Kings Langley’s last game of the season on Saturday at Basingstoke Town saw a squad stretched to its limits and for the first time in six seasons there was no last-day ‘everything to play for’ drama.
It would be fair to say Kings have not had the luck this term and when a shot from Jack McKnight on eight minutes took a looping deflection over Kings’ keeper Martin Bennett for the opening goal, it was a deja-vu moment from the previous week’s ill fortune.
That the throw-in which led to it was wrongly awarded hit the visitors even harder and Bennett was booked for his protestations.
Basingstoke, who finished in tenth place, went on to dominate the first period and the half finished with a misunderstanding between Bennett and Jorell Johnson, allowing Callum Bunting to slot the ball into an empty net from an acute angle to make it 2-0.
Kings’ boss Steve Conroy’s half-time talk must have been a good one as a different team emerged for the second period and they pulled a goal back within seven minutes when a Kieran Turner corner was met at the far post by the head of Johnson, who powered through the defence like a tidal wave.
Three minutes later Mitchell Weiss received the ball on the halfway line and started a run that left three defenders in his wake before crashing a shot into the far corner to make it 2-2 for his 20th goal of the campaign.
A stunning comeback was completed when Weiss fed Turner on the left wing and he emulated his provider’s previous run to hold off two defenders before lifting the ball over Colm McAdden and in off the far post for a 3-2 Kings’ lead.
It was an extraordinary turnaround but Town had looked dangerous all afternoon through Sam Smart on the right and although Josh Coldicott-Stevens, shunted to left back, had stuck manfully to his task, it was a Smart run and cross that found Sam Deadfield with space to level with ten minutes to go.
Kings were disappointed to have been pegged back after such a valiant effort, but in a cameo of the season as a whole, they were destined to go down to yet another battling, narrow defeat as McKnight’s second goal stole all three points with just three minutes to go.