Magpies suffer Valentine’s Day masacre

Colney Heath still looking for first win this year

Herts Charity Shield semi-final

Colney Heath 2 Kings Langley 5

COLNEY Heath’s search for a first win in 2012 will go into an eighth game following a disappointing Valentine’s Day defeat to Kings Langley in the semi-final of the Herts Charity Shield.

The managerless Magpies have not won a game since a 2-1 win over high-flying Dunstable Town in their final game of 2011 and that never looked likely to change once James Armstrong had edged Kings Langley 3-2 ahead nine minutes before the break.

Heath’s Achilles heel was a 3-5-2 formation that the defence never really looked comfortable with and Langley took advantage of the holes that confusion caused before sealing the game in the second half with two goals on the counter attack.

It was a far cry from the opening stages of the contest which saw the Magpies start well. Ian Cooper was denied by a brilliant save from the Kings Langley goalkeeper after latching onto Josh Humbert’s flick-on. The visiting custodian was at it again minutes later, diving full length to tip the ball over from Dean Parratt’s effort after a flowing Heath move. The opening goal of the game wasn’t long in coming though as, from the resulting corner, Steve Barker took advantage of a fumble by the ‘keeper to volley home from close range.

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There is an old adage in football that says you are never more vulnerable to concede than after you score and that certainly rang true here.

Less than 60 seconds had elapsed before Langley were level courtesy of Craig Lynskey’s superb individual goal. The visiting forward picked the ball up in a fairly innocuous position out on the left wing but spotting Magpies stopper Tom Blackman just a fraction of a yard off his line, cut in off the wing and sent a curling effort into the top corner of the net.

But just as Heath had been caught out after scoring so did Kings Langley with Ian Cooper restoring the home side’s advantage just a minute later. The goal was the result of another flowing passing move that started with Jamie Eames on one wing and ended with Ricky Perks nodding Dean Parratt’s cross into the path of Cooper who drove the ball past the ‘keeper with aplomb.

The Magpies striker could have had a second goal just two minutes later but he fired over the crossbar after superb work by Eames down the right wing.

Eames was proving a thorn in Langley’s side and next he set up Paul Taylor but the midfielder’s long range effort was well held by the ‘keeper.

Cooper, too, was giving the visiting defence plenty to think about and the Magpies’ striker saw a decent penalty shout turned down by the referee.

It was a pivotal moment in the contest and one that Colney Heath never really recovered from. The Magpies’ defensive frailties were exposed twice in four minutes as Kings Langley swung the momentum firmly in their favour. Colney Heath’s failure to pick up Jack Johnson on the left wing was punished to the maximum as the wide man ghosted into the box to fire past Blackman to draw Kings Langley level.

Things soon went from bad to worse as the visitors went in front for the first time in the contest when James Armstrong latched onto a simple throughball and slotted past the worryingly exposed Blackman.

The visitors now looked dominant and Blackman found himself in the right place at the right time to gather Armstrong’s close range effort after Lynskey had flicked the ball into his strike partner’s path.

The half-time break came just at the right time for the Magpies who used the sanctuary of the changing rooms to regroup and they felt they should have been handed a route back into the contest when Cooper was sent tumbling in the penalty area just two minutes after the resumption but once more the referee was unmoved.

Heath were enjoying the majority of the possession as they pushed for an equaliser but that adventure meant there were holes at the back and Kings Langley exposed these effectively.

Gary Connolly’s long punt forward looked like it was sailing harmlessly out of play but Armstrong never gave up on it, collecting the ball and crossing to the far post for Johnson to fire home emphatically.

With an hour played there was still time for Colney Heath to respond but any hopes they may have had of recovering the game were extinguished when Armstrong added a fifth for the visitors.

The forward picked the ball up in the left hand channel before wriggling free of his marker and crashing a shot high into the net for his second goal of the game.

He could have had a hat-trick when Lynskey prodded the ball into his path on the edge of the box but Blackman produced a smart save to repel his effort before Tom Dickie cleared the danger for Heath.

It was only a minor frustration for Armstrong and his Langley teammates though as, despite the referee finding six additional minutes from nowhere, the visitors closed out the game to seal their spot in the final.

For the Magpies their search for both a manager and their first win of 2012 continues and both could do with materliaising soon.

Heath: Blackman; Barker �, Dickie, Lace; Eames, Williams, Taylor, Humbert, Parratt; Perks, Cooper.