A resurgent Kings Langley celebrated their first league victory for nearly two months after their workmanlike 2-0 home win over Stratford Town on Saturday.
It’s now two draws and a win, including a point against league leaders Kettering Town, since caretaker boss Steve Conroy was given the job on a permanent basis and they have extended their unbeaten run to four games in all competitions.
Last week’s impact subs Arjun Jung and Gareth Price were pulled into the starting line-up on Saturday and new signings Nikolay Minchev and David Femiola were on the bench as Conroy slightly tweaked the formation to 4-3- 3, with Matt Ball in central midfield and Kieran Turner returning to the left-wing after illness.
It was another rainy afternoon which made good football difficult.
Kings had the first chance when a Josh Coldicott-Stevens drive was deflected just wide and Ben Stephens then netted for the visitors but it was out for offside.
A deflected shot by Stratford’s Edwin Ahenkorah skimmed the bar but Price then started the move that gave Kings the lead on 35 minutes when his persistence down the right, followed by a low cross, resulted in Stevie Ward’s shot being cleared off the line. The rebound fell to Ball, who calmly lobbed it over a diving defender and the keeper for 1-0.
Town missed an opportunity to level within a minute when Ahenkorah found space but dragged his shot wide and few other chances presented themselves for either side before the break.
The lead could have been increased seven minutes into the second-half when a Jung free-kick was superbly tipped round the post by Town net man Louis Connor and then mid-half a good move involving a Ball back-heal saw Ward graze the top of the bar from an acute angle.
As the half wore on, Kings gravitated towards defending the lead with the defensive unit of keeper Martin Bennett, Gary Connolly, Jorell Johnson and Callum Adebiyi, along with Jung on his first start, coped admirably with everything Town had to offer.
As the contest entered injury time and the visitors’ onslaughts became more desperate Price won a challenge in his own half and sprayed the ball out to newly-introduced Minchev on the right.
The debutant looked up, saw that he had only Ball, Turner, a defender and the keeper for company and delivered a perfect cross to Ball, who drew the netminder into committing before coolly picking his spot to make it 2-0 and ensuring victory for Kings and a deserved man-of-the-match award for himself.
Langley remain in 21st place in the Southern League Premier table but have narrowed the gap to Bishop’s Stortford to five points.
Kings were due to be back in action again last night (Tuesday) with a tough trip to fifth-placed Slough Town.
They then travel to 19th-ranked Dorchester Town on Saturday with a chance to gain more points.