Louie gives Reds the blues
Teenager Louie Collier staked a further claim to the number ten shirt as Kings Langley beat Redditch United 2-0 on the road on Saturday.
The 18-year-old put in a performance that – like the team’s – grew in confidence as the game progressed and ended with a 15-minute spell to which Redditch had no answer.
The only change to the Kings’ starting line-up from last week’s exciting 5-3 FA Trophy win over Phoenix Sports was Max Hercules coming in for expectant father Kane Farrell.
With both teams needing points to pull away from the Southern League Premier Division Central danger zone, the game got off to a slow start.
Signs of life began when United striker Romario Martin got a sight of goal, before putting the ball well over.
That was followed by a flowing Kings move that ended with Collier following suit as the game began to open up.
The home side’s Kurtis Revan sent in a low cross that just missed Jamie Lucas and a quick response by Kings saw Mitchell Weiss hit the post.
As the Reds upped the pace, Kings’ keeper Melvin Minter took centre stage for a golden ten minutes, punching clear from Martin and Jak Hickman, before saving at the feet of a clearly offside player, allowed through by the assistant.
The visitors finished the first-half strongly to claw back the balance as a Kyle Connolly free-kick across goal beat everyone and a flurry of corners saw three successive goal bound shots blocked.
While high on effort, it was not a spectacular half, with the ball spending more time in the air than on the ground.
It was hoped play would improve in the second period and, fortunately, it did.
Kings’ Stevie Ward set up an opportunity in the first minute for Collier and although he dragged the shot inches wide, he was honing in on the target.
At the other end, the speedy Martin twice got clear of the Kings’ back-line, but Minter came out to make two further top-drawer saves.
As the game swung from end-to-end, a Hercules cross was inches away from the outstretched boot of Weiss.
Then came the moment of quality that defined the game.
Collier’s insightful diagonal pass in the 75th minute was put into the path of Weiss and the striker finished with a characteristic pass across the keeper to the small target between outstretched glove and far post.
It had the hallmark of a winner, but United fought back with a Callum Coyle shot just over and Minter got a slice of luck his performance deserved when he spilled a shot but the ball bounced back into his arms off the incoming Coyle.
That apart, Kings were looking increasingly in control and when Hercules sent a last-minute cross that Weiss flicked onto the keeper it was a fitting climax when Collier hammered home the rebound in the 90th minute to make it 2-0.
The only blot on the landscape of a good day was a sickening landing by Connolly that resulted in a trip to hospital as clubs wished a speedy recovery for him.
Kings’ off-field man of the match was Stewart Mitchell, who gave up his season ticket viewing of Watford and Chelsea in the Premier League to step in as Kings’ emergency kitman for the day.
Langley’s victory leaves them in 15th place in the standings, while Redditch remain bottom-but-one in the table.
This Saturday sees Kings travel to Southern League Premier Division South side Salisbury in the second qualifying round of the FA Trophy, before visiting bottom-but-two outfit Lowestoft Town in the league next Tuesday, November 12.