11:17am Thursday 20th March 2014
By Rod Ellis
Leatherhead's miserable March continued as the Ryman Division One South play-off contenders went down to a fourth defeat in six matches.
A 1-0 defeat against Hythe Town on Wednesday at Fetcham Grove leaves the Tanners seven points behind leaders Peacehaven & Telscombe - but having played two games more.
Hythe's Josh Burchell got the winner on 66 minutes to secure the points for the visitors in an evenly contested match which saw several good chances go begging at either end.
Leatherhead played some flowing football in the opening half, but came up against a resolute Town defence, while Tanners keeper Deren Ibrahim pulled off some fine saves to deny the visitors.
Shaun Welford offered the first chance for Hythe after six minutes, breaking clear of his marker from just inside his own half.
The former Maidstone striker took the ball forward to the edge of the Tanners penalty area before unleashing a fierce drive which Ibrahim did well to block.
Leatherhead missed out on a good opportunity to take the lead after nine minutes. Kev Terry brought the ball in from the left flank before testing visiting keeper Dan Eason with a rasping shot from the edge of the box.
Tanners squandered another chance to go in front after 41 minutes. Tom Bradbrook did well to get past a defender on the left before squaring a well-placed delivery to Ian Draycott, who shot wide of the target.
Terry should have put Tanners ahead at the start of the second half, but fired over from close range with only the keeper to beat.
Bradbrook was put through on goal after 54 minutes and his shot drew another fine save from Eason, who turned the ball behind for a corner.
Leatherhead’s hopes were raised on 64 minutes with another good move down the right. Bradbrook stepped over Ryan Mahal’s pass, leaving Terry to deliver the cross into the box. Theo Fairweather-Johnson met the ball firmly but his shot sailed over the bar.
And in a repeat of last October’s corresponding fixture on the Kent coast, the men in red soaked up everything Tanners threw at them before stealing down to the other end to effectively snatch the winner.
After 66 minutes the Leatherhead defence failed to clear away from their six yard box and Burchell muscled in to scramble the ball over the line.
Tanners continued to press forward in a determined effort to draw level.
Terry drilled a probing ball across the width of the visitors’ six yard box which cried out for a touch from a Leatherhead player.
Bradbrook missed another chance on 78 minutes, heading wide another well-directed cross from Mahal on the right. But Tanners finished the match on the back foot and could have fallen further behind in the closing minutes.
Ibrahim did well to keep out Craig Thompson’s long range effort before Sam Bewick fired narrowly wide for the visitors after 89 minutes.
The referee played four minutes of added time, but the hosts failed to break down the visitors’ defence and were left to reflect on a second consecutive midweek defeat against lower placed opposition.
Leatherhead: Deren Ibrahim, Ryan Mahal, Dan Johnson (Ryan Cooper 80), Paul Semakula, Jamie Coyle, Jerry Nnamani, Theo Fairweather-Johnson, Darren Smith, Tom Bradbrook, Ian Draycott (Mohamed Eisa 60), Kevin Terry.
Unused subs: Jordan Gough, Ben Franklin, Tom Parkinson
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