Kings Langley lost out by the odd goal in five to Crawley Green – with all of the goals coming in an 11-minute spell either side of half-time.
The two sides have consistently challenged for promotion over the past few seasons, but they served up nearly 40 minutes of poor and unentertaining football before the game sprang to life just before the break.
Callum Adebiyi’s long pass enabled Adam Hallissey to break clear on the left wing and cut inside before squeezing the ball under the body of keeper Bart Pedrycz.
Sam Warrell’s quick thinking and even quicker free-kick then caught Green napping and put Hallissey clear again, and he crossed for Jack Johnson to side-foot home.
A minute to go before the interval and Kings were on target for three points, but an inherent inability to defend a corner allowed a Chris Gibson header to bring Crawley back into the game at 2-1.
Two minutes into the second half, a right wing cross found Gibson totally unmarked in the inside left position and a simple header levelled things up.
It got even worse for Kings two minutes later when Ant Ladyman made a good save from the same striker, but some slack defending allowed Peter O’Donnell to reach the rebound first and score from close range.
With the midfield out of sorts, long balls were dealt with easily by the towering home defence and Kings’ day of woe was complete when they were forced to play the last 12 minutes with 10 men after losing Ritchie Hanlon to injury.