Kings Langley were left to ponder a missed opportunity after a spirited second-half fightback went unrewarded as a 2-1 defeat at high-flying Taunton Town left their play-off hopes in the balance.

Saturday’s defeat means Steve Conroy’s side slipped back out of the Southern League Premier Division South top five behind Poole Town, who they trail on goal difference with three matches of the regular season remaining.

Langley started brightly enough and a slick early interchange between Mitchell Weiss and Stevie Ward saw the visitors’ wide man round home custodian Lloyd Irish only to be denied by the offside flag.

The hosts were quick to respond as the match continued apace with both teams looking to seize the initiative but, as is so often the case in tight contests, Lady Luck can be a determining factor and prolific Peacock’s striker ‘Rocky’ Neal was the beneficiary when the ball ricocheted to him and in a flash he drove it low into the corner.

The goal rocked Kings and worse was to follow as just seven minutes later Neal was again to the fore when he latched onto a misplaced clearance and hit a great strike that beat the back-peddling Alex Tokarczyk.

The visitors were down but not out and could well have reduced the arrears on the stroke of half-time when an incisive run into the box by Ward was brought to an abrupt halt by the challenge of Lewis Hall that left the forward sprawling but nothing was given.

Kings certainly started the second period positively with both Weiss and Rohdell Gordon stinging the palms of Irish with snap shots but the home defence was proving very resilient in the face of increased pressure from their opponents.

That was until the 61st minute when Dean Hitchcock’s perceptive forward pass was nodded down by Weiss to Ward who executed the most exquisite of lobs over Irish to halve the deficit.

The home side responded immediately and only a great reflex save by Tokarczyk from a Shane White header prevented the two-goal cushion from being restored.

Kings battled to the end but the home side saw out the remaining minutes without further alarm, leaving the visitors knowing Saturday’s home game with Dorchester Town takes on even greater importance.