Kings on edge of the playoffs

Kings Langley's Rene Howe shoots into an open net after receiving a deflected ball off of the Wimborne keeper on Saturday. (Picture by Chris Riddell).
Kings Langley's Rene Howe shoots into an open net after receiving a deflected ball off of the Wimborne keeper on Saturday. (Picture by Chris Riddell).

A single goal from Rene Howe was enough for Kings Langley to beat Wimborne Town on Saturday as they kept on the edge of the playoff race with just seven games to go.

Kings bounced back from the narrow loss at Met Police last weekend and avenged the heavy defeat at Wimborne back in October to stay in sixth place in the Southern League Premier Division table.

This was despite a below-par performance that saw Wimborne have far the better of the first-half and was owed to a fortunate rebound off the keeper that gave Howe the opportunity to grab the win for hosts Kings.

With Dylan Switters possibly ruled out of the run-in through injury, Kings’ boss Steve Conroy moved to bring in Irish youth international Connor Smith on a short-term loan from Billericay Town and he went straight into the starting line-up.

Wimborne were first out of the starting blocks and penned Kings in with attacking wing play that was to trouble Gary Connolly and Charlie O’Keefe all afternoon.

Kings created the first real chance when a Howe chip was met on the volley by Andronicos Georgiou, bringing a good save from Gerard Benfield.

When Wimborne’s prolific striker Tobias Holmes was then through on goal, it seemed the visitors would take the lead, but he dragged the ball wide of both keeper Alex Tokarczyk and post.

The keeper was called into action soon after to bravely save at the feet of Carl Pettefer and the hosts were relieved to reach the interval on level terms.

Fortunately, the central defensive pairing of Jorell Johnson and Callum Adebiyi looked as impenetrable as ever, ably backed by Tokarczyk and as the second-half started in much the same fashion.

It seemed that hitting on the break was Langley’s best option and so it proved, but in somewhat bizarre circumstances. Smith, finding his debut difficult due to the lack of cohesion around him, put a measured through ball to Howe, whose under-pressure shot was blocked by the body of the advancing Benfield.

Unfortunately for the keeper, the rebound spun in a looping arc off his shoulder and fell in apparent slow motion to Howe, who controlled the unpredictable ball with one touch before driving it between two defenders and into the unguarded net.

Wimborne’s frustrations at being 1-0 behind threatened to boil over, but when their 29-goal marksman Holmes missed a golden opportunity for parity with a header over the bar, he knew that he too was having an off-day and Kings progressed with precious little further drama to the final whistle of a match that will only be remembered for the result, not the content.

Kings were due to be back in action again last night (Tuesday) as the Gazette was going to press when hosting ninth-ranked Hartley Wintney. They then visit 15th-placed Tiverton Town this Saturday.