Author: Rod Ellis, Leatherhead FC Match Reporter
Photo Credit: @jussyjpg
Leatherhead 1 Chichester City 2 (FA Cup First Qualifying Round)
Leatherhead’s disappointing start to the season continued with a 2-1 home defeat against Chichester City in this FA Cup First Qualifying Round tie.
Tanners took the lead on 37 minutes with a fine finish from Elliott Buchanan but a controversial equaliser in first half stoppage time followed by another goal in the opening minute of the second half were sufficient to book the visitors’ place in the next round.
Leatherhead had the better of the opening exchanges and almost went ahead in the fifth minute when a Chichester defender sliced an intended clearance onto his own crossbar. The ball rebounded to the feet of Adam Allen, only for the Tanners midfielder to blast his effort over from a tight angle.
Tanners pressed forward with purpose and three minutes later Dave Tarpey jinked his way around two City defenders before forcing a fine save from goalkeeper Kieran Magee.
Chichester were equally threatening on the break. Leatherhead keeper Luke Williams was called into action on 12 minutes, making a fine low save from Josh Clack’s fierce drive.
Tanners eventually broke the deadlock after Chichester failed to clear a probing attack down the right, with Buchanan finding the corner of the net with a superb left footed drive from eighteen yards.
Leatherhead almost added a second goal on 44 minutes, as once again the visitors gave the ball away in their own penalty area. But on this occasion Buchanan’s final touch saw the ball glance against the bottom of the post and rebound into the arms of a grateful Magee.
Tanners boss Luke Tuffs was incensed by Ethan Pritchard’s equaliser in the final moments of the first half. The Chichester forward appeared to bundle over Leatherhead midfielder Keane Anderson before being allowed to advance and fire past Williams from the edge of the box.
“Their guy throws our player in a circle around him, runs off and scores” said Tuffs. “We were setting up for a free kick. We’re out of balance because of it, and it’s 1-1 on the stroke of half-time. And that changes absolutely everything in a game where we probably should have been a couple up”.
The visitors broke clear again in the opening minutes of the second half to double their lead. Williams initially blocked an attack with a fine low save but the loose ball fell into the path of Clack, who fired home from close range.
Tanners made a double substitution on 51 minutes, replacing Allen and Mitchal Gough with Tom Bird and Samir Bajja. Bird was called into action moments later, making a goal line clearance after an advancing Clack worked the ball around Williams to shoot from a wide angle.
Leatherhead pushed forward in search of an equaliser. Tarpey broke clear on 69 minutes only to see his effort come back off the crossbar and cleared away from danger.
Tanners piled players into the visitors’ half in the final twenty minutes, but were met by some resolute Chichester defending and were unable to find that all-elusive second goal.
“When we made the changes it stopped them from hurting us” added a reflective Tuffs. “In the last twenty to twenty five minutes we were dominant.