The impressive run of 10 games unbeaten – during which Kings Langley have collected 28 points and surged to the top of the table – came to a halt in a 3-1 defeat at Potters Bar Town on Saturday.
Egham Town and AFC Rushden & Diamonds failed to take advantage, but Royston Town moved ominously up to second place, a point behind Kings.
Although without Stuart Deaton and Dean Hitchcock, the visitors started brightly enough, looking impressive in their build-up play without greatly threatening, apart from a penalty shout that fell on deaf ears when Mitchell Weiss was felled in the box.
The Scholars began to put their own moves together and the match was played at pace with uncompromising challenges as two equally matched sides probed for the all-important opening goal.
Unlike the previous fixture against Aylesbury, it was Kings who blinked first as Evandro Delgado was given far too much space on their right and allowed to cut in and blast the ball past Xavi Comas, who got a hand to it but was beaten by the power of the shot.
It got worse 10 minutes later, when a move that started on the left switched wings to lay the ball at the feet of Joe Bennett and he finished with ease.
Kings battled back in the second half, but the influential David Hutton was finding life difficult in a competitive midfield and any hopes of a comeback were thwarted when another lapse on the left saw Jack Lyons seize on a loose ball to round the defence and slot home the third.
Leading scorer Weiss laboured hard to win back balls and was rewarded when a Ryan Plowright through-ball saw him use his strength to hold off a defender and gain some consolation for Kings, who then had a good spell of pressure.
Another goal would have produced an interesting finish, but it was the old case of too little, too late as the contest drew to a close.