Jets 2017 - 2018

Sunday January 14th, KYL u16 south

Kennington 3 - 0 Langton Green

A new year and a rematch with Kennington who the Jets had pipped on the first day of the season. A big game in the context of the league, so it was a total disaster when a penalty was awarded to Kennington on 20 seconds. More so because frankly it was a crazy decision. The Kennington player who went down was nowhere near the ball which was running out of play, and tripped over the Langton full back who was not attempting to make a tackle. Not sure anyone at the game saw a penalty in the collision except for one person, wearing black. 1-0 and the game tarnished at the very outset. 

Unfortunately the Jets were in a daze for the next 10 minutes. Everyone was in muted shock and Kennington took full of advantage and scored again. Langton shuffled formation and tried to claw their way back. Jack had one shot tipped over the bar and another parried inches from the waiting BenW. Either chance might have turned into the goal to change the contest, but it continued to feel like 'one of those days'. In the second half that sense of inevitability was fed by 3 more near misses as twice Jack put the ball across the 6 yard box but it just didnt fall the way it needed to. Jack then headed just over, Matt put one in the side netting, and Ben had a shot blocked at the last moment. So, all in all enough chances to have had a seriously good contest. At the other end BenR was magnificent in defence. Toby had to be brave off his line on more than one occasion - then a long ball left him out of his box and needing to head the ball clear. He did, but was also headed by the Kennington striker; two lads in a heap on the ground was a cause for anxiety to both sides and spectators. Toby being Toby he insisted on carrying on, and produced something very like Gordon Banks' 1970 save versus Pele. Bizarrely a goal kick was given for arguably the best save we have seen this season!

On the break Kennington killed the game 3-0. They passed well and seized their chance. We will never know what might have been had the game not started so terribly. It was tough to take. Sometimes the life lessons from sport arent the easy ones to absorb. 

Sunday December 17th, KYL u16 south

Langton Green 4 - 1 Bredhurst Juniors (Manuel, Bachorski, Gallagher 2)

Bitter cold, damp, very much a late December kind of day, and a reason to be grateful to be playing on a 3g! Bredhurst arrived with the best defensive record in the league, having only conceded 8 goals in 8 games. The Jets welcomed George back for his first appearance of the season, starting on the bench, and giving him time to get used to wearing the no.2 shirt!

Early skirmishes went the Jets' way, as Jack's cross was met first time by Charlie but his shot picked out the keeper. Another Jack cross fizzed across from the left with no-one to prod home, and it felt like a matter of time. Then BenW played George in on the right side of the six yard box for what looked a certain goal, but he pulled his shot straight into Anton's path a yard out. No-one, least of all Anton, knows how he got the ball over the bar, and all of a sudden it stopped feeling like a question of 'when' the boys would score, but 'if'. And on those days it doesnt help when in a solitary Bredhurst attack two tackles were missed and the ball was slid under the advancing Toby, 0-1. It starts to feel like 'one of those days' at that point.

Having been on top and fallen behind the Jets then swapped good passing, which had created early chances, for mis-placed slices. Composure was having a time out. But a minute before half time John pinged a diagonal cross to the back post that eluded everyone.....except Declan who chased it down and kep the ball in play down by the corner flag; he got it back to Matt who sat the ball up on the far post; Charlie rose well to knock it down, and Tom volleyed home. An excellent goal, amidst the raggedest phase of the game.

And a crucial goal, as it allowed  different half time tone, emphasizing that with better finishing the game was there for the taking. It was agreed to go 4-3-3 and attack, with Ben Anton and Jack up top together for the first time this season, a luxury forward line made possible by George's return alongside Harry. The rewards for that came quick. Jack's corner from the right was flicked by Matt and reached BenW on the left byline inside the Bredhurst box - he had the calmness to side foot the ball into Anton's path, and he thumped the ball home, to put the horror miss behind him, as he had been asked to at half time. It doesnt matter what has happened, it matter what you do next. Anton delivered. 

Soon after that Jack sent BenW clear and his finish looked good, but was brilliantly saved. Another corner. This time Charlie put it in a dangerous area, Jack crashed his header home. Breathing space. Now with the lead the defence were asked more questions, but conceded no shots, a tribute to Ben and Nathan, whilst alongside them Matt and John provided support in defence, and a starting point for many attacks. George had a couple of runs into the box that were 'almosts' and then Charlie threaded Jack through, 4-1. Charlie's third assist of the game. He had limited game time, and used it well.

The game ended less than gloriously - Bredhurst were frustrated at the turnaround in the second half, and George was kicked up in the air, and reacted. Not the best way to end the game, and briefly a distraction from the main event which was another win. There were numerous positives, all over the pitch. For the third year in four Langton Green will spend Chrismas on top of their Kent Youth League division, which is worth being very proud of. A small squad, from a small village, punching above their weight in a big league. Seasonal greetings to all.

Sunday November 19th KYL u16 South

K Sports 0 - 6 Langton Green (Gallagher 2, Bates 2, Balcombe, Watkins)

A late afternoon roadtrip to the excellent new 3g facility that is home for K Sports. Not a game to take lightly as KS only lost in the last few minutes of their home and away games versus Kennington. Angus and Dec were unavailable, Archie travelled as 12th man.

The surface was perfect for good football and the Jets took advantage, as each of Jack, Charlie, and Anton burst through but could not find the finish. Matt headed JC's cross just wide, then Jack poked an effort just wide. But then Jack celebrated his 16th birthday with a typical solo effort, slicing past defenders with aggressive running. Unlike the Bredhurst game last week it looked like there were plenty more goals to be had, but missed chances started to frustrate, and a couple of too-easily conceded corners meant some moments of anxiety.

Just before half time Matt got deep into the box, and pulled the ball back for Anton in tap-in range but a last ditch defensive block meant it was only a corner.....Charlie curled it in and Harry headed home decisively. This made the team talk much easier, because there was space to relax, providing defensive lapses in concentration were avoided. BenW nearly settled the matter with a mazy run only to slide the ball inches past the far post, and Anton scored what looked a good third only to see a linesman's flag. Then a free kick was won wide on the right, Charlie took it quickly, Anton pinged in a curling cross that tempted the keeper to come, but he was never getting there before Jack, who planted home a fine header, 3-0.

The sun set, the floodlights came on, and the Jets turned on the style. Matt hit a gorgeous diagonal ball that sent BenW in behind the defence, 4-0, and then followed the goal of the game as Tom, Jack, Anton and Ben all triangled first-time passes that cut the KS defence to pieces, and Charlie arrived late to smash home a fantastic team goal. BenW again broke through, and his parried shot was followed in and finished again by Charlie to make it 6, and no-one in green wanted the game to end.

Amidst all the goals perhaps the standout peformance came from Tom who put in a tireless shift, but in truth everyone had a good game. Toby didnt really have to deal with a shot in anger, but was good off his line to sweep up. So, six league wins in seven games. This team can beat anyone, but will need the fixture list to be kind as exams beckon. The grade for the exam on the pitch today earned an A*.

Sunday November 12th, KYL u16south

Bredhurst Juniors 0 - 1 Langton Green (Watkins)

Finally, after 7 weeks of cup matches and idle weekends the team was walking out for a KYL league fixture again! It was a cold and grey November afternoon, which didnt matter too much. However there was also a strong wind blowing straight down the truly enormous Bredhurst pitch which was also dry and bouncy. A game of two halves beckoned.

The Jets welcomed back HarryB who last played in September, and James who last played at the end of April, which prospectively added some midfield bite that was missed in October. The first half saw the Jets playing ito the wind; it quickly became obvious how hard it would be. Goal kicks didnt get anywhere near the half-way line, and long passes were easily blown off track. The problem to layer on this was that short passing was hampered by the size of the pitch - rarely were team-mates close together. And if midfielders ventured far forward they could quickly be 50 yards out of position with a wind assisted clearance. Bredhurst passed the ball nicely, but to some extent this was preferable to their launching the ball down wind and putting te chance of errors into play. Both sides send a corner dangerously across the six yard box, but overall the half was dominated by high work rate but patchy passing. The wind and the bounce tended to cause play to break down before it was occurring in dangerous areas.

Half time at 0-0 felt like half a job well done. There wasnt much point working out how to improve on what had gone on as it would clearly be different going the other way. Almost immediately Jack took on a 35 yard volley which troubled the keeper, whereas in the first half it might not even have reached him. Anton skewed a shot just wide; he was clipped just as he lined the effort up, and would have given the ref a difficult decision had he gone down.  It wasnt one way traffic but Bredhurst were facing the same problems into the wind as the Jets had, and the pressure grew. The goal came when Jack whipped in an inswinging corner that was sliced onto the underside of the bar, and came out to BenW. He adjusted his body and executed a high-quality volley that threaded unstoppably through the crowd and into the net. On a difficult day this piece of skill shone out.

Sometimes a one goal lead looks like not very much. In this game it was a mountain for Bredhurst to climb. Archie was moved into a back 5 to cut out any aerial options for a quick route to the Langton goal, forcing Bedhurst to try and pass their way through a hard working midfield and a determined defence. For the remainder of the game both sides gave it everything. It is a testimony to the rearguard action that there were no meaningful shots on target . James made it to the Bredhurst byline in search of the goal to kill the game, but his cross somehow eluded both Jack and Anton, but it turned out 1 goal was enough. Heartbreakingly for Bredhurst they have now lost by a single goal to each of the top 3 sides in the division. Their defence was the best the Jets have encountered this year. Fortunately it was a day when the Jets defence was at its best too. Stand outs were Matt who had his best game of the season, and BenR who yet again won every tackle. In front of them Harry showed excellent positional sense to break up play alongside James, BenW, Tom and Declan, but it was very much a team effort. The front line had to live on scraps, but instead of moaning about it Anton and Jack gave everything to the cause, denying the Bredhurst defence the time to set play up.

Back on track

Sunday October 29th, KYL Cup 2nd Round

Langton Green 1 - 5 Dulwich Hamlet (O'Shea)

Another October cup-tie and again a less than usual line up with HarryB and Nathan absent, Jack injured, and James and George still unavailable. A lot of talent missing therefore, and no easy task ahead. Unfortunately not a lot went right in the first half. Early on Declan was flattened in the box - even the Dulwich coaches saw it, but nothing given! Then Anton went clear through but the one on one was saved by the advancing keeper. Two great chances to go ahead, after which it all went awry. Three corners conceded, three headers conceded, three goals conceded. Failing to learn from errors is destined to be punished, and it was, decisively.

There was little choice but to change things at half time. An aggressive 4-3-3 risked breakaways, but when Declan scored a trademark long range wobbler of a free kick it looked like game on for a while. Certainly a change for the better, but mid-way through the half the Dulwich centre forward powered through, saw his shot well saved by Angus, but was also first to the rebound, and killed the game. A late (and very good) 5th was icing on the cake, but the damage had all been done by the first half corners. The best team won. Langton simply missed too many players - but with no more cup ties this season, and with those missing today returning the obvious next step is to concentrate on the league, which is wide open still.

Sunday October 15th, Kent County Cup,

Langton Green 2 - 2 Ebbsfleet, (Watkins, Gallagher), aet, Ebbsfleet win 4-5 on penalties

The county cup gave the chance to field a different line up; starts for Harry N and Archie B, and a return to goalkeeping or Toby, on a sunny day at the 3g. And the sun was an influential factor, causing problems particularly in the first half to the Ebbsfleet defence from Toby's long drop kicks. The common thread of the game was established early, as chance after chance came and went. The well hit shots from further out kept finding the keeper, the great chances from close range kept being scuffed when it seemed easier to score. Ebbsfleet had their own chances and Toby was required to be brave in some tasty one on ones. 

Amongst all the wasted chances some neat interchanges saw the ball laid back to BenW outside the box and he lashed home a screamer low into the bottom corner. A goal that was as good as all else was bad. At half time the focus was on trying to be upbeat about just how much was being created, and in the second period again there were a multitude of opportunities to extend the lead. But, again, somehow the net would not bulge, and the longer Ebbsfleet hung in the more belief they gained.They too had a couple of good chances before finally finding the net with a worldy of a volley from a half cleared corner.

At 1-1 after 80 minutes extra time was required, and early in the first period Ebbsfleet nosed in front. It wasnt as if the Jets could apply any more pressure, it was a question of getting one over the line. With 5 minutes to go Jack was felled in the box, and got up to make it 2-2 from the spot. In the final 5 minutes there were three separate occasions the Jets managed not to score from inside 8 yards; not 'good chances' so much as 'harder to miss than score' chances. But that was the kind of day it was, so it perhaps inevitably Ebbsfleet then won the penalty shoot out.

It does no good to name names. All those that missed gold-plated chances have on other occasions scored the goals that proved vital. It happens. BenW deserves a mention for creating so many of the spurned opportunities. Toby played brilliantly in goal and did not deserve to lose; Nathan had arguably his best game in a green shirt. It was hard to swallow defeat the way it played out. On another day the boys might have won by a landslide, and over the long haul creating that many chances can only be a good thing. Just not this day.

Sunday October 1st, KYL u16 south

Langton Green 2 - 5 Dover (Gallagher 2)

Perfect September gave way to less than ideal October as Dover came to the 3g. They are a team one would want to play at full strength, but with no George, James, Harry or Charlie it was a depleted squad, which was further tested by Declan's early injury. BenR had been pushed up into midfield but was hastily returned to centre back in the face of a pacey Dover forward line. The first half was a heavyweight contest as two strong teams battled it out. Dover were definitely ahead on points but some good last ditch defending kept the game poised at 0-0, and there was always the threat of a counterpunch.

The Jets' unfamiliar midfield was obviously taking more strain than was desirable, but it was hard to find a way to improve that without taking something away elsewhere. Dover probably needed a win more than Langton so the onus was on them, and the passing of time with scores level was to the advantage of the Jets. Unfortunately, where Dover had kept shooting themselves in the foot with first-half offsides they went ahead early in the second with a chance that was probably also from the same family. Jack had a great chance to equalise almost immediately from a great cross from John, but now that Dover had the lead the strategy of just holding on was no longer such a sensible option.

Chasing the game the Jets gambled and pushed BenR back into midfield. But the next three moments all fell the wrong way.....two penalty box deflections took a ball to the feet of a Dover player in the right place at the right time, 2-0. Almost immediately Jack was flattened as he closed in on goal...a penalty in the eyes of everyone but the man who matters most, and then Anton chased a ball into the box, and for the second year in a row his collision with the Dover keeper was painful, and the end of his day.

Which left the Jets two goals down, out of substitute options, and with no tried and tested shape they could go to, whilst needing to chase the game. Jack scrambled a goal back on the back post to make it 1-2 and hope flickered despite the adversity. But in chasing the game the back door was left open and with less defensive cover the loose balls went the wrong way and at 4-1 Dover were home. There was still time for the best goal of the game, as Tom flicked on to Matt whose half volleyed cross was as good as Jack's header...but yet again the pressing to score led to another concession.

The match was played in a great sporting spirit and Dover were worthy winners. Given the circumstances the Jets needed everything to go their way, and things didnt - it wasnt a day they could easily chase a game, and in trying to do so only inflated the scoreline. Lessons to learn, and the need to bounce back.

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!