Kings Langley come from behind to beat Stratford Town on emotional day as tributes paid to Cody Fisher
Stratford Town 1-2 Kings Langley
Southern Premier Central
STRATFORD Town are seven points adrift of safety after Kings Langley scored twice in the final ten minutes to record a 2-1 victory at the Arden Garages Stadium.
On an emotional day, tributes were paid to Cody Fisher prior to kick-off with a minute’s silence and the retiring of the No. 23 shirt, followed by a minute’s applause in the 23rd minute.
Pupils from St Gregory’s School in Stratford, where Cody worked, also formed a guard of honour for the players as they came out onto the pitch in front of a 973-strong crowd.
The Bards created numerous chances in the first half but it needed a wind-assisted goal from Josh Hawker to put them ahead in first-half stoppage time.
Stratford were the stronger of the two after the restart and Jesse Akubuine should have doubled their lead when he raced through on goal but he shot straight at Jack Berman.
That miss came back to haunt the home side as Kings Langley levelled things up in the 80th minute through Andronicus Georgiou, before Ken Feyi came off the bench to smash home the winner seven minutes later after Stratford failed to clear their lines from a free-kick.
Gavin Hurren’s men have now gone ten games without a win and have won just one of their last 15, with the defeat leaving them seven points adrift of safety, although they do have three games in hand on Kings who sit just outside the drop zone.
There were two changes to the Bards team which lost 4-0 to Tamworth last time out with debutant Hamilton Bunga and Mikey Taylor coming in for Aksum White and Will Grocott who both dropped to the bench.
There was also a place among the substitutes for academy prospect Reece Read. Included in the Kings Langley starting XI was Wilson Carvalho, who made more than 50 appearances in all competitions for Stratford during his one-year stay during that history-making 2018-19 season, while another former Bard in Ken Feyi was on the bench for the Hertfordshire visitors.
After an even start, the Bards grew into the game with Taylor causing all sorts of problems with his strength and power, while Will Dawes was proving a real handful on the left wing. And it was in the 22nd minute when some excellent play from Dawes allowed Akubuine to break into the penalty area but his shot was saved well by Berman.
The Bards continued to pen the visitors back inside their own half and it was down the wings where they were looking the most dangerous. And in the 37th minute the home side missed a huge opportunity to break the deadlock. Andre Wright did well to turn his man and he whipped in a delicious cross that was met by Dawes who could not keep the shot down from close range.
The visitors struggled to venture into the Stratford half but even when they did, Cain Keller was caught offside on a couple of occasions. James Kaloczi then headed over from an in-swinging free-kick from the right in their only opportunity of the half.
That miss proved costly as in the second minute of added time Stratford broke the deadlock in somewhat fortuitous circumstances.
Hawker collected possession just inside the Kings Langley half and his wind-assisted cross caught Berman off-guard, with the ball flying over his out-stretched arm and into the top corner.
Two minutes later Hawker came within a whisker of doubling Stratford’s lead but his vicious drive from 20 yards out clipped the top of the crossbar.
With a short deluge of rain during the interval, playing conditions in the second half were proving difficult but both sides were doing their best to keep the ball on the ground.
Stratford continued on from where they left off in the first half and they should have doubled their lead in the 57th minute.
Goalkeeper Liam O’Brien played a superb pass that allowed Akubuine to race through on goal but he could only smash his effort straight against the on-rushing Berman.
That miss came back to haunt the Bards as ten minutes from time Kings Langley equalised. Andronicus Georgiou’s initial shot was blocked but he reacted fastest to his own rebound to drill a low effort beyond O’Brien and into the bottom corner.
Seven minutes later Kings Langley had turned the game on its head. Isaac Galliford’s free-kick was not cleared and the ball fell to Feyi who created a yard of space before smashing home the winner.
The Bards, who are yet to win on the road this season, make the trip to Royston Town on Saturday.
STRATFORD TOWN: Liam O’Brien, Dan Lafferty, Taylor Morrison, Carl Dickinson, Paul McCone, Hamilton Bunga, Jesse Akubuine, Joshua Hawker, Michael Taylor (Jamie Molyneux 73), Andre Wright (Will Grocott 80), Will Dawes. Unused subs: Louis Beresford, Aksum White, Reece Read.
KINGS LANGLEY: Jack Berman, Ryan Case, Alexander Lafleur, Isaac Galliford (Finlay Macnab 90+1), James Kaloczi, Jorell Johnson, Jacob Gardiner-Smith (Ken Feyi 63), Sami Bessadi (Matt Taylor 53), Wilson Carvalho, Andronicos Georgiou, Cain Keller. Unused subs: Alex Tokarczyk, Joseph Chidyausiku.
REFEREE: Jamie Conde
MATCH RATING: 4/5