Kings Langley lost for the first time in seven matches when they were defeated 3-0 at Poole Town on Saturday.
The recent run of good form came to a shuddering halt as a resurgent Poole reprised the three-goal victory they enjoyed at the Sadiku Stadium in November.
An injury to club stalwart Gary Connolly in the pre-match warm up did not help Kings’ cause, Josh Coldicott-Stevens reverting to right-back with Dean Hitchcock promoted from the bench.
Poole, in eighth place, started the brighter of the sides with the dangerous Luke Roberts proving a regular springboard for their attacks on the left. Kings survived a couple of early scares but the Poole pressure was unrelenting and in the ninth minute they took the lead when Roberts’ far-post cross found the onrushing Marvin Brooks, who made no mistake from close range.
The hosts continued to dominate and James Constable spurned two golden opportunities to increase their advantage when heading over from close range and then being denied by the first of a string of superb saves by Kings’ keeper Alex Tokarczyk.
Half-time came as a welcome relief to the hard-pressed Kings, giving boss Steve Conroy a much-needed opportunity to re-organise his troops.
The immediate introduction of leading scorer Mitchell Weiss certainly galvanised Kings into a few phases of attacking play with Andronicos Georgiou twice producing incisive passes that on another day may have produced a reward.
This was to be only a brief sojourn as once again the irrepressible Roberts was the instigator in doubling Poole’s advantage. The winger’s piercing run and pinpoint cross setting up Corby Moore for the simplest of tap-ins on 62 minutes.
Even then, Kings carved out some good chances that should have reduced the arrears when Jorell Johnson headed just over from a good position and then a fingertip save from Luke Cairney denied Georgiou.
However, any hope of a comeback was extinguished when Poole completed the scoring with a somewhat farcical goal in the 73rd minute, when an under pressure Tokarczyk ballooned his attempted clearance into the air, to leave Constable the grateful recipient of a free header into an empty net.
It was tough on the Kings’ stopper whose heroics had been largely responsible for denying the hosts an even wider margin of victory. The defeat leaves Kings in sixth place in the Southern League Premier Division South table.
Meanwhile, Last Tuesday night Kings Langley won 2-0 when hosting 17th-placed Basingstoke Town.
Weather forecasters thought the day’s snow would be repeated and in the end a continuous mixture of light snow and rain continued through the entire match, but the game went ahead.
Kings started in a hurry against a Basingstoke side whose league progress has been diametrically opposed to Langley’s rise and were the first to master the unpredictable passage of the ball.
With Weiss unavailable, Georgiou moved to partner Rene Howe up front and when Connolly moved from defence to attack with a probing run, finishing with an exquisite defence-splitting through ball, it was Georgiou who anticipated the pass to give Tom McGill no chance in the Town goal on seven minutes.
Two minutes’ later Callum Adebiyi had a shot scrambled off the line and a dominant Kings were playing some superb passing football, all the more remarkable as the sapping conditions continued unabated.
A Stevie Ward through ball saw Howe find the net but it was flagged for offside before Town finally got a dangerous shot in by Chelsea youth loanee Jack Wakely as the first-half drew to a close.
As so often happens, the second period immediately signalled a swing of the pendulum with Basingstoke having far more possession and testing the resilient home back-four, who had lost the impressive Connolly to injury just before the break.
Toby Syme was quick to grab his opportunity as a replacement and for all their new-found territorial advantage the visitors made little headway on goal chances.
It was mid-half before home fans were warmed by a run and shot from Ward, but then came the tipping point of the match on 72 minutes when Kings keeper Alex Tokarczyk pulled off a stunning point-blank starfish save and possession swung to the other end as a Josh Coldicott-Stevens-inspired move saw McGill make an equally spectacular save for a corner.
Georgiou swung the ball in, Howe rose and headed home to make it 2-0 and Kings were home if not dry.
For Conroy’s team, the dream run went on, as they sat a point off the playoff places, while Basingstoke were reduced to being level on points with the relegation places.
Kings were due to be back in action again last night (Tuesday) as the Gazette was going to press when hosting fourth-ranked Metropolitan Police. They then entertain 16th-ranked Hartley Wintney this Saturday.