U16 Wildcats

Match Report - Sunday September 27th

KGLFL Div 1: Langton Green 4 - 1 West Kent (Baker, Brooker, Gale, McPherson)

Today was the first time in two seasons that the girls had a home game actually in Langton Green! The Rec welcomed West Kent, who had a fantastic 2019-20 season. They brought a great number of supporters, which would not have been possible at Bennett School who are currently banning spectators. Everyone from both teams preferred to play on grass with cheering fans, rather than in silent isolation on 3g.

This proved a good choice as the two sides put on a thrilling match in scenic surroundings. For the first 15 minutes it was West Kent who dominated, trapping the Langton girls in their own half. The possession did not turn into clear chances and with Hannah and Nellie making good choices and well-timed interventions the tide began to turn. The springboard at times was Sophie's ability to distribute the ball deep into the WK half, where often it was Jessie who was getting the ball first. She was linking play and releasing first Orla,and later Mollie, down the right wing. The crosses were dangerous - even Macie from left back was getting on the end of them, and when it wasn't crosses from open play it was Amy's corners and Phoebe's long throw-ins causing problems.

But the first goal when  it came was not easy to predict. An underhit drop kick from the WK keeper was blocked by Amelia B, who then sent the ball back from long range into the unguarded net. And if that was unexpected the goal that followed it was even better and harder to forsee. Mollie squared the ball inside to Amber who let fly from fully 35 yards, over the stranded keeper and just under the crossbar. Totally deliberate, totally awesome. 

As can happen, the two goal cushion led to the Langton girls playing better and the WK girls having a wobble. Amy let fly over the bar, and Jessie twice hit the keeper in one on one situations where she might have scored. It could easily be 3-0 but wasn't, and the fact that the game was very much alive was underlined when right on half time Sophie turned a shot over the bar from point blank range. It was a save so good her Dad came round the pitch at half time to offer an extra hug and a bit of a half time team talk.

Everyone knew the job was only half done and that playing up hill would be harder - but also that the Langton fast break capability would be a serious weapon. The West Kent surge down the hill required the defence to hold firm. Amelia dropped deep to really block up the shortest route to goal, and the clock ticked on. Sophie's handling was brave and decisive, and on the one occasion a through ball was ducked and not headed away the WK shot was in reach and she clung on. And every save she made meant another chance to start an attack. 

Langton were having success down the right, and Phoebe's intelligent use of a long throw kept causing problems. Orla had a great chance to add a third after a great JG run, and Macie had shot blocked where it looked sure to be 3-0. Finally another Phoebe throw bore fruit as Jessie prodded home on the turn from close range. With such a lead there was every reason for the 'AM' midfield line to scrap over every inch of territory and prevent WK fighting back. The 'AM line you ask? AMy, AMber, AMelia, MiA and jMAc. Their workrate was MAgnificent.

A feature of this season has been the welcome sight of other girls joining Jessie in the goal scoring column. And the final goal was evidence of that. Amy hit a gorgeous first time ball to release Jessie, who passed inside to set up Mia. Her shot was saved but only into the path of Jmac who shot home left footed - Jess worked hard on left-foot shooting two Friday's ago at training, and today was the reward. There were chances after that to widen the lead. Amy had a shot well saved, then her free kick was just tipped over, Hannah came close from a corner, and then Mollie shot just wide after a gorgeous Jessie backheel.

The only blemish was a last minute penalty conceded to take away the clean sheet. But it didnt change how outstanding the defence had been, and how well the whole team had played. Sophie just edged the man of the match (girl of the game?) voting, but this was an outstanding team effort. 3g ? Who needs it ? In troubled times it was a thrill to play anywhere, better still to have a great game. The visiting coaches were gracious in defeat, and pleased to have been a part of a great advert for girls' soccer. 

Match Report - Sunday September 20th 2020

KGLFL Div 1: Langton Green 2 - 1 Kings Hill (Gale, Gray)

Almost exactly 6 months on and it was a cup final rematch; Kings Hill had deservedly won promotion, and were just as hard to play as they were last year. The LG girls were carrying injuries and ailments so the side looked a little stronger on paper than it might prove in reality. And, as at the cup final,there was a firm breeze going up and down the pitch. This time the girls chose to play against it in the first half.

It took a while before the first good chances of the game, but then 3 came in a flurry. Jessie might have scored twice, and Macie will wish she had struck her chance more firmly. Defensively very little was being given away by the LG back four, and Sophie was coming to grips with the need to make good sweeper-keeper decisions. But, by the half time whistle the 0-0 score was starting to cause frustration, and reminders were needed that this would be a different game with the wind behind.

Phoebe was unwell and could not continue, so Mollie was conscripted as emergency full back. Meantime Amber was hobbling and came off, which meant there were no more fit substitutes. This felt less of a problem when (just like the cup final) Amy found a killer pass, and Jessie was sent through to grab the lead. An Amy pass leading to a Jessie goal was a tried and trusted way to score, but the second goal was an original as Mia smashed home from close range. Yes, really, Mia. She scored. (Honest).

There were chances to extend the lead before things turned wobbly. First Sophie had to make a great stop in a one on one that also reminded of the cup final, but soon after a soft throw was conceded, and the only real defensive lapse in concentration turned into a goal. The game had not been as close as the score now was. And then Mia sustained a blood injury and had to come off. Maisie valiantly limped on to help and promptly went down in a heap as well. Which meant Phoebe was back on, not entirely feeling her best, but willing to put in a shift. It stopped being football and became more of a matter of survival. Amelia B dropped deep to provide defensive protection and Jmac doubled her already busy work rate. Orla ran herself into the ground, and then Hannah defended brilliantly, timing a last ditch challenge perfectly.

All in all the final whistle was a relief. The narrow margin of victory might have been avoided, but sometimes having to battle for a win is a good foundation for the season. (And Mia scored. no kidding).

Match Report - Sunday September 13th 2020

KGLFL Div 1: Maidstone 1 -1 Langton Green (Gale)

6 months on and the girls were back and playing. The pre-season culminated in a 5-5 draw with the highly ranked Lewes ladies, who faced the typhoon that is Jessie Gale. Her 5 goals were a masterclass - a truly outstanding effort. But as everyone knows the pre season is only ever the appetiser, and a season opener away to Maidstone was very much the main event. And, after last year, when a four goal lead evaporated and Nellie was flattened, there was plenty in the way of closet skeletons to deal with.

On a huge but flat and decent grass pitch both teams looked good in the early skirmishes. Gradually it became clear that the Langton girls were spending more time in the Maidstone half than in their own, and a goal seemed to be coming. Jessie forced two good saves and then hit the post from a position she would expect to score from - a rebound came to Orla who was bundled over. It looked a penalty from most angles but no whistle came and the game rolled on.

And then a 2019 skeleton returned as Sophie came out of her box to clear. This year she didn't hit Nellie, but instead found a Maidstone player who returned the ball 40 yards and skilfully back into the unguarded net. Deja vu, and it hurt to be behind in a game that had been going the other way. The drinks break gave time to encourage more of the same: Macie and Mia were linking well, and Phoebe was passing intelligently to her winger, so the play out from the back was good - Hannah and Nellie were strong in the middle of defence and well protected by a rotating midfield 5. Mollie came close with a right footed curler but then had to limp out injured, as did Maisie.

The equaliser was deserved, and came from a piece of Jessie genius, lifting the ball over the keeper from distance - she scores the harder ones more readily than the easy ones ! It meant half time was a moment to pause and then keep doing the same again.

Frustratingly the 'again' part was territorial dominance, but more missed chances. Maidstone had no shots on goal while the Langton girls had 10 that might have been goals. Mia and Jessie had goals disallowed for questionable reasons, and then Maisie came on to strike a free kick aganst the bar, then shot just over and then volleyed wide. Jessie kept doing the hard work of getting into one on ones but then failing to beat the keeper. Orla too went clean through but could not get the ball home.

Towards the end the sun had everyone exhausted, but the girls kept on driving forward. The 3 a's in the middle, Amber, Amy and Amelia, dominated the central territory in a way that bodes well for the seaon. But the final whistle meant Maidstone had survived - just - and the Wildcats were left to settle for a dominant point. It was not the return the balance of play deserved but it was a good foundation to build on.

Great to be back

Match Report - Sunday March 22nd

So there i was having this horrid dream that all football was cancelled by a lethal global virus when the shock of it all woke me up and made me realise i was late for the Wildcats' game today. I raced to the ground and was delighted to find that as usual Mia and Amy had arrived early and had got the goals out and put up the corner flags.

We had a strong squad - Sophie was missing as she was celebrating the 1 year anniversay of her latest romance, whereas Jessie was certainly going to be at the game because boyfriend Jack was refereeing. Phoebe enthusiastically led the warm up as all the girls focused hard on the upcoming game, debating amongst themselves whether it would be better to start 4-4-2 or 4-3-3. In the end they decided that they would go with whatever the coach suggested.

The early phase of the game was tough hard work. Mollie and Georgie were putting in crunching tackles, and Jmac was passing out of defence with great vision. Hannah was loud and clear as she marshalled the offside trap of her well-drilled defensive line. The balance of play began to turn Langton's way. Macie's long throws were a constant threat, and Amelia's long passes forwards were weighted to perfection. Mia's dribbling was as good as ever, bettered only by her constant desire to get her head up and find a good pass.

The first goal came from the usual source. Maisie - full of self belief and confidence - sent the ball forward and Jessie took a touch and lashed home a left foot screamer from 25 yards. For the rest of the half the girls were calm, playing wonderful possession football.

The half time team talk was all about how the girls could be even better in the second half. Chris kept trying to tell them how well they were playing but the team wouldn't have it; everyone was sure they could give more. And so it proved. Abigail was the springboard for many attacks as she calmly intercepted through balls and pinged left footed passes wide to Amy who had found space on the touchline. Her passes kept sending Georgie through - with her unstoppable power and pace the hat-trick she scored in the next 20 minutes was inevitable.

All that was left was the icing for the cake, which came as Nellie leapt high at the back post to power home a header from Maisie's left footed corner. The only blemish on the day was that as she turned away to celebrate she ran straight into Amelia B and broke her nose.

At the final whistle the crowd roared their approval, the girls bowed humbly, and Chris told them they were as perfect as the beautiful spring weather. What a glorious day for football.

Match Report - Sunday March 15th, Kent FA u15 County Cup Final, at Margate FC

Kings Hill 0 - 4 Langton Green (Hagger 3, Gale)

In January the Langton girls won their semi final and made it into the county cup final, and it felt like a big game to look forward to. 8 weeks later, with coronavirus wiping out professional football it was now feeling like pretty much the biggest game anywhere. In the lead up the worries stopped being about how to play in the final, and became about whether the game would go ahead. The Kent FA declared 'game on' on Saturday, and by Sunday lunchtime most of the team were sitting in motionless traffic on the m20, wondering why Junction 6 was closed.

The long journey to Margate was never going to be popular, but as the traffic unwound and the journey continued those arriving at the ground were seeing things in a better light. A really nice 3g pitch, a grandstand for the spectators, and a bar with a view of the pitch. The main playing issue appeared to be a strong breeze running straight down the pitch.

With their own dressing room, and an hour till kick off it was always going to be a different pre-match preparation than the norm. The recipe was a mix of loud music, and a bit of dancing and singing, intermingled with some reminders of team and individual responsibilities in the team talk. The girls walked out to meet their destiny looking relaxed and happy, rather than anxious and fearful. Hurdle cleared.

The plan was to take the wind advantage in the first half and try and set a dominant tone.That's pretty much how it played out. However the Kings Hill keeper was playing a blinder, making a string of outstanding saves, and making the coaches wonder if this might be 'one of those days'. Jessie, Maisie, Amy and Mollie each took aim from distance and came close or forced a good save. From corners there was a huge threat because Maisie was whipping the ball in on the wind and causing havoc. 

When the first goal came it was from yet another corner. Maisie curled in an evil inswinger, which went straight in. It wasnt a goalkeeping error, it was just quality delivery. For those who thought it a fluke, read the match report from last month, where Maisie also scored direct from a corner. It's in her locker to do it. 

The first goal raised the volume, if that was possible, from the passionate Langton fans in the stand, draped in their black white and green scarves. It was a sign of the domination that when on 20 minutes Abigail was subsituted in goal by Sophie (a pre-arranged switch), she had not actually touched the ball, ever! The pattern and direction of play continued relentlessly, and when a sliced fefensive clearance came back off the cross-bar Maisie was on hand to tap home her second goal. Two almost became three when Mollie let fly from 30 yards and watched her brilliant curling shot sail over the goalkeeper only to come back off the post. Other chances came and went, and Georgie took her opportunity to come off the bench and make her own contribution.

Almost everything went perfectly - Mia, Amelia, Amy, Nellie, Jmac and Hannah were all fiercely tackling and denying time and space for Kings Hill to make any forward progress, and full backs Phoebe and Macie were spending more time starting attacks than needing to stop them. For one time only their guard dropped and a Kings Hill striker broke clear. She was chased hard and had to take her shot before reaching the edge of the box, and it rolled harmlessly to Sophie. But as a reminder of how fragile a cup final lead can be, it served as a warning of what the second half might bring.

Half time came. A two goal lead was probably at least one less than it deserved to be, so whilst the girls were buoyant they still had their game faces on, knowing the wind might change the game. Everyone knew the plan in terms of where to make clearances and to who, and also when to just let wind-assisted through balls sail on through. Pre-game Hannah had walked through on the pitch with Chris the right spot to set her defensive line for each half (deeper when playing with the wind, higher into the wind) and she executed the second half version of the plan with great judgement, ably assisted by Jmac who sustained high standards throughout the match.

For much of the second half the pattern of the game was Kings Hill trying to advance but not getting enough players forward to be a sustained problem. Corners in the wind were the threat - the girls knew from the team talk that the best way to deal with the threat was to not give them away in the first place, but those that occurred saw Sophie acting loud and clear. The fact that she could make her clearances travel so far against the wind was also something to be grateful for.

A third goal would have helped reduce the tension, and the checking of watches, but the goal just wouldn't come. Several times Mia crashed her way into the penalty area only to be denied at the final moment. Several times Jessie looked like she had finally shaken off the brilliant Kings Hill centre back but the goal she so desired just wouldn't come. Somehow Phoebe also turned up on the KH area and came close to scoring the 3rd goal so badly needed. 

And then the key passage of play in the game - a blocked clearance left the most dangerous KH striker running towards the Langton goal. She closed in on Sophie who held her ground. The shot when it came was not decisive, and just close enough to Sophie that she dived to her left to partially block it. The ball rolled agonisingly towards the goal but in the defensive chase Hannah had kept on going owards the goal line and she was there to hook a left footed clearance off the line. Brilliant last-gasp defence.

Having so few attacks, the fact that this chance had not been taken looked to deflate more than encourage Kings Hill. Having survived a scary moment it looked like the Langton girls felt a little more indestructible. Whatever the truth it was not long after that the deathblow was delivered. Amy intercepted a clearance, looked up and slid a defense-splitting pass into Maisie's path. Maisie stayed calm, and with the outside of her magic right foot she scored the goal, completed her hat-trick, and won the county cup, all in one sweet moment. Great pass, great goal.

Abigail and Georgie returned to the fray. Today was not the day Abi was most needed, but the team were in the final in no small part because of her semi-final contribution, well acknowledged by her team-mates after the game. With no time for Kings Hill to come back some of the Langton girls who had held their defensive discipline loyally decided to set off in search of fun and glory. Jmac finally got to enjoy life in the other team's half, whilst left back Phoebe kept showing up in the opposing penalty area, as did Mia, who was involved in the passage of play that ended with Maisie teeing Jessie up to side-foot home the goal she richly deserved.

The final whistle was met with a whoop, a lot of virus-approved elbow bumping, and then a trip across the field to bask in the acclaim of the happy and still noisy supporters. Then it was back to the changing room for a very loud rendition of We are the Champions, before a return to the presentation area. Kings Hill deserved their applause and should cherish their medals. Their supporters, their coaches, and their players each conducted themselves in the manner of true sportsmen and sportswomen. They gave their best and were gracious in defeat. But there was no denying who were the worthy winners, nor denying the same exemplary sporting behaviour had been on show from all from Langton Green.

Captain Haddock (Hannah) was the last to receive her medal, but the first to raise the trophy, followed soon after by everyone else. Maisie seemed to be the only person in the ground who was surprised that she was declared Player of the Game. The list of players who have scored a hat-trick in a county cup final is not a long one. Nor do many hat-trick scorers come to training during the week and announce they had a dream that the team lost the final. At least now her reality beats her dreams. Lucky girl.

This day was an oasis of joyful release from the awfulness of things going on in the world. On the day that for many football was shut down, it was also the day when football made for lifetime memories for others. It was a day when a small group created the bonds that will bind them together for ever. That group, Langton Green u15 Ladies are Kent FA Cup winners 2020, for real, whatever Maisie might dream otherwise.

Match Report - Sunday March 1st, KGLFL Div 1

Langton Green 4 - 3 Parkwood (Gale 2, Baker, Hagger)

Unusually this was a 9-a-side game to accommodate visitors Parkwood. Also unusually captain Hannah was absent, forcing a central defensive rethink. Not so unusually in 2020 it was windy, and impactful on the game.

The smaller than usual pitch was made to appear even smaller as the girls failed to use the flanks to best advantage, leading to an overcrowded midfield, and a lack of creative passing. Parkwood were big, strong in the tackle, and good in the aerial battles, all of which meant it was no surprise when the visitors went ahead after 15 minutes. Too many stood off, or stood and watched, as a Parkwood player went straight down the middle uncontested, 0-1. Not good.

Mia came on and injected some bite into tackles and some energy into the running. This changed the overall mood, and that sensation was magnified when Jessie's shot was mishandled and spun over the line. Not a great goal, but they don't have to be. Soon after, following some good link ups with Maisie it was Jessie again with a better finish, to give Langton the lead, 2-1. It wasn't a great performance, but it was a lead, and a half-time chance to regroup.

In the second half the football was mainly better. The repeating error was a defensive aversion to intercepting the ball by going to meet it. Most of the trouble was coming when the girls let through balls bounce in front of them rather than stepping in and dealing with them. Parkwood's second equaliser was a tragi-comedy of failed clearances, half-hearted interventions and then a wild hack that caused the ball to deflect into the goal. Awful (which may have been one of the words used by the not-terribly-happy coach on crutches.)

To their credit the girls regrouped and started to make consistent progress down the left. Maisie was a danger each time she cut inside, as well as from her corners, whilst Jessie forced fine saves several times, but also managed to lift the ball over the bar from only a yard out. Finally AmeliaB forced home the rebound from a corner for 3-2, and when Maisie slammed home a goal from another right-side cut-in it looked all over at 4-2. Macie surprised herself by winning a great header, but unfortunately Nellie surprised herself by letting a ball bounce into her face, which hurt first physically, but then also mentally as the rebound was banged home for 4-3. 

There were times the girls looked determined not to win, mixing crazy moments up with the good things they are all capable of. But they got over the line and won, in the end. It was no surprise that the Parkwood girls voted Mia their player of the game because her energy and effort stood out. Ideally, from a coach's point of view, it isnt one player who looks to be doing all the tackling and hustling - and Mia knows she needs to end up taking some shots too, so she wasnt perfect, and others had their good moments. But the worst performer on the day was the grumpy coach, who was trying to generate some cup-tie intensity but shouted far too much; he knows the intensity will be needed in 2 weeks for that cup tie, and has to find a way to have the girls bring it every week

Match Report - Sunday Feb 23rd, KGLFL Div 1

Tankerton 0 - 6 Langton Green (Gale, Hagger 5)

After two weeks of cancelled games due to gales and heavy rain this week it was only a gale, so game on. With Tankerton's ground waterlogged their home game was hosted at the Bennett 3g, the first home league game in 3 months! Phoebe and AmeliaB were unavailable, and Amy played despite being poorly. In front of Abigail in goal Jmac partnered Hannah at the back, alongside Macie and Georgie, who tucked in at right back for a second 80 mins in a row. 

The girls chose to play into the teeth of the wind in the first half, aware of the need to play a shorter passing game than usual. It wasnt a usual midfield 5, but they produced one of their best performances in a while. Mia was, as always strong in the tackle, and hard to stop once she started running. The revelation was how Nellie and Mollie kept working their way down the right wing and putting dangerous crosses in. Although they didnt turn into goals it was good creative work. On the other wing Maisie was always a threat as she cut inside. But when the goal came it was no surprise that it was Jessie who grabbed it, bursting through a large group of defenders and slotting home from close range.

Scoring once was valuable, but the real prize from the first half was a clean sheet into the wind. Jmac, Hannah, and Abi were all positionally sound and largely error free on a day where mistakes could easily be made. Corners were hard to defend, so putting effort into avoiding them was the best plan.

The second half was largely one way traffic. On a big pitch, against the breeze (not so much of a gale any more but still a factor) it was hard for Tankerton to get forward in numbers, and Hannah and Jmac were handling the breakaways with timely interventions. But, because Tankerton were not getting forward, it was more crowded in the final third, so the Langton girls were struggling to turn possessional domination into goals.

Mid-way into the second half Jessie set up Mollie for a cross shot that the keeper could only parry to Maisie who thumped home. It felt like a huge lead given the conditions, and it turned out to be the case. In the final 10 minutes the amazing Maise helped herself to another 4 goals, including one direct from a corner. It was her day - it could well have been Amy, Macie, Mia, Mollie, or Jessie, even Hannah and Jmac, who all had chances, but where their shots were saved, Maisie's were not. 

It was a joy to play again after so long idle. It was a pleasure to welcome Tankerton - all their players, coaches and supporters were 10/10 for sportsmanship and enthusiasm, which made everyone forget the weather. It would be easy to single Maisie out, but it gives an idea of the breadth of good performances that the Tankerton coach singled out Mia as player of the game, whilst the Langton coaches felt Nellie had her best game of the season. Still again, Georgie's second half header might have won an award on its own, and had Amy not played whilst unwell it might have been a different outcome 10 vs 11.

So, all in all, a confidence booster of a game, as the girls look to get on a momentum roll in the three weeks leading up to the county final.

Match Report - Sunday Feb 2nd, KGLFL Div 1

West Kent 4-1 Langton Green (Hagger)

This was the hardest gameof the season to field a side - Amy arrived from playing in the morning as well, Amelia played despite having a swimming event in the aftenoon, Mollie and Mia were both missing, and if Georgie had not agreed to play with 30 minutes notice it would not have been possible to field a side. So playing away to the league leaders was bad timing.

The pitch was a muddy mess - very unsuited to good football. With plenty of excuses that could be made in advance the team then found a way to play their worst half of football this season. The need was to be tough, play to a plan. Instead most every coaching request was ignored, and it was a masterclass in how to self destruct.

The first goal was scored direct from a corner. Ducking or avoiding aerial balls into the penalty area doesnt work. The second goal involved being caught on the break, with the striker getting behind the defence  and the goalkeeper not coming out to clear up. Before the game  the request was 'don't let the striker get behind the defence, and do be aggressive coming off the goal-line'. It was almost three when a free kick was well saved by Sophie, but even that wasn't good because 5 West Kent players chased in on the off-chance she dropped the ball, and no Langton defenders covered the possibility, and instead stood and watched. 

Jessie had a good chance to pull a goal back, but did not finish as well as usual. And the killer goal was scored 3 minutes into injury time of a half with no injuries (yes, it was one of those days), when a careless defensive clearance was presented direct to a grateful forward.

The half-time talk wasn't pretty. It's nice to given praise and encouragement. This was not a moment when it was deserved. To their great credit the girls took it on the chin, and went out to prove they were better than the previous 40 minutes suggested. The game was pretty even until Amelia had to leave the game with a bloody nose, and whilst a player down another goal was conceded. 4-0 looked bad but for the final 20 minutes it was all Langton Green. Jessie might  have socred twice, Nellie nearly scored from distance, and Georgie nearly took the chance her hard work merited. Sophie went up for two corners, and finally Maisie scored a consolation goal.

It ended 1-4. But the girls had proved they were capable of matching the league leaders. What they now need to do is figure out why they weren't able to do so from the first whistle rather than after half time. The key with making mistakes and getting better is to learn from experiences. There was a lot to learn from today.

Match Report - Sunday January 26th, KGLFL cup semi-final

Langton Green 1- 2 Danson (Akers)

Part three of the Langton vs Danson trilogy was the semi final of the league cup. Anxieties over health and fitness for Amy and Jessie were dispelled as they lined up in the starting 11 for Langton Green's first home game in 7 cup ties this season. 

The 3g meant the game would not look the same as the two that preceded, and both sides passed neatly rather than struggled with mud as they had for the previous two weeks. The game was tight but Langton were edging it. Hannah had a chance from a corner, then Jessie broke clear and almost beat the keeper who managed to sit on the ball to keep it out. At the other end the defending was stout. And then the first big moment as Jessie blocked a goalkeeping clearance and got to the ball on the by-line first; she was unselfish and composed as she pased the ball back to Amy who was equally calm as she side-footed home, 1-0. For the rest of the half Langton kept Danson at arms' length and deserved their lead at the break.

Instead of re-jigging the line-up to defend the lead the choice was made to leave Jessie up top and try and kill the game with a breakaway. She battled away with little support - such a big pitch and such defensive commitment made that very hard, but the girlsl were tiring. Unfortunately they were caught with the midfield on the wrong side of an attack and the ball fell to the feet of Danson's best striker who finished well. Momentum switched and it felt like next-goal's-the-winner. Amelia B almost scored from a header but it was only set pieces where sufficient players were getting forward.

Inside the last 10 minutes the same Danson striker repeated the trick, scoring from a similar position and Langton's emotional balloon burst. The game ended 2-1. It's probably true to say that neither side deserved to lose both semi finals, but Langton Green had come closest to winning both. In the end having half the side a year younger than their opponents made physicality a decisive factor. The girls ran their legs off, gave everything and there was no disgrace in coming so close. The disappointment will be fuel to fire them in the county cup final, which was, always, the biggest prize to pursue this season. And that is a few weeks away, with time to re-load.

Match Report - Sunday January 19th, Kent County Cup  Semi final

Danson 1 - 2 Langton Green (Tickner, Gale)

It's hard to play the same team twice in a row. Harder still when you lose the first one. Still harder when your central midfielder is unavailable. And even harder still when the game is the biggest one of the season. Add in the fact that in 42 years Langton Green have never reached a county final, and this was a big day, with very few (any ?) that have been bigger.

Danson won the league match the week before by, amongst other things, being bigger, quicker, stronger and more determined. With Tuesday training washed out there was time to think about how to do things differently, and the girls committed to an extra Friday session, where they were introduced to a new formation and a new game plan.

A delayed kick off gave even more time to prepare. There was no ball-kicking warm-up, it was all about reminders relating to roles and responsibilties, with fingers crossed that something new would not be uncomfortably disruptive. Jessie gave her own version of a team talk, and the game began. Within a minute it had become a dream start: Phoebe took a long throw, and with half the Danson side worrying about where Jessie was, Mollie had crowned her first game as centre forward all season by poking the ball home. It is less stressful to take the lead after 79 minutes than with 79 to go, but in terms of making a statement that last week's game was old news, this did exactly that. 10 minutes later the lead had doubled, and how. A long ball forward was cleared by the Danson keeper, but straight to Jessie, 35 yards out. Despite the muddy bobbly pitch she caressed a half-volleyed chip delicately over everyone and into the empty net. In terms of vision, technique and execution it was an 'oh my god' of a goal. Genius.

The team was fired up before the game. Now, with a two goal lead the booster rockets were firing too. Every tackle, every loose ball, every 50/50 situation saw the girls playing like distant cousins of the team on the same pitch the week before. At the back Hannah and Nellie were dealing with everything down the middle, and as Danson pressed forward the prospect of a fast counter attack gave hopes of a third and decisive goal. Mollie was running herself into the ground and had chances to get the killer goal. Most of the scares were coming from set play corners which were being conceded a little too easily, but Abi's handling in goal was reassuring given the immense tension and pressure. Frustratingly Danson scored just before half-time without it really being a dangerous attack, just a throw into the box, a semi clearance that fell to a girl who thumped it back and over Abi.

At the break there were plenty of good things to acknowledge, a lot of momentum to maintain, and few tinkerings. Obviously the big question was whether those in the midfield engine room could keep playing at the same level of intensity. As it turned out they could. Amy's work-rate was awesome, JMac's dedication to the role she was tasked with was unending, and Mia allowed no easy journeys past her. But in the heart of these midfield dynamos were two forwards who had been conscripted into new duties for the day. Maisie and Jessie had scored 35 goals between them in 13 games this season, but knew it was not their main job today. They joined the defensive midfield ranks, but continued to play danger balls forward.

The clock ticked on. Danson were not making clear chances, and were dealing with scares at the back. Mollie might have made it 3-1, then Jessie went half the length of the pitch only to put her final touch just wide. But without the extra goal the game was alive, and if Danson did score it would really test the effort levels of girls giving everything already. Amelia S was doing a fine job at right back, Phoebe on the left, so Macie was itching to get on the pitch. She wasnt perhaps expecting to go on as centre forward having been left back all season but Mollie was exhausted. And it was almost the coach's dream substitution when twice Macie bore down on goal and came close to ending the game. Jessie shot wide to the right, then Amy did the same to the left. The goal wouldn't come, the game stayed alive. Nellie showed how serious the defence was as she stepped in to head clear, and everyone followed suit.

A couple of scary corners were survived - with a minute to go a corner-scramble looked set to up a last Danson chance but Phoebe (playing her best game in months) threw herself into the line of the shot and the ball was cleared. Mia headed the ball away, Nellie shephered the ball to the left as the Langton supporters beseeched her to get the ball off the pitch. She did. And then the sweetest music, as the (excellent) referee blew his whistle to end the game. You don't get elation like this unless you have overcome adversity, made a plan, and executed it. The girls thoroughly deserved their win and their place in the final. That's what sport can do, like very little else. Players, coaches, parents all gave all they had today. 

To their great credit Danson were gracious and sporting in defeat. They will feel determined to have their revenge next week in the KGLFL semi-final. But the Langton girls will have Amelia back, and the knowledge of what teamwork can do, when everyone gives all they have.

Langton Green. County Cup finalists.It sounds good doesn't it ?

Match Report - Sunday January 12th, KGLFL division 1

Danson 4 - 2 Langton Green (Hagger, Gale)

5 weeks between games is plenty of time to get rusty and lose momentum. This Sunday saw the first of 3 consecutive games against the same opposition, Danson, in 3 different competitions: the KGLFL league game was today, to be followed next week by the county cup semi final, followed the week after by the league's cup semi-final. Probably not a scenario that either team would have chosen.

Sadly the pitch was not one Langton Green would have chosen either. There was almost no grass left on it, it sloped, was muddy, and there was a strong prevailing wind. All the ingredients one would choose to make good football difficult.

Both sides did their best on such a less than perfect platform. Often the ball just blew off the pitch in the direction of the wind, but occasionally neat passing worked out, although often a good move was ended not by bad skill but by a bad bobble. In the first 15 minutes Danson hit the post at one end, while Jessie shot inches wide from close range at the other. Then Danson went ahead only to see the game levelled almost immediately when Maisie took advantage of a goalkeeping error. The game was pretty even until Danson nudged ahead when a ball wasnt cleared, and the striker forced her way into the box and scored at the near post.

2-1 down at half time was not a disaster, and hopes of an equaliser were raised when Langton won a free kick within range of goal, but Maisie's shot was blocked by the wall.  And then it went quickly wrong. A long ball down the middle bounced towards the Langton goal. Sophie thought of coming out but stayed back and the striker ran on and volleyed home strongly. Soon after on another breakaway Sophie made a great save only to see the rebound fall straight to a Danson player's feet for an easy tap in, 4-1. It felt a long way back, but the girls then scored the best goal of the game as Maisie dribbled past 3 players and sent a perfect pass through for Jessie to score emphatically. The ame two girls almost repeated the same trick, but the clock ran down and Danson finished as winners.

The shadow of next week's game hung over the post-match talk,and perhaps masked some of the positive aspects of the day. Hannah had defended bravely, Amy had worked incredibly hard and creatively, Nellie had delivered her best performance of the season, whilst Maisie and Jessie had given the Danson defenders nightmares. All these things can happen again next week, and everyone will be one week further away from the rust of Christmas holidays. Chins up.

Match /Report - Sunday December 8th, KGLFL cup, 1/4 final

Kings Hill 1 - 1 Langton Green (Hagger), after extra time. Langton Green win 4-2 on penalties.

This was the fifth time this season the girls had been drawn away in a cup tie. They have travelled far and wide on their journey, and today Kings Hill stood between them and the semi finals of the KGLFL cup. Nellie was away, Georgie the only sub, and Abi N took the gloves.

Chance after chance was the order of the day. When Jessie went through she either toe poked just wide, or hit the keeper, whereas Mollie smashed a volley into the keeper, and then slipped in the mud when only a yard out. Shots were blocked, there were scrambles everywhere, but the goal would not come. At the other end things were largely under control except when the pacy KH winger made inroads. She was usualy blocked but corners were conceded that brought some pressure,

Finally Maisie burst through and smashed home a low finish. On a muddy pitch 1-0 was a big lead, but it was the very least it should have been at half time. And the second half was similar, as numerous chances to score the second goal just didn't quite work out. 

And then, to underline the 'one of those days' feeling the pacy KH striker went down the left wing at speed. She was escorted all the way but no tackle was made, and her cross found an unmarked player, 1-1. It was a lesson in how much hard work can be undone by a lapse in intensity and concentration. The rest of the game saw a resumption of the bombardment of the Kings Hill goal, which ended with two corrners that might have turned to goals, Hannah hooking the ball over the bar with the last kick of the match.

So to extra time. As Jessie said in the team talk it was now about heart as much as technique. But the same torrent of unfinished chances continued. Macie looked set to score but was dragged off the ball, Maisie scored a goal but was flagged offside, Jessie went clear but saw her shot saved and her rebound go inches wide. With moments to go Mollie went through and shot beyond the stranded keeper only to see the ball bounce back off the post.

So after 100 minutes of effort it was a penalty shootout that would decide things. The girls kept their game faces on as the penalty taking order was discussed. No loss of focus. Hannah won the toss and Jessie went first, side-footing calmly into the corner. A good start became a great one when Abi blocked the first KH penalty, then Amy stepped up to score into the corner. Good turned to great as KH shot over the bar and Hannah stepped up to make it 3-0. The home side had to score to stay alive, and did, but Amelia then had the chance to win the contest. She sent the keeper the wrong way but lifted the ball over the bar, and when Kings Hill scored again it was 3-2 and a little nervy. But up stepped Maisie, knowing she had a shot to put Langton through, and she buried the ball in the corner.

The right team went through, but Kings Hill can be very proud of the effort they put in. Both sides gave everything for 100 minutes, which is longer than a Premiership game. It means the girls are in the last 4 of both the league and the county cups. The county cup semi final is yet another away game, so maybe luck will shine and it will be a home game in the KGLFL semi final. If not the road warriors will just keep travelling well.

Match Report - Sunday December 1st, KGLFL Div 1

Sittingbourne 2 - 4 Langton Green (Gale 3, Tickner)

A cold grey lunchtime kick off in the mud at Sittingbourne. On Saturday night there were still only 10 fit players for sure, plus a collection of sick, swimming and granny-visiting possibilities. With 5 minutes before kick-off there were, finally, 13 players and 2 coaches in the right place.

From the outset it was clear the conditions would make neat passing and fast movement difficult, which in turn would make goals hard to score. Moves broke down long before they reached the danger area. Macie and Nellie were feeding Maisie a good supply of passes to work with but the journey from left wing to penalty area was proving well protected by determined centre backs.

Finally Jessie broke clear but toe-poked the ball past the keeper but also inches past the post. Moments later she had a second chance as a blocked Maisie shot fell into her path, 1-0. This felt a big lead in the circumstances.

At half time the need to be firm and decisive in tackling and passing was emphasized. This was not a day for standing off and in the second half the girls upped their game. However the key moment of the game was at the back, not up front. A Sittingbourne striker broke free and went clear. Sophie saved brilliantly, and the ball was cleared to Amy who turned and put Jessie clear, to run away from trailing defenders, and round the keeper to score a killer goal. Things can change so quickly. It might have been 1-1, but Sophie saved the day and 10 seconds later the ball was in the net at the other end.

Having grabbed a decisive lead the girls pressed home their advantage. Jessie slid the ball between the centre back and full back and Mollie delivered a classy finish, low and across goal into the far corner (just as she is asked to in training). And then for a second time in the half Amy delivered a ball that split the Sittingbourne defence and Jessie raced through to finish brilliantly.

That should have been that. However, having taken control, a moment of defensive meandering gifted a goal back. That would not have mattered except that the home keeper saved brilliantly from Amelia B, and in no time the same Sittingbourne striker had scored an almost identical goal to make it 4-2. So, the newly subbed on forwards were taken back off for defenders and the girls had to knuckle down and see the result home. Which they did.

In the end it was a hard earned win. The toughest tacklers were Amelia, Jmac, Amy and Hannah, who was a rock at the back despite being ill all of the day before. Equally strong was Nellie who managed not to find a new way to get injured. But, for all the brave defence the difference was up front. Jessie made it 6 hat-tricks in 7 league games with brilliant finishing on a day when it was hard to score. Outstanding.

Match Report - Sunday November 24th, KGLFL Div 1

Langton Green 8 - 0 Tankerton (Baker, Gale 4, Hagger, Adkin, Akers)

September was the last time the girls played an 11 side game at home. As usual it was a day to be grateful for a dry 3g, and to welcome vistors from Tankerton, who had been cup opponents just 2 weeks before.

Sometimes an early goal sets the tone of a game, and sometimes the style of the goal also sets a tone. Both happened here; strong pressure led to multiple corners and both Maisie and Jessie were delivering airmailed nightmares for the Tankerton defence. Jessie's corner from the right was powerfully headed home by Amelia B, who then headed another against the bar, Hannah headed a corner just wide, and Maisie looked to have scored direct from another corner, but the linesman didnt spot it.

That repertoire of corners was interrupted by a toe poked goal from Jessie to make it 2-0, before it was back to the corners, and Hannah scoring her first league goal of the season knocking home left footed in a crowded penalty area. Then, as if corners werent causing enough trouble the girls won a free kick 25 yards out in front of goal. Last week Maisie scored from a free kick low into the corner, this week she thumped the ball into the roof of the net. Before half time it was 5-0 as JG added her second with her left foot. So, in one half there was a headed goal and 2 left footed ones; and a happy coach in consequence. As well as the goals there had been some very neat passing, not least from Georgie, and some solid defending as JMac again partnered Hannah at the back with well-timed interventions.

The flow of goals paused in the second half for a while - Nellie found a new way to get injured by using her nose and mouth to head the ball away (Clue: it's called 'heading' for a reason!) but she was brave enough to return (and head the ball!). Phoebe pushed forward in search of her first league goal, but it was JG who was next on the score sheet, with her third and fourth goals of the game. Mollie shot just wide, and Maisie set Georgie up with a chance for her first goal, but it wasnt to be. However the clearance went to Amy, who lifted the ball over the keeper from outside the box, which earned appreciative applause from the watching boys waiting to use the pitch for the following game.

Tankerton never gave up, and despite their injuries made a valiant effort, unstintingly encouraged by their coach. But today was a powerful performance by a side which appears to have found its mojo. That makes 7 straight wins, with 58 goals scored and 6 conceded in that time. Pleasingly also, 2 clean sheets in a row. (Well done captain Haddock!)

Match Report - Sunday November 17th, Kent County Cup 1/4 final

Anchorians 0 - 4 Langton Green (Hagger, Gale, Tickner 2)

A fifth cup tie of the season, and a fifth time as the away team. The prospective prize at the end of this visit to Anchorians in Gillingham was a place in the semi finals of the Kent County Cup. For the first time in a while it wasn't windy or raining; the grass pitch was a bit muddy, and a bit sloping, but would be the same for both sides. Captain Hannah won the toss and the girls took the uphill half first.

As seems to be normal these days the game started with Jessie scoring a goal ruled offside, after which a pattern of play was established. Langton Green did most of the passing, whilst the slope allowed Anchorians to mount some direct counter-attacks down the hill. Abi N in goal had an excellent first half, being brave when required, and showing good judgement when coming off her line. Hannah stopped most of the dangers before they came to much, ably assisted by Macie, Nellie and Mollie who was covering as right back while Phoebe was feeling unwell.

The first goal was a solo effort. A free kick was won outside the box on the left hand side. Maisie stepped up and planted the ball in the far right corner, 1-0. Later in the half Hannah found Jmac with a clearance, and she slid a beautiful pass into Jessie's path. JG carried the ball into the box, faked the keeper and passed into the empty net. A 2-0 lead and playing downhill put the girls very much in control.

As anticipated the home side found it much harder up the hill and the Langton girls created more chances to add to the lead. Amy unleashed a string of lethal through balls to set up great chances, and then a brilliant cross from the touchline that Amelia B almost chested home. The awesome Amelia B headed away an uncountable number of Anchorian throws, denying they any way to progress up the wings, and also found time to drive into the opposing box, only to fire over the bar with her left foot.

The third goal looked inevitable. In the end it began with Mia's sliced shot, that turned into a perfect pass for Mollie to side foot home with great technique on the half volley. (Mollie was now playing upfield as Phoebe was feeling better and getting stuck in). The only defensive wobble was cleaned up by the impeccable, but muddy, Abigail.

And then....the coach's favourite moment: Amy won a header (yes, Amy), and that header was headed on (yes, really) by Jmac, to Jessie who lobbed a wonderful through ball to Mollie. She took one touch and smashed the ball home from outside the box. All those Tuesday nights at training were just for that goal. There might have been more; Maisie had a scorching shot well saved, and a free kick that was dropped but recovered, but the game was already won. The girls were into the last 4 of the county cup. The news that Maidstone had been surprisingly eliminated added to the sense of opportunity taken. 

As a performance this ticked many boxes. A clean sheet, strong tackling, good passing, crossing, and finishing. But, best of all, some headers from girls who didn't think they could, or would, but did.

Match Report- Sunday November 10th, KGLFL u15 cup, last 16

Tankerton 2 - 4 Langton Green (Gale 2, Baker, Hagger)

The most westerly side in Kent is Langton Green, perched on the East Sussex border. It is hard to be further east than Tankerton, whose pitch is right by the sea ! A long road trip, and an early start but a sunny day, and a pitch far less muddy than feared were the ingredients in the KGLFL cup tie for a place in the 1/4 finals.

Captain Hannah won the toss and the girls elected to play uphill and against the not-too-bad sea breeze. It was quickly clear that it would be a game of two halves. Tankerton had speedy strikers and any long clearance down the pitch was causing problems, especially when the ball was not dealt with before it bounced. It felt inevitable that Tankerton would get chances if this kept happening, and they took the lead when confusion took over as a defender chased a through ball back towards Sophie and they both politely left it for each other, giving time for a striker to sneak into the gap. 

Fortunately Jessie latched onto a long ball in the other direction and equalised almost immediately, but the lesson wasnt learned, and the girls were lucky when a Tankerton forward went clean through the middle and struck the post. After a reshuffle Jmac joined Hannah in the middle, and Amelia B started to win every header which dried up the supply of difficult situations. For the most part Langton Green was playing more of the football, and Maisie had a great chance to equalise when sent through by a lovely pass from Jessie. Macie had a strong shot well saved, and every corner was a threat. Mollie's passing was outstanding in the first half as she took training ground form onto a bigger pitch. Georgie passed intelligently when her chance came too.

1-1 at half time was ok, based on the presumption that pointing down the hill would be easier, and assuming the defence dealt decisively with any Tankerton breaks. Both proved to be the case. Jessie restored the lead when Phoebe's long throw caught the Tankerton defence square and gave JG a run on goal. When Amelia B bundled home another excellent Maisie corner the game looked safe, but a lapse in concentration gave up a chance that was well taken and all of a sudden 3-2 looked a little nervous. Fortunately Phoebe's long diagonal pass turned into her second assist when Maisie dribbled the ball home.

Tankerton never gave up, and it took an excellent (and unexpected!) headed clearance from Amelia S to deal with a dangerous cross and deny the home team any last hope. But it was the other Amelia's dominance in the air, and strength on the ground, that made her the dominant player today. The hosts were generous in their praise, and two sets of supporters provided a warm and encouraging atmosphere, so despite it being a 5 hour trip door to door it was a good day, and great to advance to the 1/4 finals.

Match Report - Sunday November 3rd, KGLFL Div 1

Langton Green 9 - 2 Gravesham (Hagger 4, Gale 3, Baker 2)

A home game, but 9 a side and with plenty of absentees so plenty to adapt to. Abigail N kept the gloves as Sophie was unwell, and Hannah and Nellie anchored the defense with a never-ending rotation of surrogate right backs - at different times they were helped out by Mollie, Mia, Jmac, Jessie (!) and Maisie (!!), with differing levels of defensive enthusiasm.

Early on Jessie tapped home from Abi F's cross from the right but the goal was cancelled for offside. It mattered little because soon afterwards Maisie went down the left and crossed for Jessie to do it again. 1-0. The next time Maisie went down the left she cut inside and finished the job herself for 2-0 and for a while it looked like a lot of goals might be possible. Chances came and went, which didnt seem too important until a careless goal kick gave away a soft goal and all of a sudden the half time team talk was being given at 2-1 with some jangling nerves. The girls were asked to keep attacking as they had been, which was well, but with an extra pinch of concentration and care in theor own third of the pitch.

Maisie stole the ball from the Gravesham keeper and passed into the empty net to restore breathing room, but a rare break at the other end quickly made it 3-2 and nervous again. Fortunately Amelia B, who was dominant in central midfield, decided to settle matters by volleying home a wickedly good corner, and then saw her right wing cross diverted into the net which finally ended Gravesham's resistance. Jessie added a header, and Maisie a tap in. Maisie also scored the goal of the game after some fast-footed-wizardry and a thumping shot. Several other girls were desperate to score - Mollie and Jmac both passed intelligently and worked hard enough to deserve a goal but it just wouldnt come.

In the end the score made it look a very one-sided game. The fact that it was closer than it needed to be for so long made it more fun for the crowd, and less fun for the coach but in the end it was a powerful statement of a performance. Gravesham were excellent visitors - nice coaches, polite parents, and players who never stopped trying. A pleasure to host them.

 Next stop  is a cup tie in Tankerton

Match Report - Sunday October 27th, KGLFL Div 1

Parkwood Rangers 1 - 6 Langton Green (Tickner, Scott, Gale 3, MacPherson)

After so much rain it was a relief to play in sunshine. The pitch was a little muddy, but not bad. What was different was that this game had been designated a 9-a-side format, so 11 girls faced some rotation and a slightly different shape. In the absence of Mia and Amelia B the centre of midfield was anchored by Jmac and Amy, with Maisie and Mollie offering width. And it was a perfect start as Maisie went down the left, and Mollie arrived from the right to sidefoot home from close range. 

Other chances were being created, and Parkwood were generally kept at a safe distance, except that their long throws kept finding their way into the penalty area and causing panic. Amelia S came on and promptly scored on the rebound from almost the same spot as Mollie had. It was looking good but then Parkwood scored from the same kind of attack as had been causing the problems earlier. Insufficient Langton lasses wanted to put their head in the way of throws, and it was proving a weakness.

Fortunately before half time Maisie made it 3 assists in the game after a brilliant (mazy?) run that set Jessie G up, and JG added a fourth after a run through and round the goalkeeper. The half time score looked comfortable, provided lessons could be learned.

They were. Nellie provided some fierce tackling in the midfield, Mollie and Amy passed intelligently, and defensively things were tighter with Hannah back in charge. Macie almost scored but Jmac helped herself to the rebound for her first league goal,and then Jessie completed a deserved hat-trick (her third in 4 league games). Phoebe almost scored as she got forward and Amy smashed home goal of the season from long distance, only to be denied by the ref's final whistle. (But no-one will forget the shot).

All in all it was an excellent display. Abigail had her best outing in goal, with good calling, and safe handling, and even some wise distribution. But the standout was Maisie, who proved you dont need to score as a striker to influence the outcome. Her creativity was the root of countless chances today.


Match Report - Sunday October 13th, Kent County Cup

Briefly, Aylesford L - W Langton Green. A one sided contest saw the girls advance to the quarter finals. Congrats to Georgie on her official debut, and well done to everyone who scored, which was everyone except Sophie, who kept a clean sheet!

Match Report - Sunday October 6th, KGLFL Cup, Round 1, Venue HSBC Beckenham

Ex-Blues 1 - 3 Langton Green (Gale, Hagger 2)

Wild weather overnight gave way to clear skies by mid-morning so the girls travelled to Beckenham grateful to be playing at all. A first cup tie of the season gave the chance to put league disappointments to one side, and find a new focus. With a few absentees there was a debut for Abi F on the wing, and for Georgie on the bench.

Things started well and Jessie had the ball in the net early, put through by Maisie - but the linesman's flag cancelled the goal out. It felt like it would be a question of time before the girls went ahead, but then the Ex-Blues started finding gaps and opportunities when they broke quickly, and then after some indecisive Langton clearances the Ex-Blues went ahead with a fine shot from the edge of the box. It wasn't their only chance of the half as they attacked confidently. Meantime the Langton girls were anything but confident, as a cloud of 'here we go again' descended on them. That feeling was added to when Jessie rounded the keeper only to side-foot wide, then Macie and Mollie also missed the target with decent chances. Even more frustrations were piled on when an excellent corner from Maise was headed strongly against the underside of the bar by Amelia, and then Hannah poked the rebound into the grateful arms of the goalkeeper. 

For a team that has had chances to win its previous 3 games, but won none, it was easy to be in a bad place by half time. The players wanted to be told they were doing well, the coaches wanted a reality check. Mia and Amelia B had played well, but most of the team knew there were things that could be done better. It was time to step up. The pattern of play in the second half had recurring themes. The girls tackled harder, defended more fiercely, and started to make inroads when they released Abi F down the right wing. Her pace was a constant threat, and Phoebe kept her supplied with good passes to run onto.

Then Hannah stepped into to intercept a through ball and cleared long down the middle. Jessie avoided the offside flag by starting 3 yards behind the centre back, but won the race, dribbled into the box and nudged the ball gently past the helpless keeper. 1-1. Finally something had gone right and the clouds of doubt seemed to lift. With 15 minutes to go Maisie chased a back pass and pressured the keeper into trying to dribble her way out of trouble. No chance. Maisie block-tackled the clearance into the empty net, 2-1.

The opposition had a great chance to equalise immediately but the shot went just wide. After that the defence dealt well with the pressure. Hannah, Nellie, Phoebe and Macie all made big tackles, and Mia and Amelia fought over inch of territory. With 5 minutes left Amelia won another thumping header, and Mia escaped down the left wing. She cut into the box, looked up and found Maisie who coolly rounded the keeper and rolled the ball into the empty net; a nice goal with plenty of good elements to it.

For the final few minutes it was possible to actually enjoy the end of a game ! The girls had earned the praise they got at the final whistle, and reminded themselves how to win. Next up is the County Cup...

Match Report - Sunday Sept 29th, KGLFL Div 1, Venue Bennett 3g

Langton Green 1 - 3 West Kent (Tickner)

Two weeks ago it was so hot there was a drinks break after 20 minutes. Today it was wet windy and miserable. West Kent were the visitors, and they played with the wind at their backs in the first half. The Langton girls were better organised than in previous weeks, and defended valiantly. Abi N in goal had a couple of mad moments coming off her line but also showed she was determined to work on that part of her game. Another plus was that several of the girls were showing a willingness to head the ball more. What wasnt quite so good was the accuracy of passing once the ball had been won, so some good openings went to waste.

But, 0-0 at half time with the wind at their backs for the next 40 minutes was a good place to be. Hopes were high. The game was even for the next 10-15 minutes but then, like last week, a girl got a ball in the face, and, like last week, everyone switched off for a few minutes while West Kent broke away to score twice. For all their possession it was crazy to be 2-0 down, and West Kent were fighting like mad to hold their lead. 

Maisie's inswinging corner hit the bar, and Mollie stabbed the ball home with plenty enough time left for a fightback. Soon after, Jessie went clear through but was crowded out when the equaliser beckoned. More chances came and went, and for a third time West Kent scored on a breakaway. It was almost worse except that Abi made a great penalty save, but it was too late to come back.

Three league games have come and gone. Across 6 halves the girls have won 2 and drawn 1, and been the better side for at least 4 of them. But that counts for nothing if they don't play hard for all 80 minutes. There is no lack of ability, so results will come, but a steely determination is required to play against the best sides. The next two weeks see games in the two cup competitions and that is a chance to get the momentum the team needs.

Match Report - Sunday Sept 22nd, KGLFL Div 1, Venue K Sports, Ditton

Maistone United 6 - 4 Langton Green (Gale 3, Hagger)

There are days when words will fail to do justice to the events of the day. This will be one. Langton Green travelled to league-favourites Maidstone, took a 4 goal lead, and lost. That's the blunt version.

The longer version involves a first 20 minutes where the girls destroyed the home side. Aside from scoring 4 goals they missed another 4 golden chances. Jessie G kept breaking clear down the middle and scoring, with excellent assists from Macie, AbiO and Maisie. Maisie also scored as the Maidstone keeper fell and was injured. At that point it was hard to imagine it could be a bad day. Maidstone had dragged a goal back when the girls took too long to put the ball out of danger, but the clear turning point of the game was freakish in the extreme. Sophie came off her line to kick a ball clear, but scored a direct hit of the ball onto Nellie's face. Nellie hit the ground in great pain, and it was almost a secondary thing that the ball karoomed away, fully 25 yards into the empty net. Tough on the team, tougher still on Nellie.

Reeling from the misfortune all focus seemed to be lost and Maidstone took full advantage, heading home a corner to make it 3-4 at half time. It was still a lead, but the atmosphere was one of impending doom. The girls clung on in the second half, but always struggled with long and high through balls, whereas at the other end Maidstone seemed to win all the necessary headers. A breakaway made it 4-4 and all of a sudden a draw seemed to best to wish for. Maisie almost regained the lead, twice, both times with good free kicks, but with ten minutes left aother ball wasnt cleared and it was 5-4, and soon after 6-4. Game over.

It's all but impossible to say anything to make it feel better. Credit to Maidstoone for coming back, but it was a desperately unlucky twist of fate that changed the game. The girls will have to deal with the sense of 'what might have been'. Jessie has twice scored a hat-trick in the first two games, but has not yet been on the winning side. There has been loads to be proud of, but little to show for the effort.

That is sport. The joy of winning is only really experienced in the fullest sense by those who have known the agony of defeat. The girls have just encountered the agony. The wining will come. 

Sunday Sept 15th, KGLFL Div 1, Venue Bennett 3g

Langton Green Wildcats 3 - 3 Danson Sports (Gale 3)

What a way to debut ! Just over 6 months since the idea of an u15 Langton Green side, after a lot of talking, meeting, friendlies, fiestas, it was finally time for a league game. The weather was as perfect as September can offer, and the opposition arrived with a high reputation and a 6-2 win in their first game the week before.

It was blazing hot so very much a case of needing a squad of 14 than a team of 11. The formation, tactics, and rotation were discussed beforehand (in the shade), and things started well when Abi O almost gave the girls the lead but her shot was inches over the bar. And then it all went wrong. As Mike Tyson observed 'everyone has a plan until you punch them in the face', and for the first 25 minutes that is what Danson did to the Langton Green girls. In no time at all it was 3-0 to the visitors as the Wildcats were run over, as defensive errors were punished, and as heads and work-rate dropped.

Luckily the teams had agreed to a 'water-break time-out' half way through the half which gave a chance to talk and regroup. Jessie G was sent through by a long ball, and finished calmly to make the score less one-sided, after which Danson had a goal disallowed, and missed another chance, then Hannah really did get smacked in the nose and had to come off for repairs. Half time, 1-3.

There are times to talk tactics at half time, and to tinker with team shape and formations. This was not one of those. Half time was a hard conversation about hunger and desire. Is there a reason girls from Langton Green and Tunbridge Wells have to be too nice, too easy to roll over, to not be able to compete ? Was there a reason not to match Danson's determination in the tackle, was it possible to find the desire to be first to the ball, and to want to win badly enough to give everything? The girls said they could toughen up, try harder. The key was who scored next...

It was that girl Jessie Gale again....a quickly taken long throw enabled her to dance through, and cut inside to finish from close range, 2-3. It was the foot in the door the girls needed, and the game changed. The second half then followed a clear pattern. Wildcats bombing forward chasing the equaliser, Danson on the back foot but incredibly dangerous on the break. A great piece of individual skill saw Danson hit the bar. That might have ended the game. On another break down the left only brilliant defending from Phoebe kept the game alive. Abi N in goal overcame the ghosts of the first half erorrs to leave her line bravely and intercept through balls. (Next time she shouldnt stop to put her hat back on before diving to make the next save).

Importantly the appetite to compete was there. Girls who usually duck were putting headers in. Tackles were won. Danson midfielders were having to deal with two Langton girls at a time, instead of having space. (It's worth mentioning that Hannah and Amelia B were brave in the air from start to finish, but it was great to see others follow their example.)

And finally, with 2 minutes left, after some intense pressure, Jessie completed her hat-trick, to roar from the crowd and all those on the pitch. A hugely deserved equaliser, 3-3. There was still time for some frenzied moments but the game ended in a draw, to great applause from all who were watching. 

It was only 1 point gained, but it was a big point made by the girls to each other. They had dug deep on a very hot day, and found the inner strength to fight back. It was a great game, but will also serve as a platform for the season.

Match Report - Saturday June 22nd, Paddock Wood Fiesta

The Wildcats travelled to Paddock Wood on a hot sunny afternoon to take on the challenge of the u15 ladies fiesta. A part of the challenge would be that the squad comprised 3 x u13s, 5 x u14s, and no u15s, so certainly an age and size disadvantage, which they would have to make up for with talent and effort and determination.

The first game is often crucial in a fiesta campaign, because in a 10 minute format it's possible to dominate and not score, or, worse, make one mistake that there is no time to redeem. Paddock Wood, the hosts were the first opponents, and the first half was a classic case of domination without goals. Abi O might have grabbed the lead on three occasions, so might Maisie or Amy - defensively Sophie was untroubled, protected by Hanna, Amelia B and Jmac. But the game ticked on and the sideline anxiety grew. Macie added some good width in the second half, and finally, with a small deflection, Maisie grabbed the lead. A 1-0 lead made for the perfect start.

In game number two versus the Anchorian Angels it was Amy who delivered the opening goal and things were looking very good. Maisie hit the post with a chance that would have ended the game, but with a minute to go a long Anchorian clearance rolled up the right wing. Sophie came to clear but hesitated and in that moment a striker snuck in and squared the ball, which Hannah was unlucky to see deflect into her own net of her outstretched leg. It was too late to respond, and in a flash 6 points in the bag, and a perfect start, had turned into 4. 

This was compounded in the next match by a 0-0 draw versus Lewes. Each of Abi O, Maisie and Amy created a chance for themselves to take a first half lead, after which the Wildcats dodged a bullet when Lewes hit the post. Maisie hit the bar in the second half, and for the second game in a row it was a draw that could have been a win. Not the end of the world, but it made the upcoming mountain a lot steeper to climb.

Up next were Maidstone Utd, who had won all their games and clearly strong. This game was much like the previous two, as The Langton side spent most of the game threatening to score, but not quite succeeding. Abi came close, then Amy, and then Maisie twice, but late in the game a Maidstone free kick squirmed across the goal and their striker got to the rebound first. So, for the third game in a row it was hard to criticise the performance but easy to be disappointed with the result.

Sometimes that is how it goes in fiestas. You go home wondering how it didnt quite work out. Paddock Wood could eliminate the Wildcats if they won their final game, but instead lost heavily. This kept the door open. The last game was a 'must-win' against Ifield. And....not for the first time the girls battered their opponents' goal but could not score. Some great goalkeeping added to the sense that it was not meant to be. Abi O was injured after going bravely after a goalscoring chance, and time ticked away. Finally Maisie was rewarded for all her efforts and scored. Crucially she iced the cake with a second goal soon after. The Wildcats had 8 points, and a positive goal difference. Anchorians would need to beat the hitherto unbeaten Maidstone by 2 goals to force a penalty-shoot-out playoff. They battled hard but drew 0-0 and the Wildcats, had, despite all the fustrations, found their way to the semi-finals. 

The other half of Maidstone had won their group, which set up a high class contest. As in the group stages on the balance of play the Langton girls were looking most likely to score, but the attacking threat from Maidstone was apparent. Once Sophie had to deal with it, and once Hannah made a crucial tackle. In this game the Cats were set up more defensively with Amelia B joining Hannah, and their heading ability dealt with most of the threat. Sophie's contribution in this game grew and grew. Her distribution to Maisie kept setting up good attacks, and after a deflected shot she made an awesome save to keep the scores level. At full time it was 0-0. Next up was a period of 'golden goal' but still no-one could put the game to bed and so it was on to penalties.

A large part of penalty shoot outs is attitude and belief. The girls were asked to be brave, be focused, and to trust in their skills. Maisie, who had led from the front was asked to set the tone, which she did (despite taking her penalty for a yard too far back). Sophie very nearly saved the first Maidstone penalty, before Amy scored hers, and the next Maidstone kick went high over the bar. This gave Sophie the chance to step up and win the shoot-out but her kick was saved, and the next Maidstone girl levelled the scores, 2-2. Sudden death.....Hannah scored, they equalised to stay alive, Amelia scored, they equalised. Then Macie saw her kick saved and it was match point to Maidstone, but the turn of their goalkeeper to take a kick. Sophie saved it to keep the Cats alive (though it wasnt clear how many of their 9 lives they had used up!). 4-4 and back to the top of the order.....Maisie scored again, Amy scored again, but so did Maidstone. Sophie's turn now, with all the nerves that come with having missed the first time around. She delivered. Maidstone equalised, Hannah made it 8-7, Maidstone scored, 8-8. Amelia made it 9-8 and finally Maidstone cracked and shot wide. Incredible. It's hard to think of a penalty shoot out that goes 8 kicks deep into sudden death, and to score 9/11 under such pressure was awesome.

Having climbed that mountain the final beckoned, against Lewes Black, who had defeated the other Maidstone side in their semi final. When you have survived an epic shoot-out you start to feel indestructible, and the confidence was flowing. Amy skimmed a brilliant shot millimetres over the bar, and Maisie was tormenting Lewes defenders with fast feet and aggressive running. Jmac was working her socks off as she had all day, whilst Amelia and Hannah locked down the defence. And then....the moment: Maisie spun her defender and broke down the left, cut inside and passed the ball in off the far post. An utterly brilliant goal, when it was most needed, in the final. 

The lead taken it was time to fight to keep it. Abi O came on, despite still hurting and made a crucial last ditch block, whilst Hannah and Amelia stood strong. The final whistle came, and the girls were cup-final winners. All the hurdles had been cleared. When it really mattered they had delivered. Lewes were very sporting in defeat - their coach shook hands and asked for a pre-season friendly...

Winning isn't everything, but it is a good habit to get into. The girls will gain in terms of confidence, team-bonding and the lessons that come with doing things the hard way but persevering. Macie collected the trophy, with big smiles all round. Langton Green is on the map  :)