Phoenix 2016 - 2017 - A Division Champions

End of Season Achievements and Stats:

Crowborough League A Division Winners
Pembury Fiesta Plate Winners
Ridgewaye Fiesta Plate Winners
Langton Green Fiesta Plate Runners Up
Jarvis Brook Fiesta Runners Up

11 a side: P27 W19 D6 L2 GS: 114 / GA: 40
Fiestas:
P91 W38 D27 L26

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Lewes Bridge View Fiesta

The final fiesta of a very long season (looking forward to a break now) saw us travel to Lewes to face a whole bunch of new teams. We were thrown slightly from the off, with Owen stepping in to help out the Giants, who had one player not turn up and another unwell, leaving them with 5 boys. Our loss was the Giants gain, but we still had a very talented team of boys, including Harvey, playing in goal for us in the absence of Ethan. Each game, in brief...

Langton Phoenix 0 - 1 Hove Rivervale

This team were really very good. They were "National Champions" apparently, having won some national competition the previous season and they passed the ball superbly. Watching them in subsequent games, we played them at the right time as they seemed to improve as the day wore on. The first 3 or 4 minutes our boys more than matched them, keeping the ball nicely, but we conceded a sloppy goal and never really looked like equalising, Hove keeping the ball and ending the game with several lethal shots that Harvey did superbly to keep out. I was proud of the way our lads stuck with it, working hard and looking to frustrate our talented opponents, with Harvey in particular shining in between the posts. A good exercise and a creditable result.

Langton Phoenix 1 - 0 Hove Park Colts
(Finn)

I was really pleased with the boys in this one, against a very good Hove Park Colts team, Finn and Evan doing well in midfield to start plenty of attacks, Sammy going close with a good strike before Jack's pressure on the goalkeeper saw the ball break to Finn on the line to tap in his 100th goal for the club. We seem to have a rush on these at the moment (Jack last week, Finn this week). He won't score an easier goal, but the way in which it was created was pleasing. At the other end Richard and Will defending superbly, Harvey making another blinding save and Finn chipping in with an outstanding crossfield ball to Jack that nearly lad to a second. A good game, a good result and some really solid performances all round.

Langton Phoenix 1 - 2 Whyteleafe
(Sammy)

Another excellent opponent, these guys part of the strong Whyteleafe club and straight from a couple of good early results in the group. We matched them all the way, went behind to a rocket of a shot before Sammy equalised with a really good strike from Jack's pass. We then conceded late on after a spell of pressure from the opposition before Will's positive run down the wing created a chance for Jack, who had found space brilliantly with a great forward run but Jack's shot snuck agonisingly wide unfortunately with the final action of the match. Deserved something from the game? Yes, but that's football.

Langton Phoenix 2 - 1 Ringmer Rovers
(Finn, Sammy)

The first goal in this game was outstanding, a great run from Finn down the wing from Richard's pass, a one two with Evan and a calm finish into the bottom corner before Ringmer had even touched the ball. Outstanding stuff. A minute later and it was 2-0, Sammy finishing off a move that started with Evan winning the ball, passing to Finn, whose cross was flicked on by Jack, who found Sammy for the goal. Evan nearly made it three with a piledriver of a shot from distance, Finn almost got his second after good work from Will, before Ringmer pulled a late goal back after our lads got a bit overexcited and bombed forward looking for a third when there was really no need. A good performance but a lesson in game management.

Langton Phoenix 1 - 0 Hastings United Claret
(Sammy)

Our final group opponents were a really strong Hastings team with several excellent players and they showed that from the start, keeping the ball well and causing us early problems that Harvey did well to deal with. One thing Harvey did really well today was distribute the ball intelligently and it was from his quick ball out to Richard that the team created a good chance for Will. His curling shot looked destined for the bottom corner until the goalkeeper made a worldy of a save, only to find Sammy lurking to hammer home the rebound. The rest of the match was end to end stuff, Jack bursting clear only to be denied, Harvey saving us at the other end, Evan having a really good run ended with a tackle that looked every bit a penalty to some of us, but crucially not the referee and the final whistle eventually seeing a positive end to the fiesta season. We started way back in early May at Crowborough with a good performance and a win and we ended with the same here. Well done boys.

We waited to see if we were through, needing a draw or a Ringmer victory against Whyteleafe in the final group match. Ringmer took the lead with a brilliant strike, lasted nearly the whole match before Whyteleafe scored twice late on to deny us a place in the semi finals, our 9 points and 3rd place finish not enough to see us through in a tournament where the format was pretty harsh in terms of qualification. A shame, but the main thing today was to end on a high with some good football played and we definitely did that.

Well done to Owen, who played really well for the Giants and came away with a plate winner's medal to his name. Very pleased for him and for the Giants.

The best bit of the day was that Lewes had a wood fired pizza oven on site, so I went home happy!

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Jarvis Brook Fiesta - Cup Runners' Up (and Jack scores his 100th goal for Langton Green!!!)

A very enjoyable afternoon's football at Jarvis Brook, both our teams playing some great stuff, with the added bonus of Jack scoring his 100th goal for Langton Green. We were grateful to Tom from the Giants for helping us out as we had a lot of injury worries... thanks Tom!

Langton Phoenix White 2 - 0 Jarvis Brook Thunder
(Tristan, Finn)

Great start, Tristan scoring after 30 seconds after pressure from Finn and Joel, Tom and Will providing a solid base at the back for us to attack from. Will pushed forward brilliantly and nearly scored with a long range effort, before a bizarre second half that saw Ethan dribble the length of the pitch and get a shot away from a tight angle, the furthest forward I've seen any goalkeeper in any game all year. Unorthodox but brilliant! Toby then sprinted clear from Sid's clever pass before being upended, Finn stepping up to despatch the penalty into the bottom corner and make it 2-0. A good late save from Ethan reminded the boys they needed to stay switched on. Well done.

Langton Phoenix Black 0 - 1 Foresters

The Langton Green Phoenix Blacks had to work hard from the start of this fiesta, facing Tunbridge Wells Foresters - a team that plays in the Kent Youth League. And this match was competitive from the whistle. Langton were trying to play nice football, passing out from the back, but were just a fraction of a second slower to too many balls to keep possession and make their mark. Owen, with a slightly injured foot, was playing in goal for the first time this season, but looked extremely comfortable there, making a diving save look easy very early on. Langton were playing uphill in more ways than one in the first half, but held on well, with every player behind the ball at times. Owen was starting off many of the Langton moves, moving the ball forward through defenders Jack and Euan. A free kick from Sammy gave Evan probably his team’s only chance of this half, but it was narrowly wide and the first half finished 0-0.

A lovely pair of one-twos from Evan and Jack early in the second half took the ball the length of the pitch and saw the ball end up in the side netting – oh so close. It was a very good run from an opposition forward along the touchline, although several Langton players thought the ball had gone out of play. They paused for a second, the ball was pulled back and the Foresters took the lead. A great driving run from Evan down the right wing ended with a good cross against the face of the goal – what a shame no Langton players were there for the tap in. Foresters hit the post and forced Owen to make a great finger-tip save, but the Blacks saw the game out without conceding another.

Langton Phoenix White 1 - 0 Forest Row
(Tom V)

A slight initial drop in concentration meant a bit of sloppiness and some horrible aerial football where I thought I was at a tennis match for the first few minutes was followed by the boys sorting themselves out to play some really nice stuff. Forest Row defended well in numbers and were a threat on the break, their left winger pulling off a lovely bit of skill to get through and test Ethan, who saved well. Sid was linking things up nicely from midfield and it was a nice bit of combination from him and Will that found Tom on the edge of the box. He faked to go one way, shifted the ball the other and smashed home a lovely strike to make it 1-0. Some sensible game management from the boys saw them defend well and see out the match to make it two wins from two.

Langton Phoenix Black 1 - 0 T.W Youth Jupiter
(Owen)

Throwing caution and his injured foot to the wind, Owen played outfield in this match, and suddenly he was everywhere! Within the first couple of minutes he took the ball nicely around a defender and gave his team the lead. Langton were allowed more time and space on the ball in this match and they started to retain possession and pass the ball around nicely. Matt, Sammy and Owen moved the ball cleverly through the centre and out to the wings. Owen wanted to score more goals, and his long range shot was narrowly over the crossbar. Tom was looking his usual assured self at the back, starting off a good piece of one-touch football between Sammy, Owen and Matt. 1-0 at half time.

In the second half, one of Owen’s super-long throws gave Evan a half chance – he made a lovely turn, but the keeper was in the way of his shot. Richard was again on top form in defence alongside Tom, and Jack didn’t really have too much to do in goal in this match, until right near the end he was called on to make a diving save and preserve his team’s lead.

Langton Phoenix White 1 - 0 T.W Youth Galaxy
(Tristan)

The boys had a score to settle here after being thoroughly beaten by this side at last week's Ridgewaye tournament. An uncharacteristic performance on that occasion saw the lads struggle to create enough chances and concede some sloppy goals. Not so today, where the lads were dynamic in attack and defended solidly. Toby was a constant threat down the right, setting up two early chances for Finn and Tristan, whose late runs into the box created havoc. Good goalkeeping denied them on both occasions. Tom and Will were dovetailing nicely from defence, one pushing forward whilst the other covered. A lovely forward run from Will nearly created another chance, but his clever pass was cut out by a stretching leg. It was starting to look like one of those games where you did everything right but just couldn't score, when quick distribution from Ethan saw him find Sid in the middle. He combined with Joel, whose excellent pass found Toby on the right. Sprint, look up, cross and Tristan was in a great position to slam home the winner. Again, solid game management for the final couple of minutes saw the match out with the minimum of fuss.

Langton Phoenix Black 0 - 1 Broad Oak & Horam

Experience has shown this Broad Oak team to be a real handful, and they applied the pressure from the outset, making Langton look uncertain in front of goal for the first time. Owen had to make a good save, and Langton were struggling to get out of their half. But when they did, Jack and Evan were working hard to keep Broad Oak on their toes. It was 0-0 at half time.

Langton were bearing up under sustained Broad Oak pressure during the second half, and were unfortunate to concede an own goal. They were really up against it now, but Matt and Evan were battling well in the centre to win the ball and make it count. Sammy had a good shot on goal, but it was matched by an equally good save.

Langton Phoenix White 1 - 0 Jarvis Brook Lightning
(Tom V)

This was probably the best performance of the afternoon, against the team who finished second in the group. It was a tight affair, but the boys played superbly, keeping the ball on the floor, moving intelligently off the ball and communicating wonderfully, to limit JB to one long range effort and create several excellent chances of their own. Some more fantastic goalkeeping from the opposition denied Tom, Finn and Tristan before the final 10 seconds of the game saw Finn pick the ball up deep in his own half, look up and see Tom in space on the left and play the pass of the day over everyone's head to find his teammate. Tom still had plenty to do, his first touch excellent and into just the right space for him to get a shot away that nearly broke the net. 1-0 and a really lovely goal to see. The referee pretty much blew the whistle straight from the kick off to signal the end of the group stages for Langton White and four wins from four that saw them top the group. Annoyingly one team had pulled out, so only four games for this half of the squad and a long wait until the knockout stages...

Langton Phoenix Black 2 - 0 Jarvis Brook
(Evan, Jack)

The Blacks continued to be tight and focused at the back, Euan looking calm in possession and leading the way in trying to play the ball out from the back without resorting to long balls. The Jarvis Brook keeper struggled to keep hold of a header from Sammy early on, but the ball wouldn’t quite roll over the line. It was Sammy causing the opposition problems on the left wing, with Jack doing the same on the opposite wing. Jack's cross left Evan much to do, but at full stretch the tip of his toe pushed the ball past the keeper’s fingers to give his team the lead, which they kept until half time.

A good passing move from Tom, to Sammy, to Matt, saw Matt at full stretch to reach the cross, but his shot was narrowly wide. Owen had to make a couple of saves to preserve his team's lead, but it was Jack’s sliding, full-stretch shot that put the result beyond doubt and gave the Blacks a convincing and well-deserved victory.

Langton Phoenix Black 3 - 0 Uckfield Grasshoppers Rockets
(Sammy 2, Jack)

This was a strong Uckfield team, and had looked like the team most likely to top this group, but Langton had been gradually improving as this fiesta wore on and they were up for this one, showing what they can do when firing on all cylinders. Perhaps this match was most notable for Jack’s 100th Langton career goal – a remarkable achievement for a player who isn't an out-and-out striker, and has been playing at left back for most of this season. Uckfield applied early pressure, but Euan and Tom were excellent in defence. Even so, Uckfield had the ball in the side netting early on. Owen continued to start off many of his team’s moves from between the posts. Matt had a shot saved, but it was Evan’s continued hard work in midfield that enable him to make the perfect cross for Jack, who made his tap-in look simple - his second goal of this fiesta and his 100th for Langton Green. The whole team were starting to look like a class act by half time.

The Blacks were pinging the ball around with great style during the second half. It was a classy one-two between Evan and Sammy that saw Sammy score his team’s second of this match. He didn’t make it easy though, the ball bouncing off both posts before it finally crossed the line. Again it was Evan who played Sammy in, but what a lovely turn he made to give himself the scoring opportunity and he made no mistake this time to score his second of the match. Langton had to battle hard towards the end, but their full-on commitment gave them the clean sheet they deserved and a place in the cup semi-final.

Semi: Langton Phoenix White 0 - 0 Langton Phoenix Black
(Langton White win on penalties)

With 2 teams in several tournaments this summer it was a surprise it hadn't happened already, the inevitable become more and more reality as we watched the final results come in from group B that confirmed Langton Black had finished second and would play Langton White in the semi final of the cup competition.

There was no "coaching" for this one. We just told the boys to go out and play and to simply make sure they showed us the sort of football we've worked on all season. They didn't disappoint. The best chance of the game fell to Tristan for Langton White, but Owen's superb goalkeeping smothered that. Finn's shot also nearly snuck in, but again Owen was there to pull off a brilliant save and he did the same again from Will's late free kick. For Langton Black, Jack was tricky all game long and nearly tested Ethan but for some excellent defending from Will to divert the ball out for a corner and Evan had a great forward run that was broken up by Finn and Tom putting him in a Finn/Tom sandwich. Sammy  was finding space beautifully, but the passes never quite found him and what we'd privately said would inevitably happen prior to the game (0-0 and penalties) did indeed happen. A lottery. Not how we wanted it settled, but Langton White prevailed in the shootout after a really even game of football and it was on to the final. Enormous congratulations to both sets of boys for playing some lovely football in this game that was a great advert for their team and their progression as a group.

Final: Langton Phoenix White 0 - 1 Broad Oak

The team we expected to face in the final were indeed in the final and a very good team they are too. After an excellent first 3 or 4 minutes when we played really well, Broad Oak looked sharper and in all honesty slightly fitter than we did, perhaps the combination of a long afternoon and a long season seeing the boys struggle slightly to maintain the performances of earlier in the day. Chances were hard to come by. We went 1-0 down to a well taken goal during the second half and never really threatened to equalise, the majority of our attacks petering out when the final ball was either not accurate enough or too predictable. A shame for the boys, but a fair result based on the performance in the final and there was just time for the boys to finish off a long afternoon by collecting their very nice runners up trophies.

All in all a brilliant afternoon. Having 2 teams in the semi finals of the main, cup competition was testament to how well the boys have progressed this season and fully deserved based on today's performances. The fact they drew with each other in a game of really good quality football was a pleasing sight to see. A massive thank you to Tom for stepping in to help us out - you played brilliantly and contributed enormously on and off the pitch. Thanks Tom! And of course well done to Jack for scoring his 100th goal for Langton. Brilliant stuff.

I would like to also thank the parents for the very generous gift they gave to the coaches at the end. We shall thoroughly enjoy an evening out together to celebrate the end of a wonderful season. It's much appreciated!

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Ridgewaye Fiesta - Langton Green Win the Shield!!!

One of the most local (and favourite) tournaments is the annual Ridgewaye fiesta. Parking in a prime spot, in Giants' manager Kevin's driveway, I was there absurdly early with the trusty gazebo. The day didn't start well, with a shortage of proper "fat" Coke in the refreshments tent meaning I was forced to drink Pepsi Max, which is not my cup of tea, putting it politely. Zero sugar apparently. The day didn't start brilliantly on the pitch either, both teams enormously enderwhelming in the opening games, but it did get better - much better for one half of Langton Phoenix, who won the "Shield" competition to make it 3 finals for our boys this summer and completing a brilliant set in that every single (uninjured) player has now played in at least one of those finals and not one boy has played in all three. Just goes to show what a team they are, not reliant on any one or two individuals. Cracking stuff.

I'm not going to labour the experience of the Langton Black half of the team today. It wasn't a great morning for the lads, who looked shattered from the word go and despite qualifying in 3rd place from their group and playing some tidy football, struggled to really open teams up or provide an out and out goal threat often enough. Mattie (ex Eagles from last year) joined us to help out as we were one short and showed great energy and determination to remind us how sad we were to lose him to his hockey commitments last year, scoring 2 goals, one of which was beautifully worked as a team and the other of which was a great solo effort. There were other good moments and the quarter final loss to Broad Oak, whilst disappointing, showed some very tidy play in the first half and some lovely football. On another day it might have led to a very different result, but that's football for you!!!

So, on to the other half of the team, with Steve once again very kindly stepping in with match reporting duties...

The Langton Green Phoenix Whites played out of their skins to win the Ridgeway fiesta plate competition today. They certainly weren’t the biggest team, and probably weren’t the fastest or even the most skilful in the draw, but they were the most together, determined and hard-working. And, oh boy, were they the best at penalties! Scoring only two goals, but also only conceding two in the whole tournament, they finished third in their qualifying group, only losing out to second place on goal difference, then went on to win three penalty shoot-outs in a row, in an incredible display of focus and great bottle.

Conceding only two goals in seven matches shows how solid this team were at the back, with Euan deservedly earning the player of the tournament accolade, and Ethan making countless show-stopping saves. Will was a tower of strength alongside Euan, playing way outside of his normal forward position. Harvey again was a very welcome addition on loan from the Chiefs, playing fast clever football in midfield. Toby’s electric pace was a constant menace to the opposition defence. Matt was constantly churning out defence-splitting passes, while Sid was linking all the play together, and threatening the opposition goal with great runs forward.

Vs Tunbridge Wells Youth United 0-0

Having said all that, it was a lacklustre start from the Whites, against Tunbridge Wells Youth United, who looked dangerous from the outset, particularly on the break. Euan was immediately showing his team-mates what it was all about with a goal-line clearance, hoping they’d soon wake up. Harvey soon cottoned on, with some strong tackling. Euan was making intelligent passes forward to Sid, always trying to start off an attacking move. Tunbridge Wells saw their long free kick fly just wide, but Langton didn’t get a half decent scoring opportunity in the first half.

Euan was showing how he’s taking his game to a whole new level in the second half, breaking out of defence at pace and playing his team mates into good positions. This match got a bit scrappy, but the best move from Langton involved Will, Matt, Sid and Harvey in a lovely flowing piece of football. If only Matt could’ve got on the end of Harvey’s cross it would have been a wonderful goal. But the Whites were covering for each other well, preventing Tunbridge Wells getting any good chances. It was a good cross from Will that gave Toby the only shot on goal in this match. A good save from the keeper kept the score at 0-0 though.

Vs Paddock Wood Wolverines 1-0 (Will)

Next up were Paddock Wood Wolverines, and luckily Langton looked a lot more awake for this match. They started to string a few passes together and play some nice football, creating more chances. Toby had a shot saved, and the keeper also reached good headers from Harvey and Matt. Toby got on the end of a long ball from Ethan, and shot first time, but was foiled again by the keeper. Langton definitely had the upper hand in the first half, but couldn’t strike the killer blow.

Matt was involved in many of the attractive moves through the centre, finding Toby in excellent positions several times. Toby’s lightening speed down the wing looked like the most likely chance of a White goal, but Sid was also looking lively in the middle. Toby was oh so close with a side foot shot that was cleared off the line. Finally Will gave the team the lead they deserved with a well-taken finish. Matt came very close right at the end, but couldn’t quite turn the ball into the net and the Whites ended this match 1-0 up.

Vs Tonbridge Angels City Blue 0-2

The Whites met their match against a very fast and skilful Tonbridge Angels side in this match. The opposition had two good shots on goal within the first minute or so, and Langton had to focus to avoid being overwhelmed in this one. Tonbridge scored a couple of classy goals in the first half, and if it wasn’t for Will’s solid defending and a great save from Ethan it could have been a couple more.

Langton dug in during the second half, with Euan and Will taking control at the back. Even so, Ethan had to make another good save very early in the second half. But Langton were starting to pull together some attacking moves of their own. This was exciting stuff, with counter attack after counter attack, and the Langton moves via Matt, Harvey and Toby were just as good as the Tonbridge efforts. Will had a shot saved and Toby and Matt combined well to come close right at the whistle. It was a good second-half performance from Langton, who were starting to believe they were a match for anyone today.

Vs Westerham White 1-0 (Sid)

The Whites started this one with more conviction, a long ball from Ethan immediately giving Matt a shooting chance, while Sid also had a go from the rebound. Langton were playing out from the back nicely now, with Sid, Harvey and Matt moving the ball about with purpose. Matt brought the ball down well in the centre and sent Sid flying forward, who found Harvey out on the right, who crossed it back for Sid to finish off an excellent move and give his team the lead. Sid had a couple more half chances in the first half, but couldn’t quite make them pay, and it was 1-0 at half time.

Perhaps Euan has been watching some old footage of Bobby Moore, but he was cruising out of defence with the ball at his feet almost at will today, adding an extra dimension to his team’s play. Harvey was making some great runs down the right channel, while Toby was doing the same down the left. Things were starting to click now, with Euan snuffing out Westerham attacks with belief and conviction. The whole team stayed focused to the end, preventing Westerham getting even half a chance to score. A well-deserved victory.

The Whites finished the group stage with seven points, level with Tunbridge Wells Youth United, and five behind the leaders Tonbridge Angels. But with a slightly inferior goal difference to Tunbridge Wells they ended up third and went into the Shield knockout competition.

Vs Jarvis Brook 0-0 (Whites win 2-1 on penalties)

Langton looked good for much of this quarter-final match, passing the ball and moving well while retaining possession. They were playing well for their team-mates too, switching from attack to defence as necessary and each player both attacking and defending. Will was an absolute rock at the back, letting no-one past. Toby had a shot saved and Matt’s volley was narrowly wide, but no score by half time.

Euan looked cool as ice at the back, and his team-mates were following his lead in playing the ball out from the back. Harvey looked dangerous on the right wing and Toby often threatened, but neither side could make the breakthrough and this hard-fought match finished level.

In the penalty shoot out Ethan saved two and scored one, while Will scored the other to make it 2-1 and send their team into the semi-final.

Vs Broad Oak 0-0 (Whites win 3-2 on penalties)

Broad Oak have beaten Langton Green Phoenix a couple of times recently and again proved tough opposition, shooting just over the cross bar very early on. Langton built some good early pressure though, based on solid defending and good control and hard work further forward. They rode their luck a little though, when a screamer from Broad Oak hit the crossbar.

This was a controlled and professional second half from the Whites, just doing enough to keep Broad Oak at bay. It needed a brilliant diving save from Ethan, and a strong clearance from Euan to keep them in the match, but every player did their job calmly and effectively right up to the final whistle.

Finger nails got much shorter during this 10-shot penalty shoot out, but two saves and a goal from Ethan, with goals from Toby and Harvey, saw the Whites through to the final.

Vs Hastings United 0-0 (Whites win 4-3 on penalties)

Hasting were the toughest opposition yet, playing with great skill, pace and invention. Few would have bet on Langton pulling this one off, but they were so determined, focused and together that they defied the odds. There was strong tackling from Euan at the back and great covering from Will alongside him. Langton weren’t over-awed, and a nice move started with Ethan, flowed through Matt and Harvey to Toby, whose shot was saved by the keeper. A strong shot from Hastings flew just over, but lightning pace from both Toby and Harvey meant the opposition couldn’t switch off for a second. 0-0 at half time reflected great teamwork and determination from Langton.

The effort continued to be 110 per cent across the team in the second half as Hasting piled on the pressure. The opposition saw a couple of good shots go narrowly wide and a seeming dead cert saved by the diving Ethan. A 0-0 draw meant the third penalty shoot-out in a row. The odds against winning three in a row must have been against the Whites, but they weren’t bothered about statistics.

Finger nails all but disappeared during another 10-shot shoot-out. But the boys showed what stern stuff they’re made of. Matt showing great bottle, stepping up to take the first after having his effort saved in the semi-final. He made no mistake this time - good penalty. Ethan saved two, while Toby, Will and Harvey scored the others. A truly great victory - well done to all the boys.

Manager's note: obviously a massive well done to all the boys, but a special mention should go to Euan, who had the best tournament I've seen from him, adding real confidence on the ball to his already excellent defensive game. He thoroughly deserved being part of the team who won the Shield.

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Sunday, 18th June - Paddock Wood Fiesta (quarter finals)

30 degree heat. Some very tall, physical teams and an excellent morning of football.

Langton Phoenix 3 - 0 Vinters Valley
(Finn, Jack, Max)

The best 10 minutes of fiesta football I've seen from our boys this summer. Each of the 3 goals was superbly worked - unselfish team work, movement off the ball, communication, one and two touch passing and deadly finishing. The first saw a corner worked short from Jack to Toby, a quick combination with Max and Jack slid an inch perfect pass in to Finn, whose late run into the box eluded the defenders and whose finish gave the goalkeeper no chance. The next saw some great combination play from Finn and Richard play Max in, his clever lofted pass finding Jack unmarked to smash home from close range. 2-0 at half time. Out from Ethan to Richard to Euan to Finn, switched to Max, who drove forward and scored the third with a great finish. Football as I have been dreaming it all summer, executed perfectly. Vinters were a good team, but on this occasion it could have been Chelsea and it would have made little difference - the boys were "on it".

Langton Phoenix 1 - 0 Borough Green
(Toby)

A slight comedown was inevitable, but after a scrappy first couple of minutes the boys grew into the game. Richard and Euan defended well, Ethan was sticking to what we'd spoken about with quick distribution from the back and it was a moment of magic from Toby, picking up Richard's quick pass, turning his marker beautifully, one touch into space, cut inside and an unstoppable finish. It was a solo goal of the highest calibre and our fourth goalscorer of the morning just half way through the second match. A good catch from Ethan, a couple of excellent runs from Jack and a very good save by their goalkeeper from Finn after another lovely team move were the highlights of the rest of the game.

Langton Phoenix 0 - 0 Laddingford

A good game, but neither team created anything too clear cut. The heat was starting to take its toll but the boys plugged away well and a draw was a fair result. Euan's play from the back was a notable plus point.

Langton Phoenix 1 - 0 Paddock Wood
(Max)

Back on form for this one against a strong Paddock Wood team with a couple of very good players, the boys passed the ball wonderfully, keeping possession for a full 90 seconds from kick off. Finn had a well struck shot well saved in tidy but unspectacular first half, before some really quick thinking from Ethan saw him release Jack down the left with an early ball having just made a save. Jack switched to Max, whose pace took him clear and whose finish ended up in the bottom corner. Two wonderful saves from Paddock Wood's goalkeeper denied Max two more goals after super team moves that saw Toby, Finn, Richard and Jack combine to set him up. A clever ball from Euan in the final moments set Toby free, but the referee blew his whistle just as it could have been two. No matter - another win and a final group match against the excellent Rochester FC to decide who won the group.

Langton Phoenix 0 - 0 Rochester FC

This was very much a game of two halves against a physical, athletic and very good Rochester team who had scored some spectacular goals and looked impressive. Our boys started well, passing the ball around nicely and creating a chance for Finn that the goalkeeper was quick to smother at his feet. Euan was vocal and organised his team mates well, but the tide was turning by the start of the second half and the final few minutes were a bit of a "backs to the wall" job, seeing Ethan forced into 2 good saves. A late break saw Max go clear but another late referee's whistle denied him the chance to test the goalkeeper. A point was enough to see us top the group ahead of Rochester and go into the quarter final draw as one of the top seeded sides. Unbeaten, no goals conceded, group winners, but far more important, a combination of brilliant football when in possession and first class work rate and effort without the ball left the boys very happy with their achievements.

QF: Langton Phoenix 0 - 2 Bearsted

It's interesting for us, as a developing team, to see what shape successful sides come in. Yesterday against Sedlescombe we saw a team who moved the ball quickly, attacked as a unit and defended as a unit, the player on the ball always having 2 options. Bearsted were different but just as effective. Their great strength was their hunger, desire to be first to every 50/50 ball and their work rate out of possession to panic us into mistakes. We never got going, but that was credit to Bearsted, who were excellent. Both goals were disappointing ones to concede, but thoroughly deserved and we could have no complaints about the result. From 30 seconds in it was obvious who was going to win and it wasn't because of a massive difference in ability or talent - it was work rate, controlled aggression (and I mean that as a good thing) and desire to win. So although it was a disappointing end to what had been up to then a superb morning, a useful long term experience to have faced a couple of very good sides this weekend and seen how that looks and what we need to do to bridge the gap. Please don't forget though boys - you played some great stuff yourselves and hopefully this was a reiteration of the philosophy we've kept working to that when you keep the ball on the floor, pass an move quickly and work hard then you're a really good team.

Some superb moments and wonderful football. Effort levels first class in blazing heat and all in all I was very very proud of these boys this morning. Well done all!

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Saturday 17th June - Broad Oak Fiesta (semi finals)

Getting to that stage of the season where the thought of writing a match report after a long morning in the heat leaves me wishing Steve had been there to do the honours!! So in one paragraph...

Not a great morning. Searing heat. Injuries that left us with the bare minimum of 6 players on the pitch and two of those limping. Highlights were a wonderful 3-0 win over a very strong Pevensey and Westham team (who went on to reach the final) where we played some sublime stuff with the ball on the floor, our players moving off the ball beautifully and our effort levels second to none. Disappointingly we couldn't maintain that level, lowlights plentiful on this occasion. A couple of games seeing the ball spending more time in the air than on the ground were very disappointing bearing in mind the consistency with which we've practiced, talked about and constantly reiterated our philosophy and how blindingly obvious it is to everyone that when the ball stays on the floor we look a much better team. Effort levels superb from one or two who kept going right to the end and sadly lacking from one or two others who seemed to think that it was okay for them to put in 50%, leaving others having to put in 150% to cover for them. Conceding a last minute goal because 2 of our players were looking at something off the pitch rather than concentrating on the game wasn't ideal. We scraped into the semi finals where we were unfortunate enough (or fortunate enough, depending on how you look at it) to have to face the best team in the tournament by a mile. Sedlescombe played in exactly the way we are aiming to. Movement off the ball, attacking and defending as a unit, unselfish, one or two touch, patient when they had to be and devastatingly effective with their finishing. Remember what that looks like boys - that's what we're aiming for. These are a good bunch of lads and I'm sure they won't be happy with today and will want to show they can turn it around. Long term, all good stuff and part of the learning curve. Short term, a disappointing morning for all.

Goals: Sid 3, Jack, Will

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Sunday 11th June - Ditton Fiesta

2 teams, lots of players missing, so we welcomed Harvey, Brodie and James to help us out (thank you all). One team had the minimum 5 players, no subs and on a hot day that it proved a tough ask despite everyone giving 100%. Both sides played some good football. Steve very kindly put the below match report together for the "Langton Green" half of the squad. I am simply too tired to do the same for the Langton Green "Whites", so very briefly...

"Langton Green Whites":

It was a tough morning, luck didn't bounce our way, but some fantastic football and a great attitude from the Langton Green Whites half of the squad saw them dominate their opening game, which they won 2-0 against a strong Ditton Blues team thanks to Jack's early goal from Finn's pinpoint cross after hard work down the right and Brodie's excellent finish late on. Early pressure was withstood and we looked really good in this one, James making an excellent early save. The second game started brilliantly against Longfield, Jack scoring a superb first half goal from Brodie's clever pass after Tom and Finn had played out from the back nicely and that's where it ended in terms of fortune. 2 late goals saw the boys lose that one, the second goal a complete freak that hit the post, 2 defenders and was well saved by James before falling to the opposition striker. The referee then blew the whistle with Brodie through on goal at the other end. A really unfortunate own goal saw the boys lose their 3rd match 1-0 against a very strong Thamesview team which was very even and by the third game, against the superb King's Hill Kent Youth team the boys were shattered and up against it, losing 3-0. They rallied for their final match against a spirited Ditton Reds side, should have scored several, but the post, the goalkeeper and some slippery grass meant it didn't quite come off, despite playing an excellent match of lovely football with a smile on their faces. Tough day, some very good opponents, but I was pleased with the majority of what I saw and on another day this team would have qualified with 3 or 4 wins quite comfortably. Thanks again to the boys who stepped in, we simply would have had to pull out without you, so much appreciated. Well done all.

"Langton Green"

The Ditton Fiesta was always going to be something of a challenge for the Langton Green Phoenix, playing some really tough and unfamiliar teams from the Maidstone and Kent Youth Leagues in a five-a-side format while short of a couple of subs. But the ‘Langton Green’ half of the squad did themselves proud today, battling hard and giving it everything to play some lovely football at times. In fact, they could count themselves slightly unlucky to have not accrued a few more points from their five matches.

The Langton Green team welcomed Harvey, from the Langton Green Chiefs, today, and he proved to be a valuable addition to the team, as well as giving them the numbers that allowed at least one player to have a rest at a time. And boy did they need it. This was lung-busting stuff at times – against fast, strong and clever opposition all the boys had to cover a lot of ground at top speed. The team was: Sam (GK), Richard, Will, Harvey, Matt and Sammy.

V King’s Hill Blues 0-4

First up came a baptism of fire in the form of the King’s Hill Blues – a big strong team that plays in the Kent Youth League. Langton Green were under pressure from the whistle, with Sam making a good save early on. But King’s Hill were simply too fast and too well-organised for Langton to cope with in their first match. Langton quickly went 0-2 down and were struggling to get on the ball. About five minutes in, they woke up and started stringing a few passes together. With no goal kicks or throws in the air, teams were forced to play out from the back, and Langton started to do this well. From Sam in goal to Richard, to Matt to Harvey, things started to click. But there was no stopping King’s Hill, who looked supremely confident and they stormed to a 4-0 lead at half time.

The second half was much better, as Langton matched the opposition and prevented them scoring any more goals. The man-marking from King’s Hill was extremely tight and there wasn’t much space for the Langton team. But Will forced his way onto the ball and dribbled towards goal with menace, but simply ran out of space. It was all hands to the pump from Langton, with a couple of great saves from Sam preventing further damage. Matt had a go from long range, but Langton couldn’t create any good chances. Taken in isolation, though the goalless second half was a good display.

V Ditton Minors Reds 1-0 (Sammy)

Langton Green started with a more defensive set up for their second game, with Will alongside Richard in defence. This seemed to give the team a more solid foundation to play out from and perhaps a little more confidence. It was even-stevens in the early stages, with Will making some good blocks and allowing his inner defensive qualities to shine through. Sammy was winning the ball well in the centre and looked like a threat going forward. Sam had to make another good save, but Ditton were a bit unlucky to hit the post on the rebound. Harvey had a half-chance to shoot at goal, but it was just wide. It was 0-0 at half time, but Langton had looked the better team and had more of the possession.

Matt came on in the second half and worked with Sammy as the second forward player. It was good interplay between those two close to the touch line that gave Sammy the chance to fire the ball into the top of the net and put his team deservedly ahead. Things started to click for Langton, with Will and Richard getting control at the back and Sammy and Matt making some nice forward moves. The last kick of the match was an overhead from Ditton that skimmed the top of the crossbar, but Langton were good value for their 1-0 victory.

V Longfield Tigers Black 0-1

This was an exciting match that Langton were a little unlucky to lose after some excellent defending. Harvey took his turn at the back with Will, and they looked a solid pairing. An early cross from Matt flustered the opposition so much that they nearly put the ball in their own net. It took a couple of great reflex saves from Sam to keep the opposition at bay, and at one point Langton were struggling to get the ball out of their own half, but they defended well. The Tigers had an excellent chance just before half time, but fired their shot over the bar.

The Tigers came out fighting in the second half, too. A diving save from Sam and some strong shoulder work from Richard were necessary to stop them scoring. But the Longfield team were fast on the break, and caught Langton Green on the counter attack to give themselves the lead. Slippery play from Sammy through the middle won his team a free kick, just about close enough to goal to be worth a shot. Sammy fired a rocket through the Longfield defence, but their keeper saw it coming and made a good save. Langton’s excellent battling and teamwork merited at least a draw in this match, but it wasn’t to be and it finished 0-1.

V Thames View 0-0

We’d already seen this Thames View team play and knew they were a strong side, but Langton played with confidence and gusto in this game, more than a match for the opposition. Again, everyone had to do their bit, with Matt tracking back well to help in defence. Harvey made a smashing run down the right wing and his shot flew across the face of the goal, narrowly the wrong side of the far post. Will was an absolute rock at the back, with no-one allowed to pass. Langton were closing down the opposing quickly at this point, stopping them from playing their dangerous game. Their movement on the ball was also quick and clever. A quickly taken free kick from Thames View nearly caught Langton out, but it went into the side netting. It was a good first half of football that finished 0-0.

Thames View fancied a long range shot straight from the kick off, but luckily Sam was alert and caught it well. Their number 14 looked like the biggest threat, but Richard held the much bigger player off well on numerous occasions. Harvey was itching to get on the ball, launching himself at pace every time he did. Will always looked ready to pull the trigger, and his long range shot was narrowly over. This game was neck and neck, with neither team allowing the other any time or space on the ball. The whole Langton team were operating at 110% to match this top opposition, and they did extremely well, even if they were a little lucky when Thames View fired one over the cross bar from close range in the very last minute.

V Ditton Minors Blues 1-1 (Will)

Langton Green were playing some lovely football by this stage in the fiesta, showing good movement both on and off the ball. It was a game of attack and counter-attack, with Langton making the transition play well. Nice skills from Matt on the right wing, across to Will and finding Sammy in space for a run, but the keeper made a good save. More good skills, this time from Richard, then from Sammy, reflected a rising confidence in the team. But they couldn’t quite make it pay, and it was 0-0 at half time.

Yet another good diving save from Sam early in the second half kept the game alive. It was strong battling from Matt and Harvey in the centre that won Harvey the ball, nicely played to Will on the wing, still with plenty to do, but his shot was unstoppable – nice goal and a deserved lead for Langton. Harvey made another excellent run down the left wing, creating a half chance for himself, but the shot was just wide. Langton were undoubtedly the better team this half, with more possession and more chances. But somehow, against the run of play, and right at the end of the half, Ditton nicked an equaliser to deny Langton a deserved victory.

That was the end of the Ditton fiesta for Langton Green, with only the top two teams going through, and no plate competition. They’d played some great football, playing beyond themselves at time, against some extremely tough opposition, but this wasn’t Langton’s day. They should all be proud of themselves though for some great individual and team performances that will stand them in good stead for the high standard of opposition they’re likely to face in next season’s league.

Saturday, 3rd / Sunday 4th June 2017 - Langton Green Fiesta - Plate Runners-Up!!!

After an enjoyable Friday evening collecting their league winners' medals and trophy, the Phoenix lads had the pleasure of playing in our very own Langton Green fiesta. Once again split into "Phoenix Black" and "Phoenix White", with Ian and Steve on match report duties...

Langton Phoenix Black 4 - 1 Rotherfield
(Owen, Max, Toby, Finn)

Rotherfield started well, passing the ball nicely, but Owen broke the deadlock midway through the first half with a powerful finish after good work from Finn and Tristan in the build up. A brilliant second goal from Max made it two, Rotherfield pulling a well taken goal back. Toby's pace and a sweet left foot made it 3-1, with Toby then setting Finn up for a well struck fourth. The scoreline was a little harsh on our opposition, who played some good football, but our lads scored at the right times and played some great stuff.

Langton Phoenix White 3 - 1 TW Youth Jupiter
(Sammy 2, Evan)

First up were Tunbridge Wells Youth Jupiter, who were a decent team but hampered by only being able to field five players compared to Langton’s six. The whites started slowly and didn’t look together, but they soon shook of their lethargy and got involved in an exciting game of attack and counter attack. Some nice passing and moving from the Langton side ensued and Sammy scored a lovely goal to give them the lead. Another nice move involved nearly every player before Evan finished it off to give his team a two-goal lead at half time.

The whites looked even better in the second half, with great interplay between Jack, Matt and Sammy giving Sammy the chance to finish off with his second and Langton’s third. But Tunbridge Wells kept fighting back and scored a goal before the end, and the match finished 3-1 to the whites.

Langton Phoenix Black 3 - 0 Tonbridge Junior Shoguns
(Max 3)

A really good performance against our good friends from Tonbridge, Max starting things off when his powerful shot was almost cleared but went in. Tom and Will played brilliantly at the back, Joel chipping in with some lovely play going forward in front of a very solid Sam on goal. 2 more goals from Max, one to finish off a brilliant piece of interplay from Finn and Tristan saw the game finish with a hat trick for Max and a good win and performance.

Langton Phoenix White 2 - 0 E.Grinstead Meads Inter
(Evan, Sammy)

Against East Grinstead Inter, the whites continued to play some stylish football, with Matt having the luxury of a bit of time and space in the centre to deliver some delicious passes forward. Evan was a force to be reckoned with, as usual, driving forward at every opportunity. A great pass from Matt gave him the chance to fire one into the top of the net and give his team the lead. Langton were playing out from the back, with Sid joining in some of the lovely pass and moves. Matt shot wide just before half time and the first half finished 1-0 to the whites.

Langton really turned the screws in the second half, with Sammy showing silky skills to win his team a free kick. He took it himself and fired an absolute rocket directly into the back of the net – great strike. East Grinstead didn’t roll over, however, and Richard had to make a great block to stop them scoring near the end. The match finished 2-0 to the whites, and they seemed to be on a roll at this stage.

Langton Phoenix Black 0 - 1 Sedlescombe

Heartbreak with the last kick of the game after the boys defended superbly against a very strong Sedlescombe team. Max and Toby were a threat on the break, with Owen an absolute rock at the back alongside Will. Sam pulled off the save of the day early on and showed great feet with his distribution. When we conceded a corner that the referee had first given as a goal kick, only to change his mind at the protests of the opposition, we didn't mark up as well as we could and a goalbound shot was flicked in from close range. Defensively superb against an excellent team, with one disappointing moment at the end that decided the game.

Langton Phoenix White 0 - 3 Tonbridge Angels

Next up, Tonbridge Angels City, a top team from the Kent Youth League, who were simply too hot to handle in the first half for the Phoenix team. They put Langton under pressure right from the first whistle, and took advantage of a couple of loose balls from the whites to quickly put themselves 3-0 up. Langton had improved by the end of the first half, but there wasn’t too much they could do by that stage.

In the second half, a series of brilliant saves from Ethan prevented Tonbridge running away with it. Langton pulled together and Sammy came closest to scoring from another free kick, but the whites were well beaten in this match, which finished 0-3.

Langton Phoenix Black 4 - 0 Langton Green Chiefs
(Owen 2, Max 2)

Some really good football from both teams, a very handy new player for the Chiefs who was always a threat on the break and a good game of football that the Phoenix boys did well to win with 4 excellent goals. The scoreline was harsh on the Chiefs, who have improved enormously this season, but the boys did play very well and the finishing from the goalscorers was excellent.

Langton Phoenix White 0 - 0 TW Foresters Phoenix

Langton started their next match, against Tunbridge Wells Foresters Phoenix, determined to play nice football, passing the ball out from the back with some style and keeping the pressure up. Euan looked slick and calm at right back. Another good save from Ethan kept it to 0-0 at half time.

The midfield axis of Evan, Sammy and Matt was very effective, as the whites switched play from left to right and back again to stretch the opposition. A long range shot from Sammy flew just over, then he hit the post moments later. Then he flighted in a lovely cross to Matt, who couldn’t quite get his head to it. Langton deserved to get the three points from this match, simply for their attractive football and effort, but it finished 0-0.

Langton Phoenix Black 0 - 0 Vinters Valley

This was a funny game. The boys defended superbly against a physically strong and very direct Vinters team who possessed a real threat. Owen was fantastic, putting in a number of superb tackles, Tom played the ball out nicely from the back and Finn and Will combined wonderfully to set Max free but a last ditch tackle denied him. A bit of a stalemate that needed a moment of magic to settle it that never came.

Langton Phoenix White 2 - 0 Rusthall
(Sammy, Jack)

Against the Rusthall Lions, Langton applied good early pressure, and kept most of the possession, but then slacked a little and allowed Rusthall into the game. A long range shot from them flew just over and woke up the whites. A great save from the Rusthall keeper denied Evan his third goal of the fiesta. But his team’s continued pressure won them a penalty – scored by Sammy. 1-0 at half time.

The second half was pretty even, with both sides having a decent chance each. But good running from Jack got him on the end of a long ball and he put it away with the calmest of finishes. The game finished 2-0.

Langton Phoenix Black 1 - 1 Chesworth Rovers
(Max)

Performance of the group stage by this half of the Phoenix without a doubt, against a team who won every other game they played, saw the boys take the lead through Max after some sublime play from Tristan and Finn in the build up. Owen and Will were brilliant at the back, pushing forward and defending in equal measure against a very very solid team who possessed some skilful players. A silly goal to concede straight from the second half kick off was disappointing but a superb second half very nearly saw our lads win through Tristan's powerful strike. 1-1 a slight disappointment in a game we were unfortunate not to win but credit to Chesworth - they're an excellent side and playing 2 games in a row probably took it's toll on a hot morning for them.

Langton Phoenix White 0 - 0 Langton Green Giants

Up against another Kent Youth League team, the Langton Giants Yellow, the Langton whites put in 110% effort and focus to keep the opposition at bay, and although they rode their luck a couple of times, this was possibly their best performance of the fiesta. The Giants were shooting at goal almost immediately the whistle went; they were fast, strong and confident. But the Phoenix displayed excellent teamwork to deny the Giants the time and space they wanted to play their own game. Despite a couple of hairy moments, it was 0-0 at half time.

It took a couple more great saves from Ethan to keep the Giants out, but the whites were displaying some excellent approach play of their own in the second half, with Matt shooting just over. They had more possession in the second half, and defended strongly to frustrate their higher league opposition and keep the scoresheet at 0-0.

All this meant that both teams finished in 3rd place in their respective groups, with identical records of 11 points from 6 games. Not bad balancing of the 2 squads!

Plate Quarter Final: Langton Phoenix Black 3 - 0 Rusthall
(Max, Tristan, Owen)

Absolutely superb from every player against a very good Rusthall team. An early goal from Max, who showed superb pace and clinical finishing to get clear. A second wonderful team goal from Tristan after Finn's awareness saw him turn and play a brilliant pass in to Tristan, who finished brilliantly. The 3rd goal came from Owen, whose powerful running took him through to finish in the corner. A late chance for Joel after his positive running took him through was well saved and the boys were into the semi finals.

Plate Quarter Final: Langton Phoenix 0 - 2 Rotherfield

In the quarter-final of the plate competition, the whites faced Rotherfield, who had finished fourth in their group. Rotherfield came out all guns blazing and perhaps the whites were a little slow and lacking focus in the first half. They were missing Evan through injury from the previous match, and the Evan-shaped whole in the team was apparent. Ethan saved an early shot, and the Rotherfield keeper saved a good effort from Jack. But Rotherfield were clinical in their finishing and were 2-0 up at half time.

The second half was a different story, with the whites the much better team by some way. Matt, Sammy and Jack lit up the pitch with some lovely moves and the whole team battled valiantly. Sammy hit the crossbar, but the whites simply didn’t have the time to pull back their two-goal deficit. The whites were knocked out of the plate competition, 0-2 to Rotherfield.

Plate Semi Final: Langton Phoenix 1 - 0 Tonbridge Junior Samurai
(Joel)

Probably the weakest performance of the day from our lads saw the ball spend a bit too much time for my liking in the air, with a lack of energy contributing to a flat first half where Tonbridge created the best chance that Sam snuffed out well, despite Langton having most of the ball. The second half was a big improvement, Tristan, Finn and Will combining brilliantly before Will had to come off injured, Joel going on to score the winner and save the bosy from penalties, with a wonderful finish into the corner as the goalkeeper bravely came out to meet him. Tom and Owen saw out the remainder of the game with some solid defending and the boys were into the final!

Plate Final: Langton Phoenix 2 - 2 Crawley (Crawley win 3-2 on penalties)
(Tristan, Max)

Absolutely outstanding stuff from our boys in the final. The opening goal was a thing of beauty, one touch from Sam to Owen to Finn to Max, who crossed for Tristan to slot home. Exactly the kind of football we've been working towards and thoroughly deserved. Frustratingly the lads then conceded a sloppy equaliser before Crawley scored a well taken second and it looked like a tough mountain to climb. Every player contributed brilliantly, Toby and Joel showing tenacity and pace to nearly create an equaliser before a handball from Crawley gave us a lifeline which Max duly took with a superbly struck free kick to make it 2-2. The final whistle meant penalties, always a lottery, which didn't swing our way this time. Absolutely not an ounce of disappointment from me - I was so proud of how our lads played against a team who play their football at a much higher level than we do and won this competition last year, beating a lot of the boys who were part of this team 4-1 on the way. Shows what progress the boys have made that we more than matched them in the final this time round and every single player can be dead chuffed with themselves. Their runners-up medals were a nice addition to the league winners' medals they picked up last night and Owen winning the man of the match award in the final was a nice bonus to a thoroughly enjoyable day that saw both our teams get back to the sort of football we know they can play.

Well done all, including our friends from the Giants, who won the cup competition, going all day without conceding a goal in the process. Wonderful stuff.

The following day, we returned to play a year up in the U14 competition, with several key players missing, several injuries hampering us and a side whose combined height was somewhere in the region of each of our opponents' players. Despite some tough games, I've never been prouder of our lads. Their work rate was off the scale in nearly every game, they gave the majority of their opponents a really good test and they even picked up a point in a game against a strong Chipstead side with a brilliant performance. Very unlucky not to score (we created some wonderful chances through quick, incisive attacking play) and turning out some superb possession football playing two touch in several matches, the boys did so well. I enjoyed it throughly and I think, in time, they will see the value of the experience and be better players for it. Well done. Now I'm off to sleep!

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Saturday, 27th May 2017 - Uckfield Tournament

Torrential rain on the way there, followed by bright sunshine set the tone for a similarly up and down morning of football. Very briefly...

Langton Phoenix 1 - 1 Marle Place Rangers
(Tristan)

An opening 5 minutes where the boys were half asleep and playing some of the most scrappy football I've seen them play all year saw the team 1-0 down to a lovely passing move from our opposition, who looked livelier in every department. A long ball over the top from Ethan's throw found Tristan through on goal to lob the keeper and restore parity. It was then 5 excellent minutes from the Langton boys where they suddenly started passing the ball beautifully and could have won the game with a good move that ended with a great tackle to deny Finn a shot. A fair result on balance.

Langton Phoenix 0 - 0 Uckfield

The game we slipped up in, no doubt about that at all. 3 or 4 excellent chances created, but shots from crazy angles when teammates had a tap in or conversely, passing when we could have been more lethal in front of goal saw a disappointing performance end with a frustrating draw. The boys never got out of second gear in this one and some of the long "passing" they resorted to and random punts upfield were disappointing to see from a team who have been taught to play football better than that. Mistakes, no problem, but let's at least try to do the right things. Disappointing all round.

Langton Phoenix 1 - 0 Hove Park Colts
(Owen)

After a few choice words and a useful team discussion following the previous game we expected an improvement and we got it. The goal, scored early on, was outstanding, the best bit of play all day from our lads. Ethan's intelligent ball out to Owen was made possible by the space created when Jack and Euan split wide. A quick ball to Finn, who found Tristan out wide and Owen continued striding into the box to tuck away Tristan's excellent pass for 1-0. The rest of the game was played with intelligence to see out the match, Euan playing a superb pass through the middle to Evan, who nearly made it two on the counter attack, with Owen seemingly everywhere in a game in which the boys played some lovely football and showed how good they can be when they PASS THE BALL. Evan's work rate to close down the opposition was notable in this one.

Langton Phoenix 0 - 0 Mile Oak Wanderers

A frustrating game to watch. It was stop-start, niggly and poor quality all round. There was a 2 minute spell where I thought I was at the tennis and the ball was just punted from one end of the pitch to the other. One superb move where Jack showed great tenacity to get out of a tight situation ended with Owen's powerful shot just skimming the bar and Finn got through from Jack's excellent switch pass, finding Tristan with a sharp pass when on another day he might have shot. Our opposition had a good passing move of their own that ended with Owen snuffing the chance out with a fine tackle but other than those highlights it was a pretty torrid affair that ended with another goalless draw and a wait to find out if that was enough to send the boys through.

In a very tight group, where only two teams qualified, even though the boys were the only unbeaten team in the group and they only conceded one goal all morning, they went out as the 3rd placed side, having simply drawn too many. If one of those draws had been a win, they'd have topped the group. Tight margins. On balance, they know they didn't play well enough for long enough this morning to rip up any trees, but the positives of an excellent defensive record and an ability to grind out results even when playing poorly shouldn't go forgotten. You can't have a great week every week and this was one of those that got away. Well done to the boys for sticking with it and for their response after a really poor second game to play so well in the following one. Langton next week, our home fiesta, and let's get back to playing some of that good football we've shown so many times this season.

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Sunday, 21st May 2017 - Pembury Fiesta

A glorious morning, one of our favourite tournaments and 2 Langton Phoenix teams competing for the last time ever in the Pembury fiesta (they don't go beyond U13). The imaginatively entitled Phoenix Black and Phoenix White's mornings in short...


Langton Phoenix White won the Plate competition this morning, beating a strong Foresters team in a tight final 1-0.

Langton Phoenix Black 1 - 0 Tonbridge Shoguns
(Tristan)

A tight start to the group, as the first games in these tournaments tend to be, saw few chances for either side in a match that was settled by Tristan's calm penalty during the latter stages of a game that our boys grew into and improved as the time ticked by. 1-0 and up and running.

Langton Phoenix White 0 - 0 Yalding

A similar performance from our other half but without the goal. Finn's clever flick from a corner was the closest the boys came to scoring in a match where they dominated possession but struggled to create too many clear cut chances. Yalding were a threat on the break and Sam had to be alert to stop the danger on a couple of occasions. Frustrating, but our opponents defended well.

Langton Phoenix Black 1 - 1 Laddingford
(Evan)

A really good showing from the boys saw Evan score a well taken goal to put his team 1-0 up, with Tom showing real intelligence in defence behind him to pass well out from the back. Ethan made a fine catch to keep things tight, with Euan once again impressing going forward as well as communicating well at the back. A slight lapse in concentration saw Laddingford score a good goal through their pacy striker and 1-1 was the final score. Will had a good late run and shot that flashed just wide. Perhaps a little harsh on our boys, but this team ended up group winners and so in retrospect not a bad result.

Langton Phoenix White 0 - 2 Junior Reds

This team were very strong and after an early worldy they scored from a strike that was hit so hard I don't think I know many adults who could have hit a ball with such power, our boys settled into the game and played some excellent stuff. We had 2 superb chances to score, Sammy's movement causing all sorts of problems for the opposition, before Owen hit the post with a brilliant strike and sadly we conceded a very soft goal in between after some tentative defending. I was pleased with the performance and desire shown by the boys in this one, particularly Max, who really stepped up to the mark. The eventual winners of the competition and comfortably the best team there, our opposition played some lovely football and were a pleasure to watch at times.

Langton Phoenix Black 0 - 0 TW Foresters

I didn't see this game as both teams were playing at the same time, but from what I heard, Evan was superb, as was Tristan and Ethan made a good save at one end, whilst Toby went close at the other with a show of pace and a good strike. Another game unbeaten and a solid performance.

Langton Phoenix White 4 - 0 Tonbridge Samurai
(Finn, Max 2, Jack)

An excellent all round performance, with everything we'd asked for. Movement off the ball, work rate out of possession and some fantastically unselfish passing from everyone to play 2 or 3 touch football throughout and score some very well worked goals. Sammy's unselfish cross after some great passing down the right for Finn's well struck left foot opener set the tone, Max then scoring twice himself with one excellent team goal that started with Richard's fine ball forward, involved every other player on the pitch and saw Max bury the ball in the net with aplomb. The other was a solo effort involving sublime skill and clever footwork. Max then turned provider for Jack to score the fourth with a close range effort after he'd made a great late run into the box. 2 goals and 1 assist in 10 minutes. Max was the fantasy football pick of the 3rd round of matches!

Langton Phoenix Black 0 - 0 Pembury

Another goalless draw, this one against a solid Pembury team who the boys shared some excellent games with this season. Chances at both ends and a lively display from Toby that nearly created the opening goal but for a good save from the Pembury goalkeeper. Tristan's skill on the ball sent Will away, but his shot was blocked and Evan once again put in an excellent all round performance. A fine save from Ethan and a quick clearance were the moments of note at the other end of the pitch, with both Euan and Tom really solid in front of him with some fine defensive play.

Langton Phoenix White 1 - 2 Broad Oak Hurricanes
(Ben)

A brilliant first few minutes where we took the lead through Ben's well finished early goal was followed by the most disappointing spell of the day from this half of the Phoenix, selfishness on the ball from 2 or 3 players seeing them lose possession in dangerous areas and concede 2 goals that were totally avoidable but very well finished by Broad Oak, who played some good football. I wasn't happy with sounding like a stuck record with regard to releasing the ball and playing for the team rather than yourself etc. The boys in question knew who they were and were given the job of proving they actually had been listening to some of the things their coaches had told them this year in the next game as this defeat meant they slipped out of contention for the cup competition and qualified for the plate as the 4th placed team of 6 in their group. Not where they'd expected to find themselves, but credit to their opponents, who played well and pipped them to the post deservedly. A reminder that unless you're 100% committed and play for the team rather than yourself, you'll very quickly be finding football a lot less fun.

Cup Quarter Final: Langton Phoenix Black 0 - 1 Pembury

So, our Phoenix Black team had qualified from their group for the cup competition and they faced another Pembury side, having drawn 0-0 against the other half of Pembury in their final group game. It was a tight, cagey affair, epitomised by some excellent defending from both teams, the deadlock broken after a good save from Ethan and a couple of half clearances saw the ball fall to a Pembury striker who slammed it in off the post. The boys pushed back and dominated the rest of the match, Tristan, Toby, Evan and Will all creating some excellent openings but seeing their shots either saved or blocked as Pembury dug in. It seemed a goal was coming, but the game finally got away from our boys as the whistle went to signal the end of a morning the Phoenix Black team can be really proud of, despite it ending in disappointment. Unbeaten in the group, only conceding one goal and playing some lovely football to boot. Every player contributed today and whilst I didn't see all the action, what I did see left me feeling very pleased with the general level of performance. Well done boys. On another day you'd have had the luck.

Plate Semi Final: Langton Phoenix White 1 - 0 Wadhurst United
(Sammy)

Finishing 4th had given the boys a bye into the semi final of the plate, where they would face the winners of the match between Wadhurst and the Yalding team they had faced in the opening game. Wadhurst emerged victorious from a tight match, so our boys took to the pitch with (in theory) the fresher legs having had a break. It didn't look like that to start with, some sluggish defending seeing Wadhurst get in behind twice, Sam picking up the pieces on one occasion with some smart thinking and Owen making it back to make a great recovery tackle. From there on it was a wonderful performance, Max getting through twice but being denied by good saves, Ben having a shot saved, Finn's intelligent pass into Jack almost leading to the opening goal and Richard playing some lovely forward passes. The goal came after an extended spell of pressure, Sammy collecting a loose ball on the edge of the box and absolutely leathering a strike into the bottom corner. A calm, clever finish that he fully deserved for all his hard work all morning. We changed to a back 3 with 2 just in front and saw the game out with the minimumof fuss, Ben almost scoring a late second against his old team that the goalkeeper saved well. Into the plate final and a much better performance from the previous game.

Plate Final: Langton Phoenix White 1 - 0 TW Foresters
(Max)

The boys saved the best until last, playing an almost perfect game against our friends from Foresters, who had scored four in their semi final and came into the game brimming with confidence. We started well with a lovely spell of possession that led to Max putting on the afterburners and having his cross blocked and then a chance for Jack that was well snuffed out, before Sam was called on to make a couple of stops from angled shots at the other end as the tide shifted. Richard's confidence in possession and positioning off the ball was a highlight of the early exchanges. Owen put in a man of the match performance in the final, blocking everything and playing intelligent balls forward. An early run from him ended with a belter of a shot from range that flashed just wide and the game was proving to be very entertaining. Cue Max's moment of genius, collecting the ball on the edge of the box from Finn's early pass, jinking one way, back the other and just when it looked like nothing was on, unleashing an absolute beauty of a curling shot into the top corner with his left foot. It was a goal worthy of a final and gave everyone a lift. The second half was all about containment, Foresters bringing on a couple of very useful subs who caused us problems, but the defensive shape was superb, Sammy working his socks off in a deeper lying role than he's used to and proving incredibly adept at hassling the opposition into mistakes. Sam was called on to make the save of the final with a flying leap to parry a long range belter from Foresters' excellent midfielder, Jack clearing the rebound high up the pitch. It could have been 2 at the end, some lovely combination play between Jack and Ben almost getting Sammy in on goal but the defenders snuffed the chance out. Finn came back on to shore things up and we finished the game with the ball in the corner, keeping possession between Ben and Owen in a lovely display of quick feet and one touch passing. The whistle went to mark the end of an excellent game that both teams played really well in and was decided by a moment of magic.

Well done to all the boys who took part today. It's always tough to split the squad into two halves as these boys have spent all season as one team. Thankfully they didn't have to play each other, which is something that's never much fun. The teams both did really well, each having some fantastic moments and a couple of things that perhaps could be done better in the future, but that's to be expected. Nice for the Pheonix White side to go away with winners' medals in their final ever Pembury fiesta and of course well done to the boys in the Phoenix Black team for going through the group stage unbeaten. Hopefully this is the first success of many of the course of the summer.


Langton Phoenix White with their winners' medals (minus Jack, who had to dash off to watch Chelsea!)

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Saturday, 6th May 2017 - Crowborough Fiesta

So, despite still having an 11 a side game left to play, the boys found themselves into fiesta season already, with a trip over to Crowborough to face a whole bunch of new teams in a tournament that saw 7 teams share 1 pitch - not ideal for getting the games played quickly, especially when the format seemed to see some sides play a flurry of games followed by 70 minute gaps. I'm sure there was some logic to it - just not any that was immediately obvious to those of us sat around for ages! Onto the football... in brief...

Langton Green Phoenix 4 - 0 Crowborough FC Colts
(Owen, Tristan 2, Jack)

Great football against a plucky Crowborough U12 team who were playing up a year and all credit to them for doing so and for working so hard. A brilliant first goal from Owen from range was added to moments later by Tristan with a well taken finish after good work from Finn and Jack. Tristan added a third before half time with a close range effort before Jack scored an excellent solo goal in the second half to round off a good performance all round. I felt for the opposition as the afternoon wore on - it was a tough group and the size difference was enormous between them and many of their opponents, but they stuck at it and put in some excellent performances.

Langton Green Phoenix 1 - 1 Mile Oak Wanderers Yellow
(Tristan)

A brilliant first half against a team we are likely to share a division with next season. They seemed like thoroughly nice folks and this was an entertaining game. Tristan scored an early goal with a clinical finish after Sid and Jack combined beautifully to set him up. Great football, passing to feet and I was a very happy coach at this stage. A downturn in both performance and communication saw a scrappy second half culminate in us conceding a long range effort that shouldn't have been on offer in the first place. Cue the first of a series of rather unfortunate incidents whereby Owen's excellent goalline clearance unfortunately smacked Ethan on the nose and he had to come off with a streaming nosebleed. Owen gamely donned the gloves, pulling off a fine save as the pressure mounted, as the Langton boys reverted to some "safety first" football of the hoofing variety and we ended the game feeling rather fortunate with a point against a very strong team. We look forward to facing them next year if indeed we do end up in a league together.

Langton Green Phoenix 0 - 0 Broad Oak and Horam

A bizarre start to the game. Having been on the end of a ball in the face during the previous game that had led to a nosebleed, Ethan then managed to whack Owen in the face with the ball prior to the game, leaving Owen with a nosebleed (nosebleeds must be like buses - I haven't seen one all season and then two come along in 20 minutes). That put Owen out of contention to start this match and the first half was a pretty scrappy affair all in all. Second half was much better and Langton created the two best out and out chances only for the Broad Oak goalkeeper to save well from Jack, before Tristan's shot just flashed wide. Broad Oak came back strong late on, but a cracking save from Ethan kept the game level and 0-0 was a slightly disappointing result in a game we felt we could have got more from. Alas, it wasn't to be, but progress from previous seasons, where this same Broad Oak side were comfortably beating our boys in these tournament games.

Langton Green Phoenix 0 - 2 Maidenbower United

A fair result against the group winners and best side we faced by far. This game was also marred by injury, Ethan again having to come off after a nasty clash of knees when bravely saving from the opposition striker. Nothing dirty about it - just poor luck - and I should add that the Maidenbower coach was very kind in his assistance to Ethan. We were 1-0 down by this point to a rather scrappy goal, but Maidenbower deserved their lead after a spell of continued pressure, despite some excellent defending from the boys. Owen once again stepped in between the posts and was fantastic, saving well before he could do nothing about a powerful second goal from close range. The boys started playing at this point, Will leading the line well in a more forward position and the rest of the boys passing the ball really nicely to show they could play nice football.

Langton Green Phoenix 0 - 0 Crowborough Crows

Another under 12 team, these lads very well drilled and full of talented players who passed the ball really well. Langton stepped up and also played some really nice stuff. Chances were few and far between, Ethan's superb double save at one end a highlight, with Jack and Will chipping in at the other end with some good shots of their own. Sid had a really solid game in this one and the passing of everyone was of a much higher standard than it had been in the previous couple of matches. An entertaining 0-0 draw.

Langton Green Phoenix 1 - 0 Yalding & Laddingford
(Finn)

A great start against a Yalding team we've known well over the years but who were sporting several players we'd not faced previously and who played some really good football. An early looping header from Finn from Owen's throw that lobbed the keeper gave the boys the perfect start and they played a really good game, Owen dominating from defence, with Jack and him both having late chances to make it two. Sid was unfortunate not to score after his excellent positioning would have allowed him a tap in had the ball just been squared to him when it seemed the obvious thing to do (twice). A lovely run forward from Finn saw him combine with Will to set Tristan away, but his shot flashed across goal before the whistle went to signal the end of the game, and for us, the tournament.

An interesting afternoon. The cold wind and some long waits between games took some of the enjoyment out of it but the boys battled really well despite not being at their best. A combination of some very tired lads who have played a lot of football in the past week (not to mention the season) and a couple recovering from illness probably just took the edge off the level we know these lads can play at, but for a first tournament of the summer it was a decent showing and there were some encouraging moments. To only lose one game and keep 4 clean sheets in 6 matches - not at all bad. Well done boys - see you tomorrow and then take a well earned break for a couple of weeks before we crack on with some more tournaments.

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Sunday, 7th May 2017

Langton Green Phoenix 0 - 1 Broad Oak (end of season friendly competition)

Match report by Steve Bremer

The last 11-a-side match of the season was always going to be a tough one. Langton Green Phoenix faced the runaway Division B champions, who desperately wanted to win today and are a strong, hard-working and well-organised outfit. Langton played well, with nice football at times, but on this occasion they simply couldn’t create enough clear scoring chances against one of the best defences they’ve faced all season. The whites started well, showing lots of confidence – one of their early highlights was a cheeky nutmeg from Jack. Toby immediately looked like a threat down the right wing, scorching the earth under his feet with electric pace. The back line of Euan, Owen, Tom and Jack looked comfortable, often including Ethan as they passed the ball across the back, looking for that pass or run forward. Owen in particular had an excellent game at centre half, a well-deserved man of the match, playing out of his usual position but always there at the crucial moment, to block, tackle or head the ball out of danger. And some of his forward balls were accurate and clever too.

It was a good cross from Toby early on that gave Evan one of the team’s few half-chances to shoot at goal. It took a nice turn from Evan to create even this half chance, but the shot was just wide. Langton controlled the game and kept possession well during the first half. Broad Oak’s first shot on goal didn’t arrive until 10 minutes in, and it was a tame one, straight at Ethan. Evan was constantly looking to power through the centre, and a sweet one-two with Tristan before passing to Will almost created a solid chance. But Broad Oak never gave the Phoenix much time on the ball, and they were having to work very hard to find a way through. Jack was showing some nice skills, nicking the ball from the opposition’s feet and dashing forward at every opportunity. It was another great cross from Toby that found Matt in a bit of space on the left, but he couldn’t quite get a good enough shot away. Moments later, Toby again, this time the cross to Tristan, but the shot was just wide. It was a very tight first half, with Langton having more possession, but neither side creating many chances. A good battling run from Sid helped drive the ball forward, but the Langton attack couldn’t quite find that extra yard of pace or invention to outwit the opposition defence. A half chance for Broad Oak was just wide, and a great long free-kick from Owen wasn’t far away, but the first half finished 0-0.

Langton came under more pressure in the second half, as Broad Oak renewed their efforts and increased their commitment so that more of the play was in Langton’s half. It was a lovely long free kick from Evan that found Toby streaking away once again. He did well to keep the ball just inside the goal line and fire in a cross, but his team mates hadn’t been able to keep up with him and there was simply nobody in white there. Toby created more chances that anyone from Langton with plenty of good crosses, but the Broad Oak defenders usually had the measure of the Langton forwards. Tristan had a shot saved and Will hitting the post soon after was the closest Langton came to a goal. Finn was working hard with his midfield team-mates to keep Toby supplied with good balls, letting fly with some classy efforts, but Broad Oak were snuffing out nearly every Langton attack. A long throw from Owen was headed on by Evan to Tristan who forced the keeper to make his best save of the game.

The game hotted up for a 15-minute spell in the second half, with exciting end-to-end play and both teams counter-attacking at pace. But it was a well-taken corner from Broad Oak, headed in through a thicket of white shirts that made the difference in the end. Langton kept going right to the whistle, but still couldn’t quite find a way through. Even switching to three at the back near the end to try and out-number Broad Oak in midfield didn’t make enough of a difference. Owen did well to win a free kick on the edge of the box, Tristan took it well, but just over the bar. This was a good game of football, and Broad Oak’s goal was the only real difference between these two teams. Broad Oak will be strong challengers in the Crowborough League division A next season, while Langton move on to new challenges in the Sussex League. Meanwhile, let’s hope Langton can take forward some of their skill and form into fiesta season.

Manager's Note:

Owen won the final man of the match of the season for a wonderful display at the back,both defensively and in terms of his forward passing. The boys actually played some really nice football today, despite the result. They kept the ball beautifully at times, spread the play well in the first half, but just couldn't create enough out and out chances to score the goal they needed to then kick on. These things happen and the performance was always more important than the result, with that aspect pleasing us in the first half particularly. Talking to the Broad Oak coaches before the game, both sides had found a slight easing off in performances directly after winning their respective league titles, which was understandable, but I don't think that was to blame today for the result. Broad Oak played really well, defended superbly with strength and organisation and counter attacked with confidence more and more frequently as the game went on. Whilst the lads were slightly unlucky to lose the game, a victory would probably have left our opposition feeling the same way. Broad Oak will I'm sure fair very well in the A division next season if they continue to play like that and we of course wish them all the best in that regard.

So that's it for this year. The end of the 11 a side season. A number of small sided tournaments remain, which I know the boys enjoy, but no more big goals or enormous pitches until September, when we return to action with a change of league to the Mid Sussex league. All in all a fantastic season for the boys, the A division title in the bag, which was always the aim. More importantly though, the boys' behaviour was excellent, their effort levels were superb and they had fun, which after all, is the most important thing. A pleasure to coach and we hope for plenty more next season.

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Sunday, 23rd April 2017

Langton Green Phoenix 5 - 1 Rusthall (end of season friendly competition)
(Finn, Owen, Sam, Sammy, Evan)

After a long break for Easter, the boys played their penultimate 11 a side game of the season this morning against a very strong Rusthall team who we had had 2 excellent games with already this season. The pre-match team talk involved setting the team one challenge and that was to play "beautiful football", putting into practice all the hard work they've put in in training to show us what they're capable of and on a hard, bobbly pitch, against a good side, this was always going to be a tough challenge. Thankfully, they delivered in spades, every single one of them superb.

A brilliant start, the ball being pinged around beautifully in midfield, with Owen and Evan shining in their central roles and Finn and Tristan playing some lovely one-twos just in front of them. A corner was parried into the path of Owen, whose shot goalwards was diverted into the back of the net by Finn to make it 1-0 early on.

Jack's energy and dribbling skills were lighting up the left hand side and a penalty shout was turned down when he broke into the box, went past a couple of Rusthall defenders only to be brought down but denied by the ref. It was a close call and the ref, who had an excellent game today, could have given it either way. No matter, the pressure continued, Max on the right weaving his way into the box only to see his excellent cross turned back out for Owen to stride onto and smash goalwards with a shot rememniscent of the Matic strike for Chelsea in yesterday's FA Cup semi final against Tottenham. The keeper got a hand to it, but the shot was too powerful and too well placed and Owen deservedly had the praise from the sidelines sent his way for a very fine second goal for the team. Sammy then got free after a lovely one-two with Jack, but his cross was parried and the danger cleared.

One particularly impressive aspect of today's match was the passing of the back 4 (and Ethan, in goal), who looked calm and assured on the ball. Euan had probably his best game on the ball for the team today, passing beautifully and making intelligent movement to the create an option for the player in possession, whilst Tom and Richard both played some lovely forward passes amongst their more defensive duties. A slight lapse in concentration after we went 2-0 up saw some slightly chaotic play punished by Rusthall with a very well taken goal that left Ethan no chance and it was 2-1 and game very much on. Tristan went close to restoring the two goal advantage, hassling a Rusthall defender into making a mistake but finding his shot well blocked by the goalkeeper and Finn's strike from distance well caught too.

The boys stepped it up a notch just as they started looking a bit tired in the spring heat, with fresh legs from Sid, Sam and Toby providing the impetus for a rise in the energy levels and immediately we saw a return to the excellent football we'd seen at the start. Evan was everywhere, playing some wonderful crossfield passes, one of them an unbelievable piece of vision to find Max on the left, only for him to be flagged for offside when he looked set to score. Jack played possibly the best pass I've seen all season with a lovely crossfield ball out to the right and suddenly we looked like a team who saw the whole picture rather than just half of it. Amazing what playing with your head up does. Toby got in behind, cut back inside, but was well tackled, with Jack going on another mazy run that saw a good pass to Owen blocked by a well timed interception. The boys were piling the pressure on and we felt a third goal was coming, which it did in spectacular fashion. Some lovely play around the box saw Sid lay the ball back to Sam, who looked up, saw the 'keeper off his line and lobbed an exquisite finish over his head and into the back of the net. Best goal I've seen Sam score for the team and thoroughly deserved after all his hard work this season, with Sid equally involved due to his excellent lay back.

There was a minor issue regarding some fox poo on the pitch and a dodgy moment where I thought I'd slipped a disc in my back (not related) before the half time whistle went and the boys gave their verdict on the first half, which was 99% positive.

Second half we knew Rusthall would come out all guns blazing. They're a good team, with some very strong and pacy players, one of whom broke throgh early on and we needed Mr Calm himself, Ethan, to rush off his line and clear the danger.

One of the things we did want to see an improvement on was communication, particularly from the defenders, and this certainly got better after the break, Tom and Richard talking a lot more, with Finn, Euan, Tristan and Jack also giving their 2 pennies worth. 

Sammy's contribution to the second half was really impressive, his intelligence to switch the play when he was crowded in and to know when to pass and make a run or when to take a player on a noticeable highlight. Twice he got free with superb bits of skill, presumably buoyed by his beloved Brighton's promotion to the Premier League, only to find his shot just too high on one occasion and the goalkeeper equal to his effort on the next. A brilliant pass in behind the defence nearly saw Toby score, only for the flag to go up just as he shot. Sammy got his goal though, a super pass from Finn inside the full back seeing Sammy clean through to the byline, where we all thought he'd cut the ball back for a tap in for Evan, instead cutting inside and sneaking the ball in at the near post to make it 4-1.

Lots more second half highlights, including Evan and Finn's wonderful range of passing, a quite superb turn from Owen that was one of the best bits of skill I've seen all year from anyone, some more outstanding keep-ball at the back from Ethan and his defenders, with the forward passing from them all a real treat to watch and the pace, skill and guile of Jack, Toby, Max and Sammy supporting some super forward play from Tristan and later on, Sam, Sid and then Evan up front. Max worked very hard tracking back to win the ball and start attacks off, Tristan finished the game at right back, looking superb there and Evan slotted in as our main striker for the last 5 minutes, his first run being ended by what looked like another very good shout for a penalty and his second seeing him cut back inside and slide the ball under the goalkeeper with great composure to make it 5-1 to Langton and round off a wonderful display. Beautiful football? Absolutely and probably the best the boys have played all season.

Man of the match was impossible to choose. Owen and Evan both showed a side to their game that has been improving all season but really shone today with their range of passing and unselfishness balanced with some excellent individual skill and running with the ball. Euan had his best game for the team, but honestly - I couldn't fault any of the boys today - they were simply wonderful to watch and as such they all win the man of the match award!!! We gave the chocolate bar to Gracie for being "Supporter of the match" - apparently her dad was trying to convince her to share it with him...

Thank you to the very good referee we had, to Rusthall for playing so well and with such a good attitude (always nice to play a team who play with a smile on their faces and who don't moan at the referee or shout at each other) and of course to those who ran the line and those who cheered the boys on. My shoes are white from "painting" the lines, my voice is hoarse from 2 weeks of man flu (a very real afflication I should add - it has been scientifically proven that men suffer worse than women from most cold & flu bugs) and my back is sore from bending down to pick up so much fox poo, but I'm very pleased with the desire, attitude, work rate and downright quality shown by these lads this morning. Superb stuff.

It just remained for Sammy and Finn to spend 10 minutes trying to get a football back off the 4 month old black labrador puppy we met called Bobby (he totally outplayed the boys by the way) before heading home for a well earned lunch!

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Sunday, 2nd April 2017

Langton Green Phoenix 1 - 1 Pembury (end of season friendly competition)
(Evan)

Langton good value for their draw against Pembury...

This was always going to be a tough match, with the Phoenix having to pick themselves up after their only loss of the season last week, missing several key players, and against the team that ran them close for the league title. But for most of this match Langton were easily the better team, showing the skill, teamwork and determination that won them the league. They were excellent in the first half, setting themselves a very high standard that they couldn’t quite maintain through the whole second half. And they could have won the match, had it not been for a late penalty decision that went against them.

Pembury started the match at a high tempo with some threatening attacking play that saw the ball skim across the Langton goal mouth with the first minute. But Langton were more than equal to this threat. Ethan had another outstanding game, acting almost as a sweeper at times, with all his defenders confident enough to pass back to him, knowing that his kicking distribution would be top class. Owen played well out of his normal position, covering for Richard at centre half, with Tom looking solid as ever next to him. Owen, Tristan, and Matt combined well in a good early attacking move. Matt was playing in an attacking left wing position, and finding plenty of space to move both inside and out. Pembury took a long free kick that looked dangerous and caused temporary confusion in the Langton defence before they finally cleared. Sid was light on his feet as he set off on a couple of lovely dribbles that cut through the centre of the pitch. It was a beautiful cross-field pass from Evan to Matt out wide on the left, who controlled the long ball well and got a good shot away, but the keeper saved it.

Langton’s dominant possession was shown by their five corners with the first 20 minutes. Sammy found Tristan with the first of these, and he fired an absolute screamer just over the bar. The team looked confident and played some lovely passing moves, often involving Ethan, who almost gave them an extra outfield player at times. With Sammy causing the Pembury defence constant problems on the right wing, and Matt doing the same on the left, Langton were calling the shots in the first half, with Pembury rarely retaining possession. It was another corner from Sammy that Evan met at the near post with a superb strike from a difficult angle to put his team deservedly ahead. Finn had a great game in the centre, and looks like he increases in stature ever match and can do just about everything well, with strong defensive headers, great vision and committed tackling. It was Finn’s through ball that sent Tristan racing towards goal, only to get sandwiched between the Pembury centre halves before he could get his shot away. Then Tristan found Sammy racing down the right wing, from where he fired a cracking shot that the keeper just managed to tip over the bar with his fingertips. Ben came on to show some nice skills of his own in the centre, complementing those of Finn and a few others turning on the style. But Pembury maintained their own threat, hitting the post once and forcing Ethan to scramble off his goal line to nick the ball from an attacker. Ethan then made a brilliant fingertip save from a Pembury free kick and moments later pressure from Evan was just enough to make a Pembury attacker guide his header over the cross bar, but it was mighty close. At half-time Langton were deservedly one up, but they had been made to work really hard for their lead.

Within seconds of the start of the second half, Pembury were launching another of their very effective long throw-ins, and it was good covering from Tom that saw off the threat. Jack burst out from left back and found Ben in the centre, and it was a delightful chip from him over the Pembury defence that found Tristan in a great spot, but the shot was just wide. But Langton generally were finding it tough to get round the Pembury number 11, who was superb at centre half. It was a good corner from Ben that found Max in a central position in front of goal. Max took it on the volley with great confidence, but the keeper made another good save. Then immediately at the other end, a brilliant long free kick from Pembury met an even more brilliant diving save from Ethan, who just kept the ball out with the very tips of his fingers. It was his fingertips again that saved the team from the resulting corner.

Langton were definitely slightly off the pace for much of the second half, but there were still some good moments. Along the left wing, for example, Euan looked at ease playing the ball in all directions, feeding some nice interplay between Jack, Matt and Finn. But Pembury were starting to get the majority of the chances and Langton were increasingly second to the ball. It took more fine goalkeeping from Ethan to preserve his team’s lead. And then, to everyone’s surprise, Pembury were awarded a penalty that was dispatched low and hard to bring them level. It was then a test of Langton’s character to hold on for the rest of the half, as Pembury came at them with all guns blazing. Yet another fine save from Ethan, and some stout defending from Tom kept the match honours even until the final whistle.

Manager's comments: Matt won man of the match today for some excellent first half play, particularly his distribution and first touch, which were superb. A special mention also for Ethan, who was outstanding in goal and for the back 4, who put last week's display firmly behind them with some lovely play out from the back and calmness on the ball. Our priority is always to see good football that shows development ahead of results at all costs and the boys once again showed that they play some of the nicest football you'll see at this level. Ball on the floor, never aimlessly lumping it and passing nicely. Usually it gets results, but today it just wasn't to be. The fact they were disappointed with a draw in this game shows how far the lads have come from last season, when many of these players would have expected to lose to a team like Pembury. Great progress, wonderful to watch at times and very unlucky today. Pembury are a good side and we wish them well in the future.

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Sunday, 26th March 2017

Langton Green Phoenix 1 - 5 Tonbridge Invicta (end of season friendly competition)
(Finn)

Langton Green Phoenix come back down to earth with a crash!

After the excitement of last week's league winning performance, this opening match in the end of season Shield competition was always going to be a tough game against one of the strongest sides the boys have faced all year. Tonbridge Invicta play good football, with plenty of desire to win and possess some excellent individuals too. It didn't help that today, like in one of those movies where someone wakes up in someone else's body, at least 50% of the actual Phoenix team seemed to be somewhere else entirely, swapped with aliens from outer space, who had never seen a football in their lives. Take nothing away from our opposition though, they were worthy winners, better in every department, who finished their chances well.

A promising start built some pressure, Joel looking lively at right back and Max R getting round the back but seeing his cutback blocked, with Max S having a couple of forays into opposition territory on the left. We had most of the ball, Tonbridge limited to a couple of attacks on the counter, but the danger was there for all to see and we weren't communicating or covering the gaps to our usual standard. It may have seemed this way, but leaving the opposition's best player with 10 yards of space around him at all times was not a tactical decision made by the coaches! If it had been, the boys were executing it brilliantly and it was from here that the tide turned and Tonbridge started to dominate. The first goal came midway through the half, a scrappy affair where we didn't clear our lines being finished with an excellent strike. The second goal is best not described in any sort of detail at all, suffice to say if the Crowborough League ran an end of season "bloopers" video for the top ten "how on earth did that happen" goals, this would be right up there!

Toby came on and looked electric immediately, creating a chance with his first run. Fully expecting the boys to notice the obvious threat we offered down the right I sat back and waited for the inevitable flurry of passes into Toby, but alas, none came and our main avenue of attack dried up. Tristan, Evan and Finn battled gamely in the middle, keeping possession nicely with not much to show for it and the closest we came to a goal was an excellent long range strike from Evan that whistled over the bar and a darting run from Jack that almost saw him win get in behind the defence only for a well-timed tackle to rob him of a chance on goal. Ben then made a great run, found by Tristan's pass, but his shot was well saved by a bit of brave goalkeeping. Sam had an excellent shot in the closing minutes of the half, a technically excellent strike that was brilliantly saved - on any other day it probably would have gone in.

Holding onto the ball too long led to a turnover of possession, a third goal came and the boys found themselves in the unusual position of being 3-0 down at half time. They knew they'd been off the pace and they knew what they needed to do. To their credit, they came out in the second half vastly improved. Moving Jack further forward on the left led to a new threat and when a sustained spell of pressure led to a bobbling ball in the box that may or may not have already crossed the line off an opposition back, Finn was on hand to smash home and give the lads a lifeline.

A few moments later Sammy hit a belter of a free kick against the bar, Will headed the rebound goalwards and Evan smashed home the second, only for him to be flagged offside. It looked offside to me, but one of the Tonbridge players turned to us and announced that "was never offside". Very honest, but ultimately not much of a consolation. It made us chuckle on the sidelines though. It was still 3-1 and the opportunity to get right back into the match had gone. Euan was communicating well from right back and made a couple of timely interceptions and clever forward passes, Tom made a solid tackle and intelligent pass forwards, Ben receiving the ball from him on one occasion and striding goalwards only to be caught by a very good tackle.

We pushed forward, Will had a good shot that just missed, Tristan had the same, Sammy jinked into the box with sublime footwork only to see his shot clear the bar. There were good moments, Finn and Tristan combining superbly to set Jack free, but it just wouldn't quite pan out. We pressured, but the mistakes that have been so few and far between this season were a feature of our play almost constantly today and when the fourth goal went in, the majority of the boys seemed to realise the game was up. A couple of clearances from Sam and Richard kept the score down. Ethan made two excellent saves and one very good clearance. Finn was everywhere, clearly not realising the game was lost and giving everything he had to try and salvage something but when the opposition striker handled the ball in the box and slotted home the fifth, we knew it wasn't our day. It wasn't on purpose, it just happened to hit his hand, but the referee was unsighted and so could quite rightly not call it. Unfortunate, but in the end it made no difference to the result. The final whistle went, the alien body swap was reversed and everyone could take their actual sons home to celebrate Mothers Day.

It had to happen eventually. Unbeaten all season and it was somewhat inevitable that when it ended, it would be with a bang. We didn't do the basics well enough today, simple as that and the boys know it. It was good to get it out of the way, the hangover from winning the league is hopefully well and truly banished now, anyone who had got carried away with what was without a doubt a superb achievement realising that just turning up doesn't automatically mean you get to win. Next week gives the boys a great opportunity to show what they're all about when they play Pembury, a game that will undoubtedly be a real challenge. I'm sure they'll be up to it.

Man of the match went to Finn, who gave everything to a lost cause and showed great character in that regard, as well as playing some lovely passes and being on hand to score what he described as "half a goal" as he wasn't sure if it had already crossed the line. Honorable mentions to Jack, who was excellent again, Evan, who played very well going forwards and Toby, who is consistently becoming one of the biggest threats the team possess with his pace and skill now combined with determination and work ethic that is second to none.

Well done Tonbridge. Nice lads who play good football - you deserved your win today.

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Sunday, 19th March 2017 - Langton Green Phoenix WIN the Crowborough League A Division!!!

Langton Green Phoenix 11 - 1 Jarvis Brook Junior (league)
(Tristan 6 (yes that is six!), Evan 2, Max R 2, Matt)

Match Report by Steve Bremer

Invincibles win the league in impressive style...

Unbeaten all season, and having played some wonderful football at times, the Phoenix still had to win their last match of the season to be sure of winning the league. Even a draw today could have meant a play-off match against second-placed Pembury to decide who were the league champions. So the whites knew what they had to do today, but nobody expected them to carry out the job so convincingly against such well-organised opposition.

The team started positively on their home 3-G pitch, and were well-rewarded with a dream start. Tristan, who was sensational in all departments today, had put his team two-nil up within the first four minutes. From that moment on, the confidence flowed through the whole team. But at no point did Jarvis Brook give up, and Langton had their work cut out to maintain this momentum. Moments later, Ethan had to beat an onrushing attacker to the ball to keep the Crowborough team at bay. Richard and Tom were majestic in central defence, as they have been all season, anticipating everything perfectly with impeccable timing and letting no opposition player past. Toby was soon sending Jack scuttling down the right wing, forcing Jarvis Brook onto the back foot, and Owen and Evan were winning everything through the middle. Overlapping on the right wing, and benefiting from some good balls from his team mates, Max was another constant danger, whipping in some lovely crosses. Euan was getting close to his marker, and playing the ball forward nicely. Finn and Jack were playing some nice one-twos as Langton moved the ball around with aplomb, retaining possession well, and winning the ball back quickly. A header from Evan sent Max away down the right wing again, from where he pulled it back to Finn, who forced a good diving save from the opposition keeper. Moments later, Tristan outpaced a defender yet again to poke the ball into the net for the third time in less than 15 minutes, scoring one of the quickest hat-tricks ever seen.

Jarvis Brook kept coming though, forcing a free kick from a dangerous area that Ethan did well to hold on to. But Evan found Max again, a nice one-two and Max raced through the gears again before putting another lovely cross in to, guess who, Tristan, who made it four-nil. Langton were applying a lot of pressure on the Jarvis Brook goal kicks, with Evan winning the ball and having his shot saved, while Finn’s shot on the rebound forced another great save from the blues’ keeper. Meanwhile, at the other end, Ethan still had plenty to do, bravely picking the ball off the toes of an attacker yet again. It was Evan and Max linking up again that led to the fifth goal, and what a great finish from Max into the top corner. But then Langton got a little too physical in their defending and Jarvis Brook won a penalty. It was well taken, leaving Ethan no chance. Jarvis Brook were definitely not going to roll over today. Sid found Max next and sent him on his way with a peach of a pass. Max showed great strength to hold off the opposition and cross into Will, whose shot was saved by the excellent Jarvis Brook keeper. Owen wanted a bigger slice of the action, and carved his way past three defenders before seeing his shot saved. It was the Max/Evan combo again that led to the sixth goal, as Max crossed to Evan for a nice finish. Moments later, some nice play from Matt found Owen in a good spot to pass to Max, who stylishly chipped the keeper to make it seven-one just before half time.

Langton Green continued to turn on the style in the second half, even though Jarvis Brook valiantly battled for everything and gave very little away. Tom and Richard continued their masterful control in the centre of defence, batting away everything that came in their direction. It was a blistering run from Toby down the right, flying past several defenders, that allowed him to make the perfect cross. Matt was well placed in the centre and christened his new boots with a great finish – eight-one. There was some lovely stuff going on now from the boys in white, with clever interplay between Matt, Finn, Max, Sid and Sam. Langton were playing the ball out right from the back, starting with Ethan, and nice passing and moving from Jack, Richard, Owen and Will. It was a long ball from Ethan that Evan controlled with his head towards Tristan, back to Evan, who outpaced the Jarvis Brook defence to score his second. It was another long kick from Ethan out towards Tristan, who nicked it off the toe of a blue-shirted play and set off towards the goal. He wasn’t missing any today – ten-one. And still Tristan wasn’t finished – moments later on the edge of the box he flicked it cleverly up into the air and volleyed it over the keeper. It was a terrific goal, Tristan’s double hat-trick and Langton’s number 11.

But still this match wasn’t over. Will was determined to bag himself a goal today, forcing his way past two or three defenders on several occasions, but ultimately denied his goal by more great goalkeeping. And still Jarvis Brook didn’t give up! Ethan made a brave diving save at feet, and Toby raced back to make a perfectly timed tackle at left back and deny Jarvis Brook a shot at goal. But today was Langton Green’s day and they finished deserved winners today, and worthy league champions. The boys have worked hard all season, played brilliantly at times, showed great team spirit and general attitude. Pembury took it all the way to the wire, but Langton Green really showed what they’re made of today. Well done to everyone. And also let’s not forget, a huge thank you to all the coaches who made all this possible. They’ve put in a huge amount of time and effort to help make it happen and ending up league winners seems a deserved reward for everyone involved.

A note from Ian...

Firstly, thank you Steve for a match report that I have no idea how you remembered all the detail for!!! It has been an absolute pleasure to coach such a cracking bunch of lads this season, who despite being a completely new team at the start of the year, have gelled superbly and played some wonderful football with a smile on their faces and an attitude that has seen them win friends everywhere they've gone. A real "team", who don't just rely on giving the ball to any one or two players to be superstars, everyone has contributed to a thoroughly deserved league win. The fact that so many of the non-playing squad turned up last week and today to support their teammates showed the team spirit in the group, which was incredibly pleasing to see. Well done all.

Our opponents have ensured this was far from easy and Pembury pushed our boys all the way with the league decided on the final day, as it should be. Plenty more football still to come, but for the moment boys, enjoy your success - you deserve it, 100%. The final league table makes for enjoyable viewing...

...and to be the only team out of over 120 Crowborough League sides from U12 to U18 to have not lost a game all season is a phenomenal record. Outstanding stuff.

Played 16, won 12, drawn 4, lost 0. Goals for 77, goals against 22.

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Sunday, 12th March 2017

Langton Green Phoenix 0 - 0 Ashurst Wood Junior (league)

Match Report by Ian Knapp

With last week cancelled and this week doubtful with more rain forecast, we were surprised and pleased to wake up to a calm, clear day and a game that gave the team the opportunity to win the league with victory against a very good Ashurst Wood side the boys had beaten 6-2 on the opening day of the season.

The almost perfect start saw Toby's pace take him clear on the right, his excellent strike very well saved by the Ashurst Wood goalkeeper. The next 10 minutes were all Langton, the boys showing real energy and purpose but just lacking that finishing touch and perhaps overdoing things slightly in front of goal when a shot seemed like the simplest thing to do. All this gave Ashurst Wood the opportunity to grow into the game, which they did. A couple of chances on the break were well snuffed out by Ethan with quick decision making seeing him off his line in a flash to clear a couple of dangerous through balls and a couple of solid catches from long range aerial shots. Finn, Tristan and Jack were neat and tidy in possession, keeping the ball well and fashioning some good forward passes, with Owen and Evan screening the back 4 and winning the midfield battles more often than not, but too often we simply didn't have the numbers in the right areas to create overloads and cause real problems for the opposition.

A good ball down the line from Euan saw Toby get away again, his deflected cross falling to Tristan, whose strike from distance went just wide, Sid played a couple of tidy passes and worked hard, but in general things weren't what we were hoping for at this stage and half time felt like it couldn't come too soon as the boys struggled to retain the ball for the latter part of the half and the final 5 minutes turned into a slugfest of aerial balls from both teams and silly  tackles that neither side can be very proud of.

Second half and the boys knew what we were expecting to change, especially in terms of getting more shots away and the first 10 minutes were again all Langton, our passing much better and the threat of Max on the right causing particular problems for our opposition as he took on the red full back and got several excellent crosses in. The tension mounted, the ball wouldn't quite fall right for anyone and despite Tristan, Will, Finn, Evan and Owen having shots from range, we weren't really testing the Ashurst Wood goalkeeper. A powerful strike from Evan was spilled but Will couldn't quite get there on the follow up, despite reacting quickly. Tom and Richard were solid when required, passing intelligently out from the back, with Joel and then Euan doing a great job at right back in both an attacking and a defensive sense. A clever ball inside the full back from Will just ran out of Max's grasp and it all had the feel of "one of those days".

Ben had a good moment of combination with Jack, who skipped into the box brilliantly and then cut the ball across for a strike on goal that never came, 3 players all preferring to pass on to a teammate than take the shot themselves and eventually the ball was cleared. A good ball forward from Euan found Max, who once again skiped into the box and crossed, but a red shirt got there first. Some more silly business with a couple of thoroughly silly tackles flying around, one of which saw Toby leave the pitch with a game-ending injury and the clock ticked down, the tension mounted on the sidelines and even the referee's dad commented that it just wasn't going to be our day. He was right, an excellent strike from Tristan skimming past the post being the closest we came in the final few minutes, a bobbly ball in the box nearly falling for Will, Ben well-tackled at the final moments before Ashurst Wood had a breakaway goal ruled out for offside and the final whistle seeing the end of an incredibly frustrating game to have watched but in which the boys gave everything, which is all we can ask of them. In the end the number of shots we had that really tested the opposition goalie was disappointing, the desire to pass commendable in an age group where you usually have the opposite problem, but you do have to get shots on target to score goals and we didn't do enough of that today unfortunately. Part of that was down to the excellent defending from Ashurst Wood, probably the best defensive display we've seen all season against us from any team. You don't see too many 0-0 draws in under 13 football! We have another chance next week against an excellent Jarvis Brook side who we drew with last time out, which I'm sure the boys will be well up for.

Positives from today were far more than negatives. You can't always have it your own way and whilst the folks on the sidelines had turned up hoping to see a league winning game, they got 100% effort from everyone and a great example of team spirit, especially from the 3 boys who came along to support their teammates despite not being involved in the game themselves. Outstanding stuff. To the boys who played less than they'd have hoped today or who were sitting out altogether, I'm sorry - I know you all want to play all the time, but with 19 boys in the squad it simply isn't possible. Your support from the sidelines didn't go unnoticed.

Thank you of course to Nick and Julian for helping put the nets up at the start and clearing the pitch of sticks! Thank you to Justin for running the line and of course to the referee, who did a fine job.

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Sunday, 26th February 2017

Langton Green Phoenix 4 - 2 Broad Oak & Horam (friendly)
(Ben, Jack, Sam, Tristan)

Match Report by Steve Bremer

Langton Green Phoenix rise again to show their mettle...

Billed as a friendly match between the leaders of the A division and the leaders of the B division, this was as much of a test of the Phoenix’s focus and determination as any league game. It has to be said that they were sorely lacking in these two departments during a lot of the first half. But a half-time rocket from the coaches brought the team back to life, and coming back from 2-0 down to win 4-2 against sturdy opponents is quite an achievement and the boys should be proud of how they turned things around.

A lot of the boys in white looked half asleep as the game started, and it was no real surprise that they conceded a goal from a corner within the first five minutes. Toby offered one of the few glimmers of hope during the first half, sprinting all over the place, back and forth, attacking then defending. Joel also looked lively, sprinting forward from right back. But generally, Langton struggled to string many passes together and Broad Oak kept them under constant pressure. Even an unusual decision by the referee to stop the game for a couple of minutes to allow five of the Broad Oak players to tie their laces up failed to wake up some of the Langton team. Ethan’s distribution continues to be excellent though, and it was his throw to Toby, that led to a nice cross from Max R, but it was just slightly too far ahead of Sid to get a toe on it. Ben also showed some nice dribbling, inside and out to the right flank. But Langton were too often outnumbered around the ball and it was no real surprise though when Broad Oak got in behind the their defence to give themselves a two-goal lead. It was yet another terrific run from Toby that won Langton a free kick. Ben took it, and what a beauty – chipped over the wall and over the keeper, dropping perfectly just under the bar just before the half-time whistle.

A stern talking-to at half time breathed some life back into the whites, who started to look a little more like Division A title contenders again. Sid had a shot on goal very early on, but couldn’t quite get enough power on it to trouble the keeper. Langton’s early threat was coming down the right wing, Max S feeding Tristan a few nice balls to trouble the Broad Oak defence. Owen was starting to slalom though the centre at will, and it was his free kick that gave Jack a half chance that he took well to bring the score level. Then Finn had a good shot, that the keeper could barely hold on to, but luckily for him there were no white shirts nearby and he gathered the ball quickly. Toby left everyone trailing in his wake as he sprinted virtually the whole length of the pitch at 100 miles an hour, only to be brought down just inside the box. Sam stepped up and confidently slotted the ball into the corner for his long-awaited and well-deserved first goal of the season, giving his team the lead for the first time today. Another great kick out from Ethan allowed Tristan to sprint into space out wide and send a shot fizzing across the face of the goal. But it was Toby again, whose nice cross found Tristan right in front of goal and he wasn’t going to miss from there – 4-2.

As the confidence flowed through the team, Langton started to look more like their normal selves, with Richard and Tom looking so solid in central defence, Ben making some nice dribbling runs into forward space, Joel always looking for the forward pass, and Toby simply getting everywhere, all the time. In fact, Toby nearly rounded his day off with a goal, but the keeper just got his fingertips to the ball, forcing it onto the post and out of danger. Owen also nearly got his name on the scoresheet, leaving several opposition players on their behinds, but the keeper bravely got to the ball a fraction of a second before Owen’s toes. In the end, the aptly-named Phoenix rose again from the ashes of a dismal first half to stage an excellent fightback in the second half and were good value for their victory.

Coach's note: well done to those of you who picked your game up in the second half and showed us a bit of desire. A much better performance after the break, personified by Toby, who deservedly won man of the match today for his excellent work rate throughout and his positivity and unselfishness on the ball to come up with 3 assists today. Fantasy football pick of the week! Thank you to Justin for refereeing, to Simon for running the line and of course well done to Broad Oak, who gave us a tough match and showed why they'll deservedly be at the end of season awards evening picking up the B division title.

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Sunday, 19th February 2017

Langton Green Phoenix 3 - 2 Rusthall (league)
(Will 2, Evan)

Match Report by Steve Bremer

Langton show spirit to grind out another crucial victory...

This was a must-win match if Langton Green Phoenix were to keep their league title destiny in their own hands. With three matches to go until the end of the season and Pembury and Ashurst Wood both just behind, the pressure was on Langton to hold their nerve and win this game. And despite a nail-biting final 10 minutes, they did just that, showing real mettle and will to win a very tough contest.

Langton exerted good early pressure right from the whistle, with a tireless Toby causing all sorts of problems for Rusthall on their left. The usual strength and determination from Evan won him the ball, and he gave Finn the chance to have a long-range shot and test the opposition keeper out in a period when his team were peppering the Rusthall goal. Just wide, but Langton were sending out all the right messages early on. Tristan had three shots in a row, blocked by the Rusthall defence, who looked solid throughout this match. Will had to be at his strongest up front to keep the ball from those big defenders. Owen chipped in with a long-range shot of his own. Evan out-paced and out-muscled a defender only to have his shot deflected by the keeper, but Will was in exactly the right spot to meet the rebound and give Langton the lead within the first 10 minutes. But the team in stripes had levelled the score before the next five minutes were up. Langton failed to clear a corner and, after some scrapping in the box, Rusthall scored an equaliser.

Langton lost their way slightly during the next spell, getting a bit sloppy at times and failing to string many passes together. There were good moments, though, Jack looking a constant livewire up the left wing, and playing Will in a couple of times. Then Ben came off the bench and started to link up play well through the centre. Then Evan was brought down just inside the box and won his team a penalty. Ben took the penalty well, but the keeper guessed the correct side and got down low very quickly to make a great save and keep the game level. The Phoenix picked up a little after that, with Matt coming on to deliver some visionary passes forward. Tristan looked lively, playing a little further forward than of late, showing some tidy ball skills and great covering play. More good distribution from Matt played Ben in on goal and the ball was in the net only to be ruled off side. Further deft build-up play from Jack found Will near the far post, but with his back to the goal. No problem for this season’s top scorer – a neat back heel and the ball went in off the post just before the stroke of half time.

Langton looked a little tentative at the start of the second half, but soon started to pass the ball around well and put Rusthall under pressure. Evan chipped the ball up on the edge of the box and struck a superb volley that bounced off the cross bar. A couple of long throws that may as well have been corners from Owen kept the pressure on Rusthall’s goal. But Evan’s persistence finally paid off when, after a short dribble, he hit the ball well with his left foot across the goal and into the far corner to make it 3-1 and give Langton the upper hand during the next spell. Finn was at the heart of some great link-up play in midfield in this period, distributing the ball well. But top marks for ball distribution today possibly go to Ethan in goal, for starting some good moves from the very back. Langton were looking solid across the back four, with Tom and Richard always in the right place, and Euan and Jack driving forward from their full-back positions whenever possible. But suddenly, somehow, Rusthall found an extra couple of yards of space behind the defenders and pulled a goal back. Langton were forced to re-assert themselves, with Ben from close range, and Owen from further out both having their shots either saved or just go wide. Matt came the closest with his long-rang effort that looked a certain goal, only for the keeper to palm the ball onto his cross bar. The final 10 minutes were nail-biting stuff. But the whole team worked really hard right to the end, staying focused and working for each other to earn a well-deserved victory.

Manager's Note: Jack was awarded man of the match today by Sammy (who very supportingly (is that a word???) came and watched the boys whilst he recovers from his toe injury). A worthy winner of the award today, with a special mention also going to Toby, who I thought was excellent. A mention should also be saved for Ethan, Euan and Richard's brilliant working of the ball out from defence under pressure at 3-2. Exactly the sort of calm, collected football we're looking for from our defenders and a welcome return for that kind of play after the early season games featured so much of it. A cracking performance from everyone today though and a deserved win in the end against a very tough opponent.

A friendly next week against the runaway division B winners, Broad Oak, with our final 2 league games to follow in the subsequent 2 weeks. Looking forward to it.

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Sunday, 12th February 2017

Langton Green Phoenix 4 - 0 Sevenoaks U14s (friendly)
(Max R, Sid, Finn, Ben)

No in-depth match report today. Steve did offer but as it was a friendly it didn't seem necessary. But... the way the boys played deserves a mention, so I thought I'd do a brief summary.

A game against a team a year older provided us with a new challenge. Sevenoaks are a strong side with the best defensive record in their division, so it was always going to be tough to break them down, even more so when we found ourselves without our top scorer, Will, due to illness and a couple of other goal machines in Sammy (broken toe - get well soon!) and Evan, as well as defensive stalwarts Tom, Euan, Max S and Joel. But all this provided a really good opportunity for others to step in and make their mark, which they did brilliantly. We played 3 x 25 minute thirds to allow for more coaching in between and it worked well.

The first game ended 0-0, Sevenoaks proving every bit as tough to break down as we'd suspected and both teams finding chances hard to come by despite some lovely midfield play from Sid, Matt and Finn, Tristan and Jack ably supporting them in the full back positions. A half chance for Ben from Max R's excellent cross was the closest we came to scoring, whilst at the back Ethan was solid in goal, Owen and Richard fantastic at centre back. Toby's tenacity was again on display and he caused all sorts of problems for the opposition with his tracking back and running with the ball, Sam coming on to hold the ball up well up front.

The second game was an altogether more pleasing affair, Langton showing the incisiveness in the final third to add to the excellent pass and move football we'd seen in the opening match. Sevenoaks defended resolutely, but when Matt switched play out wide from a tight position, exactly as we'd practiced in training and then Toby had the intelligence to quickly switch it back the width of the pitch to Tristan, his first time pass played Max R in, who calmly slotted the ball into the far corner for the opening goal of the morning. Sam nearly made it two with a cracking strike from Ben's clever pass and the combination of Jack and Tristan at full back caused havoc on several occasions. Finn, Matt and Sid continued their quality from the first match but made more intelligent passes this time out and it showed in the chances we created. At the other end Ethan was called on to make 2 good clearances and one fine save low to his left from a solid long range effort from a Sevenoaks free kick.

The third match was a chance to try something difference, the boys going Chelsea's 3-4-3 formation, with Owen our David Luiz in the middle and Ben our Eden Hazard and whilst it took 5 minutes or so to get used to it (spaces were opening up at the back that hadn't been there before), the boys settled in well. Tristan was up front, linking cleverly with his midfielders to create a chance for Sid to open the scoring with a good low finish. Finn then scored a bullet of a header from a corner that made everyone smile after all his headed near misses this season, Ben's delivery making his job a lot easier. Ben then scored the fourth goal of the morning with a superb finish after showing quick feet and great control, the ball having been played from back to front in quick, one touch passes that made everyone on the sidelines applaud. Owen had time to strike a good shot from range, Matt played a lovely switched pass to Toby, who very nearly won a penalty and Sevenoaks nearly scored from a long range effort they had worked well but Ethan was a match for it, as he had been all morning. Clever distribution, doing what he needed to when he needed to do it and a couple of fine stops saw Ethan win the man of the match award (a Twirl this time round) but in truth everyone played really really well this morning. Some of the passing was sublime at times and the boys should be very proud of themselves. A nice touch for the Sevenoaks players to come over and congratulate the boys at the end of a friendly game that was played in an excellent spirit by 2 good teams.

Half term, then Rusthall next week. We look forward to it.

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Sunday, 5th February 2017

Langton Green Phoenix 6 - 1 Hailsham (league)
(Will 2, Jack, Tristan, Owen, Max R)

After the disappointment and drama of last week's penalty shootout cup semi final, we were interested to see how the boys responded. The danger was that their heads were down and the performance and energy levels would be a struggle against a very dangerous Hailsham side.

Thankfully, we needn't have worried. Straight from the kick off the boys looked lively in attack, the midfield keeping the ball beautifully through a combination of Jack, Finn and Owen playing it simple and linking up well with Tristan, pushing forward from right back. Then a dodgy moment, we didn't clear the ball, Hailsham played incisive attacking football and a stray challenge saw the referee point to the spot - penalty - and rightly so. Up stepped Ethan, pulling off a magnificent penalty save, low to his left and then following up to smother the loose ball superbly. Outstanding goalkeeping.

30 seconds later and it was 1-0 to Langton. Quick distribution from Ethan down our left hand side. A good bit of combination in midfield and Jack and Will combined to create a chance that either could have finished but Jack bundled the ball over the line to make it 1-0. Sadly we then lost Joel to injury, a painful leg that will hopefully be fine with a bit of rest over half term. Max S came on to replace him, with a tactical reshuffle seeing Jack drop to left back. Max was immediately involved with a good bit of link up play with Finn and Tristan, Owen played through from his pass to get a shot away that was well saved. A corner then saw Richard get a rare shot off that hit the side netting but generally with no Sammy on the pitch our corners were looking a bit lacklustre. Would love to see a few short ones thrown in and generally a bit more thought going into them. Something to discuss at training...

Some good and some not so good play for the rest of the half - the good saw Owen go on a couple of barnstorming runs down the right, Sid and Evan link up well to play in Toby, whose pace took him through for a belter of a shot that the opposition goalkeeper saved well from. Toby's tenacity and tracking back was a real highlight of the game and a very impressive addition to his set of skills that I hope he will keep up from now on. A few others could learn a thing or two from his efforts today!

Will then made it 2-0 with a clinical finish from close range after good play out wide, again from Toby and Will nearly scored a third with a fantastic solo run from Evan's pass that saw him use strength and skill to beat 2 defenders only for his shot to squirm just wide of the far post. With Hailsham a danger on the break, Richard and Tom were both called on to make tough challenges and Richard headed a ball that would have knocked many players back through their own net! Tom's passing from the back was good and Euan's communication and desire gave the rest of the boys a great example to follow. The less good was a tendancy from a number of our forward players to try and be the hero, holding onto the ball way longer than was necessary in a search for a goal for themselves rather than the team. We should have had 3 or 4 by half time, but were thwarted by ourselves on several occasions, when the simplest option of an unselfish pass would have been the easiest one and probably led to a goal.

Two players you could never accuse of selfishness are Sam and Sid, both of whom had finished the first half linking play up beautifully and started the second half with equal intelligence. Both were unfortunate not to get on the scoresheet today, but Sam's hold up play up front and Sid's excellent range of passing didn't go unnoticed. Hailsham starting the half well, dangerous in attack, but it was Langton who scored first, getting the crucial third goal from Tristan's boot after some simply sublime play from him, Jack, Sid and Finn - all first time short passing to create space, followed by a ball to Evan, who turned brilliantly and picked out Tristan's run inside the opposition full back. He took a great first touch and buried the ball in the far corner. Best goal the boys have scored for ages and all down to simple, unselfish play from everyone involved. Well done.

Many observers probably thought the points were safe at this point, but Hailsham had other ideas, their powerful number 10 going on a superb run down the right wing before cutting the ball back into the box for a good strike from the Hailsham centre forward. A goal that had to be applauded, but frustrating how slowly and unenergetically some of the boys were jogging (as in, not running) back to try and get numbers behind the ball. A wake up call and not what any of the coaches would expect from the team. It was nearly double trouble a moment later, Euan's excellent tackle and tracking back from Tristan saving the boys from another tricky situation. Euan then played calmly out from the back - perfect, with Richard making a well timed interception moments later to cap off a 3 minute spell where our defenders were doing virtually all the work.

Some wonderful moments followed, Max R getting into the game with a couple of superb runs on the right, getting to the byline several times through a combination of raw pace and sublime skill, only to find nobody could quite connect with his cut backs. Will made it 4-1 shortly afterwards, Toby's outstanding show of skill on the left leaving a defender looking in completely the wrong direction (as well most of us!), turning and running at the defence before laying the ball back to the edge of the box, where Evan and Sid combined to switch the ball to Max R, his run to the byline and cross setting Will up for his second of the morning. Another excellent finish, right in the corner. Hailsham still pushed forwards, but Ethan's catching was spot-on, several long range efforts comfortably dealt with and then distributed intelligently to his team mates with a combination of short and long balls that suited the situation. Great to see.

Some random long range shooting followed (perhaps with what seemed like a comfortable cushion we had a bit more "hero" syndrome from some of those yet to get on the scoresheet) before the best spell of the game in terms of the quality of football played created a number of really good chances. Sid, Jack, Tristan and Finn put together a move that I (perhaps slightly over-the-top but it was truly great to watch for their coaches) referred to on the sidelines as a "thing of beauty" with a quite wonderful passing move that freed Owen, only for his well taken shot to somehow be saved. Another brilliant piece of passing and cracking lay off from Sam gave Sid a great chance which was pushed onto the post by the excellent Hailsham goalie, before Owen grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and scored a belter of a strike from the side of the box that gave the goalie no chance. A well taken goal that required excellent technique to execute when under pressure from several defenders.

Sam continued to play an unselfish and very effective role up front, horribly unlucky not to score when he struck from a corner and the Hailsham keeper pulled off an absolute "worldy" of a save to his left. Max S and Jack played a nice one-two on the left and Max unselfishly laid the ball to Finn, whose shot went just wide. Euan pushed forward from full back and played a great through ball that Will just couldn't quite get on the end of. Then Max R got in on the act, skipping through 2 challenges, a quick one-two with a teammate (forgotten who!) before cutting into the box and calmly dinking the ball into the far corner of the goal to make it 6-1. Great to watch.

Final few minutes saw a reshuffle to give Tom and Richard a well earned break, Owen and Evan filling in at centre back. Evan and Euan worked the ball out beautifully from the back to set Max R on his way again and just as Will looked about to score his hat trick the whistle went for a foul and it was full time.

Man of the match went to Toby today, partly for his good attacking play, but mostly for his energy levels and efforts tracking back and trying to win the ball through determination and physicality. I should also mention Sid, who I thought was fantastic today, but the majority of the boys who played this morning can be really proud of themselves. They played some lovely football and showed real mental strength to come back from last week's disappointement. Well done!

Thank you of course to Ben for refereeing at short notice, Simon for running the line and to those of you who turned up early to help with the nets - it's massively appreciated. Great support as always. See you next week!

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Sunday, 29th January 2017

Langton Green Phoenix 2 - 2 Pembury Athletic (Pembury win 3-2 on penalties) (cup)
(Tristan, Will)

Match report by Steve Bremer

Langton Green Phoenix were knocked out of the cup today, succumbing to the cruellest blow of a penalty shoot-out after mounting a brilliant second half comeback and then looking the more likely to win the match. In fact, Langton looked like the better team for much of this match, but today simply wasn’t their day and it certainly wasn’t a lack of grit and determination that saw them go out of the cup at the semi-final stage.

Possibly because they were aware of the significance of this match and the ability of their opposition, Langton looked a bit nervous and tentative for the first few minutes. Pembury were the first to get a shot on goal after only a couple of minutes, but Ethan had it well covered. Pembury’s long throw-ins also looked dangerous from the outset, and a weapon that Langton struggled to match. But the Phoenix soon settled into their unfamiliar dark blue tops and to the match. Evan took the game by the scruff of the neck through the middle with an enormous determination and work rate that he kept up for the whole match. He soon found Max R on the right wing for Langton’s first attack. It was a good cross in, but Pembury were rock solid in defence. Down the other end, Langton looked equally solid at the back, with Tom and Richard a calm and reassuring presence, and Euan controlling and passing the ball forward nicely. Sammy was soon whipping in the first of many nice Langton corners, but the team simply couldn’t capitalise on any of them. Pembury’s super-quick number nine was threatening down the right, but great team work saw Evan and Richard in particular covering for team mates. Langton started to move the ball around a bit better, and some neat passing between Sammy, Finn and Tristan won them another corner. It was another excellent cross from Max R that found Sammy in a little space, but his shot was just outside the post. Langton had four corners within the first 15 minutes of this match.

But a momentary lack of communication at the back and Pembury took advantage to give them the lead, rather against the run of play at this stage with only their second attempt at goal compared to several from the Phoenix. A few Langton subs at this stage looked set to change the shape of the game, as Toby became the new threat down the right, winning yet more throw-ons and corners for the visitors. Quick feet from Finn and Matt in the centre helped keep possession, but Langton couldn’t quite pierce the solid Pembury defence. Ethan was kept busy at the other end, making several important, well-timed runs out to kick the ball away. Joel and Jack were linking up nicely along the left side, but their team still couldn’t find the final killer pass. But then the ball came out of the box, falling to Finn, who timed his run towards it perfectly and fired a long-range shot goalwards. It would have gone in the top corner had the keeper not somehow got his finger tips to it. Evan found Sam in a good spot for a clever turn and pass to Toby, but it was a step too far even for Toby’s electric pace. But after a sustained spell of Pembury pressure that hadn’t amounted to much, in the last minute of the half, they scored an unstoppable wonder goal. An amazing volley from some way outside the box and from a difficult angle when flying into the top corner and Pembury were two up at half time.

After a serious half-time team talk, Langton stepped up a gear, looking faster, slicker and more determined. Almost from the whistle, a smashing run and shot from Jack was stretching the keeper. But still his team couldn’t find their way through the Pembury defence. Just when it looked like they might be running out of ideas, Evan found Jack on the left, who turned on the past, came inside and found Tristan in a good spot to finish. It was now 1-2, with everything to play for. With the wind in their sails now, a good ball from Tristan reached Sammy out wide, on to Toby and his shot was cleared off the line. So close! Then, moments later, Pembury looked like they would put the game beyond Langton’s reach as their striker beat everyone including the keeper but then hit the post. Jack continued to be a high-energy threat to the Pembury defence that they were struggling to deal with, and the keeper had to take the ball off his toes to stop him scoring. Joel won a free kick for Sammy to take from a good position. He went for goal, but the keeper again tipped it over. A long kick from Ethan found Jack in behind the defence, but again the Pembury keeper kicked it away from his toes. Then, with five minutes to go, a Langton throw-in reached Will in the centre, who stabbed home the equaliser as just reward for his team’s sustained pressure. It was two apiece after normal time – a great comeback from the Phoenix.

In the first period of extra time a nice passing move involving Matt, Will and Sammy down the right forced the keeper to make a diving save from Sammy’s shot. It was a fairly even battle during these 10 minutes, with Ethan forced to make another perfectly-timed run out to kick the ball away from the attacker’s feet, and no more goals scored. During the second period, Evan seemed to be everywhere, keeping up a tremendous work rate, while Jack was a constant threat down the left and Tom and Richard were forced to remain 100 per cent focused at the back. Evan had a couple of shots on goal, Max had a good effort saved, and Sam also had a shot on goal as it looked like Langton might just nick it right at the very end.

But it wasn’t to be, and the match was decided on that cruel lottery of a penalty shoot-out. Well done to all the boys brave enough to step forward and take a shot. The pressure on them was enormous by now. And well done to Ethan, who saved two shots out of five from the opposition. As with the rest of the match it went down to the wire, with Pembury scoring their last penalty to make it 3-2 to them and taking them into the cup final.

Manager's note:

So proud of the boys today. They gave it absolutely everything, with some fantastic individual performances (most notably Jack, who won the man of the match award for a simply superb performance on the left) in amongst a wonderful team effort. Our supporters were outstanding, the boys proved they have what it takes to come back from a difficult situation at 2-0 behind. Despite succumbing to penalties, the boys should be really proud of themselves. It just wasn't to be today and that's the way it goes sometimes. Well done to Pembury, who played a very good first half and defended superbly at the end to force penalties - a really good game of football between 2 good sides, played in an excellent spirit. Massive well done to the boys who were prepared to take penalties - it shows a lot more about you all that you were happy to take one than whether you scored or not.

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Sunday, 22nd January 2017

Langton Green Phoenix 6 - 3 Tonbridge Junior Samurai (league)
(Will 2, Sammy, Matt, Evan, Jack)

Match report by Steve Bremer

Thank heavens for the 3G pitch, as Langton Green Phoenix were able to host the only match played this weekend in Division A of the Crowborough League and win a thoroughly entertaining match. But they made it hard for themselves, going behind after conceding an early goal on a bitterly cold but clear Sunday afternoon. After a rather stodgy start, a tactical reorganisation helped them to a 3-1 lead at half time. Then the next five goals were all scored during a thrilling first ten minutes of the second half. Langton then defended well until the end, playing some good football during a slightly calmer half an hour. Much of the match surely wasn’t in the coaches’ script, but the whites scored six excellent goals and showed the greater spirit and determination that made them deserved winners today.

The Phoenix started well, pressing hard and keeping nearly all the possession in the opposition half for the first five minutes. Their defence looked assured when Tonbridge probed, with Richard strong in the tackle, Euan playing the ball to Finn ahead of him, and Max S looking calm when covering just in front of them. Owen was also making his presence felt in central defence, and looked keen to get forward whenever possible. And Sid was fast and slippery racing up the right wing – Tonbridge simply couldn’t get to grips with him. But generally, the next ten minutes or so were a bit messy, with neither side able to assert themselves and everyone occupying too little space. Tonbridge had the first shot on goal, although it was a speculative effort from long range that went over the crossbar. Their resulting corner left Langton looking confused in the box, and an unmarked Tonbridge put away a fairly easy chance to give his team the lead rather against the run of play.

Langton were equal to the challenge, with Will getting on the end of a long ball almost immediately after. He got a good shot away, but a great save from the keeper preserved Tonbridge’s lead. Langton now started to move up through the gears, with Max R, Tristan and Jack combining nicely to move the ball from the right to the left wing. Finn was putting in a good shift in the centre, winning the ball and linking play well, bringing both Will and Sid into play. It was a good ball from Finn that send Max R flying down the right wing from where he put a cross in. The first shot bounced off a defender, but Will was well placed to slot the equaliser in low and hard to the corner.

Matt B came on to great effect in the centre, looking more confident and committed than we’ve seen him for a long time, but still with an excellent positional sense and eye for a pass. It was a nice ball from him that gave Jack a shooting opportunity that flew just over the bar. But Tonbridge are a tough team and their centre forward got away from the Langton defence to rush at Ethan in goal. Ethan saw him coming though, and got there first with a strong kick out. Langton moved swiftly from second gear into third, moving the ball slickly via Evan, Matt and Jack, who was brought down not far from goal. Sammy took the free kick, which everyone was expecting to be to one of his waiting team mates, but he out-foxed everyone including the keeper with a high looping shot that dropped perfectly into the far top corner to give Langton the lead. Jack was now a regular streak of lightning down the left wing, and Tonbridge couldn’t stop him. He pulled back a lovely cross from the touchline, right into the path of Matt, who was running into the 18-yard box and sent a scorcher flying into the top right hand corner. Great goal!

Moments later Jack sent Sammy off ahead of him down the left wing, where he went past a defender and got to the near post, but the angle was just too tight to get his shot inside the post. Tonbridge had another shot from distance that Ethan was more than equal to, but Langton were now asserting themselves all over the pitch, with skill, pace and determination. They looked a little confused again defending a corner near the end of the first half, but Joel took charge for his team mates, and sprinted up the half-way line just before the whistle went.

Langton were firing on all cylinders immediately the whistle went for the second half. Evan found Max R on the right wing, who left a train of scorched 3G behind him as he accelerated away like Usain, leaving a disbelieving Tonbridge defender in his wake. Evan wasn’t far behind Max and was perfectly placed to slot home Max’s cross – another cracking goal from the whites. But almost from the re-start Tonbridge found some space behind the Langton defence and had pulled a goal back to make it 4-2. Langton didn’t panic however, and a super turn and pass from Will found Max R, who again fired the afterburners down the right wing, pulling back another nice cross, this time for Jack to get a toe on the end of and it was 5-2. But Langton weren’t all about electric pace and fancy skills, they were getting physical when necessary too. Evan, Sam, Matt and Owen were all holding the ball up well, winning tackles and powering forward at every opportunity. It was a tricky little pass from Max R that found Sid in a good spot to line up Will, who chipped it over the keeper for his second and Langton’s sixth. But Tonbridge weren’t to be outdone during this ten-minute spell of end-to-end excitement and immediately afterwards they’d pulled another goal back to make it 6-3.

The match simply had to calm down after that frantic ten-minute spell, but Max R continued to terrorise the opposition down the right wing, while Sammy did the same on the left. Evan had a couple of very long-range efforts on goal, and continued to make his presence felt all over the pitch. Yet another cross from Max R found Tristan in a great spot, he took a touch around the defender and struck the ball beautifully into the goal, only for the whistle to go for off-side. Sammy sent in several dangerous looking corners, but nobody could quite get the right final touch for that seventh goal. And Tonbridge refused to roll over, sending a high cross in from the left, that Ethan couldn’t quite hold onto. Luckily Jack was right behind him to clear it off the goal-line. The Phoenix matched Tonbridge for commitment and determination right to the end and finished deserved winners.

Manager's Note: Man of the match went to Matt today, who not only scored an excellent 3rd goal for the team with a well-timed run into the box, but also worked incredibly hard in central midfield, tackling well, passing well and doing the simple things with the minimum of fuss, moving the ball quickly onto a team mate when necessary and finding a sublime pass on several occasions. Well done Matt - thoroughly deserved today. A special mention also for Max R, who was exceptional on the right wing at times in the second half particularly and Jack, who was superb down the left. Will also played a brilliant game today and scored 2 great goals, with his turn and pass to Max one of the best moments of the game. Well done all - on to next week and a very tasty cup semi final against Pembury that is sure to be a good game.

Thanks to Tonbridge for fielding a team at such short notice. As usual it was a pleasure to play such a decent bunch of folks who played some excellent football and were supported, as always, with great positivity and vigour from the sidelines.

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Sunday, 8th January 2017

Langton Green Phoenix 2 - 2 Pembury Athletic (league)
(Evan, Finn)

Match report by Ian Knapp

After a Christmas break that flashed past in an instant, the boys were back in action in a top of the table clash against a Pembury side who have been in scintillating form since we last played them back in September, winning 9 straight matches and scoring a bucketload of goals. We knew it would be a tough test and so it proved.

The game got off to nearly the perfect start, the boys retaining possession neatly from the kick off, forcing a corner, which Max curled in beautifully and the Pembury goalkeeper caught, only to seemingly be bundled into the net by his own player. The ball crossed the line, the linesman gave the goal, but the referee had deemed it a foul and nothing was given. A tough one to call for the referee, with so many bodies in the way, but a shame after we thought we'd taken an early lead.

Almost straight from the restart, we were 1-0 down, a fantastic initial save by Ethan after a very good run from the Pembury number 9 being turned in from a tight angle by Pembury's striker on the right. And then it was 2-0, an even better initial save pushed out to the byline, only for that same number 9 to rifle home a bullet of shot from an insanely tight angle. A very good finish, but not what was in the script from our point of view, creating an interesting challenge. Prior to today, this Phoenix team have only been behind for a total of 12 minutes all season, so it was good to see if they had what it took to fight their way back into a game that seemed out of reach before it had barely got going.

Sticking to our game plan, keeping the ball on the ground and retaining possession, the boys slowly grew into the game, the large gaps in midfield that were there at the start closing up and our full backs and wingers getting into the game, Euan combining well with Evan to play out from the back nicely personifying the calmness we want on the ball. Finn showed some lovely touches in the centre, with Evan driving forward alongside him with purpose and power. A nice bit of link up between Tristan and Finn sent Evan through, he cut inside and let rip an unstoppable strike from 25 yards out that gave the opposition goalie no chance and found the top corner to make it 2-1. Cracking goal. With Richard and Tom both keeping Pembury's dangerous attackers at bay after our shaky start, we played well for the rest of the half, creating several chances ourselves through Ben's excellent shot, Will's driving run that ended with a very good tackle from Pembury and Toby's powerful run into the box that ended with a very strong shout for a penalty being turned down. Owen caused havoc with a fine surge forward but his pass was cut out just as Will was about to make contact and Tristan's brilliant run saw the Pembury goalkeeper save well at his feet. The support from the sidelines was outstanding, really driving the boys forward and despite the fact I slipped and very nearly fell over in a present a dog had left at the side of the pitch, we got to the break with no further problems and the chance to regroup.

Half time and it was 1-2, with everything to play for. The second period began well, Jack shining on the left with really quick feet and some beautiful link up play with Sammy and Owen, Jack popping up in the opposition box to strike a bobbling ball goalwards and draw a save from the Pembury goalie. Cue our best spell of the game, Max R three times absolutely rocketing down the right to put in dangerous crosses that were so nearly converted, Sammy doing the same from the left, before another cracking corner from him fell to Finn, his header just skimming over the bar. A free kick that Sammy's long range shooting skills were made for just flashed wide, a Ben shot from distance after he created space with quick feet grazed the same post and Max's long range piledriver went about an inch wide. We were wanting to move the goal 6 inches to the left at this point.

With Tristan at right back and Max in front of him, we were looking a real threat down that side and it was a fantastic bit of combination play that led to the equaliser, nearly every player involved in a great bit of possession football that pulled the opposition's shape around before a ball forward from Tristan to Max saw Max put on the afterburners, beat the Pembury defence and slide an inch perfect cross into Finn's path. Without breaking stride, Finn smashed the ball goalwards, the 'keeper getting something on it, but the ball spinning over the line to make it 2-2.

With confidence brimming, the attacks kept coming, Toby now on the right and taking over from Max on speed-demon duty, beating the defender to shimmy inside and put a great left foot cross in that very nearly fell for Ben and then Evan, all this whilst being mindful of the danger Pembury posed on the counter attack, particularly through their excellent number 9. A good through ball required Ethan to be quick off his line to clear, another needed a smothering save at the feet of the onrushing attacker, but the fact he didn't have an outright save to make in the second half spoke volumes for the superb performances of Richard (the number of no-nonsense, yet intelligent clearances he made today I lost count of), Tom (several inch perfect tackles that saved the day), Euan (whose performance at left back in an unfamiliar second half role was outstanding and his communication with his team mates, as ever, excellent), Tristan (again, in an unfamiliar role at right back) and Jack (who was again superb all game). Owen and Evan in front of them were solid as a couple of rocks in the second half and it was Owen who nearly stole it at the end, going on a barnstorming run into the box before just seeing the defender get enough on it to send it out for a corner. Panic in the box, a ball back in and Jack's volley well saved by Pembury's number 1 before the final whistle signalled the end of a thoroughly entertaining match.

On balance a draw was probably a fair result, although the boys will take enormous confidence from both the way they came back into the game from such a difficult start and the way they dominated the second half of the game. We face the same team in the cup again in 2 weeks in the semi final and I'm sure it will be another intriguing match between two very well matched sides.

Man of the match was another tough one, Tristan just shading it for an excellent second half performance at right back but all the boys showed great character today. Well done all and well done to Pembury too - we have Ashurst Wood next week, another very good team who we look forward to facing enormously.

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Sunday, 18th December 2016

Langton Green Phoenix 7 - 2 Paddock Wood Predators (league)
(Owen 3, Will 2, Tristan, Max R)

Match report by Ian Knapp

The last game before Christmas saw me woken at 8.50 by a knock at the door from Martin which signalled me having overslept terribly. Must be getting old. The next hurdle to overcome, having arrived at a sticky Ashurst, was the mole hill situation on the right wing, which made that side of the pitch look a bit like a muddy Himalayas. Using a fork to try and move them was pointless (no pun intended) but with no spade present it was the best we had.

Our opposition were Paddock Wood, a team half the side know well from last season and who possess some talented players. The Phoenix made a great start though, passing the ball beautifully in midfield for the first 5 minutes, Owen dominating to win the ball in the centre, laying it back to Jack on the left wing, who found Finn, who looked up and played a sublime pass inside the opposition full back to find Owen, who had continued his run in behind the defence. A quick look up from Owen before he buried the ball in the corner for 1-0. Brilliant goal, all about the passing and a cracking finish from Owen.

This should have settled the boys and given them some confidence that playing the ball on the floor to feet is what works. Instead a shade of overconfidence perhaps took over and we looked really shabby for the next 10 minutes, losing the ball time and time again when a simple pass would have done and finding ourselves second to the majority of 50/50 balls to a Paddock Wood team who suddenly looked well up for the battle and were playing the better football. A quick move down the middle that was well executed by PW, some woeful "swing a leg" defending from several of our players and it was 1-1, Ethan given no chance with a powerful strike from close in that should never have been allowed to happen in the first place. A moment later it was nearly another one, Ethan having to make a good catch from a high strike and then another save as we found ourselves under the cosh slightly.

This was thankfully the wake up call the boys needed and play improved dramatically. Sid was influencing the game from the number 10 position and Sammy was finding himself in space well on the right, where he put in a number of excellent crosses. His corner taking was as good as ever, Finn connecting with one to see his super header hit the bar and bounce down on the line, before it was 2-1, Owen scoring again with a close range finish from a tight angle after Sammy and Jack had battled well to win the ball back.

We were looking better in defence at this stage, Evan and Tom dominating, Tom with one unbelievably well timed tackle, whilst Euan and Max S supported them ably, both playing out of the back nicely a couple of times, Euan getting tripped for his efforts and winning a free kick that was quickly taken, Max R picking the ball up on the right and bursting through the sea of now flattened molehill mud only to be denied by his clever shot just evading the far post. Sam took a turn up front, holding the ball up superbly, laying it back to Finn, who found Owen, whose superb through ball saw Tristan round the keeper and bury the ball in the back of the net, Sammy incredibly unselfish not to apply the finishing touch on the line, simply shielding it from the onrushing defender so Tristan got the goal. Both Tim and I agreed we'd have wellied it in!

3-1 and a bit of breathing space, but thankfully the boys didn't let up. Max R got himself on scoresheet with a cracking low finish after being played through by Joel's quick combination with Sam, more great hold up play from Sam to see the ball laid off to Tristan for a pass into Max, whose pace sent him free to score. 4-1 and with half time approaching, the best goal of the morning. A back pass from Evan to Ethan saw him use intelligent distribution to find Jack. His pass into Tristan following by a lovely one-two before another through ball saw Owen spring free and bury an excellent strike to give him a hat trick all in one half. Fantastic stuff.

Half time chat was all about not being complacent and the second half began superbly, Will scoring almost immediately after Max S, Tom and Sam (now in goal after Ethan had to come off with a dodgy leg) playing out beautifully from the back, Finn, Sid and Evan then combining to play Will in for a finish that just crossed the line initially before the ensuing goalmouth scramble saw it definitely cross the line. 6-1. Euan then played a fantastic ball out from the back down the right wing, finding Max R in a good position to run at the defence and combine nicely with Tristan and then Euan again, who had continued his run. A quick one-two and a good ball in from Euan to Will saw another chance that was blocked.

Some lovely second half play for the next 15 minute or so was at times fantastic to watch, our midfielders playing some beautiful triangles, Jack, Max R, Sammy and Max S all excelling in the wide positions during their time on the pitch and some much more dynamic forward play seeing us create countless chances. Despite the good football, we struggled to take any of the chances that came our way, Max S nearly scoring with a beautiful dipping strike, Tristan showing fantastic technique to open hi body up and curl a couple of shots towards the far post that unfortunately just went wide or were well saved, Sid hitting a good shot that was also well saved and Owen just skimming the bar with a piledriver of a shot that probably would have broken the net had it been on target. Will finally had enough of all this "nearly but not quite" and having worked a great position for himself, poked the ball past the keeper for his second and his team's seventh of the morning.

Paddock Wood didn't let their heads drop at any stage though and deservedly scored a second goal ten minutes from the end with a fine strike from distance after some good build up play where despute the quality of passing from our opponents, I was disappointed with our defending. Sam then made 2 good saves in a row to keep the scoreline the same.

Owen and Evan paired up at the back for the first time this season and saw out the last 10 minutes with the minimum of fuss, Evan bursting forward well on one occasion and making a wonderful tackle on another to win the ball, Sammy hitting the bar at the other end from Finn's pinpoint cross, all our forward players overplaying things in an attempt to score the perfect Arsenal style "walk it into the net" goal despite several excellent shooting opportunities presenting themselves and Jack caused mayhem on the left wing with really quick feet bamboozling several defenders before his cutback just evaded our lurking strike force. Full time whistle and a cracking overall performance to see the boys into the Christmas break.

Man of the match went to Owen - absolutely outstanding - but several other excellent performances, Sam up front for 15 minutes in the first half was brilliant and Max R on the right was superb, but in truth everyone played well today and certainly a massive improvement on recent weeks, where the team has been decidedly under-par. Looking forward to the Christmas break, which is of course followed by what should be 2 cracking games against a Pembury side who have been racking up win after win since we last played them back in September. We'll be relishing those matches and the test I'm sure they'll provide.

Well done boys. Great first half of the season. Now the hard work begins.

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Sunday, 11th December 2016

Jarvis Brook Junior 1-1 Langton Green Phoenix (league)
(Evan)

Match report by Steve Bremer

The Phoenix held to their second draw of the season by battling Jarvis Brook...

Although Langton Green Phoenix remain unbeaten this season, cruising to easy victories as they were back in September and October seems a distant memory as recent matches have been tough battles. Today was only the second time they haven’t won this term.

Jarvis Brook Junior provided tough opposition, there was no doubt about that. They are a big physical side who pressed hard and allowed Langton no space or time to think about the beautiful pass and move style they were playing a few weeks ago. The game was scrappy at times, too much of the match was played in confined central areas, and Langton didn’t use the space, their speed, or their passing as well as they can. But they worked hard, defended well, and deserved the draw, if not a victory.

Owen took Tom’s place in central defence, and was strong and well-positioned from the outset. Alongside him Richard was excellent as usual, looking calm and confident, while much of the play around them tended to be a little scrappy early on. Joel and Jack were playing the ball forward from their full-back positions, but it was so crowded in the centre of the pitch it was difficult to make anything happen. Jarvis Brook defended in numbers and always had several players behind the ball. Joel sent Toby flying down the wing to put in a nice cross, but there were simply too many bodies in the box. Sammy was able to find some space on the left wing to step on the gas, but kept running up against those big blue defenders.

Neither side really had the upper hand for the first 15 minutes, but then Max R came on to inject some pace and skill up the right flank, and with Finn showing some nice skill and vision centrally things started to click. It was Joel again who fed Tristan the ball to run with and make Langton’s first shot on goal, but the keeper had it covered. Evan was strong and committed as usual in midfield, and headed the ball away from a Jarvis Brook corner, allowing Ben and Jack to counter attack at pace. It was a nice move, but again they ran out of space. Ben sent Max R off again on a lovely dribbling run, he passed to Tristan, who then made Langton’s second shot on goal, but again the keeper was there. A long shot from Ben soon after was Langton’s best shot so far, but the Jarvis Brook keeper was having a good day. Jarvis Brook didn’t pose much of an attacking threat for most of the match, other than from set plays, and it was their free kick that forced Ethan to make his first save of the day. Ben and Evan both had shots on goal before half time, but they weren’t much more than half chances and the score remained 0-0 at half time.

Langton played better in the second half, putting together a few decent moves and releasing the ball a little quicker. Evan moved to centre half, allowing Owen more freedom to move forward in midfield, while captain Tristan stepped in a right back. There were glimpses of lovely stuff at times from the whites. It was a good run from Jack that allowed him to get a shot away, but the angle was almost impossible and it hit the side netting. Max R sent Toby flying forward, but the blue defenders were virtually impassable by a lone forward. A good corner from Tristan fell to Owen, but again it was saved. Will and Max R held the ball up well between themselves in the centre, then a lovely dribbling run from Max got him into a shooting position, but yet again the keeper was ready and waiting, Will was waiting for the rebound and was so unlucky to hit the crossbar. Ethan had to make his best save of the day from another Jarvis Brook free kick soon after. Set plays were key today, and a lovely looping corner from Ben allowed Evan just the chance he’d been waiting for to bundle it in and give his team the lead.

Moments after they’d taken the lead, a little disarray in the Langton defence allowed Jarvis Brook a good chance at goal and the Phoenix were only saved by the crossbar. A delicious pass from Matt sent Toby scuttling down the left wing, from where he crossed to Ben, but the goalie had it covered (again!). A sudden counter attack from Jarvis Brook saw them pull level. At 1-1 it really was game on, but neither side could find that killer move. Evan and Joel saved their side with some excellent defending, but Langton could not get through the Jarvis Brook defence and the game finished honours even.

Note from Ian: Man of the match was shared today between two central midfield players, Finn for his first half performance that saw him play some incisive passes and show quick feet to create space that was so sorely required, whilst Owen's second half display earned him the joint award for some outstanding positional play and powerful driving forward with the ball. Well done you two.

Everything very much still in the boys' hands, but hopefully this week the wake up call that was required for an increase in performance across the board to get back to the sort of football they were playing at the start of the season. Hope everyone enjoyed the Xmas party!

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Sunday, 27th November 2016

Tonbridge Junior Samurai 1-2 Langton Green Phoenix (league)
(Will 2)

Match report by Steve Bremer

Langton Green Phoenix maintained their unbeaten run today but Tonbridge Junior Samurai made them work harder for this one than any other team this season. Langton battled really hard today and committed 100 per cent effort, but for a goal-line clearance from Tom and some excellent goalkeeping from Ethan the result could have been a very different one. The whites started brightly, with Tristan making some incisive passes to his team-mates, and Joel, Toby and Will in particular getting on the end of them. Toby was pressuring the Tonbridge keeper from early on, but every member of the opposition team was brave and fully committed. Evan thought he had scored a lovely goal within the first ten minutes, only to have it disallowed for a handball. It was all his own work – dribbling nicely from inside left and finding space for a good shot. Matt put in a good tackle or two to break up the opposition play through the centre, as well as some clever passes. Langton definitely weren’t getting it all their own way though, with Tonbridge working a good move only to see their shot fly over the bar. Toby scorched the grass on his way to the right corner flag, and then put in a super, high and long cross to the centre of the goal mouth, where Will finished with a solid header to give his team the lead.

Jack was looking nimble and fleet footed up and down the left wing and it was exciting end-to-end stuff for a while as each team took turns to attack and defend. There was some nice passing going on between the players in white, between Sid, Joel and Toby on the right, and Matt, Jack and Will on the left. Tom and Owen looked absolutely convincing in central defence. Another great pass from Toby on the right found Will, but this time his shot was saved, as was the effort from Tristan on the rebound. Evan also had another half chance at goal that went over. It was 50/50 for much of the first half, with a lot of tussling through the centre, and neither team using the full space of the pitch particularly well. Max Rhodes was playing intelligently and skilfully as usual, posing a threat down the right wing. Sam was doing well at holding the ball up and distributing from a central position. Fin was linking up the play well, asserting himself well and playing a key part in forward moves. He played a peach of a ball through to Will, who still had a lot to do, but placed the ball in the far corner with the outside of his boot for his second goal of the match. Tonbridge managed to get a shot at Ethan’s goal, but under a lot of pressure from Owen, making it slightly easier for Ethan to save. A couple of Owen’s super-long throws gave Langton chances, but there were no more goals in the first half.

The blue team continued to pile on the pressure in the second half, Ethan timing a couple of runs out perfectly to kick the ball away from an attacker’s feet. Evan had a shot just wide early on, but the Phoenix were forced to do a lot of defending. It was a brilliant diving save from Ethan at the feet of a Tonbridge player that rebounded out to another Tonbridge player, only for Tom to clear that effort away from his goal line and preserve his team’s two-goal lead. There were some good moves through the centre from Langton, involving Max, Finn and Sammy, but much of the second half was a little scrappy. Owen’s throw-ins continued to look dangerous, but Langton couldn’t quite make them pay. Max got on the end of one, played Sammy in cleverly, who found Matt in a good position, but he fired over. The Tonbridge keeper was kept busy, saving shots from Tristan and Finn. Max continued to play well along the wing. But the Tonbridge pressure was finally rewarded with a goal towards the end. Langton looked a little anxious in the closing minutes but held on for another three points.

Manager's note from Ian... Well done today boys. Not the most fluid display we've seen this season, but griding out a result when not at our best is a pleasing thing to be able to do. Hopefully we'll see a more dynamic performance next week, to mirror some of what we saw at times today, particularly in the first half. Special mention to man of the match, Evan, for an excellent second half display in defence.

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Sunday, November 20th 2016

Langton Green Phoenix 5 - 2 Tonbridge Invicta (AET) (Cup QF)
(Tristan 2, Max R 2, Will)

Match report by Steve Bremer

Phoenix rise from the ashes in extra time...

On a freezing cold, blustery morning and on a heavy pitch Langton Green Phoenix had to dig deep to edge their toughest opponents so far this season out of the cup competition and book their place in the semi-finals. Tonbridge Invicta are a very good team who could justifiably be aggrieved at being two-nil down at half time, and deserved to pull level by the end of normal time. But Langton turned on the style during the 20 minutes of extra time to seal their win and continue their season’s unbeaten run. Tonbridge set out their stall from the whistle, with their lightning-fast number 19 immediately getting around the Langton defence and threatening to score early on. It took a good save from Ethan to keep the scores level. It was Max R who looked the most dangerous for Langton, making some strong runs down the right wing and troubling the Invicta defenders. On the other wing, it was the twinkle toes of Sammy that were making the opposition work hard. Langton didn’t register their first shot on goal until about 10 minutes in, when Sammy found Will in a reasonable position to shoot, but their keeper was equal to it. Evan looked strong throughout the match, and laid off some nice passes to team mates ahead of him. But generally, Langton weren’t asserting themselves as they have done in previous matches, and were coming under a lot of pressure from committed opposition. But the Phoenix improved, winning a couple of corners and Evan getting a couple of shots at goal. Euan was pushing forward down the right wing, giving his team an extra man up front. Tom and Richard were as calm and dependable as ever at centre half. Langton’s first goal, when it finally arrived, was a lovely piece of teamwork. Evan again on the left wing, passed to Finn, who found Max R, who then played an absolute peach of a long incisive pass forward to Tristan, who took his chance well.

Sam was controlling the ball well in the centre, in his holding role, and there were some nice moments of skill, but the game was a little scrappy and Langton weren’t using the space as well as they can. It took a fantastic double save from Ethan to preserve their lead after a sustained period of Tonbridge pressure when they looked the more likely to score. Jack looked like a livewire as usual, ready to burst forward at any moment with those super-quick runs of his. But then great vision from Evan found Will in a forward position but still some way from goal. He struck a beautiful long shot that went over the keeper’s head and just dropped under the cross bar to put Langton two up.

The Phoenix started the second half a little better, with Max S showing some good control in the centre, and Max R, Evan and Finn showing some nice one-touch skills along the right wing. Ethan didn’t have much to do early in the second period, while Max R was winning everything that came his way, and a nice bit of skill from Tristan set Will up with a half-chance on goal. Richard was covering everything brilliantly, showing great awareness and perfect timing in his tackles. Matt was also battling for everything he could get near through the middle. Tom made a couple of very brave diving tackles to keep Tonbridge at bay. But Tonbridge’s persistence paid off, and after a good flurry of nice passing moves they fired an unstoppable shot into the Langton net. That goal lifted Tonbridge’s spirits, and moments later Ethan was forced to sprint out to kick the ball off the toes of one of their attackers. Another spell of sustained pressure from the opposition, five minutes from the end of normal time, during which Langton couldn’t quite clear their lines, resulted in their second and the scores were level when the whistle blew after 70 minutes.

Tonbridge were fired up for extra time, and applied the pressure immediately, getting a decent shot away from out on the left wing. Ethan took it comfortably. But Langton knew what they had to do now and showed they were capable. Their third goal was possibly the best of the match, involving at least five players in the build-up. From Finn, to Sammy, to Will, to Tristan, to Max R, who scored, it was a great move. Langton started to show a bit more of their skill and intelligence during this spell. It was definitely Matt’s best spell of the match, looking more confident. Tristan fired a long shot just wide. Finn again found Will in a half-decent position, he fired a powerful shot goal-ward, which the keeper couldn’t quite hold on to. Sammy was there for the rebound, but the keeper saved again. It was 3-2 at the end of the first period of extra time, and Langton were starting to look the more dominant team.

Tonbridge never, ever, looked like giving up in this match though, and it took another brilliant diving tackle from Tom to keep them at bay. It was more silky skill from Tristan that won himself a half-chance at goal and he converted it well. A nice pass from Matt found Tristan, who seemed to be everywhere at times, and an unselfish pass out to Max R on the right still left him with a lot to do. It was a difficult acute angle, but he managed to somehow cut it just inside the far post for his team’s fifth of the day. Langton saved their best for last, but they were deserved winners based on their extra-time performance. Another superb team effort from everyone.

Note from Ian - Sam got the man of the match award today for doing exactly what we asked of him in his holding midfield role in the second half, nullifying the threat from the opposition's best player for long periods and always being in the right place at the right time. Other players who deserve a special mention today are Max R, who played superbly and Ethan, who once again is owed a huge debt by his teammates for making several out of the world saves when most goalkeepers would have been picking the ball out of the back of the net. Back to league action next week against our very good friends from Tonbridge Samurai. Looking forward to it.

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Sunday, November 13th 2016

Paddock Wood Town Predators 0-7 Langton Green Phoenix (league)
Goals: Tristan (2 ), Finn (2), Jack, Will (2)

Match report by Steve Bremer

Four goalscorers, another clean sheet, and an excellent team performance from Langton Green...

Another excellent performance today from the Langton Green Phoenix, their second clean sheet in a row and four boys netting goals reflecting great teamwork in all parts of the pitch, as well as top effort and determination in a hard-fought match against difficult-to-break-down opponents. A slightly smaller pitch than usual could have hindered Langton’s attacking pace and clever use of space, but at times they didn’t use the space available as well as they might have done. It was Matt B early on who seemed to be one of their most effective outlets, playing wide on the left and being fed some nice balls by Jack just behind him. Owen issued a statement of intent early on with a perfectly timed crunching defensive tackle.

Paddock Wood are no shrinking violets and this was a thoroughly physical match, scrappy at times, but Langton showed their commitment and strength at its best today while there was less scope to show off their silky skills and slick movement. Grit and determination was nowhere more evident than in the defensive line, with Tom and Richard the stalwarts in the centre, and Euan and Jack excellent at full back. It was good work from Euan early on, further forward than usual, and partnering well with Toby on the right, that enabled Euan to put a nice cross in that found Tristan in a good position to shoot and give Langton the lead.

The Phoenix were taking their chances well, because they were had to come by with Paddock Wood getting plenty of players behind the ball. Their corners have become a real attacking threat, and it was a good effort from Tristan that found Will’s head, but it was just over the bar. It was good work from Will moments later at the right post that allowed him to dig the ball out to Tristan, who was waiting to smash the ball home for his second goal. Again, it was Tristan, who seemed to be everywhere, who found Finn on the left wing with a half chance, but it was just wide. Counter-attacking Paddock Wood could not beat Euan at right back, who looked strong going forward as well as defensively. The Paddock Wood keeper had a great game, making a fantastic save from Owen’s powerful shot hard and low to his left. Some pinball in the box from the resulting corner gave Owen another chance, only for the keeper to save again. The ball eventually came back out to Finn, who was in a good position to shoot through a sea of legs and put his team three up. It was lovely to see Max R back in the team after his injury lay off, displaying some of his super skills, floating in a couple of peachy corners, and generally adding something extra to his team. It was his lovely ball through to Jack that gave him a scoring chance. The keeper saved the first shot, but Jack made no mistake from the rebound, making it 4-0 to Langton. But Paddock Wood didn’t let their heads drop for a second, and applied a good spell of pressure, yet the Langton back line looked like they could soak it up all day long. Tom and Richard both made important headed interceptions, and with Joel and Sid working alongside them a treat they had passing options too. Paddock Wood simply couldn’t find a way behind this defensive back line, and Ethan didn’t have too much to do in the first half.

The Phoenix kept the tempo high right from the whistle when they came out for the second half, and this paid dividends early when Will was well placed for a clinical finish just inside the post to make it five to the Langton boys. Will looked a particular threat in this second half, along with Finn. It was good ball from Owen that set Will off with a half chance, but he couldn’t quite get his shot away. Then a nice cross from Toby gave Finn a shooting opportunity, but it was just wide. But at his next chance, Finn made no mistake, when the ball came out to him in a central position, he shot low and hard into the corner for his second of the day. Langton kept up the pressure well, and the ball was rarely out of the Paddock Wood half, but they couldn’t seem to make it pay off with that seventh goal as Paddock Wood battled for absolutely everything and had most of their players behind the ball most of the time. Luck wasn’t always on their side either, as a cracking shot from Sid ricocheted off the underside of the cross bar and bounced just the wrong side of the goal line. The Paddock Wood keeper came to his team’s rescue again after a super shot from Jack, resulting from a corner, forced him to dive low and fast.

Paddock Wood were quick to counter attack whenever they had the chance, and Ethan made a brave diving save at the feet of an onrushing attacker to preserver his team’s clean sheet. Langton’s final goal when it eventually came was classic route one material – a long kick out from Ethan found Will in the inside right position, who brought it down beautifully with his first touch and fired a shot goal-bound with his second. Even with a seven-goal lead, Paddock Wood would not let Langton rest on their laurels. And, all credit to the whites, they kept their focus and composure to the end. It was another brilliant team effort from the Phoenix, and they should all be proud of themselves, with Tristan taking away the man of the match award for an all round excellent attacking display, capped off by two well taken goals - one of a number of exceptional individual performances today.

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Sunday, November 6th 2016

Langton Green Phoenix 3 - 0 Tonbridge Invicta (league)
(Will 2, Sammy)

Match report by Ian Knapp

A beautiful morning with a covering of frost on the floor to remind us we're heading into winter now saw the lads back in league action after several weeks off for cup games and half term. The opposition were Tonbridge Invicta, the only team to take points off Langton so far this season in a tight 2-2 draw back in September.

The first half was one to forget, neither team creating much in a performance that reminded me of watching U7s football - everyone chasing the ball, nobody using the width or length of the pitch effectively and the majority of our players trying to do everything themselves rather than pass the ball. Evan and Richard were excellent at the back, ably backed up by Jack and Euan, followed by Joel later in the half. Testament to them that even when we weren't firing on all cylinders (or even on one cylinder for the most part), they kept Tonbridge's pacey attackers at arms length from Ethan's goal. What Ethan did have to do, he did well. Will scored late in the half only to have the linesman's flag deny us a 1-0 lead - shame as it was a good finish - but the majority of our attacks either petered out because we took far too many touches or ended in overhit through balls being gathered by the excellent Tonbridge goalkeeper who was quick off his line and brave at our attackers' feet. Max R was back from a long term injury today and showed despite not being fully match-fit that he has a lot to offer the team, with a couple of superbly weighted passes and one lovely run down the left, with Max S showing some good stuff on the other flank in the closing minutes of the half and Tristan working a good situation to strike a shot that the goalie did well to stop. Overall though, not a great half from the boys.

Half time saw a fairly honest assessment of the first 35 minutes. The boys knew they'd played poorly and were determined to put in a different performance in the second half.

They started brilliantly, after a quick scare when Invicta attacked with pace and Ethan was required to smother a good through ball, the play was all with Langton for the next 15 minutes or so. One of things we'd discussed after the first half was the lack of pressure up front on the opposition defence. Our opening goal came because of a massive improvement on that front, Sammy pressuring the defence when they admirably tried to play out from the back, winning the ball and unselfishly cutting it back for Will to smash it into the back of the net with an excellent finish. 1-0 and confidence restored. Suddenly the boys were playing some excellent football. Finn, Evan and Toby linked up well in midfield, a clever pass from Finn falling to Evan's feet. He unselfishly squared it to Toby, who attacked the opposition full back with real skill and determination, squaring into the box, but both Finn and Tristan couldn't quite connect. Better though.

Jack came on on the left wing and showed great skill to work his way into the penalty box, cutting the ball into the path of Will, whose shot was blocked. The ball rebounded to Evan, who played a quick one-two with Finn and dinked it into Will's path for an instinctive finish from Will, turning and volleying beyond the goalie for 2-0. A moment later he nearly had his hat trick, a cross from Toby being hit first time and just going agonisingly past the post - a great piece of football from both winger and striker.

More pressure from Langton saw Euan play a delightful ball into the box that caused confusion for the oposition defence, Finn and Jack both having shots bravely blocked on the turn and Toby turned on the style in a 5 minute spell that saw him get to the byline on 3 or 4 occasions. Owen was striding out of defence with real purpose and tracking back to make several crunching tackles to win the ball and start a counter attack. Max S was providing a lot of effort on the left side of defence, overlapping well and supporting Jack in attack, one particular forward pass that found Sid in space being particularly incisive. Sid turned and slid a beautiful pass into the path of Jack, whose jinking run ended in a corner being won. Sammy took it, curled a beauty over the goalkeeper's head and despite the goalie doing well to get a hand to it, the ball nestled in the back of the net for 3-0 and a little bit of breathing space.

Defensively the second half was excellent, a clean sheet was now the challenge as well as avoiding the compacency that can come with being three goals ahead. A little bit crept in, the ball given away in the final 10 minutes of the half too often for my liking as the boys reverted slightly to that "I want to be the hero" thing. Richard and Owen stood firm when required, Owen getting a sore toe for his efforts that saw him withdrawn and Will filling the centre back role for the remainder of the game. Some excellent play out from the back from Richard and Euan found Finn, whose lovely turn and pass to Evan then saw Toby played in by Evan's incisive through ball but the goalie was quick to smother. Sammy got clear on the left with a great weaving run into the box but his shot was saved and the angle for the follow up was awkward.

Tristan's skill showed on a couple of occasions late on, a superb bit of interplay with Joel seeing him clear up front before a last ditch tackle denied him shooting when he'd done brilliantly to create space on the edge of the box. Another wonderful moment saw him play a sublime through ball to Toby, whose pace took him clear only to see his well-struck shot saved low down by the excellent Tonbridge goalkeeper.

Ethan's morning ended with a little more action than he'd had for much of the second half, a good save down low and a well claimed catch from a corner before a great bit of distribution saw Jack sent free down the left. Into the box he went, but the whistle went for full time just as he seemed about to shoot.

A much better second half against a pacey and organised team saw the boys come away with another three points that they deserved on balance, but Tonbridge gave us a lot to think about and we look forward to another close game when we meet them in the cup in 2 weeks - with injured players to come back for both teams it should be an interesting match that will hopefully see some better quality football than we saw in the first half today!

Man of the match was Evan - a fantastic display at centre back in the first half followed by an unselfish and dominant display in midfield in the second period where he linked brilliantly with the likes of Finn, Sid and Tristan in the middle and used a real range of passing to spread the play out wide. A mention for Will, who scored the goals that broke the deadlock with some excellent finishing and for Toby, who again excelled on the right of midfield. Well done boys - great to see you step it up in the second half and pass the ball (funny how it keeps coming back to that same point isn't it...?)

Big thanks to Martin for running the line and putting nets up in the freezing cold. Also to David for very kindly refereeing and doing such a thorugh, fair job. Also a mention for the Tonbridge Invicta goalkeeper, who I understand wasn't their usual 'keeper, but I thought was outstanding throughout the game. Paddock Wood next week - looking forward to another close game with them.

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Sunday, October 30th 2016

Otford United Juniors 2 - 9 Langton Green Phoenix (Cup)
(Toby, Tristan (2), Will (2), Owen, Sammy, Evan, Max)

Match report by Steve Bremer

Seven on the scoresheet as the Phoenix improve from scrappy start.

Langton Green Phoenix after today's cup win. 30 / 10 / 2016

Langton Green’s biggest obstacle today was perhaps their own complacency, flying high at the top of league A and playing a cup game against a team from a lower league. But Otford didn’t turn up simply to roll over, and Langton could have come unstuck had they not knuckled down in the second half. The game started scrappily, although Langton had the upper hand in the first few minutes. Tristan hit the side netting very early on, after getting on the end of a deflected shot from Toby. The back four of Euan, Richard , Sam and Jack looked solid enough but the team was not stringing too may passes together and was often second to the ball. But Finn got his head on the end of a lovely corner from Tristan, only to see it go narrowly wide. Otford were winning many of the tackles through the centre, and seemed to have a long-ball game plan, either from their goal keeper or from just past the half-way line. It was one of these that sailed just wide early on.

While the Phoenix were some way below their best in the first half, this team knows how to score goals, and still put together a few nice moves. Richard passed out from defence to Owen, who strolled through the centre, and it was a great ball from Tristan that sent Toby through against the keeper, who he skipped round before scoring from the narrowest of angles. A couple of minutes later, Owen brought the ball down with some skill from an Otford free kick, before laying it off for Matt to play Toby into a similar position to his earlier goal. He tried the same thing again, the angle wasn’t quite there although Tristan was for a tap in to put his team two up.

Langton started to keep hold of the ball a little better now, and Owen who shot just over while Toby had a shot saved. But Otford counter-attacked well, put in a lovely cross and scored a nice headed goal to bring them back into the game. It was fairly even for the next ten or fifteen minutes, with Otford battling hard and Langton’s work rate some way below their best. Will sent a free kick to Finn, who turned beautifully before shooting. Otford’s keeper was the hero of the day and his save from Finn’s shot was one of many he made that kept his team’s hopes alive. Otford won a corner and Langton had a hairy moment as they failed to clear the ball effectively. Man of the Match Joel was putting in a much better stint today than some of his team mates, and he made several confident, energetic runs out from right back to try and gee his team up. On the other side, Jack made a few of his trademark sprints out of defence, setting up Sammy to continue the running all the way to the byeline on one occasion.

Max was another player in white showing some good bursts of energy on the right flank. But generally, Langton were not finding too much space, giving the ball away too easily and playing too many straight balls through the middle. Their class shone through, however. A brilliant corner from Sammy fell to Owen, who was never going to miss. A lovely ball from Tristan to Sammy out on the left saw him come inside, around a defender and shoot narrowly inside the near post to put his team four-one up just before half time. But Otford were very much still in this game as the half time whistle blew and must have fancied their chances of a second-half comeback.

Otford did come out fighting for the second half, and one of their counter-attacks forced Ethan to make a diving fingertip save. Owen was powerful as ever, and his long throw-ins are a weapon that his team is starting to realise they can capitalise on. One of these sailed over the heads of the Otford defence for Will to run on to and he chipped the ball over the keeper perfectly. Another Owen special bounced around the Otford penalty area for a while before coming back out to Owen’s feet. He chipped it back in and Evan got his head to it to make it six-one. A long kick from Ethan found Owen again, who ploughed forward but he couldn’t beat the keeper. Will was waiting for the deflection with a composed finish for Langton’s seventh of the day.
For the next ten minutes or so the Otford keeper made save after save as his goal came under bombardment from the Phoenix. He denied Will, Jack, Finn and Owen in a spell when he seemed almost unbeatable.

With all the white shirts in the Otford half, the home team counter-attacked and sent a shot across the face of Langton’s goal. Luckily for Langton, there were no Otford players there to score. Eventually the Otford keeper was beaten by a brilliant shot from Tristan from some way out on the left. That was his second and Langton’s eighth. There was a lot of changes being made in the Langton side at this point, with several players getting a chance to play in unfamiliar positions. Then almost out of nowhere, Otford let loose an absolute screamer from long range, leaving Ethan no chance, and giving them their second goal of the day. Very near the end, Max’s hard work paid off as he scored a lovely goal with a great finish – his first of the season, but unlikely to be his last. The Phoenix second-half performance was much better than their first and they gave plenty of glimpses of what they can do when they turn on the style. They could be in for a good cup run this season, but only if they can maintain their focus and concentration for much longer spells when they really need to.

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Sunday, October 23rd, 2016

Langton Green Phoenix 1-0 Sevenoaks Tornados (friendly)
(Tristan)

Match Report by Steve Bremer

Phoenix maintain unbeaten run and keep their first clean sheet.

Langton Green had to battle hard today in a physical match against a good team from the Tandridge League, but their courage, organisation and determination won out as they did well to maintain this season’s unbeaten record. Keeping their first clean sheet was a bonus, particularly against a team of this calibre. The whites were excellent throughout the first half, moving the ball fast and cleverly, keeping possession and allowing the opposition little chance to play their game. The back line of Jack, Richard, Tom and Max were rock solid throughout, strong and well organised, creating a sound platform for much of their team’s moves. Langton’s first and only goal came within the first five minutes, with Toby whipping in a nice cross that was deflected off a defender only for Tristan to make a cool finish. There was a lot of skilful and clever play down the left wing, often starting with Jack, with Matt, Finn, Tristan and Will playing in lovely triangles as they moved the ball forward down that side. Evan was immense through the centre, more than a match for this physical opposition. There was a fair amount of shoulder to shoulder work in this game, but Evan wasn’t pushed off the ball easily, got up quickly every time he went down, and won countless crucial tackles to drive his team forward. With Sevenoaks a player short, Sammy was playing in their blue strip for the first half and did his Langton team-mates no favours at all. He was a constant threat through the centre and down the left with some lovely mazey runs, but every time he came up against the impenetrable Langton defence, with Tom and Richard at centre half letting no-one through. It was a lovely corner from Sammy that put Langton under pressure, but Ethan made a good save, palming the ball away at his near post. Langton had the majority of the first-half possession and were maintaining a good high line quite comfortably. But the Sevenoaks number 10 was a constant threat, and his pace narrowly beat the white defence at one point, but he shot wide under pressure.

The Phoenix play was great to watch at times, as they played with a maturity beyond their years. Tristan continued to flourish in the number 10 position, the opposition unable to contain his runs, nimble footwork and smart positioning. The passing out from the back through midfield was fast and skilful and it was only excellent defending from the blues that kept the scoreline as it was. Langton won a couple of free kicks, one as a result of a darting run from Toby that looked like it might take him all the way, but couldn’t find their way through a resolute Sevenoaks defence. The 1-0 half-time scoreline was probably a fair reflection of a well-fought half between two teams playing some excellent football.

It was Ben’s turn to don a blue shirt in the second half and, like Sammy, gave Sevenoaks a real boost through the middle with his strong running and tackling. Tom and Richard continued to marshal the blue number 10, who was a right handful, really well. But the balance of the match tipped slightly in Sevenoaks’ favour in the second half, as they had more of the possession and were more assertive going forward. Ethan hadn’t had too much to do in the first half, but Sevenoaks had already pulled a shot just wide soon after the re-start. But Evan didn’t take his foot off the gas at any point today, and it was his long shot that hit the inside of the post, went along the goal-line and hit the other post before being cleared by the blues. Sevenoaks started to put more passing moves together, while some of Langton’s passing was slightly less reliable, and Max was called into action several times to stop them attacking down their left. Jack, meanwhile, continued to make those scorching runs out from left back. It was the super-fast Sevenoaks number 11 that made a lightning run down the right wing, but luckily his shot was just wide.

A long kick out from Ethan was brought down to earth and perfectly controlled by Matt, to start off a move involving Evan and Toby. Will almost had a half-chance after a lovely one-two between him and Toby, but it was all far too close to call in the second half. It felt like another goal, scored by either team, would have eventually won them the match. It seemed more likely to be Sevenoaks for a 10-minute spell, during which they hit the crossbar, forced Ethan to make a good diving save (from a great shot from Toby, now playing in blue), and sent one flying over the crossbar. But Langton came back at them, with Will getting a couple of half-chances, and the whole team digging in well to keep the ball up to the final whistle. This was a well-deserved morale-booster for the boys today, proving they can mix it with tough opposition and maintain their focus and organisation for a whole match against a team that gave them no easy chances.

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Sunday, October 9th, 2016

Langton Green Phoenix 9 - 1 Hailsham (league)
(Evan 2, Ben 2, Will 2, Matt, Finn, Tristan)

Match Report by Steve Bremer

On a beautiful sunny morning and on an excellent pitch Langton Green Phoenix gave a top drawer performance of complete football to increase their lead at the top of the league to four points. This was great stuff, probably best summed up by one statistic: Hailsham United had scored 22 goals in their previous two outings, yet today they could only manage one. But strong defending was not the only plus in today’s performance, the midfield were committed, mobile and visionary, and the forward line were lightning fast, clever and clinical too.

Langton started confidently, with Evan looking bright from the start, winning the ball in the middle and running forward fearlessly. His passing was clever too, setting Ben up very early on with a lovely ball to run onto. Nearly all the play was in the Hailsham half for the first 10 minutes or so, as Langton were first to the ball and kept possession well. But Hailsham were not to be outmuscled and defended well. Langton started stringing some lovely moves together from early on. A lovely little one-two between Toby and Max set Will up with a shooting chance, which ricocheted down off the cross bar and landed just the wrong side of the goal line for Hailsham to clear. But Hailsham were quick on the counter attack at every opportunity and it took a great last-ditch tackle from Tom to deny them a shooting chance. The resulting corner gave Ethan his first touch of the ball, at about 15 minutes into the game. As usual, he was calm and collected. Tristan looked like a constant threat in front of the opposition goal, passing and moving exquisitely. Ben took a couple of excellent corners, but no white shirts could get on the end of either. Hailsham had a couple of extremely fast, strong strikers in the numbers nine and 10 shirts, but the Langton defence kept them at bay well. Excellent covering from Richard at one stage allowed Ethan to dash out and make a strong kick out. With a strong captain’s performance from Euan on the other side of defence, this back line looked slick and confident.

This was not a long-ball game, with Langton playing the ball out from the back like pros. Jack started off any number of moves from deep-lying positions, dribbling skilfully, but playing his team mates in at exactly the right moments. It took 20 minutes of fairly sustained pressure from the Phoenix to earn them their first goal. The ball fell to Evan quite some way outside the box and he hit an absolute rocket into the top right-hand corner – a lovely strike to put his team ahead. But within just two minutes, Hailsham had equalised. Langton failed to clear the ball from a well-taken corner and conceded from something of a goalmouth scramble. But the whites carried on as they had been, working the ball forward, keeping up their energy and commitment. This paid off, when Will received the ball in the right hand side of the area and struck the ball hard and low to put his team ahead again. Toby looked fast and dangerous on the right and one of his trade-mark runs to the bye-line passed back to Tristan saw the ball in the opposition net again, but the ball was judged to have gone out of play just before. Langton kept up the pressure for the rest of the first half, with Sid making some nice passes through the centre and the whole team working for their team mates, passing, covering, thinking ahead and tracking back. Evan tried a couple more shots from range, which kept the Hailsham defence on their toes, but the goalkeeper saw them coming. He switched play beautifully at one point from left to right, where Tristan was in a great position to unleash his shot, but he was denied by a great save from the keeper. More silky skills from Tristan were leaving Hailsham dazed and confused at times, and he forced another diving save from the opposition keeper. The Hailsham number nine escaped the Langton defence soon after, forcing a diving save from Ethan. And Hailsham looked to have the upper hand for a brief period where they seemed to be getting to the ball first. But that changed within a minute of the end of the half, when Matt won the ball out on the left, switched play with a peach of a pass to Toby out on the right, who raced almost to the bye-line before shooting. The keeper saved, but Matt was perfectly placed to fire home the deflection for his first goal of the season and to put his team 3-1 up.

Langton Green resumed their high tempo from the second half whistle and didn’t let up until the final whistle. They were stringing seven or eight passes together in some lovely movements, retaining the ball well, and winning it back quickly. Confidence was high, but focus and concentration was too. Teamwork was everything, but peppered with plenty of moments of fine individual skill and commitment. Finn sent Sid off on a lovely run through the centre, skipping past several opposition player. The next minute, Finn was covering for his team-mates at the back. But Hailsham remained a threat, and it was the number nine again that forced an outstanding save from Ethan. From point-blank range the Langton keeper tipped the ball over with his finger-tips to preserve his team’s lead. After a short spell of slightly scrappy play, with neither team really having the upper hand, Evan took the game by the scruff of the neck, receiving the ball some way out he made a direct diagonal run towards goal and shot low and hard into the corner to make it 4-1 and trigger a spell of the game when his team could do nothing wrong. It was great vision from Ben that saw him make a quick one-two with Will and finish nicely to make it five to the visitors. Another lovely dash out from his own half by Jack, followed by a smashing ball to Will, allowed Will to make it six, in off the post.
But Langton refused to take their feet off the gas and kept pushing for more. Ben’s forward vision down the right was brilliant, interplaying nicely with Finn as the team moved the ball forward at pace. It was another of these runs from Ben that set up Finn, who’d found a great position near the goal, for a clinical finish with his first goal of the season. The number of names on the scoresheet today was another reflection of the teamwork and unselfish play from the whites. Finn repaid the favour soon after, with a nice through ball to Ben, who was able to score from a tricky angle across the face of the goal to make it 8-1. But still Hailsham wouldn’t roll over and Langton had to stay on their toes, with the Hailsham number 10 forcing another great diving save from Ethan. Yet another strong run from Evan, saw him denied his hat-trick by the cross-bar, but Tristan was in the right place to power home his team’s ninth goal of the day and round off a day’s work that the whole team should be proud of.

Note from Ian - Ben won man of the match today for his hard work up front to win the ball back high up the pitch and his unselfish play on the ball that led to several goals for his team and two for himself. Everyone played superbly today - special mentions also for Sam, who held the ball up superbly up front, Evan, who had a brilliant first half in particular and Matt, who finished an excellent team goal that he started himself with the best pass of the day. Well done boys - all of you were superb and thoroughly deserved your win today.

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Sunday, October 2nd, 2016

Langton Green Phoenix 4 - 2 Rusthall (league)
(Sammy, Will, Evan, OG)

Match Report by Ian Knapp

What an enjoyable morning's football. 2 teams, playing excellent football for the most part, brilliantly refereed on a good pitch. We knew this would be a really tough test, Rusthall starting the morning level with Langton on points at the top of the table and coming off the back of 20 goals in their last 2 games, so not to be taken lightly at all. The boys had a lot of school friends in the opposition team and we were hoping the familiarity didn't take the competitive edge off the match. No need to worry there - it didn't.

Rusthall started the quicker, pressuring our back four immediately, with some clever through balls finding the gaps and we were thankful to Ethan for gathering quickly on two occasions early on. At the other end, Will was working incredibly hard, pressing the opposition defence high up the pitch, but Rusthall possessed some excellent ball playing defenders and were working their way out well.

The boys grew into the game, Tristan a constant threat down the right, putting in a superb cross which Will and Sammy just couldn't connect with and the midfield three of Owen, Evan and Finn were linking up nicely to create threats through the middle. A crunching tackle from Owen led to us winning the ball on the right, a quick one two with Finn and Will was sent through from Owen's clever pass, using fantastic strength and commitment to get to the byline and cut the ball back unselfishly for Sammy to smash home the opening goal with a clinical finish from close range. 1-0 and game on.

A minute later it was 2-0, superb defensive work from Jack to intercept a through ball, a clever switch of play to Tristan, who cut inside and shot, only to find his effort blocked. The ball fell to Will, who toe poked home from 8 yards out - a clever finish and as I always say to strikers - nothing wrong with a tow poke occasionally. It showed good initiative and meant Will had had a hand in both the opening goals during a bright 20 minute spell. Finn connected with a corner with a thumping header, one of the smallest players on the pitch finding himself unmarked in the box to very nearly make it three. There was some uncertainty about whether the ball had crossed the line before it was scrambled clear, but the referee waved play on and the boys had to get back into shape after a quick clearance sent Rusthall's pacey centre forward clear. Euan covered brilliantly, blocked the through ball and played out from the back superbly with Richard and Tom supporting him. Another Rusthall attack and Tom was called on for the first of several outstandingly timed tackles that were a feature of his game today, Richard ably supporting him with several no-nonsense clearing headers. A brilliant Evan run out wide saw him deliver a beautiful cross, the Rusthall keeper quick to intercept.

Toby, Ben and Joel came on in a triple substitution, all slotting in brilliantly and Toby causing havoc down the right with his pace and trickery. It was from his pinpoint cross that Rusthall unfortunately (for them) scored an own goal. To be fair the lad couldn't have done anything else and quite rightly tried to block the cross, only for it to take an unlucky deflection into the back of the net. Credit to the Langton players that rather than overly celebrate, a quick well done to Toby for the excellent cross was all that was said. A moment later and superb interplay from Evan and Owen saw Tristan deliver a wonderful cut back that Ben hit first time but the shot went just wide. Toby then went on a mazy run that was partly possible because of the excellent off the ball run Ben had made wide right, freeing up space for Toby to go past three players with great skill before a last ditch tackle denied him what would have been goal of the season.

3-0 at the break and the danger that overconfidence couple with a renewed Rusthall would lead to that lead being cut and so it proved, our first 10 minutes after half time not reflective of the quality of the players we had on the pitch and our opposition scoring a deserved goal to cut the defecit after we dilly-dallied at the back trying to overcomplicate things. It could have been more were it not for some excellent goalkeeping from Ethan, twice saving well and catching solidly on 7 or 8 occasions. A spectator made a comment about what a good goalie he is - absolutely agree. The goal seemed to wake the boys up and they got back to playing simple, passing football, which is when they're at their best, culminating in an outstanding team goal involving Jack, Owen, Sammy, Ben and finished by Evan with a calm curling shot into the corner from the edge of the box. Glad to see Evan get the goal his performance today deserved. 4-1 and 15 minutes to go was still a situation that left me wanting another goal to be completely comfortable but when it came it was at the wrong end from our point of view, Rusthall's excellent right midfielder striking an unstoppable shot from range that even Buffon at his best would have struggled to stop. Ethan did well to get as close to it as he did.

Euan continued to communicate brilliantly and that was just what was required in the final 10 minutes, where game management was much more important than silky skills and tricks. Holding onto a 2 goal lead to see a game out shouldn't be a struggle in theory, but Rusthall are a good side and we seemed intent on making their lives easier than was necessary for a bit, giving the ball away on a number of occasions in dangerous positions and finding superstar Tom once again in the right place to slide in and save the day.

The best form of defence may well have been attack and for the last 5 or 6 minutes that's what we reverted to, Jack particularly effective on the left, Will and Ben doing a good job up top, Finn finding Will with a good pass that Will did brilliantly to create a chance from before seeing his placed effort go just wide and some encouraging attacking play from Joel on the right keeping the ball up the right end of the pitch as the clock ticked down before the referee blew for time to see the lads emerge with a victory that was probably deserved on the balance of play in the first half particularly but was placed under real stress in the second half as Rusthall piled forward.

Man of the match as usual incredibly difficult. Owen played a very solid game in central midfield, disciplined and dangerous at the same time, Tom was excellent at the back with several wonderfully timed tackles that I know pleased Tim from a defensive perspective enormously and Jack definitely deserves a mention for another superb performance from left back (how much he was sitting back in the first 10 minutes when we were under the cosh a bit showed real intelligence to go with his attacking game), but Will gets it today for his sheer work rate up front, doing exactly what was asked of him in a difficult role, playing for the team first and having a major hand in the first two goals because of exactly that work rate.

Well done boys - an excellent result against a good side. After facing a team who scored 20 goals in their last two games, we now go to Hailsham next week to face a team who have netted 11 times in each of their last two matches! It doesn't get any easier...

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Sunday, September 25th, 2016

Langton Green Phoenix 2 - 2 Tonbridge Invicta (league)
(Will, Owen)

Match Report by Ian Knapp

A slightly cold and windy morning over in Tonbridge saw the Langton boys having to don their old yellow kit so as to avoid a colour clash with Tonbridge Invicta, who had started the season well and we knew from previous encounters possessed a number of very skilful, quick players who would test us defensively and so it proved.

After two such devastating starts in their first two games it was probably inevitable that at some point Phoenix would fall short of the high standards they'd set themselves and the boys started sluggishly in an opening 10 minutes that saw all the work we've done on keeping possession, passing the ball and pressing the opposition high up the pitch largely forgotten in favour of kick and rush football. Invicta deservedly scored the first goal, a through ball that cut our defence in two and a well taken shot by their pacey striker. 1-0 down and behind for the first time this season. How would the boys react...

Pretty well actually, a gradual improvement seeing the creation of a number of chances through Sammy and Jack on the left and Toby and Euan on the right. With Owen sitting deeper and mopping up in front of the defence, Finn and Tristan were given license to get forward and they did so well, setting Sammy up for a strike that was well saved by the very good Tonbridge goalkeeper and then Ben having a shot flash just wide. We were creating chances and looking much more solid in defence all of a sudden, Euan covering superbly when we were breached, with Tom and Richard communicating well and clearing solidly on several occasions with intelligent forward balls rather than random hoofs up the pitch. Ethan came out quickly to smother a couple more through balls and suddenly things were looking up.

Will came on and made an immediate impact, scoring a brilliant solo goal with a long range effort that gave the keeper no chance and holding the ball up well in attack. His goal came from a superb interception from Sam, who was on in defensive midfield, a new position for him but necessary as we were missing 3 players who usually play that role today. With Joel now on the right and showing us some excellent forward play when in possession it was all Langton for the next 15 minutes, possession being kept beautifully and several chances going either just wide or being well blocked by the brave Invicta defenders. A cracking move involving Jack, Finn and Tristan ended with a corner being conceded by Tonbridge and with Sammy off the pitch, Owen took over on corner taking duties to maximum effect, scoring direct after the goalkeeper couldn't quite get to the curling ball. 2-1 up and we felt fairly confident at this stage. Finn's looping volley looked in, only for it to go agonisingly past the top right hand corner and on two occasions we had players in great positions from Jack's excellent work in the box and cut back passes, only for the ball to somehow stay out of the goal when the net was already bulging in my mind.

Max S gave a brilliant performance on the right wing in the latter stages of this half, very nearly scoring a goal with a well struck shot that was blocked and then picking a beautiful pass to Will that was scrambled away by the opposition defender. Sam continued to fill the defensive midfield role wonderfully and made a number of superb blocks, intelligent passes and switches of play, one of them finding Joel, whose first touch was outstanding, to see him bear down on goal only to be denied by a super bit of defending. We didn't want half time to come, but come it did and the boys had plenty to think about.

The second half started well, Langton on top again but Tonbridge threatening on the break and for a period of around 15 minutes we looked certain to score again only to come up against some wonderful defending from our opponents, who threw body after body in front of the ball and when that didn't work their goalkeeper pulled off a number of outstanding saves to deny our attacking players. A couple of wasted opportunities to play the simple cut back were spurned in favour of going for glory when one or two of the boys had got to the byline - hopefully a lesson learned for next time - as two golden opportunities to put the game to bed came and went for exactly that reason.

Tonbridge got back into it slowly but surely and the last 10 minutes were their best spell of the game since the opening 10, Ethan making three outstanding saves, one on to the post when a goal looked certain and one brave dive at the striker's feet when a goal looked even more certain. We were looking tired, one or two players were getting a bit lazy and despite trying to keep things fresh with defensive changes, we conceded in the last minute with a well taken goal that had to be fair been threatening to come for some time. 2-2 but still time to kick off, put together a superb passing move and be denied by a fantastic diving block to stop Jack's excellent strike from going in. It would have been cruel on Tonbridge if we'd scored then and a draw probably a fair result overall against a team who gave us the best game we've had so far in terms of entertainment and end to end football. Not at our best, but you can't be every week and still plenty of positives, not least the display in goal once again of Ethan, who deservedly won the man of the match accolade for making several crucial saves and excellent decisions.

Thank you to Tonbridge Invicta for hosting us. I'd be very surprised if they aren't there or thereabouts at the end of the season in terms of potentially winning the league. They played some excellent football at times today and possess pace and skill in abundance as well as a very very good goalkeeper. Rusthall next week, who are another very strong team that we'll need to be 100% focused for if we want to have a chance of getting a result.

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Sunday, September 18th, 2016

Langton Green Phoenix 8 - 2 Pembury Athletic (league)
(Sammy 3, Tristan 3, Ben 2)

Match Report by Ian Knapp

A first home game of the season saw LG Phoenix playing on the beautifully flat pitches at Groombridge (with no goose poo to clean up this year so far!), having managed to negotiate a series of diversions and roadworks that almost saw several of the team and the referee miss the kickoff. Our opponents for this second league match of the season were Pembury, a team who had some excellent results in the A division last season and in their superb number 9 possessed one of the best players in the division, along with several other dangerous attacking threats.

The game started well for Langton, pressing high up the pitch through Ben, Sammy, Max S and Tristan, ably supported by Evan and Finn in central midfield. A couple of early scares where Pembury's two up front left us slightly overrun at the back saw a slight reshuffle, with the excellent Euan tucking in to cover as an extra centre back. On the opposite side of the pitch, Jack was playing his usual attacking role with aplomb and a beautiful move involving him, Tristan and Finn led to the opening goal, a fine pass finding Sammy on the left hand side of the box with plenty of work to do. He'd obviously heeded our comments on long range shooting, cutting back inside and unleashing a fine drive into the top corner from 25 yards out. 1-0 and a few nerves settled. Tom and Richard were doing a sterling job in central defence, communicating well and passing the ball calmly out from the back when in possession, but the threat from Pembury's two up front continued to worry us, Ethan having to be quick off his line to smother a couple of dangerous through balls.

A few minutes later it was 2-0, Tristan following up superbly from Evan's long range strike to pounce on a loose ball and slot it home with aplomb. Pembury still worked hard, Ethan being forced into a save high  to his left, followed by a solid catch from a corner. A cracking passing move from the back saw Jack overlap on the left, dribble his way into the box and lay the ball back to Ben, whose pirhouette took him away from his defender and draw a solid save from the opposition goalkeeper. Sammy scored his second and his team's third with a brilliant strike after Finn and Max S combined well to set him free down the middle before Ben made it 4-0 with an instinctive shot from distance into the roof of the net. Some of the passing and moving in this opening 25 minutes or so was superb, Langton at their absolute best, moving the ball quickly and unselfishly with pace and precision.

Changes saw Will come on up front, Sid join the fray in central midfield and Joel come on at right back. Joel was instantly involved, intercepting a through ball and driving forward brilliantly to combine with Tristan and nearly get through only for a good tackle to deny him. Toby's introduction brought more positivity, attacking the opposition full back down the right flank with pace that was frightening at times - I certainly wouldn't have wanted to defend against him - and it was from one of his brilliant runs down the right that we scored our 5th goal, an unselfish cut back finding Tristan, who hammered home his second of the game to make it 5-0. Sam came on and made several crunching tackles at the back, slotting in well alongside Richard and Will was unfortunate not to find the back of the net from Sid's clever pass. Some great link up play from Will to play in Tristan nearly saw it six but the whistle went (twice!) for half time after a final few minutes of the half that saw Pembury pressing for a goal and Ethan catching once again superbly from a corner.

The second half had the potential to be blighted with over-confidence but the boys started well. Pembury deservedly scored from a tight angle after some confusion in our defence when trying to play out from the back, but that will occasionally happen if you try and play that way and no problem with that - the long term benefits of doing so are well worth those occasional mishaps.

Another Langton goal came fairly quickly after that, Tristan completing his hat-trick with a bullet of a header after Toby once again burnt his heels speeding past his full back and delivering a perfect cross. Finn was lurking just in case Tristan didn't connect, but there was never really any danger of that! 6-1 and despite a slight lull in energy levels, there was still plenty of good stuff happening. Evan nearly scored from long range and Jack and Euan both provided plenty of danger from the full back positions, Euan getting a couple of excellent passes away and Jack's dribbling skills bamboozling the opposition on several occasions whilst Max S put in a strong shift at left back, passing well. Sam continued his theme of crunching tackles, whilst also using the ball intelligently when he had it and Richard's organisation, positioning and passing was exactly what we've come to expect from him, in addition to his well timed tackling.

An Ethan catch, followed by some super distribution made it 7-1, with Sammy getting his hat trick off the cross bar after Ben's shot was saved. A few moments later Pembury scored again before Ben scored his second with a clever finish, having linked up well with Finn in the box. Sid's unselfish play was pleasing to see, passing to Evan when he could have shot and despite Richard and Tom proving very solid at the back, Tom was slightly unfairly punished with a penalty for what looked like a very well timed tackle, which Ethan duly saved well to keep the score to 8-2.

The final whistle signalled the end of a very entertaining game, which saw some good football from both teams and some exceptional individual performances, Toby's man of the match display a highlight obviously, but mentions for Ethan once again, who was superb in goal and the two boys who scored hat tricks are only fair too, as is a word for Pembury's excellent number 9 who provided us with some wonderful individual moments. Once again though, every boy played their part today and the unselfish roles played by some of the deeper players as well as Will up front didn't go unnoticed.

Well done everyone. Thank you to Martin for running the line and roll on next week!!!

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Sunday, September 11th, 2016

Ashurst Wood Junior 2 – 6 Langton Green Phoenix (league)
Sammy (2), Will (2), Toby, Owen

Match Report by Steve Bremer

Langton Green Phoenix got their league season off to a fantastic start with this convincing victory against a team that finished second in this top league last season. Every player put in a first-class effort today, with some lovely passing, excellent team work and 100 per cent commitment. Langton set out their stall within the first five minutes, with calm, controlled defensive work at the back from Richard, and a display of nice passing between Finn, Jack and Tristan. Within three minutes Sammy had the ball in the back of the net to put the Phoenix ahead. The defensive work today was convincing throughout, but it was Jack who looked calm just ahead of them, playing a nice ball forward to Owen in the centre. Jack was excellent throughout the match, giving a display worthy of the captain, and also the birthday boy (thanks for the donuts!). But after going ahead so early, Langton sat back slightly and Ashurst Wood won a free kick from some way out. It took a magnificent diving save from Ethan to tip the ball over the bar and save his team’s lead. He then punched the ball away convincingly from the resulting corner. After this wake-up call, Langton were fully focused again. It was a great passing move from Sammy and Tristan that gave Evan a half chance from a central position, but it was just wide.

Ashurst Wood kept piling on the pressure, but the Langton defence stood strong. Euan and Richard played the ball between themselves beautifully in a tight space at right back before playing the ball out to their midfielders. Tom cleared up a number of dangerous balls tidily at the back, and also made a brave diving block tackle to keep his team ahead. A lovely dribble from deep by Jack fed the ball to Finn, who shot, but just wide. Will was under the extremely close watch of his man marker number 15 for the whole of this match, but he dropped deep to win the ball and feed Sammy a decent chance. He made no mistake and Langton were deservedly 2-0 up. Matt came off the bench to make an immediate impression with an oh-so-accurate pass through to Evan, who nearly put the whites 3-0 up. Ashurst Wood may have been edging the possession for ten minutes before the second goal, but Langton were firmly back in the driving seat again. Evan continued to win the ball well and surge forward strongly, as did Owen. It was another peach of a pass from Matt through to Sammy, that he very nearly converted. Ashurst Wood weren’t giving up yet, however, but the teamwork between the three Langton defenders kept them at bay. The passing under pressure between Euan, Richard and Tom was brilliant. Toby came on and immediately started causing problems for Ashurst Wood down the right wing. One of Owen’s fantastic long throw-ins sent him away at top speed, but he couldn’t quite beat the keeper with his left foot.

Ashurst Wood counter-attacked at every opportunity. Another brave dive from Ethan, this time at the feet of an onrushing striker, preserved Langton’s lead. It was a well-taken free kick from Sammy that set Owen up for his first goal of the season, well directed to the top corner with his head. Langton switched off for just half a second before the whistle, and Ashurst Wood let a long shot rip that wasn’t far away. But they were still 3-0 up when the half-time whistle went.

Ashurst Wood started the second half looking for revenge, and applied an awful lot of pressure for the first five or ten minutes, spending most of their time in the Langton half. It took another great save from Ethan to preserve Langton’s lead. A lovely run down the left wing by Sammy was the turning point though, and Langton started to apply some pressure of their own. Toby couldn’t quite get on the end of a nice ball from Finn, and then he put another half chance in the side netting. It was Will who, escaping the clutches of the opposition number 15, did well to reach the by-line and scored from an impossible-looking angle. Sid came off the bench to make an immediate impact, making a lovely run down the right wing and stretching the opposition defence. But it was Will again, who after some good team pressure, found himself one on one with the keeper and slotted the ball into the corner for his brace, making it 5-0. Sid kept making those intelligent runs to keep the Ashurst Wood defence on its toes. It was starting to look like Ashurst were running out of steam and ideas when a long speculative shot dipped just under the crossbar to give them a glimmer of hope. Euan continued to be solid as rock in defence and Sid was battling hard to keep the ball for his team. He won the ball well and spotted Toby on the run, giving him a chance that he made absolutely sure of.
Langton Green continued to play some lovely football right to the end, looking like quite a formidable outfit. It was very near the end when the opposition won a penalty to make it 6-2, but this was an excellent result for the Phoenix and they should all be very proud of themselves.

Note from Ian - man of the match went to Euan today for not only communicating brilliantly to all his team mates but also for his excellent passing out from the back under pressure and adding 2 assists from right back.

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Sunday, September 4th 2016

Sevenoaks Tornado 2 – 5 Langton Green Phoenix (Pre Season Friendly)
Goals: Tristan (2), Sammy (2), Evan

Match report by Steve Bremer

The re-born Langton Green Phoenix team set out their stall for the new season, showing great commitment, teamwork and skill in this pre-season friendly against opposition from a higher league. This new Langton team, playing their first 11-a-side match of the season appeared comfortable and assured against a well-organised Sevenoaks side.

It took the yellows ten minutes or so to find their feet in this match as Sevenoaks started well. Langton were struggling to keep hold of the ball, and an early Sevenoaks corner caused a little panic in the box. But Phoenix soon grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck. A well-taken corner from Sammy was directed into Tristan’s path and he headed it home superbly to put Langton one-nil up and give his team the boost they needed. Evan was a tower of strength in the centre, winning and distributing the ball consistently well. It was his long free kick that fell just ahead of Tristan, but he couldn’t quite keep it down this time and the ball flew over the cross-bar. Langton seemed to be storming ahead after a lovely passing move between Sammy and Toby saw the ball in the back of the net again. Unfortunately this one was ruled off-side. Another good corner from Sammy found Evan’s head this time – but it was just wide. Rather against the run of play, Sevenoaks pulled a goal back, but Langton didn’t lose their momentum. The yellows were passing the ball out of defence nicely, using the whole width of the pitch to stretch the opposition, and stringing together some beautiful passes, Tom, Richard and then Sam all tackling strongly and playing intelligent passes out from the back. The defence looked strong and well-organised, but Sevenoaks are a good team, and Ethan had to make a couple of good saves to keep his team level. And then came a very early contender for goal of the season. Jack streaked down the left wing, leaving several Sevenoaks players for dead with the ball seemingly glued to his toe. His peach of a cross to Sammy in the centre still left him work to do, but he struck it first time beautifully to put the Phoenix ahead. What a goal, almost on the stroke of half time and all started from a crunching tackle by Max S that saved an almost certain goal at the other end.

The second half started a little like the first, with Sevenoaks looking the more likely to score the next goal. But solid defending, from Tom and Richard in the centre, saw off the blues’ threat, Euan also chipping in with a couple of outstanding tackles from right back. It didn’t take Langton long to take control again. It was Evan, from an almost impossible angle, with deflections from both the post and the keeper, that put the yellows 3-1 up within the first ten minutes of the second half. From then on, Langton seemed to get better and better, growing in confidence, retaining the ball well, and not giving Sevenoaks many chances. A lovely run down the right wing from Will saw him put in a pass to Jack, who would have been on his own, but it was slightly too far ahead of him. Yet another super corner from Sammy created a half chance for Finn, who made a lovely glancing header, but it was just wide. A nice run down the left from Toby, a one-two with Jack, and a shot from Jack, rebounded off the keeper and his second shot was just over. It was Will again, passing to Tristan, who found Sammy out wide, who then chipped it beautifully over the keeper to increase Langton’s lead. It looked like it was all over at that stage, but then Sevenoaks pulled one back and the Phoenix started to look a little nervous and perhaps slightly tired, relying on a number of excellent stops from Ethan to stay two goals ahead. But they soon got back in the swing of things, with some lovely passing moves involving Matt, Finn, Sammy and Tristan bamboozling the blues. It was a slide-rule pass from Matt in the centre of midfield that cut the Sevenoaks defence in half and found Tristan, who fired a brilliant shot at goal. The keeper got his fingers to it well, but couldn’t quite hold on and it was 5-2 to Langton Green Phoenix. The Langton side kept hold of the ball well, passing it around confidently for the last five minutes.

Man of the match went to Tom for some outstanding defending and playing the ball out from the back, but in reality it could have gone to almost anyone today, such was the level of performance from the boys.

A great start to the season for Langton Green.