Barker era gets off to a flier as Kings win league opener

The latest local football news.
The latest local football news.

Kings Langley notched their first opening-day victory since promotion to the Southern League as new boss Dean Barker got off to a flying start with an emphatic 3-0 win at newly-relegated Nuneaton Borough, writes Roy Mitchard.

Kings find themselves in the Premier Central division this term after a sideways move from the Premier South, so there is a sense of excitement among the Kings’ fans ahead of new opponents.

There were six new signings making debuts alongside the experienced spine of last season’s successful team that finished in sixth place.

Kings took the first 10 minutes to settle down against pacy forward play and gale-force winds. When they did finally put Nuneaton under pressure it was to devastating effect as Charlie Ruff robbed a hesitant defender and his shot cannoned off the post, rebounding to Matty Campbell-Mhlope, whose shot was cleared off the line.

It was to prove only a brief respite for the hosts as from the ensuing corner Mitchell Weiss rose above a static defence to head home Kane Farrell’s cross.

Devon Kelly-Evans followed a driving run with a powerful shot, but new Kings’ keeper Melvin Minter flew full-length to tip the ball over.

Kings should have doubled their lead before the break but made a hash of things when keeper Cam Belford missed a routine low cross, leaving the goal at the mercy of Eoin McKeown. The striker hit the post and the ball fell to the unmarked Jorell Johnson, who slipped before McKeown’s second effort hit Johnson.

Borough thought they had equalised after the interval when Stuart Beavon wriggled through the defence only to see Minter make a late stop.

The defining moment arrived on 72 minutes when Kings’ Callum Adebiyi launched a huge upfield clearance from his own half to relieve pressure on his defence. But this one looked special from the moment it left his foot and it sailed majestically over the back-pedalling keeper Belford and under the bar to become an early-season contender for goal of the season.

With the Kings’ back-five in outstanding form, there was no way back for the hosts and their bad day was compounded when a poor back pass allowed substitute Harry Crawford to beat Belford to the ball and steer home to make it 3-0, while Nigel Julien was shown a straight red for an unacceptable tackle on Josh Coldicott-Stevens in time added on.

Kings were due to visit Peterborough Sports last night (Tuesday) as the Gazette was going to press, then travel to Stratford Town this Saturday.