Kings Langley secured a draw on the road at mid-table side Hartley Wintney on Saturday but it wasn’t enough to avoid falling into the relegation spots in the Southern League Premier Division table.
Kings’ boss Steve Conroy was looking for a positive reaction to last week’s second-half collapse in the 5-0 loss at Wimborne Town – and he got one.
Kings dominated the battle of the villages at Hartley, but were denied the three points they deserved by the stubborn resistance of the defence.
The pattern was set after five minutes when Mitchell Weiss cut in and unleashed a shot that keeper Adam Desbois did well to block, while 10 minutes later Rene Howe beat the keeper but had his shot cleared off the line.
It continued with Howe and Weiss having shots blocked by selfless defending and a Roy Syla shot went just past the post.
Kings’ two mid-week signings, keeper Matt Nolan and centre back Junior Osborne, both looked comfortable as the hosts endeavoured to get into the game, although the nearest they came was a free-kick by Josh Webb that eluded everybody on its journey past the post.
The visitors responded with a cross that gave a golden opportunity to Elliott Godfrey, but his header was off target.
In the second-half Tyron Smith put an early shot just wide for Hartley, while Syla and Stevie Ward were causing the hosts concern with their pace down the wings, but too often there was not enough attacking bodies in the box.
Then came the salient moment of the game as Howe’s cross fell to the head of Callum Adebiyi, but his point-blank header crashed off the underside of the bar to the line before being scrambled clear.
At the other end, a Jack Ball header was tipped over by Nolan, before an agonisingly close Weiss angled shot and a blocked Dean Hitchcock rocket.
Hartley defender Luke King was sent off five minutes from time for a second yellow card and Kings searched for the winner into injury time when it was left to Jack Ball to make an outstanding tackle as Weiss was through on goal and pulling the trigger.
Partial atonement was achieved from last week, but the side need to turn dominance into victories to escape the drop zone.
Kings were due to host Cheshunt in round one of the Herts Senior Challenge Cup last night (Tuesday) as the Gazette was going to press and they then entertain Needham Market this Saturday in the FA Trophy first qualifying round.
Kings: Matt Nolan, Gary Connolly (captain), Callum Adebiy, Jorell Johnson, Junior Osborne, Elliott Godfrey, Stevie Ward, Dean Hitchcock, Rene Howe, Mitchell Weiss, Roy Syla (Toby Syme).
n In other Kings news, the club announced on Friday that they have secured a new two-year sponsorship deal of naming rights to their ground with businessman Fatlum Sadiku.
Mr Sadiku is the founder and owner of Apsley Car Wash, which he has built into a well- regarded business in London Road.
After moving from Hendon to Hemel Hempstead, he was looking for a local football club to support and came to watch Kings Langley after being attracted by the welcoming environment for supporters, the club said in a press release.
He was keen to show his support in a way that would be of most benefit to the club that provides football not only at a high level for the first team, but also for the young people of the village and surrounding areas.
Having played for Boreham Wood’s first team as a teenager, Mr Sadiku’s footballing career was cut short by injury, but his enthusiasm for the game remains undiminished and he is particularly pleased to see that Kings have a fellow Albanian in the squad, youth international Roy Syla.