Leatherhead 1 Southall 1 AET (Leatherhead win 3-2 on penalties)

Leatherhead booked their place in the Isthmian League Division One South Central
play-off final with a breath-taking penalty shoot-out win against Southall at a packed
Fetcham Grove on Wednesday evening.

With the scores tied level at 1-1 after 120 minutes, it all came down to the lottery of
penalties to decide who would travel to Marlow for Sunday’s showdown final.

And with Tanners leading 3-2 in the nerve tingling penalty shoot-out, goalkeeper
Amadou Tangara dived correctly to his left to keep out Southall’s fifth and final spot
kick, sparking huge celebrations around the Grove in front of a season best crowd of
one thousand and fifty-three spectators.

Southall came into the match full of confidence on the back of seven successive
league wins. But Leatherhead started strongly, with Ibrahim Olutade, Tyler Cox and
Trey Masikini all posing threats for the hosts going forward.

Despite their home advantage Tanners were unable to breakdown the well organised
‘All defence in an opening half that presented few clear chances at either end.

Leatherhead striker Trevan Robinson was tightly marked throughout those opening
forty five minutes. Robinson made way for Daniel Hector at the half time having
received a number of hefty challenges from the visitors.

Deadlock was finally broken on 47 minutes. The Tanners defence failed to pick up
Southall’s leading goal scorer, Jaden Thompson-Brissett, as he broke clear down the
left. The young winger found the corner of the net with a deceptive shot from the edge
of the box that somehow evaded everyone.

Tanners missed a chance to level four minutes later. Fabio Saraiva pumped a free kick
into the visitors’ box that came back to the Leatherhead skipper. Saraiva struck a
fierce volley, but it went straight to keeper Koju Abayomi, who saved comfortably.
Southall almost nabbed a second goal on 57 minutes when Romey Eccles-Meodad
picked out Brendan Matthew in Leatherhead’s penalty area. But the former Ascot
United striker headed over the bar with only Tangara to beat.

That missed proved costly for the visitors as Tanners levelled on 61 minutes with a
spectacular finish from Cox. The popular Leatherhead winger weaved his way past
his marker before looking up and drilling a firm shot into the roof of the net.

Tanners had a strong shout for a penalty waved away on 74 minutes when Alpha
Diallo went down in the visitors’ box. Omarr Lawson missed a chance to win it for
Leatherhead four minutes later with a turn and shoot that went over the bar.

Leatherhead were gifted an opportunity to win the match in normal time when
Abayomi inexplicably picked up a Southall back pass six yards from his goal line.

In an extraordinary scene, fifteen players from either side crowded the ‘All’s goal line
as Saraiva lined up to take the free kick. But somehow Southall managed to defend
their lines to keep the scores level.

With tension levels increasing by the minute, Tangara made the same mistake as his
Southall counterpart by picking up a Tanners back pass just inside his penalty area on
110 minutes. But like their hosts, the ‘All were unable to take advantage as
Leatherhead’s defensive wall blocked the ensuing free kick.

Cox almost won it for the hosts in the dying minutes of extra time, whipping another
probing cross into the visitors’ penalty area. Southall sub Carl Pearce got to it,
heading the ball narrowly over his own crossbar and out for a Leatherhead corner.
Anticipating what was to follow, Southall made a tactical change in the final minute
of extra time with penalties specialist Michael Edegbe replacing Abayomi in goal.

And so it all boiled down to the dreaded penalty shoot-out. Leatherhead went first.
Saraiva struck his spot kick low to Edegbe’s right, but the substitute keeper guessed
correctly to make a fine save. Advantage Southall.

Alex Nolan stepped up for the visitors, but Tangara dived to his left to keep it out. All
square at 0-0. The next five penalties all found their mark, with Cox, Ghas Sow and
Lawson scoring for Leatherhead while Thompson-Brissett and Matthews found the
target for Southall. 3-2 to the hosts. Advantage Leatherhead.

Eccles-Meodad stepped up to take Southall’s fourth penalty and fired over the bar.
Surely Jerry Puemo would be the hero on the night with the hosts’ fifth spot kick to
seal the win for Leatherhead? But no, Edegbe got down low to his left to make
another excellent save.

So it all came down to Southall’s Ryan Hope against Leatherhead’s Tangara. The
Tanners keeper got down to his left, pushing Hope’s effort onto the post and away
from the goal.

Leatherhead had done it and now go through to their first play-off final since the
2013/14 season when they won away on penalties against Folkestone Invicta.
Ten years on, can history repeat itself? We’ll find out on Sunday.

Leatherhead: Amadou Tangara, Alpha Diallo (Michael Elechi 102), Fikayo
Atewologun, Jamie Splatt, Jerry Puemo, Fabio Saraiva, Trey Masikini (Omarr
Lawson 68), Ghas Sow, Ibrahim Olutade, Trevan Robinson (Daniel Hector 45), Tyler

Southall: Koju Abayomi (Michael Edegbe 120), Alex Nolan, Azeez Alabi, Ryan
Hope, Romey Eccles-Meodad, Joshua Green, Jaden Thompson-Brissett, Will
Montague (Lucias Vine 111), Anthony O’Connor (Carl Pearce 111), Brendan
Matthew, Giovanni Palmer