Giants 2019 - 2020

Sunday 13th October 2019
Kent Youth League Cup
Langton Giants 5 - 4 Metrogas (AET - FT 4-4)
James D, Tom A, Elliot, Owen, Simba
If we thought the County Cup game two weeks ago was a cup thriller, if anything this one topped it! A few major positives to start off, exciting new signing Tom A was making his debut, keeper James H was fit to make his first appearance of the season and we were able to welcome Noah back to help us out, as once again we found ourselves missing key players. Skipper Tom V was struck down the day before with a groin injury and Bertie had a school commitment which meant he was going to miss the start of the match and defensive colossus Jack was still struggling with his injury.
We started well enough, neither team dominating in the early exchanges but we were competing well, an early free kick from James D stinging the fingers of the Metrogas keeper. What became apparent early on was that Metrogas had a very dangerous striker who's movement was second to none and was proving to be a real handful. A counter attack caught us out and he finished it superbly well to give them a 1 nil lead. Thankfully we didn't have long to wait for a response, our own superb striker James D finishing unerringly well after being set free by Alf's incisive through ball to level. A couple of dangerous moments followed, James H denying their striker 1v1 and then athletically parrying away a volley from the resulting corner, he's back! Elliot flicked the ball on to James D after some fantastic work down the right hand side by Ollie but this time the effort just went past the post. Jack's injury was proving too much and had to depart the game, a big blow, but Max and Owen were thankfully both helping themselves to excellent performances which lessened the impact. Noah reminded us all what we were missing with a faultless performance at full back, matched by the outstanding Ollie on the other side. Tom A entered the play to make his debut and was instantly involved, linking up well with his new team mates and looking at home, especially when he then rounded the keeper and finished superbly well from a tight angle to give us the lead having been played in by James D. Not a bad way to start your Giants career! 
The second half saw us come out the traps quickly as we dominated the match for the next 20 minutes, creating chance after chance. James D saw a lofted effort well saved and Brodie had a left foot effort saved after being set by Simba. Patrick was becoming more and more influential, his steady head and intelligent passing alongside the influential Brodie saw us running the midfield at this stage. We extended our lead when Alf set Elliot away with a first time pass that he finished with aplomb, chipping the keeper, before Brodie swung the perfect free kick for Owen to  head home to extend the lead further to 4-1. At this stage it appeared we were progressing to the next round of the cup, but then we had a mad 10 minutes where we conceded 3 goals out of nowhere as we tired, and suddenly it was 4-4. All credit to the boys, they somehow found the energy from somewhere to fight back, ending the game again as the dominant side but just couldn't find the winning goal. A penalty was sent over the bar and Patrick was inches away from winning it with practically the last kick of the game, but a draw at full time meant we still had 20 mins extra time to face. At this point, the sight of the sprightly and talented Bertie running round the pitch was a joy, some fresh legs to add to the tiring limbs was just what we needed. It was his pass that set James D away to deliver the perfect cross that Simba bravely got to just before the keeper to stab home what proved to be the winning goal. James H stood firm, making a couple of outstanding saves and the back four dug in as Metrogas, to their credit, fought for an equaliser but thankfully we had enough to see the game out and win the game 5-4.
Phew. Well done to all the boys for their efforts today, special mentoin for keeper James on his return, to Tom A on his debut and Noah for helping us out so well as such short notice, Let's hope we get a bit of luck with the draw for the next round!

Sunday 29th September 2019
Kent County Cup 1st Round
Langton Giants 4 - 3 Faversham Town
Luca, Jack, Owen, Elliot
Now that's a cup tie!
After a very difficult day last Sunday it was important the boys bounced back quickly, and whilst it wasn't quick enough to save us all from a nervous game, when it came it was impressive and exhilarating! With James H yet to recover from injury and Harry unavailable we had to go into this one without a recognised goalkeeper, so were all very grateful when Patrick agreed to step in to wear the gloves. The challenge got greater still when Bertie failed a pre-game fitness test and was ruled out, thankfully though we had Ethan available and Jack felt ready for some limited action. As is our way (irritatingly) we started slowly but not as bad as some weeks (certainly compared to last week!) and were generally untroubled, the most action Patrick being called upon to make in the opening exchanges was punching a cross, which he did very impressively. We were looking dangerous on the counter attack and when Luca delivered a sumptuous through ball, Alf was quickest to react, beating the keeper but seeing his shot cleared off the line by a covering defender. Simba cut in from the left and his ball broke for Luca to volley over the bar. Brodie and Tom were working like crazy in the middle of the pitch with Ollie and Elliot defending superbly well as well as pushing forward as full backs, a new interim role for Elliot which he performed brilliantly throughout. Max and Owen were winning most things in the air and on the ground and Jack was able to make an appearance too. We were caught in possession out wide, a quick pass and a thunderous strike gave Patrick no chance and we were behind, a very good goal to be fair. We fought back, Luca sending a free kick narrowly over after Alf was felled and then Luca again, this time seeing his shot from distance tipped onto the post by the Faversham goalkeeper. Then a disastrous few minutes, a couple of errors gifted them two goals and a three nil lead at the break, and left us with a mountain to climb.
This was it, a really key moment in our entire season. After what happened last week and now being in this position honest words were needed and given, the question was whether we would fold or fight back. We got the answer roughly 35 seconds into the second half. Alf and Ollie winning the ball which fell to Luca, who firstly showed a quick change of direction before slamming the ball into the back of the net from outside the box. 1-3 and you could sense the tied was turning. James D sprinted clear down the left, delivered a low cross that both Simba and Alf threw themselves forward to try and get something on, but neither could quite get the touch that would have brought a certain goal. At this stage it was all us, completely on the front foot and it felt like we had all the momentum. There was then an unpleasant incident which resulted in one of their players receiving a straight red card, which only gave us even more confidence, something we took advantage of, James D firing a hard shot that the keeper could only parry, Jack rifling home the rebound to cut the lead to 2-3. Forward we pushed, nearly breaking through time and time again. We won a corner, Luca swung it in to the back post where James D met it with his head, realising the angle was too tight to head for goal, he had the awareness to send it back across the six yard box where Owen brilliantly headed home the equaliser. We had 15 minutes left to win the cup tie and we pushed forward constantly looking for the breakthrough. The Faversham defence mostly stood firm against a barrage of attacks, Luca fed Simba 1v1 but the keeper saved well, Simba returned the favour but Luca's shot rose too high. A free kick was floated in the keeper saved the first shot but again it was a Giant who reacted quickest, Elliot this time, charging in and finishing from close range to win us the game!
So, any questions about character firmly answered, not for the first time either. Credit to Faversham Town who played very well and handled the disappointment and red card given against them very well. Another cup game next week too, what fun to be had! We;; done to the boys today, special mention for Patrick again for showing the courage and team ethos to play in goal and doing it so well.

Sunday 22nd September 2019

Ebbsfleet United 9 - 1 Langton
James D

A really, really bad day at the office. It started off badly when we conceded in the first minute. Then a breif respite as we held our own for 20 minutes or so until a couple of unforced errors took the game away from us and we never recovered.

Ebbsfleet are an outstanding team and took full advantage of a woefully under par performance from our boys...... the end.

How we respond to this performance and result will define our season.

Sunday 15th September 2019
Langton Giants 3 - 1 Whyteleafe
James D x3
Our second game of the season and our first home tie saw us welcome Whyteleafe on a hot and sunny afternoon. With Owen missing and Jack P not 100% we were a little light at the back but knew we were in good form and feeling confident. That confidence almost disappeared immediately when Whyteleafe broke and hit the inside of the post within the first 30 seconds, a major let off and another example of our worrying tendency to start matches slowly. It took us a little while to get going but once we did we started to look dangerous, especially on the counter attack where it became obvious that we had the pace to worry them, and the passing ability to take advantage. Ollie fed the ball inside to Tom to lay it into the path of Luca, he turned inside and set up James D perfectly who dispatched the ball past the keeper to give us a lead which was a little against the run of play at the time. Jack B's movement was causing the Whytleafe defence all sorts of problems, especially when Bertie would overlap him down the wing to cause double the nuisance and it was from one of these little bits of interplay that the next chance came. The ball was set back by Jack B to Brodie after Bertie created the space with his overlap, Brodie swung a cross to the back post which found Simba who saw his close range shot blocked. It's fair to say that Ollie has started the season like a boy possessed, he put in another exemplary performance today at right back and it was from his superb play that the second goal came, first of all winning the ball with a crunching tackle, skipping past another challenge before threading  the ball forward to Elliot who was able too cross so accurately that James D was able to volley home his second goal without breaking stride, a brilliant goal. Unfortunately Jack P's injury got the better of him and he had to depart the action, sadly the same thing happened to Patrick too, which when you then add in the absence of Owen, left us looking a little short...... literally. Therefore, perhaps it was no great surprise that we conceded a goal from a well delivered corner, but it was still disappointing as our organisation left a lot to be desired. We were inches away from reinstating the two goal cushion twice before the break, Alf being the unlucky one who managed to hit the post and the cross bar in the dying moments!
2-1 at half time and so many key defensive players missing meant we knew this was going to be a battle. In typical Giants style though they upped their game, with us utterly dominating the second period and could easily have run up a very healthy amount of goals, had it not been for an outstanding performance by the Whyteleafe keeper. Luca went close from distance before James D settled the nerves early in the half by completing his hatrick when finishing under the keeper from Brodie's excellent through ball from the halfway line played him in 1v1. Jack B showed quick feet and set Luca to strike from an angle, very well saved, Simba suffering the same fate with an effort from the other side of the box. Tom was filling it at centre back alongside Max, both of them putting almost faultless performances and allowing the midfield and full backs to push on, with Alf joining Brodie in the middle two, pulling the strings. Harry showed great awareness to come dashing from his goal on several occasions, and handled some difficult crosses which he made look easy. James D crossed from wide, Elliot just inches away from tapping in at the back post before Simba saw a thunderous strike brilliantly tipped over the bar from the edge of the box. James D headed two over from Ollie crosses and saw a shot superbly tipped round the post. Jack B saw a shot come back off the inside of the post after excellent work by Elliot and Alf brought another great stop with a firmly struck volley.

So despite no more goals being scored, the way we finished the game was very encouraging from an attacking sense, but most of the plaudits should go to the back 4 today who despite so many key players missing put in a very, very strong performance and one that bodes well for the long season ahead when absences are inevitable at times.

Sunday 8th September 2019
Hollands & Blair 1 - 4 Langton Giants
Elliot, Brodie, Bertie, Simba
So here we go again, the start of our 4th season in the Kent Youth League and a brand new opponent in Hollands & Blair who had been moved from the South division. After a very positive pre-season we were looking forward to getting started, albeit without keeper James H and defensive colossus Jack P, both missing out due to injury. We were pleased though that last years league top goalscorer James D was passed fit to play and we also welcomed new signing Jack B to make his competitive debut (after treating us to an outrageous goal from 40 yards in our last pre-season friendly!). Hollands & Blair usually play in a stadium so we were unfortunate not to get to today as they were having some work done, whilst the pitch we were playing on instead wasn't the best, small and quite bobbly. The game started at a very competitive pace, H&B pushing us back and we were required to stand firm, which we mostly did, the back four of Ollie, Owen, Max and Bertie looking solid in front of Harry in goal. The midfield duo of Patrick and Brodie were starting to make things tick and once we found our feet we were looking dangerous, Alf was having a big say in things, firstly going narrowly wide when lobbing the goalkeeper on the turn following good build up play between Jack B and Luca, before Alf then being denied in a 1v1 by the goalkeeper from Jack B's through ball. A long ball caught us napping momentarily but Harry was fast off his line to make a big save to keep the scores level before Luca went agonisingly wide at the far post after some superb interplay between Patrick, Jack B and Alf, the latter delivering an inch perfect cross to create the chance. Luca then swung in one of his trademark free kicks which was scrambled round the post by the goalkeepers face (ouch) before we finally made the breakthrough. Luca delivered another dangerous free kick, the keeper parried and James D was on it immediately, knocking the ball back over the keepers head for Elliot to smash home at the back post to give us a deserved lead. Harry was called upon to make a good save from a long range effort and Ollie was on the receiving end of an unintentional, but painful, elbow to the face which saw him leave the field looking like an extra from the latest Rocky film. Tom and Simba had joined the play and were immediately having an impact with their strength, strong running and intelligent passing. We felt that a second goal would settle any nerves so were relieved when it came, Brodie picking his spot from outside the box and bending one past the keeper to double our lead at half time. 
With no Jack P and now no Ollie we had to shuffle players about a bit, not least Alf who continued to have a big say in our attacking pay from the deeper position of right back. Owen, Max and for a short while Patrick were imperious in the two centre back positions, with the midfield working as hard as can be in front of them to push us up the pitch. Alf overlapped and swung in a great cross which Brodie headed wide before Simba bundled the ball home, only to have it disallowed because one of our players shouted "leave it" in the build up. Never seen that one before and it felt petty in the extreme. A few more chances came and went, Jack B from  distance, a Simba header and Luca being denied on the goal-line from point back range. A long bouncing ball caught the H&B defence out and James D was first to react, only to see his intelligent header bounce back off the post and to safety. Jack B cut in and had a shot from the corner of the box, the keeper spilled it into the path of Bertie who fired home our third goal. The fact our left back is scoring follow ups from close range deep into the second half tells you everything you need to know about work rate and effort. There were two goals scored in injury time, firstly an absolute worldy from H&B from distance and tight angle that gave Harry no chance before Simba got the goal he's been cruelly denied earlier in the game, when smashing home from close range from another Alf cross.
So a great start, a hugely impressive defensive performance and some great attacking moments on a difficult pitch. Important to enjoy the win, they're hard earned in this league, but also to recognise many more tougher challenges are to come.