Kings Langley recorded their first victory in four tries over local rivals Beaconsfield Town on Saturday with a polished performance that secured a comfortable win and a move to the edge of the playoffs.
With captain Gary Connolly still feeling the effects of an ankle injury, Kings’ boss Steve Conroy named an unchanged side after a late fitness test on Junior Osborne, with regulars Dean Hitchcock and Josh Coldicott-Stevens continuing on the bench.
A sunny spring-like day provided a welcome backdrop at Kings’ Sadiku Stadium and they made a quickfire start which paid dividends in the third minute when a Jacob Cook flicked through ball enabled Mitchell Weiss to time his break, outstrip two defenders and beat Town keeper Nick Hamann with an angled drive into the far corner of the net.
It was nearly 2-0 when Rene Howe had the ball in the net from a similar move two minutes’ later, but this time there was an offside flag, and then a driving run by Kings’ Stevie Ward on 16 minutes was halted unceremoniously outside the left side of the box. The free-kick from Weiss had plenty of pace and Jorell Johnson popped up at the near post to steer the ball home for his first goal this term.
A Howe shot at the end of another purposeful break was inches wide and it wasn’t until the half-hour that Town threatened with a Charlie Losasso shot deflected over the bar. Kings slowed the game down with periods of keep-ball, which frustrated the visitors and some parts of the crowd, but it was an effective tactic when followed by a sudden break. Nevertheless, Town felt encouraged to try to get back into the game and Brendan Matthew hit the post on the cusp of half-time.
After the break, Kings youngster Andronicos Georgiou forced Hamann into a fingertip touch round the post before Town sub Marvin Morgan thought he had pulled one back with a header in the 70th minute but the flag was up.
Kings looked comfortable, with the central defensive pairing of Johnson and Callum Adebiyi being particularly resolute, and the exuberance of the ubiquitous Dylan Switters was rewarded when Hamann planted a clearance into his path, enabling him to run on and take the ball round the keeper for the 3-0 win on 76 minutes.
The win pushed Kings into seventh place in the Southern League Premier Division South table, with as many as two games in hand on teams around them.
This Saturday they host the team one place below then in the standings, Merthyr Town.
Last Tuesday night, on the face of it, Kings earned a good point at home 1-1 against second-placed side Salisbury.
But they deserved so much more as it was only an agonising leveller in the fifth minute of stoppage time that gave Salisbury a share of the spoils.
Boss Conroy demanded a reaction from his players after the previous inept performance in their 3-0 loss to Basingstoke Town and he certainly got one as the real Kings stood up to take high-flying Salisbury to within 60 seconds of defeat.
Ward and Osborne were reinstated, with Connolly and Coldicott-Stevens dropping to the bench and both sides began at a pulsulating pace, with plenty of skill and commitment on show, but little in the way of clear-cut chances.
The second-half of this absorbing contest began in similar fashion with Kings asking the majority of the questions.
The breakthrough came in the 63rd minute when Howe’s through ball to Weiss saw the striker get a shot away, which was parried, only for an alert Ward to react quickest to slam the ball home.
As the minutes passed and time added stretched to five minutes, it seemed Kings would record a great win but there was a final twist.
The full-blooded commitment of Kings’ Switters earned him a second yellow card and the free-kick on the edge of the box was dispatched with supreme skill by Chris Shephard.