by Rod Ellis
Leatherhead 2 Ashford Town (Middx) 1
Leatherhead secured their first home League win of the season with a last gasp penalty scored by their captain Dave Tarpey.
With the match all square at 1-1 and heading into injury-time, the Tanners striker nabbed his second goal of the afternoon after his shirt was tugged by an Ashford defender. The winning goal was a just reward for the hosts, who dominated possession over the course of ninety minutes and hit the visitors’ woodwork three times.
Leatherhead created chance after chance in the opening half hour. Reisse Allassani should have put Tanners ahead on 10 minutes, taking the ball to the edge of the box before firing wide from a tight angle. Tarpey had his first opportunity moments later, drilling a stinging free kick over the Ashford defence and forcing a fine save from goalkeeper Fred Chapman. Louis Collins almost scored on his Leatherhead debut after 14 minutes, his finely struck free kick ricocheting back off the crossbar.
The hosts continued to dominate play going forward and they were duly rewarded with a goal on 24 minutes. Tarpey found himself in space deep inside the visitors’ half and drove home a powerful shot from the edge of the box.
The goal sparked a strong response from Ashford and they almost grabbed an equaliser on 34 minutes. Danyaal Iqbal fed an inviting pass through to Luke Maguire, but the visitors forward fired wide from just outside the area.
Ashford continued to raise their tempo and drew level with a well worked set piece four minutes before half-time. A quickly taken free kick was headed on to an advancing Lindell Stewart, who calmly fired home from close range.
Tanners pressed forward after the break, determined to restore their lead. Archie Burnett forced a fine low save from Chapman before Keane Anderson’s tight-angled effort was thwarted by the woodwork.
Leatherhead had a strong shout for a penalty on the hour mark when Dan Hector went down following an untidy challenge in the box, but the unsighted referee signalled for a corner instead.
Tanners were again denied on 64 minutes with Tarpey heading against the bar, before another short burst of attacking play from the visitors. Leatherhead’s stand-in keeper Joe Ringer was kept busy during this period, turning behind a low shot from Maguire before denying Prince Mbengui with another good save.
A double substitution on 71 minutes saw the match turn once again in Leatherhead’s favour, with the fresh pace of Jermaine McGlashan driving the hosts forward in search of a winner.
And the hosts’ second goal duly arrived following the penalty awarded on 90 minutes. Tarpey spun past his marker in the box but clearly had his shirt grabbed from behind. The referee immediately pointed to the spot and Tarpey duly obliged, with the ball flying past the keeper and into the corner of the net.
Leatherhead take a break from league duties on Tuesday when they host Frimley Green in the Southern Counties Combination Cup at Fetcham Grove. Kick-off is at 7.45pm.
Leatherhead: Joe Ringer, Max Mullins, Louis Collins, Harry Osborne, Benedict Frempah, Keane Anderson (Jermaine McGlashan 71), Reise Allassani (Lewis Pearch 71), Olly Allen, Dave Tarpey, Dan Hector, Archie Burnett (Luke Phair 85)
Ashford Town (Middx): Fred Chapman, Ben Peden, Jake Rumble, Wayne Ridgley, Dale Burnham, Chad Goulter, Danyaal Iqbal (Ipkem Yakubu 66), Prince Mbengui, Daniel Brown, Luke Maguire (Nash Doukoure 85), Lindell Stewart