The belated first home league game of the new season proved to be a reality check for Kings Langley on Saturday when they went down 2-0 to Hednesford Town.
Kings, who have arguably been the better side in each of their five away games this term, faced a powerful Hednesford side whose workmanlike performance was good enough to take all three points in a dour match at the newly-named Orbital Fasteners Stadium.
Kings had started their season with such a long stretch of away games due to extensive pitch renovation works at their home ground.
The earliest chance fell to Kings when a Charlie Ruff through-ball was latched onto after a superb turn by Mitchell Weiss, but Town keeper Daniel Platt was swiftly off his line to block the shot and when the hosts tried a different tactic, Roddy Collins’ 25-yarder was just high of the bar.
Town answered with bustling centre forward Kieran Wells heading just wide, but the award of a penalty in the 17th minute for a clumsy challenge by the newly-arrived Lloyd Doyley on Reece King gave Hednesford the chance of an early lead.
Wells went for power with his spot kick, but Kings keeper Melvin Minter made a superb save.
Eager to atone, the striker put a toe-poke just wide on the half-hour, but it was Kings, anxious to exploit the lifeline, who finished the first-half strongly, with efforts by Collins and Ruff just wide.
Kings in general and their young, attacking midfield trio in particular, had the better first period against a tall side, but the second-half was only five minutes old when Hednesford struck the first blow that was to put them on the path to victory. Their physical presence finally told with Tom Elliott forcing the ball home from a goalmouth melee.
Kings laboured, but made little headway against the physically imposing Town and it was no surprise when the visitors went further ahead. A breakaway from a corner in the 68th minute was switched from right to left before Wells finished cleanly.
A flowing move between Weiss and Max Hercules almost gave Ruff an opening, while Harry Crawford had the ball in the net after an Eoin McKeown shot cannoned off Platt and into Crawford’s path, but it was ruled out for offside.
These were mere interludes, as Town demonstrated why they have the best defensive record in the league to comfortably see out the game to give Kings plenty to ponder after the brakes were put on their bright start to the term.
Last Tuesday night, Kings earned a gritty 1-0 win away at Biggleswade in the Southern League Challenge Cup preliminary round thanks to a Ruff penalty in the 77th minute.
Kings were due to be back in action again last night (Tuesday) as the Gazette was going to press when visiting winless St Ives Town.
This Saturday Kings host Isthmian League Premier side Folkestone Invicta in the second qualifying round of the FA Cup.