Leatherhead’ first competitive match in the Channel Islands ended in a 2-0 defeat against a well organised Guernsey side at Footes Lane on Saturday.
The match was a tale of two strikers - the first, Guernsey’s Ross Allen, added to his remarkable goal tally of 34 goals in Ryman Division One South this season with two further clinical finishes for the Green Lions.
The second was Leatherhead’s missing front man, Tom Bradbrook, who was unavailable for the trip to Guernsey and whose absence was keenly felt by the visitors.
Allen remained almost anonymous for long periods of the match, but when it really mattered – with his finishing in front of goal – he did not disappoint.
Theo Fairweather-Johnson - making his first start for Leatherhead - was unable to recreate the magic of three days earlier, when he came on as a second half substitute to score twice against Horsham.
Tanners started out playing with a 4-5-1 formation, with Fairweather-Johnson the lone front man charged with creating any opportunities in front of goal.
Leatherhead were largely outplayed in the opening half by an enterprising Guernsey side.
Dominic Heaume was given a free header after five minutes which went straight to Deren Ibrahim, and Allen missed out two minutes later, firing straight at the Tannners keeper.
Guernsey’s Dave Rihoy missed the best chance of the opening half after Kieron Mahon teed up a close range shot for him on 31 minutes, with the ball squirming inches wide of the post.
The Green Lions missed out on another chance to take the lead before half-time.
Ryan Zico-Black’s corner had two step-overs in Leatherhead’s penalty area before Rihoy launched a shot high over the bar from 15 yards.
Guernsey’s stranglehold on the match eventually paid off with the opening goal after 53 minutes.
The ball was played across the width of Leatherhead’s defence to find an advancing Allen, who made no mistake from 12 yards.
Urgency: Tom Parkinson was a second half substitute
The goal injected some life into the visitors and Leatherhead began to show some urgency in their attacks after Tom Parkinson and Ryan Cooper came on in place of Paul Semakula and Darren Smith.
And all the while Guernsey held a single-goal lead, the visitors held onto the hope of getting something out of the match.
Leatherhead continued to press forward, with Ian Draycott shooting wide and Ryan Mahal heading a difficult chance straight at Green Lions keeper Chris Tardif.
Mahal was brought down 25 yards from Guernsey’s goal after 69 minutes, and Matt Smart stepped up and hit a sublime free kick which Tardif did well to tip behind for a corner. Smart’s flag-kick was headed over by Cooper before Tardif made another flying save to deny Jamie Coyle.
The Leatherhead centre back stayed up to head down another Smart corner for Jerry Nnamani, who lashed the ball over the bar from close range.
Leatherhead’s best chance of an equaliser came when Guernsey’s Glyn Dyer got his feet tangled up with the ball in his own six-yard box, rolling the ball inches wide of the goal for another Tanners corner.
But Allen had the last word for Guernsey after 86 minutes, latching onto a long ball out of defence before drilling a shot past Ibrahim for that all-important second goal for the Green Lions.
The referee added six minutes of stoppage time, but for all their persistence going forward in the second half Leatherhead came away from Guernsey tasting defeat for the first time in more a month.
Leatherhead: Deren Ibrahim, Ryan Mahal, Dan Johnson, Matt Smart, Jamie Coyle, Jerry Nnamani, Paul Semakula (Ryan Cooper 63), Darren Smith (Tom Parkinson 57), Theo Fairweather-Johnson, Ian Draycott, Kevin Terry.
Unused subs: Connor Heffernan and Jeff Allen.