Jets 2018 - 2019

Sunday Dec 9th, CDJFL u18 cup, 1/4 final

Sevenoaks Cobras 1 - 5 Langton Green Jets (Gallaher 2, Manuel 2, O'Shea)

The day start tragically with the news of Mike Bender's death. As the man who was there at the start for so many young people's football at the club he has left an irreplaceable void at Langton Green. Would he have wanted football cancelled today because of him ? Never. So the show went on.

For the third time in a row the Jets had the toughest game in the cup draw, this time away to a dangerous Sevenoaks Cobras side boosted by some KYL Tonbridge Angels who had no game today. But for the first time this season each of JackG, Anton and Declan were available at the same time, so it cried out to be bold and play all 3 up front at the same time.

With Nathan, JackO and Charlie adding up to three important absences today, the midfield burden fell on Alfie, BenR and Tom, who knew the tackles would be competitive, not least given the prize of a semi final spot. It would be critical for them to work hard, and hold their shape. The defence had not conceded a goal from open play in over 4 hours, and BenP, HarryB, Toby and JohnC lined up with Dan behind them looking to extend the streak.

The early passages of play were towards the Sevenoaks goal, and HarryB headed just over from a corner, whilst Anton and Jack began to terrify the full backs with direct running. The game was broken open when BenR shot low from outside the box, and the goalkeeper could stop but not hold the ball. Jack was the first on the scene and lifted in the rebound, 1-0. Anton nearly doubled the lead but a brilliant goal-line block denied him. All the while Sevenoaks were making no progress at the other end of the pitch where the aerial dominance of Harry and Toby denied any route 1 attacks, whilst the hard working midfield and full backs thwarted any ground-based forays.

Harry N came on down the left wing, and Jack moved to a central role. Almost immediately Harry's mesmerising feet utterly bamboozled the full back and Harry was into the box, down to the by-line and pulling the ball back. Tom poked it home, but the goal was all about Harry. A 2-0 lead gave room for one error, but the Langton defence made none till half time. If anything a third Jet goal looked most likely but despite Anton's fine set-up play it just wouldnt come - Declan was sent through by a long throw and was clattered from behind for what looked a stone cold penalty...but wasnt given, and the match stayed alive.

The second half saw continued Jet dominance. BenR rampaged from midfield and missed narrowly. A number of corners came and went. There was nothing about the game that suggested Sevenoaks might come back, save that cup ties do funny things to brains. So there was a sense of justice when for a second time Declan was set free by a long throw, and this time he volleyed home. As last week, with a winning margin in the bank the Jets unfolded someof their best stuff, with great interplay between midfield and forwards. Anton had a curling shot well saved, and then Tom shot from distance and the ball squirmed under the keeper...not pretty, but 4-0 meant game over. In case there was any doubt Jack then curled a fantastic free kick into the far top corner. The only blemish was a very late and scruffy goal conceded to make it 5-1. It was a credit to Toby and Harry just how affronted they were by the concession.

So, a semi final beckons on Jan 27th, at home, to last week's opponents, TJ Spitfires. A great opportunity. A Langton legend died today, but his legacy will march on.

Sunday Dec 2nd, CDJFL u18A

Tonbridge Spitfires 0 - 8 Langton Green Jets (Gallagher 2, Manuel 3, Lenton, Rowe, O'Shea)

There arent many places a game might go ahead after a week of rain but Tonbridge Rec is one. The Jets spent the week wondering if to pray for sun or more rain, because they knew Charlie, Anton, JackO and Nathan were all unavailable. But on Saturday Declan's registration came through, and by Sunday there were 11 players grateful the game was still on.

With 11 fit players the team picks itself - what was left was to decide on a formation, and so Dec joined JackG up top with BenR and Alfie anchoring the midfield, with Toby and Harry behind them - a strong spine. Despite not having played for 6 months Declan hit the ground running, and had the ball in the net early on when he was the first to the rebound from JackG's free kick, only to be adjudged off-side. Jack also hit the bar with a header in the early exchanges, before Dec slid him through and he hit the ball low into the corner for a 1-0 lead.

For the rest of the first half the one goal lead kept threatening to be more but a mixture of near misses, woodwork, and good goalkeeping meant it remained a small lead, and one it was easy to imagine slipping away in the mud. There was no need to change anything at half time as the chances were coming, and 10 minutes into the second half Alfie burst the damn with a brilliant goal as he one-two'd with Declan, burst into the box and smashed a left footed shot into the roof of the net. 

Chasing the game TJ Spitfires left more gaps for Jack to exploit, and in short order Tom and BenR had both scored goals that put the game to bed. Tom then bundled another one over the line from Dec's long throw, Jack headed in a corner, and Dec scored the goal his overall play deserved. The icing on the cake was tom's third goal after a beautiful passing move. There was still time for JackG to play left back and allow JohnC some time as centre forward and he almost grabbed his first goal. However by this stage the main event was delivering a second successive clean sheeet, and some fierce tackling by BenR, Harry, Toby and BenP showed how much this mattered to them. To TJS' credit they made two good chances at the end but were denied by a brilliant double save from Dan who had done well to maintain concentration.

The scoreline gives no indication how much hard work went in. It was a well balanced and powerful team performance, setting up next week's cup quarter final.

Sunday Nov 25th, CDJFL  u18A

Langton Green 2 - 0 Sevenoaks Cobras (Gallagher 2)

The last minute goal conceded at Sedlescombe hung over the week like a black cloud. This Sunday brought the chance to put that into the past, as well as bringing grey November clouds on a gloomy afternoon on which the chance to play on the Bennett 3g was most welcome.

Anton was absent at athletics, and JackO succumbed to a rugby injury on Saturday so the Jets reshuffled, putting Nathan alongside Harry at the back, releasing BenR into the midfield. Sevenoaks arrived with their own injury problems, and faced 20 minutes with only 9 players until reinforcements from a KYL match could arrive. It was a huge advantage that the Jets managed to totally waste! 

It might have been very different because in the 2nd minute BenR waltzed through and managed to shoot straight at the keeper with the whole goal to aim at. Then Jack hit the bar with a header from a John C cross, after which BenR also hit the bar from distance, whilst HarryB and Tom both missed from closer in. The chance to kill the game early was wasted with too many rushed attempts and not enough care to dissect an outnumbered side. 

With Sevenoaks boosted by their late but talented arrivals it was a wholly different game. They attacked with pace, and carried a real threat. Ben P had a fine first half on the right side of defence, with key tackles that showed his commitment. And then, after all the chances wasted it toook one long ball over the top, a race that JackG won, and toe poke home to make it 1-0. Goals dont have to be pretty. As half time arrived a one goal lead wasnt looking too bad, though right before the whistle Alfie took a whack to the head which served to take him out of the remainder of the game.

The second half was seriously competitive and very hard work. Toby came on to add to the aerial power in defense, and with BenR and Charlie fighting for every inch of turf (artificial) the route to the Jet goal was well protected. Matt joined Jack up front and the game went from end to end. Several good crosses from John and Toby almost came to something, and HarryN and BenR both came very close to adding to the lead.

Then the key moments....a Sevenoaks cross skidded acros the face of goal without finding a friendly foot. The ensuing corner saw Dan somehow keep out a close range header, then poke the rebound off the toe of a fast-arriving striker, and then HarryN found a way to hook the ball off the line and away from danger. It was a mad scramble, a great save, and HarryN might well admist he is the unlikeliest of defensive saviours. How valuable it was was underlined moments later as Matt sent Jack away down the right, and he played a delightful one-two with Tom to send him clear through, and finished decisively. Brilliant goal, perfect timing. 

The road back was too much for Sevenoaks. The route down the middle required them to get beyond two central midfielders who can also do duty as centre backs, Charlie and Ben, never mind the two centre backs behind them, Harry and Nathan, not to mention the other centre back, Toby who was playing right back! So the attacks were soaked up, and the Langton counter-attacks kept forcing Sevenoaks to chase back. Harry and Matt nearly added a third, as did BenP who somehow found himself in the other six yard box on a break!

It ended 2-0. The better team won, but the game was never over until it was over, and with the experience of the week before there wasnt a moment to relax. Credit to Sevenoaks for fighting so hard in difficult circumstances, they will win many games playing as they did.

Sunday Nov 18th, CDJFL u18A

Sedlescombe 2- 2 Langton Green (Balcombe 2)

The same opposition for the second week in a row, but this time on grass (mud, slopes) rather than 3g, and without Anton, or Dan or Toby. Angus took the gloves. It was also apparent that Sedlescombe had a stronger squad than the week before, and it would be a different kind of game. Just how different was clear early, when an inswinging corner floated on the wind directly into the top corner. On a pitch that would be hard to play on goals would be hard to score, so this was a bad start.

HarryN nearly put things on track but his shot was brilliantly tipped over the bar, then Jack had a header well saved. The third good chance was less about good goalkeeping than about the pitch as the ball bobbled horribly when Jack was clear through. A couple of horror offside decisions brought dangerous attacks to an end so everything was going wrong, and it was tough going.

With the slope going their way in the second half there was time to pressure their way back into the game. Matt came on for his latest injury comeback, to support Jack and chances started to come. Again a corner was a factor in the goal that soon came, as HarryB brilliantly headed home Jack's inswinger. With plenty of time, and the conditions favouring the Jets, momentum was going one way. The Sedlescombe keeper kept adding to his collection of fine saves, tipping a free kick round the post, though he was helpless as Jack headed inches wide. Finally the second goal came, with 20 minutes left as HarryN set up Jack, who was fouled before he could get the shot way. Harry B finished calmly and the comeback looked complete. 

Several times the game might have been killed with a third Langton goal, but it just wouldnt come. As the clock wound down the pressure cranked up, but most of the danger was long ball optimism that was being dealt with by the back four. The Jets cleared one last time, and in a midfield scrap there were a couple of chances to get the ball away downfield, but a Sedlescombe midfielder came away with the ball. Ben and Harry were between him and the goal, but the hunger to stop his run led to a lunging tackling from behind, setting up a free kick.

Inevitably the free kick crept in, and that was the final moment of the game. Gut wrenching, sickening, all the usual emotions the Jets experience when turning a 2-1 lead into a 2-2 draw in injury time, which has happened 3 times now over the years. It's easy to see how to avoid such things after the game, harder to think clearly in the heat of battle. It is worth hanging on to the fact that it was a great fightback, the bulk of the chances were at one end, and so on.....but it still hurts. Football.


Sunday Nov 11th, CDJFL Cup, last 16,

Langton Green 7 - 2 Sedlescombe (Gallagher 3, Bachorski 3, Oatley)

The cup draw has not been kind - most of the top sides in the division are in the top half of the draw. After 24 hours of downpours and high winds the 3g was a good place to host a game, as Sedlescombe came to town. BenR was a late absentee, but the Jets were happy to welcome JackG back - Matt HarryN and BenP made for a full bench of subs - 

In the first 5 minutes the Jets had three good chances to take the lead; not much wrong with the finishing, just good blocks on the line. It was clear that Sedlescombe were good on the ball, but also clear that JackG and Anton were going to be a handful to defend against. The first goal was very route 1, as Dan collected a cross and kicked long and early. Anton provided the flick, and JackG supplied the volley, 1-0. It was soon 2-0 as Anton broke clear and side footed home, but the Jets had a strong wind at their backs, so it was not clear if this was a good score. What was clear was that Dan was having a great game in goal, diving to make a save, and then getting up to block the rebound. A couple of corners proved tough to defend in the wind, and it came as a huge relief when Anton curled a high quality goal from distance, and then JackG passed home a 4th, to complete a great move down the right. The Jets survived a crazy moment just before the half time whistle and made it to the break in a great position.

In the first moments of the second half if was nearly five, as Anton saw a shot well saved, but Sedlescomb went straight down the other end and knocked home a cross from close range. Could this be the start of a fight back, wind assisted? For a few minutes the game teetered, but then Alfie strode onto the ball, and knocked a gorgeous pass through to Anton who lobbed into the empty net. Sedlescomb came back with another goal, but from a corner HarryB knocked the ball down for JackO to volley into the roof of the net, and then Matt curled a left footed pass over the defence and into JackG's path, and like Anton he passed into the empty net for his hat-trick.

The scoreline looked great - the game itself felt much tighter than the margin suggests, and defending into a setting sun was never easy for HarryB and Toby. JC had a fine game, and added an attacking dimension in the second half, and HarryN again showed his fast feet as he danced dangerously into the penalty area.

Overall it was an excellent afternoon as the Jets advanced to the quarter final....next week it is Sedlescomb, again, in the league


Sunday Nov 4th, CDJFL u18A

Langton Green 1- 0 Tonbridge Junior Thunder (Balcombe, pen)

 - TJ Thunder arrived as league leaders, and with a 100% record. The Jets were a bit patched up, and fielding a few lads well below full fitness. The two sides had met a month before, in the cup, and that game had been close, the Jets scraping home, with the same 11 as started this game.

TJT passed well, but were failing to penetrate beyond the centre back pairing of HarryB and BenR, whilst the Jet always looked dangerous when Anton was given a ball to chase. Charlie threaded a lovely dink forwards and Anton rattled the bar. Nathan and Tom linked well and the cross just failed to find an outstretched foot. Up the other end Dan made a fine save from an angled cross shot, but was largely untroubled. The move that unlocked the game was a dribble from HarryN who danced past 3 defenders, and was flattened by the 4th. A clear penalty, and confidently finished by HarryB.

in a tight game 1-0 was a precious lead, and meant the half time discussion was more about preserving defensive shape than about how tocommit more players forward. Frankly, Anton alone up front was enough offense for any side. His speed was a nightmare for defenders. On one break he drew a great save from the TJT keeper, on another he squared for Toby who was inches wide having run the length of the pitch in support. Talking of runs the length of the pitch....not only was BenR awesome at the back, he also went box to box with the ball and was only denied a goal by another fine save.
 
HarryN was fighting injury, but having created the first half goal he then came back on and set up a golden chance for Tom to close the game out. The shot clattered into a defender on the line. Not for the first time this season the domination just wouldnt turn into goals, which made the last 5-10 minutes anxious as TJT gave it everything. The Jet midfield was packed - Charlie, JackO and Alfie worked hard, BenP, JC Toby and Nathan all made the tackles that needed making, and Dan's handling was impeccable all afternoon. In injury time Anton broke clear and was hacked down from behind - he was as lucky not to be badly hurt as the defender was to only see yellow.

So....1-0. A tough rather than beautiful game, a great result rather than a great performance. But sometimes that is what it takes.


Sunday October 28th, Kent County Cup, last 32

Herne Bay u18 3 -2 Langton Green (Oatley 2)

It doesnt come much worse geographically speaking than Herne Bay away. But it was a chance for the Jets to test themselves against older Kent Youth League opposition. Only 11 made the journey (plus some diehard fans) on a chilly day that felt like winter.

For the first 15 minutes HB passed nicely until they ran into BenR - uphill and against the wind the Jets were holding firm, and then perhaps should have gone ahead as Anton had two chances in short order. However they then shot themselves in the foot as HarryB dwelt on a ball he might have cleared, was robbed, and punished, 0-1. Then everyone missed a corner and it was put in at the back post, 0-2, and then another defensive lapse was punished. Being 0-3 down was and remains very unfamiliar territory for the Jets. Getting punished for every single mistake was a harsh reminder of the level required against good opponents. Wobbling meekly the boys limped to half-time.

It was nice to retreat from the weather, and go behind closed doors for a half time chat. There was much to talk about (at least by the oldest person in the room). The next goal was going to be important. It came from JackO who put in another strong all round performance, a left footed strike from distance. 1-3 and a flicker of hope. It might quickly have become a one goal game as Anton had a great chance that was finger-tipped round the post, then Matt half volleyed just wide from the edge of the box. A couple of corners came and went, and then from another HarryB took 3 goes at bundling the ball home - he finally succeeded via JackO's ankle, so it was cerdit to Harry but a second goal for Jack.

There was time to throw the sink at the game and the effort was admirable. On another day it would have happened. Toby even left his goal to go up for a corner, but there was just guts, no glory. It finished 2-3 but there were plenty of positives from the way the boys responded to adversity. Perhaps the biggest lesson was the need to play error free defensively for a concentration packed 90 minutes. Whether the lesson will be learned.....time will tell.

Sunday October 14th, CDJFL u18A division

Langton Green 3 - 2 Wadhurst (Newman, Balcombe, Bachorski)

The fates dictated a return match against Wadhurst only 2 weeks since the last game, this time at the 3g. Angus made welcome return in goal and Nathan started in midfield after last week's goal-scoring exploits. The traffic was one way in the first half but without many clear cut chances. A number of shots from 20 yards out rained in from Alfie, Anton, Tom, then JohnC hit the bar with a free kick from the same distance. Finally Harry N jinked through on the left, rounded the keeper and passed into the empty net.....all left foot, all quality. Charlie nearly doubled the lead but the Wadhurst keeper saved well. At half time 1-0 was a bigger lead than it looked, but it only takes one mistake.....

Fifteen minutes into the second half, having failed to add to the lead the Jets made that mistake. Possession was lost in a key area, and the Wadhurst player walked into the unguarded territory and smashed home a screamer from 25 yards. Understandably this amped up the opposition and made for a combative period - the Jets knew they should be winning, but werent, and werent happy about it. Tensions were eased when Harry kept up his goal a game record with yet another close range goal from a corner.

The pattern of the game resumed, as the Jets were rarely troubled at the back, but didnt take their chances at the front. Anton ought to have scored, twice, then Matt saw a free kick tipped round the post. Wadhurst won a free kick on the edge of the Jets' box, and all of a sudden it again looked possible that the game could be tied up. The shot deflected off the wall for a corner......from that corner Angus punched clear to the feet of Anton just outside the box. He took the ball and dribbled away to the right. With no-one in green ahead of him, and most of Wadhurst up for the corner he then turned upfield and found top gear. Anton at top speed is an awesome sight, and he covered the length of the field leaving everyone in his wake except centre back BenR who offered an option inside. But Anton only had one thought in mind and went into the box, up to the keeper and passed the ball home. It was an absolutely stunning goal, arguably one of the best anyone at Langton has ever seen.

And that ought to have been that.......except with 3 minutes left the Jets again gave the ball away sloppily in front of their goal and were deservedly and skilfully punished. They really ought not to have been hanging on in a game where they had multiple chances and Wadhurst had but two.....but they had to, and did.

Three points was good, two goals conceded wasnt. In the end the game will be remembered for a goal no-one will forget.


Sunday October 7th, CDJFL Cup, 1st Round

Tonbridge Junior Thunder 2 - 4 Langton Green (OG, Rolf, Newman, Balcombe)

Another beautiful autumn day, and a short trip to Tonbridge for a cup match. TJT arrived with a 100% record in the A division, whilst the Jets arrived looking sleepy. They didnt look like they would need to wake up when gifted an own goal before they had even enjoyed any possession in their opponent's half, but that bonus was quickly squandered by a sleepwalking display that leaked two goals on the break, and almost more, were it not for some athletic goalkeeping by Daniel. Losing 1-2 and misfiring all over the pitch was a bad combination.

Some running repairs were attempted in terms of substitutions, and before the break 3 good chances came and went - JackO, Anton and Harry B all might have scored, but the fact they didnt only added to a sense of frustration and walking nightmare. The half time team talk was not a comfortable one, but did lead to a decision to change formation, aiming to change the game. Nathan pushed up into midfield, and after good work on the right wing by BenP and Alfie, Nathan arrived to meet a cross with a full blooded volley into the roof of the net. A proper good goal. Just in time too, as Nutty then had to dash to catch a train, with Harry N taking the wide left role. 

The direction of play was very much one way, and a number of chances didnt quite lead to a goal, but gave a sense that it was coming. Tom and Charlie came close - many of the dangerous balls through were coming from Ben and Harry at the back, who as well as denying TJT and chances, were also creating chances. With 10 minutes to go Harry N's cross/shot floated over the stranded keeper to make it 3-2 - taking the lead was vital given the Jets knew they would only have 10 players for extra time if the game went that long. Tonbridge pushed hard to equalise, but this left them vulnerable to fast breaks. Anton missed an easy one from John's through ball, but redeeemed himself late in the game as he chased down a clearance, and went to the by-line before delivering the kind of cross he and the squad had sent Tuesday night working on. Tom was flattened as he set himself to score (JackO did put the ball in the net, but the ref had already given the penalty), so up stepped Harry to maintain his goal-a game streak with what proved the last kick of the match.

4-2 looked comfortable. That isnt how it felt at half time. The positives were the second half performance, the lesson was to arrive mentally and physically ready to play, which is a lesson that needs learning before th error is punished.


Sunday September 30th, CDJFL u18 A division

Wadhurst 0 - 3 Langton Green (Manuel, Balcombe, Bachorski)

A gorgeous autumn afternoon, and a first road trip in the division, to unbeaten Wadhurst. With injuries and absences the Jets were cutting it fine. Toby raced back from rugby training in time to be a first half defender and a second half goalkeeper, replacing Dan who was needed elsewhere. 

The Jets started up the slope, and quickly established a dominance of possession. Some crosses came close to serving up an early lead, but the final connection was missing. Having spent much of the last few seasons being a fast counter-attacking side, the knack of breaking down a crowded defence wasnt apparent. A switch was made, putting Tom up front, and he paid his first dividend with a toe poke over the line after a long throw. Scrappy but necessary. The second goal was no beauty either, but it was an intelligently looped header from HarryB after a corner wasnt cleared. Several free kicks in good positions came to nothing. 2-0 wasnt a big score, but with Ben dominating the defence, it was a long way back for Wadhurst.

In the second half the flow of play was one way.....Anton rampaged down the right, HarryN tormented the Wadhurst full back, Alfie prompted with intelligent through balls. Finally Anton broke clear, blazed past everyone and scored a runaway goal. He might have had 3 more from the same template, not to mention golden chances for Charlie, BenR, Tom.....injured Matt limped on for the last 20 minutes and might have had a hat-trick. The Wadhurst keeper was a clear cut man of the match.

So, no dramas, another clean sheet....the team is still getting the hang of how to attack with the weapons they have, but is in a winning habit.

Sunday September 23rd, Kent County Cup u18s, Round 1

Langton Green Jets 7 - 2 Bredhurst Juniors (Balcombe, Gallagher 4, Allen, Bachorski

Incessant rain all morning was made irrelevant by afternoon sunshine at the Bennett 3g. The visitors sit atop the u18 Kent Youth League Premier Division, but may not have been aware of the home team's KYL pedigree across 4 seasons. This was a fixture with giant-killer potential, made all the more possible by Jack G's first game in green this season. Captain BenR was absent from the defence so HarryB took his place alongside Nathan, and Anton and Alfie took on supporting roles behind Jack, having been the strike force in previous games.

It didnt take long for it to be clear this was not going to be a lower league side trying to nick a goal against the KYL side, as most of the attacking play came from the Jets. The first goal came from a penalty as Jack was clipped moving fast inside the Bredhurst box. HarryB calmly slotted home, 1-0. The second goal wasnt long in coming....Jack ran at the defence: 'he's only got a left foot' was the touchline cry. The left foot put the ball in the top corner, 2-0. And a quieter touchline, for a while after.

Bredhurst clawed their way back in a phase where the Jets' clearances were not decisive and the challenges in the box were too frenzied. A penalty was given - Dan got a hand to the shot but not quite enough to keep the ball out, and all of a sudden a one-sided game was back in the balance. The breathing room margin was re-established when Matt turned and drilled a left foot shot intothe far corner for 3-1 and the half time talk became a cry for more of the same in the second half.

The half time talk was also about the need to be smart with penalty area tackles, and to avoid getting dragged into an ugly dogfight....that all seemed to have been forgotten when a second penalty was given to Bredhurst, and scored, and for a while the focus seemed to be on grievances with the decisions given, and the tackles endured. Charlie spent a few minutes on the touchline regaining focus, and the time was well spent, as within moments of returning to the midfield battle he linked with JohnC and lifted a ball over the full back and perfectly into Anton's path. The race was no contest, and Anton had the composure to finish left footed at the near post. 

With a two goal cushion restored it was time for the basics. JackO and Tom chased everything in midfield, Harry and Nathan's partnership at the back was a flashback to season's past, except that both now have substantially increased the quality of their distribution play. Dan's handling was secure behind them, though it was his feet that came to the rescue with Bredhurst's best chance.

What remained was a masterclass. Jack put one in the corner from 35 yards, and then Alfie put a dream pass through for Jack, again, and his left foot (again) curled the ball into the far corner. If he only has one foot it is a good one. Finally Alfie and Jack one-two'd their way through the defence for Jack to slot home......that left foot again...six left-footed goals today. not sure why Harry took the penalty with his right foot ?

This was no one-man show. There were top performances all over the pitch. Matt played in 5 of the 11 positions through the game, reliably in all of them. Anton and Alfie and Harry all adapted to a different role this week with responsible dedication. Those in defined roles all delivered with aplomb. JackG slotted in as if he had never been absent. Carlsberg dont do Sunday afternoons, but if they did......

September 9th 2018, Crowborough League u18 A Division


Langton Green Jets 4 - 0 Tunbridge Wells Youth (Lenton, Manuel, Bachorski, Balcombe)
 
A new season, a new(ish) squad, and a fresh challenge. School opportunities took several Jets away at the end of the final Kent Youth League campaign, which meant fresh blood was needed. The pre-season went well - thanks to our friends at Wadhurst and Whyteleafe for the much-needed tune-ups. Highlights in those games were Alfie's scissor kit, and amazing goals from BenR and Toby. Yes, that Toby. Both scored as centre backs, from open play, versus Whyteleafe. Miracle.

The first league game of the season was against near neighbours Tunbridge Wells, who won the u16 A division unbeaten last season. The Jets gave debuts to Dan in goal, BenP in defence, JackO, CharlieW and Harry N in midfield, and Alfie up front. The 7 regulars from last season lined up around them. 

It was a hot day and the Bennett 3g had a significant breeze that was nice for spectators, but also impacting on the game as it went straight up and down the pitch. The Jets played into it in the first half and it was clear immediately that TWY were going to fight and scrap, and be hard to break down. An even game with few chances but a lot of hard midfield tackling was almost broken open when Alfie set Anton loose; he raced into the box but the shot skewed wide. Aside from that a few Jet corners almost came to something; Charlie heading just over. The defence kept TWY at arm's length, conceding corners but not shots. At half-time 0-0 was fair; what remained to be seen was whether the change of ends would change things.

Almost immediately things did change. Nathan fed Alfie, who ran aggressively at the defence, and from 20 yards curled a right footer in off the far post. A magical goal had broken the deadlock, and crucially. TWY faced a dilemma - they had hung tough and defended valiantly, but to get back into the game were they going to be willing to push further forward and risk breakaways, exposing their defence to Anton's pace?

It was almost 2-0 soon after. HarryN jinked into the box, and found Anton, whose shot smashed off the underside of the bar and out again. That goal might have settled things, but instead TWY always had a chance to sneak an equaliser if they could stay in the game. HarryB, JackO and CharlieW proved themselves very hard to pass through, whilst BenR and Nathan were calm in defence, and wise in their distribution. JonC and BenP were also getting forward from full back - the traffic was one way. 

The 'breathing room' goal came when Anton sprinted after a long ball that seemed to be destined to go off the end of the pitch. Only he could have caught it - that part comes naturally to him. But having done so he also had the presence of mind to cut in, and pull the ball back into Tom's path to score from 6 yards out. It was hard to see a way back from that. TWY pushed forward but only ended up caught on the break again as Anton again proved himself the fastest guy in Kent, 3-0. HarryB then headed home Alfie's corner, and 4-0 is how it ended. It looked comfortable but the number of bloodied knees and tired players at the end of the game said this win hadnt come easily. 

As a first fixture in a new environment it was a good beginning. Hard work, some flashes of skill, and by the end some signs of a team taking shape.