Kings Langley acknowledged that their play-off bid is effectively over as they went down to a 1-0 defeat at relegation haunted Walton Casuals on a sunny Easter Monday by the Thames.

With Poole Town going a point ahead after a draw with league leaders Weymouth, Kings had to win this match as Poole’s last game is at Staines Town, whose miserable season of 36 defeats in 40 games continued with a 9-1 thrashing at Harrow Borough. One glimmer of hope, though, may be the fact that one of Staines’ four wins this season came against Poole back in September.

A good-sized crowd, with equally divided vocal support, had gathered for what was effectively a cup final for both sides but, after Rene Howe had glanced the post with a header, it became apparent that the fear of relegation was producing more adrenaline than the prize of promotion, as Casuals dominated.

Kings roused themselves when an astute Gary Connolly pass saw Andronicos Georgiou fire in an acute shot that Denzel Gerrar managed to tip round the post, but when Ewington was one-on-one with the keeper, the prolific marksman made no mistake.

Kings replied immediately with a Callum Adebiyi header hooked off the line by Brown, but the early part of the second half had Taureen Roberts running riot down the left, albeit with little end result.

When Jerome Beckles held the ball behind his back to prevent the restart, he was dismissed for a second yellow eight minutes from the end, but apart from a looping Georgiou deflected shot surprising everyone by hitting the bar, it failed to galvanise a below par Kings, while the Stags thoroughly deserved to take their fight to the final day.

On Saturday, club captain Gary Connolly was Kings’ saviour as he came off the bench to secure the narrowest of victories over Dorchester Town and keep the play-off aspirations alive.

With news of rivals Poole Town’s win at Metropolitan Police already coming through, Kings were running out of time as fellow substitute Lewis Putman began a powerful run down the left flank before putting in a fierce, low cross that was met with a first time strike on the far post by the incoming Connolly.

The Magpies began to look more threatening after a conservative start, and Alex Tokarczyk held a Tom Blair shot before needing two bites of the cherry to deny Billy Lowes’ rising effort.

Kings finally responded on the cusp of half time when Mitchell Weiss’ thunderous shot cannoned back off the crossbar after a Stevie Ward pull back, but the resumption saw Town again on the front foot with Blair putting a low shot just wide.

For all the effort, the match entered the four minutes of time added on with the scoreboard still blank and Kings’ hopes hanging by a thread.

However, the introduction of Putman was having a telling effect in terms of crosses and there was a buzz of expectancy as he started the run that was to be met by Connolly and produce a goal that ensures this tantalising play-off race goes to the wire.