Kings Langley took a big step towards the Southern League Division One Central crown as they sealed a 1-0 win at AFC Rushden & Diamonds to throw the race for automatic promotion wide open.
It was first versus second and a big opportunity for both teams with Diamonds being able to move seven points clear with a win while victory for the visitors would result in the gap at the summit being cut to just a single point.
In the end, it was the latter that happened and there could be few arguments about the outcome.
Ryan Plowright picked his moment to score his first goal for the club in 21 appearances since his transfer from Dunstable Town in October – one that could have a huge bearing on the promotion race.
Just four minutes were on the clock when Stevie Ward drove forward before delivering a pass to Plowright, who rifled a low shot through the box and into the net.
That had the effect of silencing a large proportion of the 600+ crowd and fed Kings’ already flowing confidence.
The visitors refused to sit on their lead and Matt Bateman just failed to reach a Dean Hitchcock cross, while a Sturt Deaton header went just over.
Diamonds were strangely subdued for such a vital clash, and their only real first half threat was an overhead kick by Tom Lorraine that was safely held by Xavi Comas.
Kings began the second period in much the same fashion, and a Mitchell Weiss pass found Bateman free at the far post, but Matt Finlay narrowed the angle well to deflect the shot onto the post and out of play for a corner.
Diamonds did mount a period of pressure, but Kings’ defence was built round the partnership of skipper Stuart Deaton and the pace of Connor Toomey, and coped well.
Kings could have finished it on 70 minutes when David Hutton stole the ball off Connor Kennedy and set Weiss free, but the striker went wide to round a defender and then uncharacteristically blasted his shot over the bar.
The final 10 minutes were comfortable for Kings, who registered their seventh win and closed the Diamonds to a single point.