Kings Langley’s fairytale rise up the football pyramid continued on Saturday as they clinched the Southern League Division One Central title to confirm their third successive promotion.
The triumph comes just 12 months after the all-conquering Kings were crowned Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division champions, and sees them continue their progress at the first time of asking.
Behind those amazing facts lay an afternoon of mounting tension at Petersfield Town’s Love Lane ground as the hosts did their level best to prevent Kings from achieving the win that would give them the title.
A Mitchell Weiss shot was just over in the second minute as the visitors looked for a quick-fire start, but Joe Richardson responded with a shot off target and Gary Norgate headed over from a corner.
With Emmanuel Folarin suspended, Kings had been forced to pull the versatile Connor Toomey back into wide defence and switch to a 4-3-1-2 formation that was not giving them their usual width.
However, the ever willing Manny Duku was causing problems for Town on both flanks in supporting Weiss, and the latter tested Anthony Ender with a shot from an acute angle that the keeper saved with his feet.
Five minutes from the interval David Hutton thought he’d made the breakthrough with a stinging shot, but Ender made a superb save to tip the ball on to the post and away to safety.
Fate had scripted that the other two title rivals were playing each other, and on the hour mark came the news that further frayed Kings fans’ nerves – Egham had taken the lead at Royston.
The Langley goal difference was the poorest of the three, so as it stood Egham would be champions on goal difference and Kings consigned to the play-offs.
Langley managers Paul Hughes and Ritchie Hanlon reacted by sending on Steve Ward, and the 19-year-old immediately troubled Town with a typically direct run that ended with a desperate defensive header round the post.
Kings were doing all the attacking now, the home side’s forays into the opposition half few and far between, as Danny Hutchins’ full blooded shot was held on the line at the second attempt by a juggling Ender.
Time was running out for Kings, but the breakthrough they so desperately craved arrived 17 minutes from time.
Gary Connolly played Weiss in on goal, and the prolific striker kept his cool to beat Ender with a precision shot that snuck just inside the post to put Kings in sight of victory.
Soon afterwards, news came through that Royston had equalised against Egham, and wild scenes greeted the final whistle as Kings could celebrate their incredible promotion hat-trick.