Parkinson shines as Leatherhead upset the odds to dump Lewes out of the FA Trophy
A sublime second-half goal from Dan Parkinson sealed a stunning 2-1 win at Lewes and sent Leatherhead into the second qualifying round of the FA Trophy on Saturday.
Tanners went behind to an early strike from Lewes’s Nicky Wheeler but were back on level terms after a Darren Smith penalty just before half-time.
Parkinson’s 75th minute winner was a stunning strike from the corner of the penalty area, with the ball flying over the head of Rooks goalkeeper Rikki Banks before scraping the underside of the crossbar and nestling in the top corner of the net.
Following last week’s heavy FA Cup defeat at Biggleswade, Leatherhead manager Richard Brady brought in full backs Jeff Allen and Dan Parkinson for the injured Liam Pestle and Neil Jenkins, while Leroy Griffiths returned in an attacking midfield role.
Tanners made a poor start, conceding an opening goal after just six minutes - Ross Treleaven’s cross from the right opened up the visitors’ defence and was met by a tremendous strike from Wheeler which flew into the net.
Leatherhead patiently worked their way back into the tie, pushing forward in search of an equaliser.
Long range efforts from Parkinson and Kev Terry landed well wide of the target before Banks had to make a goal line clearance gathering Tom Bradbrook’s low cross from the bye-line.
Play was held up for several minutes when Allen was injured in a collision in the Tanners goalmouth.
The young defender later left the ground on crutches with his right knee heavily bandaged.
Leatherhead hit back with a penalty after 41 minutes when the keen-eyed referee saw Lewes captain Jack Walder pull down Bradbrook in the middle of the Rooks’ penalty area. Smith calmly stepped forward to plant the spot kick into the cornet of the net.
Tanners missed an opportunity to take the lead after 56 minutes when a shot from Bradbrook came back off the post.
Leatherhead sensed a real chance to go on and beat their Ryman Premier hosts. After 64 minutes Terry won possession in the Rooks’ penalty area and played the ball back to Smith, who tested Banks with a fierce low drive from the edge of the box.
Leatherhead’s stunning winner arrived with 15 minutes remaining. An unchallenged Parkinson won possession wide on the left and skipped past one defender before launching a powerful shot from the corner of the box which flew over the keeper and into the net.
Lewes pressed forward in closing stages, but came across some stern resistance from the visitors who somehow managed to block out everything the Rooks threw at them.
Leatherhead should have notched up a third goal in the dying seconds of injury time when a hesitant Banks lost possession to Bradbrook in front of his goal.
The Tanners striker took a couple of touches before firmly planting the ball into an unguarded net, only to discover that the referee had blown for full time a moment earlier.
Leatherhead resume their league programme on Tuesday evening – after a three and a half week break for cup matches - with a visit to fellow play-off contenders Hythe Town.
Leatherhead: Deren Ibrahim, Jeff Allen (Tom Parkinson 39), Dan Parkinson, Matt Smart, Jamie Coyle, Jerry Nnamani, Kev Terry (Adam Burchell 72), Darren Smith, Tom Bradbrook, Ian Draycott, Leroy Griffiths (Jake Downs 82)
Unused subs: Elie Kayembe, Lee Pleau
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