Phoenix 2018 - 2019

Sunday, October 14th 2018

Langton Green Phoenix 2 - 3 (AET) Seagulls FC
(Finn P, Evan)

Our first "proper" game of football at Langton Green Recreation Ground in over 3 seasons saw us welcome Seagulls FC, a team from the division above us, in the league cup. It was a game we knew would be challenge and so it proved.

A poor start saw us go 1-0 down after 5 minutes, our opposition giving us a lesson in the communication we've been sorely lacking on occasion recently. Thankfully the boys seemed to take this as motivation to up their game hugely, Tom and Ethan talking, organising and dominating from the back brilliantly. What followed was the best 35 minutes of football this season, Langton superb on the ball going forward, with Tristan in particular putting in an unbelievable stint in midfield, ably supported by Evan and Finn K behind him and the outstanding Finn P in front. Twice Finn P went close with free kicks from range, the first one in particular painfully close to going in. The equaliser was thoroughly deserved when it came, Tristan playing pass of the season in behind the Seagulls defence for Finn P to run onto and strike the ball confidently beyond the goalkeeper's dive to make it 1-1. The rest of the half saw more of the same, Max using great pace and skill to get through on goal only to see his unselfish pass nicked away and Finn P having several long range efforts beaten away by the goalkeeper. Sammy and Jack combined well down the left, Jack cutting into the penalty box and finding Tristan, whose strike flashed narrowly wide. Will came on in central midfield and was solid and hard working alongside Evan, Toby also joining the fray and showing great energy down the right hand side.

At the other end we still had plenty to contend with, Richard and Tom dealing with everything that was thrown their way, Tom having his best half of the season with a string of decisive clearances, intelligent passes from the back and continued communication and Richard similarly dominant alongside him. Ethan was called on to save a long range effort and smother a close range shot. Connor and Jack were outstanding a full back, Jack getting forward time and time again on the overlap whilst defending with tenacity and intelligence and Connor always seeming to be in the right place at the right time to make decisive challenges and clever forward passes. Euan came on and continued Connor's good work at right back, also contributing going forward with a couple of intelligent passes and good communication, showing nice skill on the ball to dribble past one player and hit a 25 yard ball down the line to Toby, whose pace sent him clear, only to see his cross evade everyone.

Half time and the boys were determined to continue their good work from the first half and to start with they certainly did, shooting down the slope and causing the opposition some problems through Sammy's pinpoint delivery from the right, Finn K very close to hitting the target with a flicked header and Max almost connecting with another cross from Sammy. A lovely passage of play where Finn K, Jack, Tristan and Finn P played their way half way down the pitch with one touch passing and scintillating movement off the ball ended with a switch of play to Toby that saw him strike a thunderous shot over the bar. We went ahead ten minutes into the half after we won a free kick on the right hand side and Tristan sent in a brilliant cross, which Evan leapt like a salmon to head home and make it 2-1.

There was enough time left for us not to try and see the half out, attack feeling like the best form of defence at this stage and the boys kept working hard to put pressure on the opposition, but inevitably with a lead to defend and the opposition desperate to get back into the game we started sitting deeper and struggling to clear our lines. Tom continued to be immense at centre back, Will was solid in front of him alongside Evan, but the real star of the last 20 minutes of the game was Ethan, who pulled off 3 or 4 absolutely world-class saves, tipping the ball round the post, over the bar and smothering a close range effort when Seagulls seemed certain to score. With 10 minutes left, the killer blow came in the form of the referee's whistle. A shoulder to shoulder between Tom and the opposition's striker saw both of them fall to the floor in the box and the ref pointed to the spot, the penalty taker making no mistake. We had just been about to make a change to add Euan back into the mix in place of a forward player to try and see the game out, but this changed things, Euan instead coming on higher up the pitch to pressure our opponents from the front and win the ball back high up the pitch, something he did with energy and tenacity.

Back and forth, half chances but nothing clear for either team and we heard the whistle go to signal extra time. 10 minutes each way and the threat of penalties, with very tired legs on both teams saw some tentative play and mistakes from both teams, but in the end it came down to four chances, two for each side. Ethan saved brilliantly once again, Max was played through superbly by Tristan but saw his powerful shot charged down, our opposition then took advantage of some rare confusion in our box to smash the ball home and make it 3-2 before the opposition goalkeeper pulled off an outstanding save from Finn P after outstanding work from Max had sent him through on goal. Still time for Finn K and Sammy to combine to cross for Will, who was flagged offside when a lot of folks thought otherwise, before the referee's whistle went for the final time to signal the end of the game and a really disappointing end to what had been a truly brilliant performance for much of the game from the boys.

Well done all for your efforts. Tom and Ethan shared the man of the match award, but there were brilliant performances from so many today. Don't be too disappointed. Back to league games after a quick sojourn for a friendly next week against our friends from Tunbridge Wells Youth and if the boys play like they did today for the rest of the season, they will see results that match what they deserve. Today wasn't their day, but not for lack of effort. They put us through the mixer of emotions today on the sidelines - tension, excitement, joy and at times frustration, but the overriding feeling was one of pride. Well done lads - it's a pleasure to coach you.

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Sunday, October 7th 2018

Langton Green Phoenix 3 - 4 Tunbridge Wells Foresters
(Toby, Sammy (p), Evan)

Another beautiful morning, this time on the Bennett school 3G against a strong Foresters team who we only played in the league a couple of weeks ago, sharing a 2-2 draw on a Wednesday evening. Today saw another close match that unfortunately for our boys saw them come out narrowly on the wrong end of a scoreline that was probably just about a fair reflection of a game that was close in every respect except we simply made more mistakes than our opponents.

Gifting Foresters a 2-0 lead early on wasn't in the gameplan, with no Finn P up front (Duke of Edinburgh award) we started in a 4-4-2 formation with the aim being that a solid defensive line would allow a tenacious midfield to look for the pace of Max, Sammy and / or Toby up front but alas some indecision at the back saw 2 very soft goals conceded, albeit taken well by Foresters. Sammy then hit the crossbar with a brilliant long range effort and Finn K played Max in, but his run and cross was well cleared. It felt like both teams had created chances but Foresters had dealt with ours better.

Prior to half time we found more and more frequently that we got the ball on the floor and played some decent football, Toby finishing off a scumptuous move involving Jack and Tristan in the build up and an excellent finish round the goalkeeper to keep us in it at 2-1 at half time.

Second half was far better from our boys, reverting to first a more familiar formation and then a 3-5-2 to try and get back in the game. Ethan was communicating well and did a great job with his decision making to clear several through balls, but we gave away an unfortunate penalty after we lost the ball playing out from the back to further pile pressure on and it was 3-1 and a tall order to come back from that. We won a penalty of our own through Evan's superb run, which Sammy despatched brilliantly to give us a lifeline. Unfortunately it was a lifeline we didn't take, putting two pretty good chances to equalise into a sea of bodies after excellent build up play from first Jack and then Tristan before Foresters scored a very good fourth goal from long range to make it 4-2 with 10 minutes to go.

The boys didn't give up, Finn K, Dylan and Evan everywhere in midfield to win the 50/50 balls, Tom, Rami, Richard and Connor showing great energy and clearing several Foresters passes intelligently and Evan then pounced on the rebound from Max's powerful shot to make it 4-3 but Foresters managed the final few minutes well to see the match out despite our best efforts.

A disappointing result and a very disappointing first half in terms of decisiveness and players taking ownership of situations but that's all stuff we can work on in a developing team. The important thing is to learn and not keep making the same mistakes. Real character shown to come back and dominate the second half. Ultimately these sorts of games come down to tiny margins and Sammy's brilliant strike that bounced back off the crossbar was matched by a similar excellent shot from Foresters that crept just under the bar. On another day those two are reversed but today it wasn't to be. Really proud of the lads for keeping their heads, not reacting to some difficult situations and showing both excellent football at times as well as impeccable behaviour on the pitch that they can be proud off - it's a real pleasure to coach such a decent bunch of lads.

Man of the match was shared between Evan and Finn K - both were absolutely superb today in terms of their effort levels, energy and attitude. Well done both, thank you to Justin, who refereed brilliantly - great job and much appreciated and finally thank you to Martin for running the line and doing a great job.

As I keep saying to the boys, we joined this league to play close games every week and we're certainly getting that. There are no weak teams in this division so we keep going each week and look for improvement and progress. Next week a tough prospect against a division 1 team in the cup - a challenge we thoroughly look forward to and of course we'll be pleased to welcome back Finn P and Euan for that one. Bring it on!!!

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Sunday, September 30th

Crawley & Maidenbower Panthers Royals 1 - 6 Langton Green Phoenix
(Max, Finn K, Evan, Dylan, Sammy, Tristan)

After a rain-soaked cancellation last week, the boys were glad to get back on the football pitch for some cup action, but sadly without several key players - Finn P and Will both succumbing to heavy colds / flu and Toby injured on international (school) duty! With Connor sitting this one out too on rotation despite last minute attempts for a call up at 7am (sorry!!), we had just 2 subs, which meant plenty of game time for everyone, with Joe joining us for his first match of the season over in Crawley (I grew up there), the town of a million roundabouts on a very nice looking pitch and in rather lovely weather.

The preparation was a bit chaotic, bad traffic causing delays to several of the boys, my SatNav tried to take me back home at every opportunity (must have been confused by the roundabouts) and poor Justin, who was robbed of the chance to use his excellent new warm up as we'd already started by the time he got there due to the M25 being a solid traffic jam. His cones had to go back in their bag... sorry Justin.

With Tristan filling a lone striker's role in the absence of Finn P and Will, the game started well for Langton, Finn K, Evan and Dylan moving the ball nicely in midfield, with the front three of Jack, Tristan and Max causing all sorts of problems for the opposition with their clever movement and deft touches. Jack's early strike from Tristan's skilful pass tested the excellent Crawley goalkeeper, but there was nothing he could do about the opener, Max sliding the ball home from close range after Finn K had played him in with an incisive pass. It was nearly 2-0 a moment later, but Max's effort was well saved and the rebound was scrambled clear.

The theme continued much the same for the opening 20 minutes or so, Evan dominating midfield with excellent positioning and some really clever passes out wide, finding both Jack and Max with excellent through balls, before his excellent slide-rule pass sent Finn K through on goal, beating the offside trap to go one on one with the goalkeeper and making no mistake to slot the ball under his dive to make it 2-0 after 15 minutes. A really good start, with some very solid midfield performances, Jack particularly causing all manner of problems from the left wing and a solid start for our back 4 and Ethan to cope with when the ball was played forward, Crawley having some good possession in midfield as the half wore on. A succession of corners nearly led to a goal, Finn K heading goalwards only to be thwarted by the keeper, before Joe and Sammy entered the fray, both showing great composure, energy and effort levels from the off. Joe had a good shot saved and played some quick early passes that set first Jack and then Max through on goal and Sammy tested the 'keeper with a strike from range.

A ball in from Sammy saw Tristan expertly flicking just wide, Jack had a very good shout for a penalty turned away by the ref and Dylan played Jack in with a superb lofted pass that Jack struck superbly goalwards only to see the keeper pull off another excellent save. Free kicks from Jack, Sammy and Jack again tested the goalkeeper, who was equal to all and as Crawley grew into the game, Tom and Richard's excellent defending was called into action, with Euan and Rami energetic and calm alongside them, both getting forward to support the attack well too, Rami ending up in the opposition box on several occasions - overlaps that created a number of chances. Ethan's distribution, positioning and communication was, as usual, top notch and he started plenty of attacks with some really decisive forward passes to feet.

Another corner saw us extend the lead, Evan brilliantly heading into the corner from Sammy's pinpoint delivery and it was 3-0 and looking reasonably safe, especially when Joe scored the fourth from close range after Jack's strike was well saved, but it was ruled out for offside. Crawley had other ideas though and credit to them as they came out much stronger in the second half, showing energy and an impressive effort level that saw our boys second best for the first 15 minutes of the half. We still created chances, Max twice played through by first Joe and then Rami, only to see both his efforts really well saved by the opposition goalie and on the other side Jack and Sammy both getting shots away that tested the keeper but both denied, Evan then being flagged for offside after skipping through a challenge and just about to let fire when one on one with the goalkeeper. Crawley were threatening to score with a counter attack and so it proved, some sloppy defending from us and a very good finish from their number 7 pulling the score back to 3-1 and suddenly it looked a different game. The same player narrowly shot wide moments later and had that gone in it would have been game on for the last 20 minutes. As it was, a free kick in our own half moments later was taken quickly by Ethan, Dylan running on to it to volley home emphatically to make it 4-1 and progress almost certain.

With Crawley having to push forward to try and get back into the game, space opened up for us and the move of the match a few moments later led to the fifth goal, Jack brilliantly bombing forward from right back to combine with Evan and Max, getting in to the box to strike goalwards only to see another brilliant save deny him what would have been a wonderful team goal. Thankfully Sammy was lurking for the rebound and still with plenty to do slammed it home to make it 5-1, moments after he nearly scored an absolute worldy from wide left that the goalkeeper did unbelievably well to tip over the bar.

Crawley kept plugging away, Tom saving the team on several occasions with decisive clearances and excellent recovery runs, Rami doing the same alongside him and playing some excellent forward passes. Euan, having gone off injured, came back on and looked assured on the ball at right back, Richard alongside him orchestrating the defence well with Tom. Another Finn K header from a Sammy corner nearly made it six, before Tristan smashed home an effort from the edge of the box that took a slight deflection to wrongfoot the goalie and make it 6-1 and seal a victory that for long spells looked like it was coming but only really felt secure in the final 15 minutes. Crawley fought hard, very nearly got right back into it after they scored and showed great spirit second half to play so well after a tough first 40 minutes.

Well done boys. The next round in 2 weeks promises a division 1 team in Seagulls FC and with T.W Foresters next week in the league we are in for a tough few matches, which is exactly what we enjoy and why we joined this league. Well done all, but especially Rami (man of the match) and a special mention to Tom, who was superb today and also Dylan, who played up front in an unfamiliar role out of necessity and did really well, holding the ball up and scoring the vital fourth goal (assisted by Ethan, as he was keen to point out) to turn the game.

See you all for training on Tuesday. Well done all.

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Wednesday, September 19th

Tunbridge Wells Foresters 2 - 2 Langton Green Phoenix
(Finn P, Tristan)

A new experience for us in two ways... firstly a midweek evening kickoff and secondly despite being local neighbours, the first time these two sides have met in the 5 years we've played large sided football, the last meeting being back in U10 mini soccer.

Both sets of players were keen to get the upper hand early on, with a lot of them being friends from school, but the wind and a fairly poor surface meant we saw a scrappy opening 20 minutes where neither team really got a handle on the game, good defending from Connor and Richard at one end and the Foresters centre backs at the other being the highlights. Foresters looked assured passing out from the back, but we held firm when they got into our final third, with the only notable moments being Ethan making a good save onto the post on the one occasion Foresters got through and the opposition goalkeeper saving well from Max after he had been played in by a sublime pass from Evan. One chance each and a succession of long shots from both teams being the only other attempts at goal, Finn K playing two excellent through balls that the Foresters keeper did well to come out quickly to clear with Max and Finn P bearing down on him. Rami was full of energy at full back, playing some intelligent passes and tracking back well to make a couple of excellent challenges.

After last Sunday's disappointing defending from set pieces, it was pleasing to see first Tristan and then Ethan and Finn P dominating in the box to clear our lines decisively and with purpose. Unfortunately for us, one moment of excellent play from Foresters unlocked some space wide left and they scored a spectacular long range effort that caught the wind and gave Ethan no chance. A good strike and not a lot we could do about it in fairness. The boys stuck at their task and Max, Finn P and Toby all got through but their crosses / shots were well dealt with by the excellent Foresters defenders and goalkeeper. Dylan made a great forward run beyond Finn P and very nearly got a shot away that was well blocked, before Tristan then hit the post with a rifle of a shot from a very tight angle that agonisingly came back along the line before being scrambled clear. A great chance created out of nothing by Tristan's perseverence and quick thinking. Half time and all to play for.

The boys realised something needed tweaking - we weren't keeping the ball as well as we usually do and Finn P was isolated up front. It was their idea to change the formation, with Tristan pushed up alongside Finn P, so we agreed that we'd try that, with Jack pushed forward from full back to get him involved higher up the pitch. Immediately we looked more of a threat, particularly down the left, where Jack twice got into the penalty area with darting runs that required some excellent defending to avert the danger. Will moved to centre back and was strong in the tackle on several occasions alongside Richard, both of them being called on to make clearances from high Foresters balls forward, with Euan and Connor filling the two full back roles with aplomb, passing forward well and holding their positions when we were out of possession. A free kick from Finn P flashed narrowly over the bar and it felt like some pressure was building.

The goal came soon after, Finn P showing great strength to latch on to a forward pass, turn and get a shot away under pressure that nestled in the bottom corner. An excellent goal and his 4th in 3 league games. With the boys brimming with confidence, it didn't take long to score a second, a lovely combination from Finn K and Jack opening up Foresters in the middle, where Max drove forward, slid a pass through to Tristan, whose shot squirmed under the goalkeeper and into the back of the net. 2-1 and about 15 minutes to see out the game with the light fading.

A quick change to try and protect the lead saw Tristan drop back slightly and Dylan come into the middle to protect the defence alongside Evan. It was a frantic last 15, Foresters desperate to get back into the game, sending ball after ball back towards our box. They had a free kick go over the bar, a chance brilliantly blocked by Jack and several near misses where Ethan had to be on his toes to smother. The disappointment for us was a lack of game management at this stage. Instead of keeping possession, the boys send risky balls forward that were cut out and with a couple of minutes left the inevitable happened, a long ball over the top seeing our defenders caught flat footed and an easy finish for Foresters over Ethan that he had no chance of saving. Suddenly we'd gone from winning the game to potentially losing it as Foresters flooded forward to try and get the win themselves. We had a couple of chances through Finn P that were cut out by good defending and Max nearly got through only to be tackled. A scrappy and frantic last few minutes in the gathering darkness thankfully didn't yield a goal for either side that would have been very harsh in a game where a draw was absolutely a fair result. Rami in particular showed great energy in these last few minutes to get to every ball first. 2-2 the final score and whilst we felt slightly disappointed not to have seen the game out, if you'd offered us that at half time after our scrappy first half I'd have taken it.

Well done boys. A good, close game against a very strong team. Thanks to Foresters for hosting the game and getting it on. Tristan man of the match for a real captain's performance and thanks to Justin for running the line. Roll on Sunday, which looks very wet, where we are away in a cup tie in Crawley.

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Sunday, September 16th

Langton Green Phoenix 1 - 4 Lewes
(Finn P)

Another beautiful morning, another new opponent and riding high on confidence from last week's opening day win, the boys were raring to go.

Unfortunately for them, they came up against a very good and in-form Lewes team, who had won their opening two games, were strong all over the pitch and boasted one of the best strikers we've faced in their excellent number 9 and their man of the match midfielder number 5 who absolutely dominated long spells of the game to lead their side to a deserved victory.

We didn't help matters, starting lacklustrely (is that a word???) to gift Lewes 2 early goals, the first from a corner that nobody dealt with, everybody expecting someone else to take ownership of the situation, which of course meant Lewes said thank you very much and scored, or we scored an own goal - I'm unsure which. To compund our poor start a series of weak clearances kept sending the ball back into our own penalty box and eventually Lewes said thank you very much for a second time and smashed one of them home to make it 2-0 after 15 minutes. Very disappointing because both goals were down to a lack of decisiveness from us in terms of somebody stepping up and saying "I'll deal with this". Having said that, the pressure we were under was happening in the first place because we kept either giving the ball away when trying to pass out from the back or we lost 50/50 balls in midfield that Lewes looked hungrier for. Second best all over the pitch and looking at the possibility of a very large scoreline if things continued like this.

The flow of the game then transformed completely on a quick counter attack from us that saw Finn P unleash a smart strike from 25 yards that caught Lewes out and suddenly it was 2-1 and we clicked for the next 20 minutes, looking the more likely to score for the remainder of the half, Max and Jack getting into good positions to cross on numerous occasions and both Evan and Finn P having excellent shots flash just wide.

Second half was a tight affair for the majority of the time, a penalty appeal for Toby waved away after he jinked into the box with real skill and a free kick just on the edge of the box scrambled away by Lewes when it looked like we'd force it in. At the other end Ethan was dominant in the air for a succession of Lewes corners, following up with excellent distribution wide to Connor or Euan and our midfielders were starting to tick, Rami, Finn K, Tristan and Dylan all playing excellent passes to send Max and then Sammy through on goal. Connor had a great run forward that led to a chance for Finn P, whose swerving shot drifted agonisingly wide of the upright, Tristan playing a superb outside-of-the-boot pass to Toby, who burst past his defender and saw a clever low cross blocked with a last ditch foot. It felt like the goal was coming, but Lewes were always a threat on the break, Tom and Evan both having to put in superb challenges to deny the Lewes number 9 another goal and the more we pushed forward looking for the equaliser, the more we left ourselves open at the back, with a combination of tiredness and desperation leaving us very ragged for the last 10 minutes of the game. An unfortunate own goal then made it 3-1 before a very disappointing fourth went in from another corner we didn't deal with to leave a rather unflattering look to the scoreline in what was for long spells a tight game, albeit one we fully deserved to lose.

Disappointed with the nature of all four of the goals we conceded and plenty to work on in training to put those issues right, but very proud of the effort and desire the boys showed today - nobody gave up and everybody showed a good attitude to keep going until the end against a very good side, who ultimately looked slightly hungrier, stronger in the tackle and more organised than we did. Well done to Lewes and we look forward to playing them again later in the season.

As we said when we joined this division, it would be a challenge that the boys were keen on and if we played well we had a great chance of winning, whereas if we played less well we were likely to lose. Last week and this week were great examples of both sides of that coin. With a tough midweek game against Foresters followed by a cup tie next Sunday, it keeps coming, so hopefully the boys will be up for it this Wednesday from the word go.

Thanks to Justin for refereeing, to James and Martin for running the line and to Bridget for so kindly organising the teas and coffees for the parents / opposition. 2 good games of league football down, 18 to go!

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Sunday, September 9th

Langton Green Phoenix 3 - 1 Hassocks Juniors
(Finn P x 2, Evan)

So, back to the real business of the league and a cracking opening fixture against a Hassocks team who narrowly beat us in the cup last season, scoring with the final action of the match. The boys were motivated and eager to get going in what looks to be a tough division.

We started well, Jack and Toby combining down the left to create a half chance for Finn P early on and the midfield keeping possession well with some delightful passing combinations. Hassocks looked dangerous on the break and had a couple of half chances of their own in what was a very even opening half. Finn K's control and passing was excellent in the opening stages, one through ball setting Max free and another finding Finn P in space, but his shot was well blocked. Connor's calm distribution from right back and then from defensive midfield set a tone for the boys playing out from the back, where Tom, Richard and Jack all combined nicely with their midfielders to play some lovely football.

Evan opened the scoring in style, Tristan and Max working to win the ball back high up the pitch and laying it into Evan's path. He jinked and turned to create some space and hit a long range strike over the goalkeeper and into the roof of the net to make it 1-0. Great goal.

The half ebbed and flowed, Tristan having a lovely run and shot just wide, Finn K volleying goalwards with what would have been an absolute wondergoal but seeing his effort well saved by the Hassocks goalie, Dylan entering the fray in central midfield and immediately getting involved with some excellent quick passing to move the team up the pitch and Sammy showing good skill to get free on the right, dummy his marker and get a fine cross in. Moments later he nearly made it 2-0 with an instinctive strike from Max's cross that was really well saved, the follow up from Finn P just flashing wide. Will had a couple of good runs and one excellent moment where he dropped deep to link play up nicely as we searched for a second goal. With Evan now alongside Tom at the back and Euan at right back making several incisive interceptions and clever passes forward, the boys saw out the half to lead 1-0 at the break. A good half of football.

Second half both teams came out fired up and Richard and Evan had to be at their best to intercept a number of through balls, Ethan mopping up any that did get through. The shout of "keepers!!!" ringing through the Groombridge air was a comforting soundtrack to the second half - excellent decision making, positioning and distribution from our goalie throughout. Dylan had a very strong start to the second half, communicating well in midfield and playing some solid forward passes to our forward players.

The boys continued to play some really nice passing football, Max a constant threat on the right, Tristan and Dylan pulling the strings in midfield, ably backed up by a very solid back four. The second goal we craved came midway through the half, Finn P finally getting what he thoroughly deserved for all his hard work, burying a really good strike from the right into the bottom corner of the goal after excellent build up play from Finn K, Tristan and Evan.

Hassocks still pushed and we knew the next goal could be crucial. An absolutely sublime pass from Tristan found Max on the right of the box, his first touch was out of this world, but his shot was brilliantly saved by the opposition keeper. Finn P then saw his strike well saved and suddenly, from nearly going three up, we were pegged back to 2-1, Hassocks scoring a well taken goal after we failed to clear our lines. 2-1 and 5 minutes to go... thankfully these boys showed superb game management to keep the ball high in the Hassocks half, to not give away possession in silly areas and when a free kick was won, up stepped the excellent Finn P to smash it into the far corner in the last couple of minutes and make the game safe. Euan's energy and intelligence on the right in front of Connor saw that Hassocks didn't get a chance of another goal in the closing seconds and the whistle went to applause from the sidelines for what was a really good game of football from both sides - exactly what we'd hoped for when we were promoted to this division and hopefully the start of a long line of even, keenly fought matches.

Just remains to say well done to the boys, especially Man of the Match Evan and thank you to the referee, who was excellent throughout. Thanks also to Martin for running the line and of course to all the parents for their encouragement and support. Hassocks were a very nice bunch of people and we look forward to playing them again in the near future in what will hopefully be another close match.

Lewes next week, who won 6-0 today, so expecting another stern test.

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Sunday, September 2nd

Langton Green Phoenix 0 - 7 Crawley United

A very good pre-season workout against a division 1 team, with a number of our quicker players unavailable nevertheless brought some real positives. Crawley are a fantastic team and a nice bunch of people and we thoroughly enjoyed the game, despite being on the wrong end of a heavy scoreline. We kept the ball well, created some opportunities, but lacked a little bit of a cutting edge and ended up conceding on the counter attack several times, which was frustrating. Split into 4 quarters, some brilliant goalkeeping from James H (filling in for Ethan) saw us draw the final quarter 0-0 and very nearly win it with the last kick of the game, which was a nice way to end the morning. We wish Crawley all the best during the season and a huge thanks to James for standing in today for us.

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Sunday, August 26th

Langton Green Phoenix 6 - 2 Tonbridge Invicta
(Finn P x 3, Tristan, Finn K, OG)

Very briefly... the start of the season saw us host our friends from Tonbridge Invicta in a pre-season game at Ashurst. Molehills removed, lines painted, nets up, rain... and here we go again.

The game started well with extensive pressure in the Invicta half leading to a series of corners that we just couldn't turn into a goal despite hitting the post and the goalie, until Finn P managed to pick up a loose ball in the box and smash home a close range effort to make it 1-0. Invicta equalised after a good spell of their own with a cracker of a strike from distance that left us no chance and we were under the cosh for a short while, Richard defending out of his skin alongside Evan at centre back, before more good approach play from Tristan and Finn K led to a second goal for Finn P. Excellent distribution from Ethan saw defensive positions turned into counter attacks and from one of these Tristan then scored an absolute blinder from range with the last kick of the half after he used great strength and awareness to create some space for himself from the left. A wonderful strike from Will that was very well saved was another highlight of an all round excellent first half in which Max was particularly outstanding on the right.

Second half started well, Ethan dominant and intelligent with his distribution from the back to Sammy and Jack in the wide positions but another goal wouldn't come, despite more pressure. A couple of headers from Evan from corners, some great passing from Sammy, Dylan and Evan from the back and Euan had a brilliant half, tenacious and hard working at left back. Jack further forward was involved in nearly everything that was positive down that flank and he nearly scored with a superb long range strike that Finn P just couldn't quite reach the rebound from. He had his hat trick a couple of minutes later though - brilliant from Max to play him through and a firm strike into the bottom corner. An own goal from Finn P's cross made it 5, before Evan smashed a long range effort goalwards, with Finn K following in on the rebound to score from close range. Still time for Invicta to get another goal after we switched off and for Jack to have another chance after great build up from Dylan, Finn K and Toby. Will back on held the ball up well, Tristan had a long range strike tipped just wide and Toby skimmed the post with a cross / shot.

Plenty to be positive about, some excellent performances and good football on show from both teams. Invicta's goalkeeper was superb today and they played some really positive stuff at times. We wish them well for the season and hopefully will get the chance to play them again at some point.

Well done lads - great start to the season.