Kings Langley came away with a well-earned 1-1 draw from their Southern League Premier Division debut at highly fancied Chippenham Town on Saturday.
In the Wiltshire sunshine Kings paraded three new signings, Kyle Anthony, Sean Coughlan and Josh Chamberlain, but were without skipper Gary Connolly and playmaker David Hutton, the versatile Connor Toomey stepping into the latter’s role.
Town made a confident start as Kings struggled to adjust to a higher level for the third consecutive season and Xavi Comas was called into action in the eighth minute, holding a fierce shot from Matt Smith.
Emmanuel Folarin responded with a rasper deflected for a corner and was then on hand at the other end to head an Alex Ferguson shot off the line.
Whether through nerves or an unsettling effect of a series of harsh bookings for trivial incidents, Langley were forced onto the back foot, failing to retain the ball or find accuracy of passing and nearly fell behind on the half hour when Smith put a header past the post from a good position.
However, Toomey and Coughlin were combining well without finding the final pass and the Bluebirds seemed to have broken up another of their moves as the clock signified five minutes of added time.
But the clearance was poor and seized upon by Ryan Plowright, who delivered a teasing, lobbed cross straight onto the head of Josh Chamberlain at the far post.
Town’s players and supporters were stunned by the simplicity of the sucker punch and as the second half rolled on to the midway point, became increasingly desperate in their efforts for parity.
The interval loss of defensive lynch-pin Suart Deaton was a major blow for the visitors and the dam finally broke when Andy Sandell received the ball on the right, cut across the defence and found the route to goal with a low shot.
A resolute Kings held out through eight minutes of time added and although second best on the day, learnt some facts of life, rode their luck a little, but deserved their point for their grit and determination against the odds.
Kings Langley host Dunstable Town on Tuesday.