Victorious Leatherhead one win away from the promised land of the Ryman Premier
It was touch and go in the dying moments, but Richard Brady’s Leatherhead are through to Saturday’s final of the Ryman Division One South play-offs.
The Tanners were leading 3-0 with 10 minutes remaining, but Guernsey hit back with two late goals to make for a nervy finale.
However, a 3-2 result at the final whistle means Leatherhead go to Folkestone Invicta for a shot at the Ryman Premier League.
Boss Brady said: “We started tremendously well, but we knew we would tire because the boys put in such a high intensity shift which you cannot keep up for 90 minutes, hence why we made three changes towards the end.
“It sounds ridiculous, but we needed that fourth goal to kill the game off. They came on strong at the end, but we weathered the storm.
“We knew they would have possession, we tried to keep them wide at the end and we were not overly concerned, and it is what it is. We wanted the win, and we’ve got that.”
Tanners skipper Darren Smith opened the scoring inside 90 seconds, and Tom Bradbrook doubled the advantage with a peach from 25 yards.
Bradbrook’s 33rd league goal of the season in the second half appeared to put the game to bed before the Channel Islanders’ late rally.
Brady said: “Bradders’ first goal was a worldy. Their keeper made some great saves, he was their best player, but I was right behind Bradders’ shot and could see as soon as he hit it, it was going in, and the keeper had no chance.”
Folkestone reached the final by virtue of a 3-2 extra-time win over Hastings United.
Brady’s men would have been at home for the clash but a six-point deduction for fielding an ineligible player – Joe Oberstellar – meant Tanners finished third rather than second, and home advantage in the final was lost.
Brady said: “It is what it is. We know Folkestone well, it will be a tough game and we’ll have to perform at our very best, and do our talking on the pitch.”
Stitch that: Guernsey keeper Chris Tardif cannot stop Tom Bradbrook's "wordly" second goal SP84730
Dare to dream: Tanners fans now go to Folkestone on Saturday - one win away from the Ryman Premier League SP84730
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