Kings avoid drop in last-day drama
'˜That which gives our dreams their daring is the possibility
that they may be realised,’ was the quotation adopted by Kings Langley when they began their incredible rise up the football pyramid four seasons ago.
On Saturday they kept that dream alive when they preserved their hard-won Southern Premier status with a gritty 1-0 win over Cirencester Town, that saw the latter relegated.
Kings’ win five days earlier on Easter Monday had effectively dispatched Hayes & Yeading to join Cinderford Town in the drop and although Cambridge City kept pace with Kings with a victory, their inferior goal difference meant they filled the fourth unwanted spot.
A crowd of 645 set a Gaywood Park record for arguably the biggest game in the club’s history and saw Stevie Ward add his name to Langley folklore when he converted a Jerry Amoo cross in the 27th minute that proved enough to guarantee the village team’s survival amongst the elite.
Kings’ only change was the return of Ollie Cox in place of the injured Ryan Plowright in midfield.
Both sides made a nervous start, Town’s James Mortimore-Jones had a sixth minute shot held by Kings keeper Xavi Comas and Danny Gudger was just wide 10 minutes later.
Langley’s Ward and Jorell Johnson went close before the moment of destiny arrived. Lewis Toomey’s first-time pass set Amoo free down the left and his speed and trickery were too much for the defender.
He cut in along the byline and sent a low cross which was perfect for Ward to net from close range at the far post, cueing ecstatic celebrations from the home contingent.
Visiting striker Alan Griffin had a shot on the turn well held by Comas before the break.
The second-half was a scrappy affair, virtually devoid of incident, with Kings confident that Cirencester would be unable to breach a defence that was on its way to recording its fourth consecutive clean sheet in a run in of six undefeated games.
The east stand was vociferous in its support throughout as an almost party atmosphere enveloped the ground.
And with news of Cambridge’s 3-0 lead over St Neots, Cirencester knew that their race was run.
The final whistle saw some emotional scenes as the management team and players were submerged by junior supporters and others reflected on the magnitude of the achievement of survival against the odds in a turbulent campaign.
Thanks to a totally united committee, management team, players, and support from the youth part of the club, it turned out to be another unforgettable season.
Not for the faint hearted, it was the third season out of the past four that the outcome of the league has come down to the final game. Bring on the 2017/18 campaign!