Giants 2018 - 2019

unday 14th October 2018
Larkfield 1 - 1 Langton Giants
Squad: James H, Jack, Patrick, Max, Bertie, Ollie, Brodie, Luca, Alf, Owen, Simba, Eddie, Noah
For the third time in 5 games this season we found ourselves facing Larkfield. With the previous two being very tight games there was no reason to expect this one to be any different, and so it proved. Without top goal scorer James D, the creative brilliance of Elliot or our influential captain Tom to call upon (another Rugby injury!!) we were relieved to be able to call upon Eddie who as always, was immediately up to speed with the game and put in an excellent performance. The boys started well, the bobbly pitch making it difficult for either team to dominate possession but we were definitely on the front foot. That said, we were almost caught out when we failed to play to the whistle and a speculative cross/shot hit the post, a close escape. Owen and Simba were looking lively up front, linking well together, with Luca, Brodie and Alf pulling the strings behind them to try and play them in. Max's long goal kicks were causing Larkfield problems until he got a whack on the knee and had to come off for a long stretch. The tigerish Ollie was having himself an outstanding game on the right and hit the ball of the match with a searching angled cross field ball from fully 60 yards to very nearly play Eddie in on the left side of the box. Owen won the ball high up the pitch to the right and quickly delivered a delicious cross for Simba to get on the end of but he was undone by a horrible bobble of the ball as it looked for all the world he was about to open the scoring. Owen's constant pressure was proving to be a real asset and when he blocked the goalies clearance he was unlucky that the ball broke too wide for him to be able to get a clear look on goal, his off balance effort going over the bar.  The main battle was going on in midfield with the occasional long ball from Larkfield causing Jack, Patrick and Bertie to be strong, something they were time and time again, winning numerous aerial battles. The one time Larkfield did break through, James H pulled off a remarkable save from a powerfully struck shot, flinging himself across goal to get two strong hands on the high shot, a stunning save that brought a round of applause from all. 
All this meant things were nil nil at half time with all to play for. The game continued to be a physical challenge but one that was expertly stewarded by the experienced referee. The boys stood firm but never reacted to any provocation. Noah was being asked to fill several roles today and did them all superbly well, winning tackles all over the pitch and using the ball well. As was Alf, who's consistent passing is becoming a feature of the teams play. Simba held off a defender and set Alf to have a shot from distance which was saved at the near post. Another feature today was Brodie's ability to take the ball out of the sky with a single touch to a team mate, a trick he pulled off several times, one of which went straight to Noah who had the awareness to drill the ball into the feet on Luca, he spun and delivered the perfect through ball for Simba to chase. Simba took the ball to the right of the centre half and dispatched a low effort back past the keeper into the bottom corner to give us a valuable lead with a brilliant team goal. As is always the way when protecting a narrow lead, the last 20 minutes seemed to take an age, but generally the boys did a great job of marshalling the game, not really conceding any major chances to Larkfield and continuing to be a threat, Bertie being a constant nuisance to them down the left wing especially. Larkfield were awarded a free kick, deep in our half but quite wide. The moment the ball was lofted high into our six yard box we knew we were in trouble though, the ball flicking off a Langton head and into the back of the net. Galling. Suddenly memories of two weeks ago came flooding back when we'd conceded twice late on at the same place, but no such despair this week, the last few minutes played out without any clear cut chances for either side and the game ended in a draw. 
Given the players missing, the fact it was such a familiar opponent, the bobbly pitch and a combative foe, this wasn't a bad result and was a very decent performance. 

Sunday 7th October 2018 - KYL Cup
Langton Giants 1 - 3 Junior Elite
James D
Squad: Harry, Jack, Patrick, Bertie, Ollie, Elliot, Brodie, Tom, Alf, James D, Simba, Noah, Owen, Luca, James H
Sometimes whatever the result, youth football is fantastic fun and a thoroughly positive experience. Today was one of those days and should be enjoyed as such. A tough draw in the cup saw us welcome Junior Elite to a resplendent looking Langton Rec in the sunshine. The pitch was in perfect condition and it was great to play at 'home' for once. Back in the Tandridge League Junior Elite were the Barcelona of our age group, sweeping all before them and handing out thrashings on a weekly basis, they gave us a couple along the way, so this was going to be a test to show how far we've come and in terms of performance the boys passed the test with flying colours, even in defeat. Whereas before we parked the proverbial bus to try and keep the score down, today we went toe-to-toe and for a glorious period in the second half were the stronger team and, to quote their own coach, we had them on the ropes. Things certainly didn't start like that though as Junior Elite reminded us all what a fine team they are, whipping the ball round with pace, accuracy and creativity and it felt like they had several more players on the pitch than we did. The back three of Jack, Patrick and Bertie stood firm though and as Junior Elite pushed forward we were able to hit them on the counter attack after Tom won a big tackle. Brodie found Elliot, who in turn found James D to charge forward and fire in a thunderous shot that the keeper did well to parry. That moment of threat from us though was quickly undone by a brilliant slide-rule pass that split our defence open and the ball was dispatched past Harry to give our visitors a deserved lead. We looked in trouble at this stage and needed to get a foothold in the contest. Slowly we started to, although Junior Elite continued to dominate possession, we were getting closer to them now and causing a few mistakes. This lead to our own attacking threat growing and a speculative but brilliantly struck effort from Owen from distance brought a very good save from their keeper low down in the corner. James D also had a dig from far out that went narrowly wide after being found with a smart ball from Alf. Jack stormed out of defence, the ball found Luca who in turn found James D, he whipped in a great cross which beat the keeper, Jack had carried on his run and gave everything to bundle the ball over the line but somehow the ball stayed out, no idea how, the clearance fell at the feet of Alf who fired back on goal only for his low effort to be saved by the keeper. A well delivered Junior Elite corner was met powerfully with a double fist in traffic by keeper Harry who was awarded a free kick for the clattering he took, superbly brave goalkeeping. In the closing moments Luca sent a powerful free kick wide after Ollie has won it iin a dangerous position with his quick feet.
1 down at half time and growing into the game, time to try and push on. Make no mistake, Junior Elite continued to play some mesmerising football and were stretching us all over the park, but thanks to sheer grit and determination, the boys kept them at bay and were starting to cause them problems too, it was turning into a proper cup tie. Patrick was majestic in the middle of the back three, reading the game superbly and calmness personified on the ball. Simba was having a great game, flipping between a striker and CDM role as needed and doing both with aplomb. Elliot was fouled, Brodie swung the free kick in which was inches away from James D toes just feet from the exposed goal. Noah won us a corner which Luca delivered to the back post where Brodie was so close to repeating his trick of last week, this time the ball dropping agonisingly onto the roof of the net. As we pushed forward though it felt inevitable that Junior Elite's quality would cause us problems and so it proved. A free flowing passing movement on the counter saw them double their lead with an outstanding goal, it was a devastating attack and a big blow. We were still in this though, James D sent a free kick wide and Harry made an excellent save down low to keep the deficit at two, which meant when we got one back moments later in was game on! Simba deserves enormous credit for this goal, chasing up the hill to close down the keeper, pressuring him into an error which saw the ball break for Alf who had the wherewithal to lift his head up and pick James D out to fire home from close range. Skipper Tom strode forward to meet a cleared ball from a great diagonal pass from Bertie and struck a firm effort wide as we searched desperately for an equaliser. For a wonderful moment we thought we had it, Ollie showing great tenacity to charge at the goal, the keeper saved it and James D bundled home the rebound but he was off-side. Another excellent counter attack saw Junior Elite add a third which effectively killed off the game with about 5 minutes left, but not to be bowed, the boys kept on fighting to the final whistle.
Junior Elite deserved to win this game, they are the best passing side we've faced, have fantastic attitudes, work as a team and don't get involved in any of the nonsense which sadly can be too apparent in some other teams. They're a credit to the league and enjoyable to play against. Our boys played superbly well and with a bit more luck could have pinched this one, but even so should be very proud of their performance today, it was very impressive.

Sunday 30th September 2018 - Kent County Cup
Larkfield 2 - 1 Langton Giants
Squad: James H, Tom, Jack, Luca, Elliot, Simba, Owen, Noah, Max, Patrick, Brodie, Alf, Bertie 
When you enter the County Cup, the hope is to get a bye in the first round or a tie against a team from another league. Failing that, at least get drawn against a team from a different division, just to see some different faces. So to get drawn against a team that are not only in our division, but we played two weeks ago and play again in two weeks time, wasn't ideal. With top scorer James D unavailable due to a rugby injury, and both Tom and Bertie struggling with rugby related issues the physical nature of the Larkfield team was always going to be problematic and something we struggled to cope with a fortnight ago. We knew we needed to start better than last time out and be ready for the intensity, and we were as we utterly dominated the opening exchanges. Pinning Larkfield back into their own half, moving the ball at pace and causing them all sorts of problems, especially down the left flank where Elliot was looking especially lively and Luca was pulling the strings. Some brilliant interplay between Simba and Luca found Elliot in space in the box, his well struck shot being well saved. High pressure from Owen and Tom saw us win the ball, Noah delivering a great cross that Brodie met with a leaping header but unable to find the target. We didn't have to wait long for a goal though, Luca, Simba and Elliot moved the ball quickly and decisively and found Brodie on the edge of the box who spun under pressure and looped his shot high into the roof of the net to give us a thoroughly deserved lead. Between that point and the half time whistle it was all Giants, with chances going begging every few minutes. Through all this, the back three of Patrick, Jack and Max, then Bertie, were in total command ensuring James H in goal was a practical bystander. A couple of the themes of the half was Alf's quick forward passing and Owen's brilliant hold up play; the latter also going close to scoring on a few occasions, a couple of efforts wide and one very well saved. Elliot and Simba also both had good chances but the deserved cushion of the second goal just wouldn't come.
The second half continued pretty much in the same vein, albeit with less clear cut chances, but still we were in control of the game and looking untroubled at the back. Bertie saw a good effort saved low and Owen had a firm shot go over the bar, but the longer the game went on the more the concern of not getting that second goal grew. As it turned out we were right to be concerned. Patrick was being obviously fouled as he was clearing the ball, nothing given, the ball broke clear and a Larkfield player was tripped in a dangerous position, which was given! A clear foul but not as clear as the one we weren't awarded before it, sadly a consistent theme throughout the match. The ball was almost inevitably dispatched into the back of the net with 10 mins to go. We pushed forward for a winner, going oh so close in a mad goal mouth scramble, before being on the receiving end of the mother of all sucker punches where, following a similar goal mouth scramble, Larkfield swept the ball home with practically their first effort from open play in the game. With less than a minute to go we were done, not before Luca was inches away from saving the day with a brilliant effort from distance which just went over the bar.
Football can be a cruel game sometimes, but the bottom line is we simply have to convert our chances into goals at this level or you will be punished. A harsh lesson today, the boys were superb generally and didn't deserve this outcome. Time to roll up our sleeves and go again next week.

Sunday 16th September 2018
Holmesdale 6 - 2 Langton Giants
James D x2
Squad: James H, Tom, Jack, Luca, Elliot, Simba, Owen, Noah, Bertie,   James D, Alf, Brodie, Eddie, Ethan.
Our second game of the season saw us travel to the Bromley area to face newcomers to the Central Division, Holmesdale, who had performed very well in the North division last season so we knew we were in for a tough outing. We've played them numerous times before in the Tandridge League but they're a very different team to those days and were strong all over the pitch. With a few absentees we were grateful to Eddie & Ethan for stepping up and putting in a great shift to help the team. We didn't help ourselves at the start though, failing to learn the lesson from last week as we conceded an almost identical goal, carelessly giving the ball away by playing from space into congestion and being punished with a very smart finish. A great and immediate response though, Luca delivering a delicious free kick that James D got on the end of and directed a clinical finish into the corner and we were back level. Elliot skipped past two defenders, sprinted into space and back heeled into the path for James D to shoot, his effort being well saved low down. No worries though, Brodie pinched the ball off the toes of the Holmesdale midfielder and lobbed a cracking ball over the heads of the defence for James D to chase. The keeper got to the ball first but the pressure from James' run caused him to spill the ball, James tracked it down and lofted it back over the keepers head from a ridiculously tight angle to give us a 2-1 lead, a brilliant goal. The scored stayed 2-1 for a good 10 minutes or so and at this stage all seemed well in the world. Owen, Jack and Bertie were looking strong, with James H confident behind them. Noah, Elliot and then Eddie were performing well as wing backs with Simba looking lively too. Slowly though Holmesdale's quality started to tell as they were getting on the front foot, especially in midfield where one lad in particular was beginning the run the show. Their equaliser was very good. Quick passing and intelligent running off the ball saw them open us up down the left wing and pull the ball back to be fired home. Sadly our self destruct button was pressed twice in the closing minutes of the half. Firstly a game of 'after you sir' between two of our midfielders allowed their Holmesdale counter part to pinch the ball, feed the striker to fire home.Then a run down the right went unchecked and somehow a cross was delivered despite three defenders trying to stop it and that was finished too. From 2-1 up with 10 minutes to go, we found ourselves 4-2 down at half time, and we knew we'd given them three of the goals we'd conceded from our possession.
We needed to tighten up in the second half and credit to the lads, they really did. The big pitch and concerns over some of the boys fitness started to take its toll though and Holmesdale were able to dominate possession as a result. At 4-2 we had a big chance to open the game back up though, with the play of the game almost resulting in a third goal for us. Noah won the ball, charged forward, he fed Brodie who played it first time to James D who played a delightful one touch 1-2 with Elliot which saw him bearing down on the goalkeeper. The speed in which the keeper got out though meant he was able to charge down James' shot. Brodie delivered the corner, Jack challenged the keeper and the ball agonisingly hit the post off of Jack's posterior ! Those two chances were as close as we got, with two worldys from fully 30 yards, both giving the excellent James H no chance as they flew into the top corner, giving the score line an unflattering appearance, albeit a thoroughly deserved win for Holmesdale.
The boys deserve great credit for their work rate and attitudes today, never giving up or letting their heads drop. We go again next week.

Sunday 9th September 2018
Langton Giants 1 - 1 Larkfield
Squad: James H, Jack, Brodie, Elliot, Owen, Max, Ollie, Patrick, James D, Alf, Luca, Harry, Tom, Bertie, Simba
The first game of our third season in the Kent Youth League and already enough to remind us what a battle it is going to be every week. We welcomed a much changed and physical Larkfield side who didn't give us an inch all day and we found it difficult to get the ball down and play in our usual fashion. Patrick was making his competitive debut and put in a calm and commanding performance at the centre of defence in the first half against the big and physical striker. Unfortunately a nagging leg muscle injury denied us of his talents in the second half. Larkfield started the better and we were our own worst enemy, giving the ball away cheaply in midfield and watching as the striker found the bottom corner. This put us on the back foot and we struggled to get into the game as Larkfield physically bullied us for much of the first half. We had a few chances along the way though, Brodie robbing the Larkfield centre back and shooting from distance and James D bringing a low save from the middle of the box. Despite our attacking troubles, Jack, Max, Patrick and Bertie stood firm in defence with James H looking confident between the sticks which meant we weren't in serious trouble of conceding a second. Just before half time though we were denied a nailed on penalty when Elliot was tripped and shoved to the ground but unbelievably it was waived away. That said though, Larkfield warranted their half time lead and we knew we needed to step things up to get something from this game.
Thankfully, we did in the second half. If Larkfield had edged the first half, we comfortably won the second half in terms of possession and chances created thanks to an increased effort and aggression to match our opponents. Alf, Brodie and Tom started to dominate the midfield, with Bertie and Ollie causing problems on the wings to service James D and Simba up top, the latter having a growing influence on proceedings with his strong running with the ball. Owen had returned to defence and put in some crunching tackles which helped us start to turn the tables. It looked like Alf was going to draw us level but his well struck shot from around the penalty spot was charged down. James D's pace and power saw him brilliantly hold off two defenders and his shot beat the keeper but the ball was cleared before it was able to cross the line. It felt like the equaliser was coming and so it proved. Bertie was fouled, with the free kick Luca swept a hanging ball in for Jack to power home with a thunderous header into the back of the net. We pushed hard to find a winner. James D and Luca both had free kick efforts go over the bar, the former also seeing a shot from ten yards out saved low. With ten minutes to go Harry had to make a surprise appearance in goal as James was suffering from a calf problem. The luxury of having two goalkeepers meant we didn't miss a beat. Push as we might we couldn't find a winner, Jack going closest in the dying seconds when it looked like he was going to repeat his trick from Brodie's corner but the ball flew agonisingly over the bar. 
Given our poor first half a draw was probably a fair result, but with the penalty claim and chances created it felt like we could have taken all three points. Never mind, good to have a point on the board and a long season ahead.