STRATFORD Town all but guaranteed their Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division survival and at the same time added to Kings Langley’s relegation woes with a crucial 3-1 victory in their first ever visit to Gaywood Park, writes Bryan Hale.
Town had an early chance to take the lead when Langley keeper Xavi Comas’s misdirected roll-out to right-back jack Pattison was seized on by Justin Marsden, who reached the byline only for his pull-back aimed for Will Grocott to be intercepted by Jorell Johnson.
With both sides finding it difficult to cope with the bobbly pitch, there were few clearcut chances at either end until Stratford went ahead in the 38th minute when to the surprise of everyone in the ground, referee Michael Heavey pointed to the penalty spot after Johnson tangled with Mike Taylor as both went for a bouncing ball.
Edwin Ahenkorah coolly sent Comas the wrong way from the spot.
Five minutes later, Ahenkorah latched on to a long pass down the right from Liam Francis to skip round Ryan Plowright and beast Comas at his near post with a fiercely-struck left-footer to send Stratford in at half-time with a healthy two-goal advantage.
The Kings pushed forward after the restart with Steve Ward going close with a low drive, followed by Dean Hitchcoc, who was not far away with a volley from the edge of the penalty area.
And on 67 minutes, it was Hitchcock who pulled a goal back with a free-kick from 20 yards out which he drilled into the bottom corner.
As the Kings pressed for an equaliser, Lewis Toomey shot wide and Johnson saw his first time effort fizz inches over before Stratford wrapped up the points in the fourth minute of added time.
Comas came out to clear a long ball from James Hancocks, but lost control and Taylor lobbed the ball into the empty net.
The win sees Town go 12 points clear of the drop zone, with six games left to play.
Stratford Town: Niall Cooper, Guy Clark, James Hancocks, Dan Summerfield, George Forsyth, Liam Francis (c), Justin Marsden, Barry Fitzharris (James Fry 65), Mike Taylor (Jamie Spencer 90 + 5), Will Grocott, Edwin Ahenkorah (Ben Stephens 76).