Jets 2017 - 2018

Sunday September 24th, KYL u16south

Langton Green 3 - 0 K Sports (O'Shea, Balcombe, Allen)

On a perfect September morning the Jets played K Sports at the TWBG 3G looking to make it a perfect 4 wins out of 4 this month. Jack was away on a  geology field trip (Lukaku never does that at Man Utd ?) but BenR was back from injury. The question was how to set the team out, and the answer chosen was to move 'centre back Ben' up into midfield, and play 'midfield Ben' up front, which did at least make for continuity at the back.

For the most part it still looked like the Jets. Plenty of pace up top, and a fiercely contested midfield. The chances looked set to come from getting the fast strikers in behind the defense. Anton might have opened the scoring but was just wide, BenW came close as well, whilst at the back Toby and Nathan were usually in control,with Angus bold off his line behind them. 

Then, 15 minutes into the game Anton broke clear and into the box, and drew the keeper, who did well to block the shot, but Declan was there first to force the rebound home. It was his first touch since coming on, and he took a knock in doing so, and came straight back off, the epitomy of an impact player! With the lead came some room to relax, and the traffic for the remainder of the half was one way. The second goal was simple; Ben W's perfect corner pretty much begged Harry to head home, and he did, 2-0. A third goal might have ended the matter, but two very strong appeals for a penalty were turned away. Charlie was splattered as he teed up a shot, whilst BenR's marker nearly tugged his shirt off in stopping what looked a certain goal.

Half time led to some debate whether to change things or go with more of the same. As usual the breeze down the hill was going to make it tempting for KSports to go route 1, and Toby and Nathan knew they would need to act decisively to nullfy that threat. Going forward it was still the case that Anton was winning the races, but twice he got there first and twice his lob beat the keeper only to roll inches wide. K Sports werent really creating much, but nor were they going away. BenW smashed a free kick into the ball, Charlie threatened, Tom shot wide, but the goal wouldnt come. Finally Anton found the energy for another burst down the wing, and into the box, and was pulled down; penalty. Matt stepped up, saw his effort saved, but was calm enough to put the rebound into the opposite corner, and extend the lead to comfortable levels.

In the end the whole game was reasonably comfortable. In Jack's absence the Jets had to find their goals elsewhere, which ultimately they did. It wasnt the tightest performance, but it was workmanlike. Amidst some late pressure Angus was loud and decisive in cleaning up, and the defence deserved their clean sheet. A perfect September. 

Sunday September 17th, KYL u16south

Bearsted 1 - 6 Langton Green (Bates, Gallagher 3, Bachorski 2)

A first road trip of the year, down winding lanes to the excellent Bearsted pitch. Sadly centre back Ben didnt travel after a Saturday rugby injury, so it was a small squad of 12, no defensive cover, and fingers crossed to go injury free. The Jets lined up in their usual formation, the main difference being that Angus was in goal, and Toby was lined up alongside Nathan as a new centre back pairing.

The huge pitch, and perfect surface, made for an excellent first half. Bearsted moved the ball very well across the back and into midfield, though their threat in the final third was limited. With less possession the Jets were making more chances. The Bearsted keeper blocked two one on ones as Jack closed in from the right, and made a great save to turn BenW's hooked volley over the bar. Headers from corners kept finding their way over the bar. At the other end Angus was assured in goal, and the new look back 4 looked to be coping until injury time in the first half. Two clearances that ought to have either found touch, or a green shirt, were instead handed back to Bearsted. A precise through ball set a striker in on the right side of the box. His shot was wide, but perfectly into the path of the left sided striker to squeeze home.

 0-0 at half time would have been an easier team talk, but for the third week in a row a tight game concentrated minds on what needed to be built on, and what changes might be made. Chris and Charlie made some points, before a collective decision was made to tweak the formation. The aim was to preserve the good attacking outlets, but contest the midfield space in greater numbers. The boys had a cunning plan......

And two minutes into the second half it was 2-1 and the game was transformed. Jack came in from the left but was well tackled just 6 yards out. Whilst on the ground he still managed to hook the ball across goal where Charlie controlled calmly and lifted the ball into the roof of the net. Moments later Anton also got clear on the left, drew the keeper and squared for Jack to find the empty net. It was a goal that looked like several this season and reflected the growing understanding between the two of them this year.

The shift in momentum seemed also to shift the Bearsted approach, which became more direct. In chasing a way back into the game they pressed on, which exposed their defenders to the full force of Langton's attacking pace. The third goal came as Jack shot first time from 20 yards out, with a lot of spin on the ball. The goalkeeper went down too early and the bounce took the ball beyond him. He'd done much to keep his side in the game so this was a cruel moment for him.

More goals followed as Jack headed home Toby's free kick to complete a second half hat-trick . This assist from a Langton defender was matched when Angus fed John early at left back, and his perfect long ball set up another fast break for Anton to finish well. Then Ben made the pass of the season, Anton raced between keeper and defender and walked the ball intothe empty net. No goal, offside. Oh well. Sometimes Anton's ability to be 2 yards clear makes it seem like he must have been offside. He's in the form and shape of his life. So, to prove a point Ben uncorked another perfect through ball, Anton gave the defence a head start, blew past them, and thumped the ball home.

In between times Angus made two fine saves to deny Bearsted any hope of a comeback. Too often they inched off-side - actually much more than inches offside often - which was a tribute to the defence getting their line right more often than not. The scoreline ended a deceptive 6-1. Yes there were a load of chances to score more, but this game was in the balance for the first 41 minutes. The strikers took the glory, but it was a serious and rotated effort from Tom, Harry, Ben, Dec and Charlie to contest and close down in the right areas. Nathan and Toby looked like they have played at the back together since they were 4 years old - which is true, just not often in recent years, whilst both Matt and John made the full back positions a place to springboard attacks from with quality delivery into the right areas.

Good game, good ref ....we're saying that a lot!

Sunday September 10th, KYL u16south

Langton Green 4 - 2 Sheppey Utd (Balcombe, Gallagher 2, Bachorski)

A sunny September morning turned into something more akin to November, as grey clouds rolled in along with Sheppey Utd for the afternoon KYL encounter. Sheppey arrived with some new players and the confidence of a pre-season win over Aylesford. The Jets, like the weather, were in the midst of some turbulence. Goalkeeper Angus was absent, Eddie and Charlie had missed training with knocks, and on Saturday both Ben and Toby took big hits in their rugby matches. Matt spent the morning getting used to the idea of being keeper, whilst Archie got used to the idea of a debut in the KYL.

In the end Toby and Ben decided they'd rather give it a go - Toby had also spent the morning thinking about Matt playing in goal, which was probably the inspiration to convince him to put the gloves on. Nathan took his place in the centre of defence, alongside aching Ben,and Matt started as right back. With Anton running in Bromley for the chance to race at the Olympic Stadium (yes, he really is that quick) Jack lined up with Harry N and Charlie either side of him in an unfamiliar forward line.

Downhill and downbreeze it took a while to click. Most of the passing moves were one-way, but Sheppey had potent fast break potential. The Jets went in front on 15 minutes when Jack floated a free kick in from the right and Harry skilfull guided the ball home with a controlled volley. One goal nearly turned into two on several occasions as Jack and Ben came close, and Matt and Declan (on his return) both tested the keeper. Meantime Sheppey almost drew level but failed to test Toby from a good position. As the half went on the breeze started to become more of a gale, straight down the pitch, which was making the Jets' lead look a little less than enough. A couple of Toby's drop kicks became seriously hard to defend, but the chances wouldnt fall in the right places. Then a bonus; a penalty. One of those where it was a clear handball - not what the defender intended, but there for all to see. Jack stepped up, 2-0. Was that enough as the wind grew stronger? Had Tom's shot gone in rather than crashing back off the bar it might have been a comfortable half time team talk with a three goal lead, but it wasnt, and the possibility of a classic 'game of two halves' was easy to anticipate.

The Jets have put in some good 'into the gale' performances in their time, most memorable in the cup at Crayford Arrows, keeping the ball on the ground, and trying to take small strides up the pitch. It's the right tactic but still requires the defence to be bold and brave when the inevitable long balls come downwind, and it is vital to have a keeper willing to be brave off his line. The courage was never in doubt, but for as long as the third goal eluded the home side the game felt undecided, and there were too many corners and free kicks conceded, allowing Sheppey to fill the box from set pieces in a way that they could not from open play. Twenty minutes into the 2nd half a corner was headed home, 2-1. Now it really wasnt going to be easy. From open play the Sheppey strikers werent hitting the target, but set pieces and long kicks were a nightmare. Jack took matters into his own hands, and set off on a run that took him past the midfield line, and then beyond the trailing full back and into the area. As the keeper advanced he planted the ball into the far bottom corner to re-establish the two goal cushion. 

Again with the 2 goal lead the Jets could not get the decisive next goal as Tom, Anton, Ben and Jack all had chances. Declan belted one from the edge of the box, goal bound until it crashed off Tom's back as he tried to get out of the way. At the other end a Sheppey striker finally got one on target only to see Toby fly away to his left to make a brilliant save. But ....more corners, and with the wind howling a lethal inswinger was whipped in like a Brazilian free-kick, 3-2. Thereafter Toby had to be brave off his line again, and took the inevitable collision as the price for making the save. Sheppey pressed, lost possession and a fast break was on, as Jack took the ball on half way with Anton and Tom alongside, and only one defender between them and goal. Jack went left and into the box to almost the same spot he had previously scored from. The keeper advanced, and was stranded as this time Jack squared the ball to his right and Anton side footed firmly home. A lethal break, perfectly executed. 

Last week the Jets had shown they could win despite trailing twice. This week they were more Mo Farah, front-running, refusing to give up the lead, and then putting in a burst each time their opponents tried to draw level. With a two goal cushion for the third time there was a determination not to let it slip again. Jack almost killed things off totally but hit the post. Archie came back on to add another aerial component to the defensive line. Harry and BenW in the middle of midfield contnued to break up play and distribute wisely as they had all game.

And so it ended, 4-2. A deserved win, but like last week, very hard-earned. Some had played through the pain. It was great to see Matt make it through a full 80 minutes for the first time since the horror tackle at Maidstone all of 6 months ago. Anton had managed to race with distinction in Bromley on the same afternoon as he put in a shift on the left. In the final reckoning 4 goals had been scored downwind from set plays, 2 for each team. It was the fast breaks on the ground, into the wind that proved the winning margin. Jack in full flow remains almost unplayable, and with pace around him in the team it's hard to mark without leaving gaps elsewhere. Good game, good ref, good day.

Sunday September 3rd, KYL u16south

Langton Green 3 - 2 Kennington (Bachorski, Bates, Manuel)

Did you miss us? 4 months and 3 days after their last game (also against Kennington) the Jets came out of hibernation for the new season. Well, not total hibernation; they went unbeaten through 2 summer tournaments in June, and then took 10 weeks off before getting back together 10 days ago for an unusually long pre-season, by their standards. 3 whole games!!! Huge thanks are due to Wadhurst, Forest Row and Whyteleafe, who served as the ideal preparation for today's game.

What wasnt ideal preparation was to lose George and James until Christmas - that's a big midfield hole to fill. Then this morning they also lost Declan, and some of Jack, who was looking like an absentee to illness, but arrived 10 minutes before kick off. Debuts beckoned for John, Charlie, and Eddie. The team lined up with Angus in goal, and Toby partnering BenR at the back, with the new look central midfield of BenW and Harry. Jack started on the bench (which is either a sign of a scarily strong team, or a reflection of how under the weather he was!).

Kennington's team sheet made clear they were not the team the Jets played on the last day of last season. Early stages were even. Anton was first to a through ball (he's always first to the through ball!) and his lob over the keeper bounced inches wide. Unfortunately the knock he took was a factor for the rest of the day. Jack was soon impatient with watching and came on to the lead the line. Slightly against the run of play things went wrong when Harry blasted a penalty area clearance straight into Matt, and the ball fell to Kennington feet. The cross shot was straight at Harry who saw it rebound in off him for an own goal. Thereafter Kennington played with confidence and as a team who felt success was their due; very much an upgrade on last season.

Finally the Jets found a way back when Eddie set Jack away down the left, he cut in, went to the by-line and had the composure to roll the ball back to Anton, who side footed the ball firmly into the net. The set-up deserved the finish. All square. Both teams looked dangerous on the break, both had a midfield giving it everything in the centre circle. Anyone's game at half time - an upbeat team talk, and a reminder that the experience of coming back against a team as good as Whyteleafe last Wednesday should reinforce the mindset that adversity can be stared down.

The second half was tight. Angus was excellent in his positioning and early distribution, the flow of the game was towards the Kennington goal, assisted by a growing breeze. But the ever present danger of the excellent Kennington striker (signed form Dover) always looked a threat, and he regrabbed the lead with a brilliant left foot volley from the left side. The Jets needed to learn to deal with him before he got the ball, not after.

Chasing the game again the boys set to work. Jack's header beat the keeper but hit knees on the line. BenW intercepted a mis-placed pass, and shot goalwards only to see an exceptional save. Then Charlie was inches wide at the far post. For all the good chances that came it ended up being a bit of a route one equaliser - BenR's free kick found a space in the packed area and Charlie volleyed into the roof of the net for a debut goal. What was already a hotly contested game went up a notch. This was where the midweek Whyteleafe experience paid off as the self-belief was apparent. BenW dinked a ball through and both Tom and Jack were clear. Tom took it on himself, approached the keeper, and rolled the ball left footed into the corner. You dont need to break the net, sometimes you just have to miss the keeper.

Kennington had led twice, but now it was the Jets' turn, and with a lead to cling to, the heart was there. With Anton injured and out of the remainder of the game Eddie dropped in to make it a defensive 5 in midfield, Matt slotted in at right back, and Harry Ben and Toby worked to deny supply to the strikers. With one or two alarms it worked out. No-one told Nathan of the need to panic, he just indulged in a few mazy runs to change the pace of the game :)

At the whistle there was relief and elation. Kennington came close, and on other days will have much success. This was a well fought match, excellently refereed, and played in an impeccable spirit. The new arrivals all contributed. The old hands showed why this is the 4th home opener, and the 4th win. Off and running!