RESULT from last night (Tuesday, March 14): Kings Langley 2 Cambridge City 0.
With both sides firmly involved in a relegation battle (KIngs are 20th in the table and City in 22nd), each viewed this clash as a must-win and there was an atmosphere of tension around Gaywood Park even before kick-off, writes Roy Mitchard.
Understandably this did not encourage free-flowing football and neither side were wishing to make a mistake so hefty clearances were the order of the night.
A Kieran Turner cross was gathered well at the feet of incoming Kings forwards by City keeper Dean Snedker and Ollie Cox put a snap shot over the bar, while an effort by the lively Charlie Woolfe suffered the same fate at the other end.
And when Woolfe and Matthew Foy worked an opening on 25 minutes it seemed the visitors would take the lead but a brave and acrobatic interception by Gary Connolly denied the opportunity.
City had the better of the first half-hour and Kings lacked any passing rhythm, but almost imperceptibly they were raising their game as demonstrated by a Lewis Toomey header just over from a Ryan Plowright cross and a neat attacking move by Toomey and Michael King was deflected for a corner.
There was no doubt about this improvement as the second-half commenced as Kings came roaring out of the blocks and grabbed the all-important opener within four minutes. A couple of typically direct Stevie Ward runs at the Cambridge defence had caused concern to the visitors and this time his pace took him to the corner flag, from where a perfectly delivered cross was met at the far post by the head of Turner, who couldn’t have picked a better moment to deliver his first goal for the club.
With Langley’s confidence growing, Michael King went close with a looping shot but City were still looking dangerous on the break and keeper Xavi Comas had to make a good save at the expense of Lee Stevenson as home hearts skipped a beat.
As the clock ticked slowly down, a Toomey delivery across the face of goal received no takers and the same scenario was replicated at the other end.
Some lengthy injury delays dictated that there would be six or seven minutes of added-time and Kings were still searching for the killer blow when they finally broke from defence on 95 minutes and a Michael King left-wing cross was met by Ward, whose mid-air flicked volley beat Snedker to ensure Kings first win in ten games.
It keeps alive the belief for the Gaywood Park fauthful that, against the odds, they can survive at this Southern League – Premier Division level.
Next up for Kings is another crunch game this Saturday when they entertain a Stratford Town side which is just two places and five points higher in the league stanindgs.
Kings v Cambridge City: Xavi Comas, Gary Connolly (Mayo Balogun, 81), Ryan Plowright, Jorell Johnson (captain), Sam Tring, Dean Hitchcock, Steve Ward (Jack Waldren, 95), Ollie Cox, Lewis Toomey (Jerry Amoo, 89), Michael King, Kieran Turner. Subs not used: James Verney, Chris Gosling.
Mitchard’s Man of the Match: Stevie Ward.
Bookings: Cox, Hitchcock, Turner. Referee: Gregory Read.