A Lewis Toomey penalty saw Kings Langley progress with a 1-0 win in the FA Trophy on Saturday.
Heybridge Swift’s Jack Barham served notice of the pace that this First Qualifying Round tie would be played at by testing Danny Boness in the Kings goal after a mere 12 seconds.
Langley took up the challenge with an Immanuelson Duku header over and a Josh Chamberlain shot following suit.
The approach play of both teams was both skilful and rapid and the breakthrough appeared to arrive on 13 minutes when a move started by David Hutton saw Lewis Toomey expertly flick homewards a Josh Chamberlain cross. Unfortunately for the home side, Swifts keeper Danny Sambridge flew across goal to superbly tip the ball round the post.
The next chance fell to the visitors when an unmarked Reece Grant blasted over a fine cut-back Barham cross that deserved better, but the half closed with David Hutton being denied by another excellent save from Sambridge.
And so to the second half, but Kings had already lost defenders Jorell Johnson and Emmanuel Folarin to injury and when Josh Chamberlain, switched to the back line, was also forced out after a heavy tackle, the signs did not look good for Kings, as Swifts maintained the tempo, looking dangerous down the wings.
But Connor Toomey marshalled his defence well and the Dean Hitchcock / Ryan Hope partnership was winning most of the central midfield battles to continue to keep the game on a knife edge. Chances were still few as defences dominated for the most part, but the pivotal moment came just past the hour when an astute Ryan Plowright through ball gave Lewis Toomey a central run on goal under the close attention of Phil Anderson.
The striker had a half yard advantage and the tackle when it came, was from behind, giving the referee no option but to point to the spot and Toomey got up to dispatch the penalty with confidence.
Swifts felt they had a reciprocal case two minutes later with a Lewis Godbold run and shot blocked, but the referee disagreed and Kings had some serious defending to do as Swifts threw everything forward.
The clock had reached the 94th and final minute when a cross from the Heybridge right wing found Marley Andrews with space on the left post and the spectre of a replay in Essex on Tuesday night beckoned until Danny Boness threw himself across goal to reach the low shot and send Kings into Monday’s draw for the next round.
The previous Tuesday they lost 3-2 at home to St Neots Town in the Southern League Premier
Langley changed their formation for this encounter, reverting to a back four for the first time in many weeks, but familiar defensive problems resurfaced to condemn them to defeat.
They started well with Ryan Plowright putting an opportunity past the post in the fifth minute, before the Saints took the lead in bizarre fashion soon after. Danny Boness came acutely out of his goal to reach a hopeful punt to the incoming James Hall and as both players reached the ball together, Hall stuck out a foot to lob the ball past the keeper and into the net off the far post.
Kings responded positively with a Plowright cross smacked against the post by Lewis Toomey, but the equalizer on the half hour was the product of a superb move as Connor Toomey moved the ball up the left wing to Josh Chamberlain and his diagonal pass to a central Lewis Toomey saw him flick on the perfect through ball for David Hutton to run onto and beat the keeper.
The half ended with a Ryan Hope cracker just wide and Kings looking well capable of going on to victory. Indeed, for the first five minutes it was all Kings as a Plowright flick went close and then a rebound onto the grounded keeper had to be cleared off the line.
But Saints came back with Jorell Johnson making two brave, saving blocks, before history repeated itself as keeper Danny Boness lost the ball to Hall out wide and the striker replicated his earlier feat with a 20 yard lob over him.
When a Rogers corner was headed back across goal by Taylor Parr for the head of Sam Mulready to convert from close range, Kings were dead and buried, although there was to be some consolation when Lewis Toomey was tripped when wide and deep and Josh Chamberlain put a perfectly placed free kick into the far top corner of the net.
However it was a case of too little, too late and even then they were unable to force any sort of grandstand finish. All in all, it was a very poor second half performance and one that allowed St Neots to leapfrog them in the table.
Kings Langley visit Hertford Town in the Herts Senior Challenge Cup on Tuesday, before welcoming Dorchester in the Southern League Premier on Saturday.