Kings Langley will consider themselves extremely hard done by to come away from their first ever visit to the Ladymead Stadium with nothing to show from their wholehearted endeavours apart from a sincere appreciation of the generous hospitality shown by their warm and friendly hosts Tiverton Town on Saturday.
Kings battled throughout this keenly-fought contest but the double whammy of two highly contentious penalty awards to the hosts was too big a handicap to overcome.
Both teams went close early on as each strived to gain the initiative with Tom Bath’s snap-shot going just wide for the hosts and Kings countering with a Steve Ward volley which went just over after being set up by Kieran Turner.
Turner proved to be a regular threat and it was the rangy wide man who broke the deadlock in the 25th minute, latching on to Mitchell Weiss’s knock down and unleashing a thunderous drive that gave keeper Martin Rice no chance.
But Kings’ lead was short-lived as five minutes later danger man Levi Landricombe found space on the right and cleverly steered the ball past the advancing Martin Bennett to leave it 1-1 at the break.
The opening minute of the second-half featured a match-defining moment. The incident started benignly enough with Bennett moving smartly to field a through ball, which he was favourite for, with the predatory Landricombe in attendance. It was clear Bennett gathered the ball cleanly only to be challenged a moment later by the onrushing forward. The impact prised the ball from the keeper’s grasp and diverted it to safety. Incredibly, the referee saw it differently and awarded a penalty which Landricombe duly converted.
It was a sickener for Kings but to their credit they went in immediate search of an equaliser with the industrious Turner this time turning provider with a deep cross which found Ward stealing into the box to steer the ball for 2-2.
It was again the ref’s intervention which proved to be a deciding factor. Once again, Bennett and Landricombe were the principals as the King’s stopper was adjudged to have impeded the striker outside the box.
The ref resisted calls to issue a red card but adjudging the resultant free- kick, fiercely struck against Manny Folarin, merited another penalty, emphatically dispatched by Landricombe.
Kings continued to battle to the end and Brendan Ocran might have grabbed a dramatic equaliser at the death only to see the ball escape him at the last. This final drama summed up King’s fortunes on the day.
n Kings came away from the south coast with a well-earned victory against bottom-of-the-table Gosport Borough on Tuesday night.
Apart from a frantic finale, Kings were rarely troubled.
The visitors started positively with Ward and Turner making inroads.
Kings’ pressure generated several dangerous dead-ball situations, but their execution was wanting.
Ward was then cleverly put through by Folarin in the 19th minute and beat the Gosport keeper with a sublime chip or a misdirected cross – only the wide man will know his intended actions.
It put Kings firmly in control and they should have increased their advantage as the hosts reeled from the setback.
As it was, Kings had to be content with their slender 1-0 advantage at the break.
The hosts started the second period in positive fashion but were finding the Kings rear guard in resolute mood, ably marshalled by the ever reliable skipper Jorell Johnson.
Kings continued to create the more potent opportunities but last-ditch defending and profligate finishing was denying their aspirations.
That changed in the 70th minute, when Kings were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the Gosport box.
Josh Coldicott-Stevens fierce drive rebounded straight back to him from the wall, only to be despatched with unerring accuracy into the bottom corner for 2-0.
Gosport got one goal back in the 81st minute from an Ed Sanders penalty but Kings remained steadfast in defence to see out their first league victory since October 24.
This Saturday they entertain Frome Town before hosting a huge Herts Senior Challenge Cup second round clash with Watford on Tuesday night, December 12.