Former Tanners hero Hutchings sends Leatherhead home packing

Sutton Guardian: Old friends: Former Leatherhead favourite Tommy Hutchings scored two and set up one as Merstham dented the Tanners automatic promotion hopes Old friends: Former Leatherhead favourite Tommy Hutchings scored two and set up one as Merstham dented the Tanners automatic promotion hopes

Tommy Hutchings delivered the goods for Merstham against Leatherhead on Saturday, scoring twice against his old club before setting up the host’s winning goal.

Despite the 3-2 defeat, Tanners remain second in Ryman Division One South, albeit seven points adrfit of the leaders Peacehaven & Telscombe.

Hutchings opened the scoring just before half-time and doubled Merstham’s lead with a second goal after 63 minutes.

Leatherhead struck back, as Theo Fairweather-Johnson hit two goals within three minutes, before Fabio Saraiva followed up on another of Hutchings’ shots to grab Merstham’s winner.

Tanners were without experienced central defender, Jamie Coyle, who sat out the match after a clash of heads during Wednesday night’s 4-0 win against Ramsgate left him requiring stitches in hospital.

Leatherhead’s re-shaped back four struggled to deal with Merstham’s attacking pace as the hosts fed the ball through to Hutchings.

Tanners almost fell behind after 16 minutes - their defence failed to close down an advancing Saraiva and the striker’s 25-yard shot struck the post before being cleared.

Two minutes later, Leatherhead’s Fairweather-Johnson hit a low curling drive, forcing a good save from Merstham’s keeper Brannon Daly.

With half-time approaching Hutchings won possession and got past Leatherhead centre back Jerry Nnamani, before delivering a clinical finish from 18 yards.

Hutchings nearly added a second goal on 48 minutes, breaking clear of his marker and shooting from the edge of the box.

Tanners keeper Deren Ibrahim did well to narrow the angle and spread himself to block the goal-bound shot with an out-stretched boot.

Hutchings extended Merstham’s lead 15 minutes later as his blistering pace took him past Leatherhead defender Tom Parkinson - his rasping effort came back off the post but there was no mistake with his follow up.

Leatherhead found a way back into the match after 72 minutes when Ian Draycott sent a low corner into Merstham’s six-yard box and Fairweather-Johnson got a neat touch on the ball to send it past Daly at the near post.

The Merstham keeper was at fault three minutes later as Leatherhead snatched a dramatic equaliser.

Daly failed to control a relatively straightforward back pass and Fairweather-Johnson brushed past him for a simple tap in.

However, Merstham restored their lead after 79 minutes - Michael Maynard-Abnett set off on a blistering run down the right, taking the ball past Leatherhead’s Daniel Johnson, before picking out an advancing Hutchings in the box.

Hutchings' goal-bound effort was half blocked but Saraiva buried the ball in the net with his follow up.

Tom Bradbrook missed a chance to equalise in stoppage time, firing over from close range with only the keeper to beat.

Merstham held out for the few remaining moments to seal a memorable win against the second placed visitors.

Leatherhead: Deren Ibrahim, Ryan Cooper (Ryan Mahal 52), Dan Johnson, Darren Smith (Matt Smart 52), Jerry Nnamani, Tom Parkinson, Theo Fairweather-Johnson, Paul Semakula Tom Bradbrook, Ian Draycott, Kevin Terry (Mohamed Eisa).

Unused subs: Connor Heffernan, Mark Worsfold.

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