Kings Langley continued their unbeaten start to the new season on Saturday when they beat Banbury United for the first time in the club’s history.
Kings were boosted by the much-heralded signing of ex-Watford favourite Lloyd Doyley and the defender’s experience from all his 443 appearances for the Hornets was in evidence as, with Callum Adebiyi, he effectively muzzled the threat of Banbury talisman Ricky Johnson and prolific ex-Hereford striker John Mills.
Doyley suited up ten times for Hemel Hempstead Town last season in the National League South so clearly still has some juice and class left in the tank.
Kings’ skipper Jorell Johnson moved into a defensive midfield role to accommodate Doyley and Josh Coldicott-Stevens probably felt a bit unlucky to be dropped to the bench.
Hosts Banbury started at pace, with a series of raids down the right and dominated the opening ten minutes, but Langley keeper Melvin Minter coped well with a series of powerful punches when under severe pressure.
Kings signalled their intentions when a sweet ball from the wing by Doyley resulted in Eoin McKeown’s shot rippling the outside top of the netting.
A Johnson shot was then just wide as Kings increased the pressure and a Charlie Ruff free-kick saw a powerful Adebiyi header brilliantly saved by Banbury stopper Jack Harding.
But the visitors were not to be denied as they conjured up an opening goal of pure quality as the interval beckoned. Ruff picked up the ball under pressure on the right wing, turned inside and seemed likely to play the obvious ball out to the left wing. Instead, he clipped a penetrating through-ball with the outside of his right boot to the anticipating Matty Campbell-Mhlope, who controlled it in full flight, eluded a defender and slipped it past Harding, all seemingly in one movement.
Banbury were stunned and their only effort of note in reply came as the first-half closed with a long-distance Claudio Dias shot sailing well over the bar.
The second-half was only five minutes old when John Mills at last beat Adebiyi, going on to deliver a lob over Minter, but the effort hit the bar and scrambled to safety.
Langley surged back and both Campbell-Mhlope and Ruff curled dipping shots just wide of the mark from quick-fire inter-passing breaks involving the front four.
The game settled down a little as both sides eyed the vital next goal.
But when it came, it was surprisingly simple, as Johnson lofted the ball out to McKeown on the right wing and his low cross was slid home by Campbell-Mhlope for his second goal at the far post.
Any thoughts that the mission was accomplished were soon dispelled as United sent on Jannai Gordon for Mills and he proved more effective.
A direct run down the wing ended when Gordon cut inside, only to be denied by a superb saving tackle from Doyley.
Striker Mitchell Weiss, who worked tirelessly all afternoon to take the pressure off the two Kings’ wide-men behind him, came close to a just reward when his run, cut inside and shot was stopped on the line.
Gordon set up a tense finale when he headed home Connor Roberts’ cross in the 79th minute and Kings had to resort to some desperate defending for the ensuing minutes.
But a sweltering-hot afternoon finally came to a close after seven minutes of additional time - due to earlier drinks breaks - and a jubilant Kings had maintained their unbeaten run after four consecutive away games.
Langley’s home game against Hitchin Town on Bank Holiday Monday was called off due to concerns over the pitch.
They continue their travels this Saturday when they visit Barwell hoping to make it five games unbeaten.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday afternoon Kings were drawn at home to Barking in the first qualifying round of the FA Cup.