Giants 2019 - 2020

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.