Kings Langley vs Wimborne

Another visit to a top-six side, another terrific performance by Matty’s men, but another single-goal defeat. Despite dominating possession and having the better chances, Wimborne were undone by a soft goal on 54 minutes when mistakes left Rene Howe with the easy task of finding the empty net from 8 yards.

With Kings Langley hot on Poole’s heels for the final play-off spot, having won 9 and drawn 1 of their last 11 home games, on paper this was a tough task for Wimborne’s first ever visit. Franklyn Clarke and Lee Francis were unavailable, but manager Holmes restored Matt Oldring to central defence.

On a lush-looking but bobbly surface on a sunny afternoon, Wimborne started brightly. A quick break down the right by Curtis Young ended with a comfortable shot by Stefan Penny; coming in from the left Luke Holmes shot was blocked; and Luke Burbidge’s effort went wide – all in the first 5 minutes.

Kings stroked the ball around confidently, moving play from side to side. Oldring made a clearing header and keeper Gerard Benfield made a low catch, but most of the real action was in the Kings’ half. On 14 minutes Penny played Toby Holmes behind the defence down the inside-right channel. The tall keeper, Alex Tokarczyk, stood his ground, but was beaten by the shot across him, but the ball rolled the wrong side of the far post.

Carl Pettefer, getting through an enormous amount of work, intercepted in midfield and started another attack, only for James Stokoe to head over Burbidge’s corner. Then Pettefer himself was played through on the right after good work by Burbidge on 22 minutes, but was thwarted by Tokarczyk who made a good sprawling save.

Kings’ solid centre forward, Rene Howe, held the ball up well, and a minute later his inviting cross from the right flashed across the face of the goal; shortly after Stokoe threw himself in the way of a goal-bound shot; and Georgiou’s cross from the right by-line showed that the hosts could be dangerous.

On 32 minutes Penny’s cross from the right was headed behind by Jorell Johnson, Kings’ elegant skipper. Burbidge’s whipped-in corner was scrambled away at the far post, and Luke Holmes’ follow-up shot can best be described as a “sighter”. Skipper Billy Maybury made a typical marauding run down the left as the visitors ended the half as they’d begun – on the front foot. A well-worked corner routine saw Burbidge’s low cross elude everyone, then the two Holmes combined to set up Burbidge but his shot went wide.

Wimborne started the second half brightly. Toby was sent galloping down the left; Benfield’s long clearance forced Tokarczyk to head away; and successive Wimborne corners were cleared. Then, on 54 minutes, against the run of play, Kings took the lead. There seemed little danger as a low ball was played down the centre to Michell Weiss. A failed clearance and a miss-kick later, the ball ended up in front of Howe with an empty net beckoning, and he gleefully scored.

There was still time for an equaliser – or better. A Maybury free-kick from right of the “D” on 58 minutes went over the bar; Toby headed over the same bar from Luke Holmes’ deflected cross; and Toby’s dink over a defender on the by-line fell into a grateful keeper’s arms. On 70 minutes a Toby charge down the left forced a corner. The striker’s header from Burbidge’s delivery was cleared off the line.

Despite the home side’s embarrassingly blatant time -wasting, referee Cooke would allow an additional 5 minutes, Wimborne kept pressing. Stokoe’s header from a Maybury free-kick didn’t have enough power to beat the keeper; Burbidge worked his trickery along the by-line; and the two Lukes combined to test the home defence. Kings saw the game out to keep their play-off push going, and will be relieved to have bagged three points on a day when they were second best.

Wimborne had 17 goal attempts to the Kings’ 8, and 6 corners to their 2; the only statistic in favour of the hosts was goals scored – and that’s the one that counts.

Wimborne: Benfield, Penny, Maybury, Davidson, Oldring, Pettefer, Stokoe, Young (Bayston 88), T.Holmes, Burbidge, L. Holmes.

Unused subs: Lee, Collins, Owen

Att: 297

Report: Graham Dunn