Kings langley recent run of good form appears to have sputtered of late and they went down 3-0 away at Basingstoke Town in the Southern League Premier Division on Saturday.
When these teams met just 18 days ago, Kings coasted to a 2-0 win that took them to within a point of the playoffs.
An off day at in-form Poole and a fortnight’s inactivity has not only disrupted their form, but the manner of this capitulation will cause boss Steve Conroy concern.
Kings played as if they were strangers to one another and 13th-placed Basingstoke must have wondered if they were playing the same team. Home centre forward Sam Argent gave notice that he was going to be a handful when he put a ninth-minute shot just wide, but he was to open the scoring on 18 minutes when a short corner and a deflected cross left a static Kings’ defence vainly appealing for offside as Argent headed home from point-blank range.
Shots from Andronicos Georgiou, Rene Howe and Mitchell Weiss, all comfortably dealt with, were the only response from a muted Kings’ attack, although a thoroughly justified shout for hand ball in the box was missed.
The visitors’ defence suffered from an uncharacteristic lack of co-ordination and decision making, being constantly threatened by the wing play of Sam Smart and Harry Pearce, and while both sides were guilty of giving the ball away in a frantic midfield, Kings took it to the level of an art form.
Five minutes before the break Georgiou had a golden chance when a rebound put him through one-on-one with Tom McGill, but the keeper saved with his leg. Kings’ Jacob Cook then lost possession and the defence parted to leave Pearce with a similar chance he did not miss for 2-0.
Any hopes of a Kings’ second-half comeback were dashed when they displayed a lack of urgency that was painful to watch, while Basingstoke hit the post and grazed the bar.
Smart put the final nail in the coffin on 83 minutes with another mazy run, cutting in and beating Alex Tokarczyk from a narrow angle.
The only bright spark for Kings in the second period was a jinking run through the middle followed by a shot over from Dylan Switters on a tough full debut, but the rest will need to vastly improve if the recent surge up the table is not to be reversed.
Kings, in ninth, were due to be in action again last night (Tuesday) as the Gazette was going to press when hosting third-ranked Salisbury. They then entertain 12th-placed Beaconsfield Town this Saturday.