BetVictor Southern Premier Central
Kings Langley 1 (Hoskins 36)
Stratford Town 0
Report by Bryan Hale
DESPITE a battling second-half performance, Stratford Town slumped to a ninth defeat in their last ten outings after Will Hoskins’ 36th-minute strike was enough to secure the points for Kings Langley.
There was only one change to Town’s starting line-up, with Kai Woollard-Innocent returning in place of the unavailable Lewis Wilson and taking over at left-back, allowing Kynan Isaac to switch into midfield.
And there were two new names on the substitutes bench, with ex-Banbury United striker Leam Howards arriving from Kidlington and Paul Douglas from Alvechurch.
The opening ten minutes were fairly even with both sides trading corners without being able to make them count, but Kings went close to taking the lead in the 14th minute when Mitchell Weiss’s low cross from the right reached Hoskins at the far post who could only prod it wide from a couple of yards out.
Soon after Callum Adebiyi wasn’t far away with a stinging volley as he connected with another Weiss cross, but Mo Sebbeh-Njie went even closer at the other end in the 25th minute with a thunderous long-range effort which was spectacularly turned behind by Melvin Minter taking off at full stretch to his left.
Kings were beginning to boss the possession and scored what proved to be the winner in the 36th minute when Jordan Parkes floated over a free-kick from the right touchline which was headed back by Adebiyi at the far post and thumped past Town keeper James Pardington by the unmarked Hoskins from eight yards out.
And Kings then finished the first half with a bit of a flourish, as Pardington pushed behind a Parkes shot at the foot of his right-hand post and followed up by collecting a teasing cross from Weiss.
Town needed to impose themselves in midfield if they were to get back into the game and there were some encouraging signs in the opening minutes of the second half, but Javia Roberts wasted their best chance by shooting into the side-netting when a cross to the waiting Dan Sweeney would have been the better option.
Kings responded with Roddy Collins hitting a 25-yard drive inches wide and then letting fly with another on the hour mark which was acrobatically palmed over by Pardington, but Town were certainly making life uncomfortable for the hosts who were struggling to regain their earlier composure.
Howards was introduced into the action in the 66th minute, replacing Roberts to become Town’s 60th player of the season, but in spite of plenty of Town effort, the equaliser was proving to be frustratingly elusive.
But they should have levelled in the 83rd minute when Reece Flanagan’s cross from the right picked out Howards six yards out, but in spite of being totally unchallenged, he could only steer his header tantalisingly the wrong side of the far post.
That proved to be their last opportunity and the point they deserved on their much improved second-half showing had drifted away.
KINGS: Melvin Minter, Alex Anderson, Kyle Connolly, Dean Hitchcock (Casey Linsell 76), Callum Adebiyi, Jorell Johnson, Mitchell Weiss, Roddy Collins, Will Hoskins (Saul Williams 67), Harry Crawford (Evans Lamboh 90), Jordan Parkes.
TOWN: James Pardington, Dan Vann, Kai Woollaerd-Innocent, Courtney Richards, Dan Alessi, Kyle Rowley, Javia Roberts (Leam Howards 66), Mo Sebbeh-Njie, Dan Sweeney, Reece Flanagan, Kynan Isaac. Unused subs: Gedeon Okito, Kyle Ambris, Paul Douglas, David Neligwa