The good news for Kings Langley on Saturday was the return of Jorell Johnson after injury and Dean Hitchcock from suspension.
The bad news was the continuing absence of the injured Lee Stobbs and the suspended Gareth Price and Gary Connolly.
Given that the early season optimism has turned to despondency over the last few weeks, caused largely by three red cards, it seems hard to comprehend that Kings picked up yet another one with the season only nine games old.
Saturday’s clash with Margate at Gaywood Park proved to be a very tight and competitive contest between two evenly-matched teams, but the first chance fell to Margate, when Orlando Smith beat the offside trap to steer the ball past Kings keeper Ross Hampton, only to see it strike the foot of the post before being scrambled to safety.
Louis Bircham and Mitchell Weiss produced a chance apiece at the other end, but the powerfully-built central pairing of Liam Friend and Thomas Wynter were a rock on which Kings’ attacks were floundering and when Weiss did break free to produce a thunderbolt shot, the former Chelsea and Watford keeper Lenny Pidgeley produced a superb acrobatic save to tip it away for a corner.
Callum Adebiyi came closer when his goalbound shot deflected past an unsighted Pidgeley and the post, while Hampton did well to collect a low Harry Stannard shot as the half closed.
Minutes earlier Smith had caused concern when he went headfirst over the advertising hoardings, but he returned for the resumption and was to make the biggest impact of the day when he volleyed home David Martin’s cross on the hour which proved to be the match-winner.
In a game where both teams had been highly competitive for the ball, the official had given Kings two somewhat puzzling yellow cards, before issuing a third to Manny Folarin, who seemed to be the recipient, rather than the perpetrator of a clash on a 50/50 ball.
However, there was little doubt about his second caution in the 80th minute and although Weiss and Johnson went close at the finish, his sending off put the writing on the wall for a Kings side that simply must adjust to what seems a lower level of tolerance from officials for physical challenges this season.
After this loss and the 2-0 defeat to Bishop’s Stortford on Tuesday,Kings are now in 19th in the league standings.
Next up Kings host seventh-placed Banbury United on Saturday (3pm).