by Rod Ellis, Leatherhead FC Match Reporter
Leatherhead 0 – South Park (Reigate) 1
Leatherhead’s dismal start to the new season continued with a home defeat against Surrey neighbours South Park. Craig McGee’s stunning first half strike was all that separated the two sides in a dour match that rarely sparked into life.
Tanners boss Luke Tuffs made four changes to the team that lost 4-0 to Westfield on Saturday, with starts for Louie Paget, Adam Allen Danny Dudley and Keane Anderson.
Following a quiet opening spell, the match lit up on 18 minutes with former Tanners midfielder McGee breaking clear down the right and firing a fierce diagonal drive into the bottom left corner of the net.
Leatherhead’s best chance of the opening half fell to Mitchal Gough, with the Tanners central midfielder cracking a thunderous shot from 40 yards which struck the bottom of the post and rebounded across the goalmouth before being cleared.
Leatherhead’s distribution was erratic throughout, with few chances created to test Zak Basey in the visitors’ goal. On rare occasions a cross would get delivered into the six-yard box from the by-line, but there would be no one in a green shirt to finish off in front of goal.
South Park increasingly relied on their much-travelled front man Mario Quiassaca to create any breaks going forward.
Leatherhead keeper Luke Williams was severely tested on 61 minutes, blocking Matthew Faithorn’s rasping long range effort.
With the clock running down, Dave Tarpey came close to grabbing a late equaliser for Leatherhead. The prolific striker turned in the box, but his goal-bound effort was cleared away from the goal line by a Sparks defender.
South Park nearly grabbed a second goal in stoppage time. Sub Nathan Hogan broke clear from his marker and tested Williams with a fierce drive from the edge of the box.
Tanners go into Saturday’s FA Cup Preliminary Round tie against Haywards Heath Town not only seeking their first competitive goal of the new season but also desperate for an opening win to kick-start the new campaign.
Leatherhead: Luke Williams, Louie Paget, Jerry O’Sullivan (Tom Bird 67), Adam Allen, Mitchal Gough, Danny Dudley, Will Hellestoe (Elliott Buchanan 62), Keane Anderson, Dave Tarpey, Jermaine McGlashan, Joshua Webb (Briggs Ojemon 77)
South Park (Reigate): Zak Basey, Tom Drinkwater, Sam Tutt, Seanan McKillop, Matthew Faithorn, Joe Bell, Craig McGee, Craig McGee, Ryan Healy, Mario Quaiassaca (Abel Vendrells), James McElligott (Jayden Edwards), Ethan Ford (Nathan Hogan)