By Rod Ellis
Leatherhead bowed out of the Surrey Senior Cup against a powerful Raynes Park Vale side at
Fetcham Grove on Tuesday.
Having knocked out Kingstonian 4-1 in the previous round, Vale could have easily repeated that
score line against a hesitant Tanners side struggling with a loss of form in recent weeks and visibly
lacking in confidence and cohesion.
How Leatherhead restricted the Combined Counties Premier Division leaders to only two goals was largely down to their goalkeeper Serine Sanneh, making only his second appearance for Tanners. Sanneh kept Leatherhead in the tie to the very end, with a series of acrobatic saves to prevent the well organised visitors’ from adding to their goal tally.
Tanners strengthened their starting line-up with the addition of Javaun Splatt, signed earlier in the week from Isthmian Premier Division high-fliers Billericay Town. But the new striker rarely received the service he required and had a relatively quiet debut.
Leatherhead started brightly enough. On eight minutes, Lewis Collins’ probing cross into the box
deceived Vale keeper James Smith and struck the top of the bar. But the visitors soon settled into
their stride and had the ball in the net from a Tom Barnes header on 18 minutes, only for the goal to be ruled out for offside.
Sanneh was quickly forced into action, denying Thomas Harland-Goddard and Dan Moody with fine saves, before rushing out of his area to clear the ball ahead of an advancing Jordan Gallagher.
Raynes Park continued to press Leatherhead and took the lead on 38 minutes. Sanneh did well to
block a powerful Barnes header, but the quick thinking forward latched onto the rebound, bundling the ball over the line from close range. Vale almost doubled their lead within a minute with Moody’s long range effort striking the outside of the post.
But Leatherhead struck back to draw level on 41 minutes. Kenny Beaney delivered a fine looping
cross into the box from the left for an advancing Max Mullins to score with an unstoppable flying
Tanners failed to step up a gear in the second half, allowing Vale to restore their lead on 50 minutes. An unchallenged Brad Sweeney won possession at the half-way line and drew Sanneh off his line before firmly planting the ball into the corner of the net.
Leatherhead’s cause was not helped when they were reduced to ten men after 67 minutes. Centre
back Jerry Puemo collected a second yellow card on the night and was unceremoniously dismissed. Tanners resorted to playing three at the back as they sought an increasingly unlikely equaliser. But Vale continued to press forward and would have added a third goal were it not for some further heroic saves from Sanneh.
On 81 minutes, Vale won a free kick after Jordan Gallagher was brought down just outside the box. Gallagher’s well struck delivery was heading to the corner of the net until somehow Sanneh
managed to turn it away with a flying save. And in the dying minutes the Leatherhead keeper made another fine block to deny an unchallenged Tim Oisanya.
Leatherhead will face an equally stiff test when they visit runaway league leaders Basingstoke Town on Saturday.
Leatherhead: Serine Sanneh, Max Mullins (Lewis Pearch 73), Louis Collins, Jerry Puemo, Fikayo
Atewologun, Jamie Splatt (Olly Allen 32), Omarr Lawson (Archie Burnett 73), Kenny Beaney, Javaun Splatt, Dave Tarpey, Dan Hector
Raynes Park Vale: James Smith, Archie Harland-Goddard (Cal McAllister 62), Nathan Lewis, Reece
Hannigan, Brad Sweeney, Jordan Gallagher (Jaan Stanley 83), Jake Gallagher (Aaron Lamont 59), Thomas Harland-Goddard, Tom barnes (Tim Oisanya 77), Dan Moody