Super-sub Blackman keeps Leatherhead's FA Trophy dream alive
Leatherhead booked their place in the final qualifying round of the FA Trophy thanks to a well-taken second half goal from Sam Blackman that saw off Whitstable 1-0.
The Tanners substitute’s 74th minute strike lifted this keenly contested cup tie where scoring opportunities were at a premium, as near gale-force conditions at Whitstable’s Belmont Ground made any sort of flowing football very difficult.
Richard Brady's men will now face Bath City of the Blue Square Conference South on November 10.
The Oystermen missed a great chance to take the lead after six minutes when Jake Beecroft’s cross was headed wide from close range by Buster Smissen.
Tanners countered in the next minute as Kev Terry fed the ball down the left channel to Tom Bradbrook who curled a speculative effort wide of the post from 30 yards.
After a frustrating opening half which produced precious few chances, Whitstable squandered another good opportunity to open the scoring on the hour mark.
The introduction of Greg Andrews midway through the second half saw Leatherhead begin to make inroads in the Oystermen’s defence.
After 71 minutes, Andrews pounced on the ball just inside the Whitstable half and ran forward before unleashing a powerful shot from the edge of the box, forcing goalkeeper Nick Shaw to make a spectacular save as he turned it behind for a corner.
Leatherhead continued to press forward and they were rewarded with a goal on 74 minutes.
A speculative long ball was floated into the Whitstable area and was only half cleared, finding Blackman on the edge of the box. The young midfielder showed great composure as he turned and instinctively struck the ball low through a crowded area and into the back of the net.
The Oystermen tried in vain to draw level, pushing players ever deeper into the opposition’s half.
In the second minute of injury time, the hosts won a corner on the right. The ball was whipped across the six yard box and out the other side without anyone making a vital touch beneath the Leatherhead crossbar.
At the final whistle, Blackman was mobbed by his team-mates who joined him in celebrating a fine first goal for the Tanners.