Jordan Parkes delivered the decisive contribution with 12 minutes to go as Kings Langley got back to winning ways with a 1-0 victory over AFC Rushden & Diamonds in the Southern League Premier Central division on Saturday.

The player-coach struck from close range to net the winner and end a run of six games without a win, leaving Kings 16th in the table.

The hosts were boosted by the return of several key players from injury and suspension and Chris Cummins’ men started with an intent to put the disappointing run of results behind them.

Kings created the first clear opening when Rushden keeper Ben Heath did well to save a Stevie Ward shot almost at the feet of the incoming Mitchell Weiss.

Roddy Collins’ 40-yard piledriver was just over and a looping header by Parkes seemed to adopt slow motion as it beat Heath but hit the post.

Diamonds, who had looked dangerous without finding a finish, wasted a free-kick on the edge of the box when Matthew Slinn blasted it over the bar, but Kings still looked the more likely to score as the first half played out.

A Parkes diagonal free-kick resulted in an enterprising Jorell Johnson back-heel well saved by Heath while a Collins shot shaved the outside of the post, but no breakthrough was forthcoming before the interval.

The visitors came out for the second half with more intent, seeing more of the possession, but the Langley back four, with Johnson and Lloyd Doyley at the centre and Kyle and Gary Connolly on either side, held firm, while Melvin Minter was in commanding form behind them, his kicking setting up several forward runs.

As the three-quarter mark duly arrived, Langley gradually wrestled back the initiative, with a Parkes-Ward one two from a free-kick almost reaping reward, but the game was still poised on a knife edge as Diamonds’ lively winger Ben Acquaye was proving a handful and brought an athletic tip round from Minter.

Weiss, central up front and supported by Ward and Parkes, had run his socks off all afternoon and his insightful through ball put raiding full-back Kyle Connolly one-on-one with Heath, only to be thwarted by a top-drawer save.

However, that was to be the prelude to the game’s defining moment, as Saul Williams cut down the same left wing 60 seconds later and delivered a cross that over-reached the goal. Seemingly from nowhere, the opposite full-back, Gary Connolly appeared and knocked the ball back for Parkes to convert from close range and cue jubilant scenes amid the home faithful.

One goal had always looked likely to settle it and it seemed that the visitors knew that, as although they continued to plug away, the Langley defence, well screened all afternoon by Dean Hitchcock, held out comfortably to embrace a very welcome three points.

Kings Langley: Minter; G Connolly (Collier 85), Johnson, Doyley, K Connolly; Hitchock; Ward (Adebiyi 71), Collins, Williams (Linsell 90), Parkes; Weiss. Subs not used: Anderson, Farrell.