Kings Langley ensured they stayed alive in the FA Cup on Saturday when coming from behind to earn a 1-1 draw.
Hosts Langley conceded in the 39th minute to Isthmian League Premier side Lewes, but Mitchell Weiss levelled 14 minutes after half-time to earn a replay tonight (Wednesday) in the second qualifying round of the famed cup competition.
As in the previous round, this tie was played in continuous rain, but both teams produced attractive inter-passing football at a high tempo throughout to give the crowd value for money.
Kings began in rampant mood with Weiss testing the visitors’ keeper Lewis Carey on five minutes and the Rooks were mostly confined to their own half for the first 20 minutes as Max Ryan and Weiss again had headers just wide.
A series of corners by Kings failed to produce the breakthrough that their possession probably deserved, but by the quarter mark, Lewes came into the game when a needless foul resulted in James Hammond’s free-kick hitting the bar.
Five minutes later Jonte Smith forced Martin Bennett into a good save with his feet, while Weiss again went close with a flick from a Callum Adebiyi cross.
It had turned into a finely balanced game, but the breakthrough came from a Kings’ error, as Ryan’s surging run and pass out of defence was intercepted by Omar Lawson, who slipped the ball out to Dan Darbyshire on the right. The defence was stretched and when Darbyshire elected to shoot across Langley custodian Martin Bennett, it hit the far post before being followed up by Jonte Smith from close range.
Kings began the second period as they had started the first and Jorell Johnson went close, while Josh Coldicott-Stevens grazed the outside of the post.
Stevie Ward caused the visitors concern on the right and ended a penetrating run with a shot that was deflected to safety, but Kings were not to be denied as a superb diagonal wing pass from Rene Howe set Ward in on goal again and Carey did well to block his shot, but Weiss reacted quickly to thunder a rising shot into the net from close range.
With the visitors on the back foot, Kings went all out for victory with another series of corners, but as time ebbed away, the balance between all-out attack and being caught on the break became a fine one.
A spectacular run through the centre by Ryan was halted, Carey somehow got his fingertips to Howe’s powerful header and deep into time added-on the home crowd was on its feet as Adebiyi’s header from a corner caressed the wrong side of the post.
Two utterly spent sides faced up to the fact that they have to do it all over again tonight (Wednesday) in Lewes.
Kings then travel to Swindon Supermarine, who are one place higher in the league at 19th, this Saturday.