Author: Rod Ellis, Leatherhead FC Match Reporter
South Park (Reigate) 1 Leatherhead 0
Leatherhead slipped to their first defeat in seven outings with a disjointed performance at South Park on Saturday.
An early error in the Tanners’ defence was all that separated the two sides in a quickly forgettable encounter that failed to ignite over the course of 90 minutes.
Leatherhead were without their talismanic strike force of Dave Tarpey (unavailable) and Kenny Beaney (suspended) and lacked any teeth in attack. While they largely kept possession and distributed the ball well, Tanners failed to test South Park goalkeeper Zak Basey with a single shot on target during the match.
Sparks took the lead inside two minutes when Sam King dispossessed a hesitant Leatherhead defender and quickly fired low past goalkeeper Slav Huk into the corner of the net. Tanners failed to fire on all cylinders with a poor first half display where they appeared content to just keep hold of the ball in midfield without creating any telling chances going forward.
Jamie Splatt squandered a good opportunity for the visitors after 25 minutes. A poorly executed free from the edge of the Sparks’ penalty area saw the ball sail high over the bar.
South Park missed a chance to increase their lead a couple of minutes later. Huk dived low to his right to block a shot from James McElligott, deflecting the ball behind for a corner. Archie Burnett created Leatherhead’s best effort of the opening half on 31 minutes but his shot from outside the box cleared the crossbar.
Tanners upped the tempo at the start of the second half as they sought a way to unlock the South Park defence. On 47 minutes Dan Hector worked the ball to the edge of the penalty area before squaring to Lewis Pearch on his right. But the Leatherhead midfielder drilled his effort across the
goal and wide of the post. Sparks rarely threatened inside the Tanners’ penalty area, although they almost nabbed a second goal on 63 minutes. Huk was forced to make two fine low blocks before the ball was eventually
cleared away from danger.
As the match moved into stoppage time, the Leatherhead keeper threw all caution to the wind and came up to the South Park penalty area for two late corners. But the hosts were content to run down the clock in the closing minutes and duly celebrated at the final whistle as Tanners failed in their efforts to break down a well organised Sparks’ defence.
South Park (Reigate): Zack Basey, James McElligott, Sam Tutt, Tom Drinkwater, Matthew Faithorn, Joe Bell, Craig McGee, Ryan Healey, Sam King (Lee Dobbs 90), Ben Jordan (Brendan Murphy-McVey
77) Abel Vendrells (Nathan Hogan 53)
Leatherhead: Slavomir Huk, Alpha Dello, Michael Elechi, Fikayo Atewologun, Jerry Puemo (Olly Allen 30), Omarr Lawson (Adam Neale 83), Lewis Pearch (Louis Collins 70), Jamie Splatt, Dan Hector, Keane
Anderson, Archie Burnett