad Oak as we gave the ball away cheaply and conceded an unfortunate own goal. Finn was playing some lovely stuff from midfield, his ball control and passing as strong as his efforts to help his defenders and just before half time Sid scored another excellent goal from Finn's pass to make it 3-3, cutting inside his defender and lashing the ball home after showing really quick feet.

Jack H was as tenacious as ever and offering plenty of quality going forwards, linking up brilliantly with Finn and Will in one particularly good move and Jack A almost got on the scoresheet with a good strike from wide left after he came on and worked hard in attack. Finn then did have the ball in the net but was rightly flagged for offside after Sammy had done well to beat the defender to the ball and passed to Finn in the box but the whistle went and again a few moments later to signal a very entertaining half to an end with a score of 3-3. It was a frustrating half, because the boys had been wonderful going forward and probably deserved to be leading on the balance of play. I felt confident though, in that the Eagles are usually far stronger in the second half. Unfortunately today that wasn't to be...

In "one of those halves", despite some excellent play from Max on the right, back from injury and looking lively in possession and sterling performances from several other players, the organisation and pass and move football that has served the lads so well in the past few weeks was sadly missing as we conceded 5 goals in possibly the worst half the Eagles have played for some time. As much as we played poorly, Broad Oak played well, the polar opposite to what we were seeing from the team in yellow, giving our lads a lesson in simple but effective football. Not one of their players was trying to be the hero - all of them unselfishly passing the ball on quickly and cutting through us again and again, exactly like we had done in the first half. Unfortunately the Eagles had 3 or 4 players who thought they were Cristiano Ronaldo, time and time again taking on player after player and losing the ball when a simple pass would have been a far more effective option. This wasn't confined to just happening in the attacking half of the pitch either - we were also doing this in front of our own goal, which is always a recipe for disaster and so it proved on several occasions.

As Broad Oak racked up the goals the Eagles got more and more desperate and play became less and less cohesive. With Will, Jack H and Sid all off with injury by this stage and some very tired legs, Sammy got a consolation goal near the end with an excellent strike after Laurie had done brilliantly to win the ball back, push forward and play a great pass into Sammy's feet, sandwiched in between a very harsh penalty conceded for what appeared to be an awesome tackle from Tom (even the opposition manager thought it wasn't a penalty but the young referee was actually excellent and I presume he just didn't see this one properly) and another goal for Broad Oak after some woeful marking from us left Sam again with no protection and the Broad Oak player had a routine tap-in.

Tom then showed some great positivity to bring the ball out of defence and with Joel now further forward and buzzing around with bags of energy and Ali into the game after an inury had kept him out earlier on we looked good for the last few minutes and could have scored another consolation but for some excellent goalkeeping before the final whistle went to signal the end of the game and the first time ever the Eagles have conceded 8 goals in one game. Ouch!!!!

So, not a good second half for the lads (it happens), but credit must go to Broad Oak, who played really well and thoroughly deserved their victory in the end. The Eagles are still joint top of the league, having scored the most goals of all 10 teams in their division but having also conceded more than any other team as well!!! That's not a pop at our defenders either - it's the job of the whole team to defend fro the front back, so plenty to work on in training all round.

Man of the match was easy for once. Whilst I'd like to give special mentions to Jack H, Laurie and Finn, all of whom never gave up and did exactly what I asked of them, the one player who really stood out for me today was Sid, who, as at training on Tuesday, was superb. Head up, passing, bringing teammates into the game and showing loads of energy and commitment. The other positive of course was that all four goals we scored today were excellent finishes, so Sammy and Sid can both be very pleased with that aspect of things.

Thanks to James for giving Martin a week off from running the line and to the excellent young referee who I thought did a great job.

A cup game next week against Tonbridge. Hopefully a more positive performance for me to report on, whatever the result ends up being.

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Sunday, September 20th 2015 (League)

Langton Green Eagles 5 - 1 Tonbridge Junior Samurai
(Sammy 3, Jack H, Jack A)


The Eagles team for today's game before kick off (note lack of mud at this stage)

After a week of hideous rain we were treated to a beautiful morning for football - blue skies, sunshine and no wind meant the Eagles could get back to their passing game and play some fantastic football. That was the theory anyway, but it didn't quite start off like that, the first 10 minutes our friends from Tonbridge Samurai were all over us and scored a well-deserved and well-taken opening goal after we gave a lesson in how not to defend a throw in. No problem - the best time to concede and plenty of minutes left on the clock to make amends. Ali played a great pass out of defence to set things going and Will made a great run before just running out of space on the right.

The boys gradually got a foothold in the game, Will bombing down the right wing on several further occasions and being unfortunate to see the excellent Tonbridge goalkeeper save well at his feet and then a good early cross just outrunning Sammy, who had stayed onside brilliantly. In fact, that was some feat, as several players seemed to be living offside in a first half where the flag went up again and again (and was the correct decision every time I should add) as our strikers strayed into no man's land repeatedly. Some good work from Jack H after a scumptuous pass from Laurie saw Sammy set free on the left. He cut inside and powered an outstanding finish right into the corner. A goal that came from nowhere and the boys were level.

Finn and Laurie began to boss the midfield, some lovely one-two passing and great tracking back from Finn to win the ball and set Sammy going through the middle again. An outstanding pass from him to Jack H, whilst Jack A made a great run to draw the defender away and Jack H took a touch before replicating Sammy's finish from earlier, a low, powerful shot right into the same corner and suddenly it was 2-1 to the Eagles. Jem was on by now and buzzing around midfield with plenty of energy, showing a lovely bit of skill to combine with Jack H and force a corner which was scambled clear.

Billy was called on to make several excellent clearances from good through-balls, making the right decision every time and showing how decisive he is in these situations. With Tom, Rami and Joel excellent in defence, the boys saw the game through to half time with little fuss.

Second half and Tonbridge started brightly, the game poised at 2-1 and anything still possible. With Finn dropping ever deeper to provide cover and a very solid back three of Will, Tom and Laurie taking no chances, the play was bitty for a while as lots of throw-ins and corners were defended. Again though, the boys got a foothold in the game, some great midfield passing from Finn and Jem setting Sammy free for a chance which was well saved and then Jack H finding space on the left to draw an outstanding save from the Tonbridge goalkeeper when we all thought he'd scored. Jack A then so nearly got on the scoresheet with a wonderful run from Will's pass and a couple of minutes later he did get on the scoresheet, Will again turning provider to send Jack racing clear on the right. He made no mistake with the finish, shooting low into the near corner to give his team a 3-1 cushion with 15 minutes to go. Jem and Sammy were really impressing at this stage with their hard work closing the opposition down and it was from this pressure that Laurie picked up the ball and played an oustanding pass to Jack H, whose jinking run into the area so nearly drew a penalty.

Tonbridge came at the boys again, showing real spirit and plenty of quality, a corner flashed across our goalmouth after Billy made a great save, but nobody could connect with the ball from either team and we breathed again. Tom made a wonderful tackle to win the ball back and when he played the ball through his midfield, Joel twisted and turned his way into the area, the ball bobbled around, there was a trip and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. Up stepped Sammy to bury the resulting spot kick and make it 4-1 to the Eagles. Joel then put his head on the line, literally, when an accidental high boot nearly caught him and Ali then showed some wonderful skill to work his way into the box past 2 players before having to go off after a (fair) tackle left him with a blow to the ankle.

With a few minutes to go, Jem weaved his way through a couple of defenders with a brilliant run into the box, unselfishly laid the ball back for Sammy, who smashed home to complete his hat-trick, despite the Tonbridge goalie's brave attempts to save. Still time for Will to go on an excellent run forward and nearly score, Finn to show really quick feet to get through several tackles and play Jack A in again and Rami to go on an excellent, barnstorming run forwards from left back to create an overlap and so nearly get into a shooting position. With Rami up the pitch, Tom was there to mop up the ball that was played through and he did so with aplomb. The final whistle went to give the boys the win, the scoreline of which was perhaps slightly harsh on Tonbridge, who played really well, especially in the first half.

Man of the match as always a very difficult choice. Every single boy played really well today and several of them played in a number of positions with no fuss and did a great job. I'm going to split it this week, between Sammy, whose hat-trick and all round play was superb (especially his excellent assist for Jack H's goal) and Jack A, who took his goal brilliantly and worked his socks off the whole time he was on the pitch. The two of them really impressed me with their work rate today when we didn't have the ball and showed how tracking back and helping your team mates can make all the difference.

Thank you as always to Martin for running the line and to all the parents for supporting you so well this morning. Thank you also to Tonbridge for as always proving such excellent hosts and all round good folks. A home game next week against Broad Oak - looking forward to it!

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Sunday, September 13th 2015 (Cup)

Langton Green Eagles 0 - 1 Raw Skills Bears

No time for the usual in depth report today! Very tough to take. Lost 1-0 despite scoring two goals that were ruled out for offside (both excellent finishes from Sam and then Will and the second one particularly seemed very much onside). And when the opposition score from one of the most blatant handballs in the build up that you'll ever witness there's not a lot you can do. The referee didn't see the handball, which is fair enough - everyone misses these things on occasion - but it's still very disappointing for the boys.

Will hit the bar with a thunderous shot from Laurie's excellent pass, we created all the chances, the boys played some magnificent football at times, but it just wasn't to be. Oh well.

Tom gets man of the match for a tireless performance at the back and some great passing out of defence. Special mentions other than that go to Billy for an outstanding save from a free kick and to Sam who I thought played a near perfect game during the time he was on the pitch.

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Sunday, September 6th 2015

Langton Green Eagles 6 - 4 Tonbridge Ferrari
(Will 3, Jack H 2, Sammy)

What a very entertaining morning! Those of us lucky enough to enjoy the early morning sunshine and watch this match were treated to plenty of goals and some great football from both teams, played in a fantastic spirit.

We've never faced this particular Tonbridge team before so weren't sure what to expect, although I'd heard they were a strong team and so it proved from the off. Some of their passing in the first half was outstanding and despite a fairly cagey opening 15 minutes where Will's excellent run ended with a shot going just wide, Tonbridge's dominance in possession told as they scored a well taken goal to go 1-0 up. The next 10 minutes were backs to the wall stuff and with a couple of players hobbling off injured we were struggling. Jack A came on up front and played a great pass to Sid, whose excellent shot was well blocked and Rami was showing bags of energy in an ultimately frustrating half that we desperately wanted to end only 1-0 down so we could regroup. Tonbridge had other ideas though and after nearly scoring an outstanding goal with some lovely pass and move football, they made it 2-0 just on the stroke of half time after we dithered a bit in defence and if it wasn't for Billy's quick reflexes with a couple of excellent runs off his line to collect the ball it could have been more.

Half time saw a "chat" about what we might improve on as the reality was that the boys were being given a lesson in how to play the exact sort of football we like to play ourselves. We were looking for a response and boy did we get one. Tonbridge threatened from the off and hit the post to rattle the boys into action. Will was now out wide and he made an outstanding run down the wing after Rami's clever pass to slot home his first goal of the season and get the boys back into the game. About 45 second later it was 2-2, Jack H picking up the ball out wide after great work from Sid and jinking past a defender before smashing the ball into the top corner. A lucky finish according to his uncle ;-)

And suddenly we were in the lead. Sammy collected the ball in the area, got his head up and played an absolutely outstanding pass inside the opposition full back to Will, who took a touch and curled the ball into the far corner. 3 minutes, 3 goals and a game that appeared lost was suddenly alive again. Realised I started a sentence with "And" there. Shouldn't do that apparently - as newly qualified secondary school students I'm sure the boys could have told me that.

With renewed confidence the boys pushed forward from a base of Sam, Tom and Rami at the back who were excellent. Rami's energy saw him bomb forward and intercept several passes and start some of our attacks with some assured passing. Finn and Sid were tenacious and calm in midfield, some lovely passing and link up with Jack H and Will out wide. Sammy nearly scored a fourth after a wonderful run into the penalty area and when the ball then broke for Jack H he made no mistake with a powerful finish to claim his second of the game and make it 4-2 to the Eagles with his second goal of the game. Defensively Tom was in command by this stage, some excellent organisation of his team mates and 4 or 5 perfectly timed slide tackles to win the ball back were brilliant.

Max came back on and showed some fantastic skill on the ball but sadly an injury curtailed his morning midway through the half. With Joel back on too and playing wonderfully at the back, the game ebbed and flowed. Having played really well last week and again today, Sammy got the goal his performance deserved, picking up Jack H's clever flick and juggling the ball through 2 defenders before toe-poking it into the top of the net.

Tonbridge then scored another from the penalty spot, Billy made another good stop and then Will got his hat trick, a wonderful move started by Joel and involving Finn and Sid's excellent link up play ending with Will smashing the ball into the back of the net to complete his hat trick and put his team 6-3 ahead. There was still time for another Tonbridge goal, for Finn to cleverly work his way into the area with a stepover that left him just unable to find Will with his pass and for Rami to go on a barnstorming run out of defence for about the 15th time in the morning.

The boys defended resolutely for the last few minutes and rode out some more Tonbridge pressure to earn their first 3 points of the season. Far more pleasing than the result though was the way the played in the second half after being 2 goals down. Man of the match goes to Jack H but a special mention to Will as well who took his goals brilliantly and caused all sorts of problem in the second half. Big thanks to David for refereeing and Martin for running the line.

Cup game next week away at Raw Skills. Looking forward to it.

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Saturday, August 29th 2015

Langton Green Eagles vs Tonbridge Samurai (1-0, 1-0, 0-2)
(Sammy 2)

A makeshift Eagles team started the season with a series of 3 x 20 minute friendlies against our good friends from Tonbridge Samurai (formerly Tonbridge Porsche), on a bright, sunny morning at Groombridge. With far less goose poo to clear up than we expected (although Martin did a sterling job with what little there was), the games got underway at 9.30, with the officials for the occasion being Langton's very own Archie, Ben and Ed, fresh from their FA refereeing course.

Jem was making his debut for the Eagles and Will playing his first 9 a side game, with Brodie and James helping us out in the absence of 7 first team regulars. The fact that most of the missing players were defenders meant that Jack A started in defence alongside Joel and Sam and the 3 of them were excellent in the first match, giving Tonbridge very few chances and playing the ball out from the back beautifully.

In a very entertaining game, Brodie and Finn showed some lovely combination play in central midfield, with Will out wide left causing all sorts of problems for the Tonbridge defenders. When Tonbridge did breach our defences with a well worked move, James pulled off an outstanding save with his feet to deny them a goal.

At the other end, Sammy was looking dangerous with a couple of excellent strikes from distance and Jem was absolutely fantastic on the right of midfield. His energy levels in closing down the opposition were superb, as were Sammy's and between the two of them they gave the Tonbridge defenders very little time on the ball. It was Jem who created the only goal of the game, picking up Brodie's superb pass on the edge of the box and smashing a powerful shot goalwards, which the goalkeeper did well to block only to find Sammy lurking to calmly stroke home the rebound.

A wonderful piece of combination play between Will and Sammy put Will through on goal at the end, but his curling strike just went wide.

The second match was the best Eagles performance of the morning. They passed the ball beautifully at times, one move involving Finn, Brodie, Will, Jem and Sammy was simply outstanding. Finn's shot from the edge of the box went just wide, Sammy's improvised strike was well saved and when the goal came it was an absolute beauty, Sammy curling the ball into the top right of the goal from an insane angle, leaving the only disappointment the fact that he hadn't got a celebration to match the finish.

Joel was on in midfield, with Will moving to the back and both played brilliantly in their new positions. Joel very nearly wriggled through to set Sammy up and Brodie had an excellent strike whistle just past the post. Jack A so nearly got onto the end of Finn's super through ball but the alert Tonbridge keeper just got there first. Jack had a really good game up front in this one, some lovely one-twos and really good awareness of whose around him, plus his excellent cross so nearly found Sammy's head to make it 2-0. At the other end, Laurie was showing great strength and composure at the back to pass the ball beautifully out of defence. One particular pass to Sammy showed superb vision. Jem put in another outstanding display on the right of midfield and then in centre mid, his ball control and energy levels both particularly impressive.

With Sam making a great last minute block and James pulling of an outstanding save low to his right, the boys held on for their second 1-0 victory of the morning.

And so to the final game. Some tired legs were starting to show and Tonbridge were well up for this one. They were on top from the start and we never really got going, having James to thank for us being level at the half way mark after some really decisive goalkeeping and a couple of top class saves. Sam had to come off injured and we definitely missed him at centra back, where he'd been outstanding all morning. In his brief cameo up front he did very well, unfortunate not to score with an excellent long range effort.

Tonbridge scored a well taken goal after we committed too many players forward and the boys then switched on, playing some really good stuff for the next few minutes and being unfortunate not to equalise through first Sammy and then Brodie's long range effort after Finn had beaten two players with a lovely shimmy and Brodie's clever dragback to create some space for himself had us all applauding. When Tonbridge won a corner at the death they made it two with an excellent header and the game ended in a fair result all in all.

In fact, the whole morning turned out very well. We played some really good stuff in the first two games, I learned a lot, some things worked and some didn't and Tonbridge were excellent in the third match, which again gave me plenty to think about. A good warm up for everyone and played in an excellent spirit by both sets of players.

A massive thank you to our referees and linesmen for the morning, who performed their duties superbly with no contraversial decisions to content with. Slightly disappointed none of them sent their brothers off but you can't have everything.

Man of the match this morning goes to Jem - outstanding debut and very unfortunate not to cap it with a goal he would have thoroughly deserved. A special mention also to Sammy, who as well as scoring twice, worked his socks off up front and showed great tenacity and strength to win the ball back high up the pitch on countless occasions.

Roll on next week, when the season starts properly!