The (temporary) return of “ Boomerang Zack “ was overshadowed by a missed penalty, two red cards and a late winner from supersub, Callum Kealy.
- Kealy (89')
- Gregory (35')
The aforementioned, Mr. Newton, was the only change to the starting line-up from last week’s epic FA Cup win at Chelmsford City, with Rhyle Ovenden the man to make way.
It was the visitors who were presented with the first opportunity of the afternoon but, Bobby Cullen sent his free-kick straight at Lucas Covolan as early as the second minute.
David Ajiboye then beat his man on the right, after being picked by a long, searching ball from the left by Jesse Starkey and sent over a cross that was initially won by Newton and headed onto the crossbar, by Jazz Rance.
Play then switched to the other end, where Joel Colbran had to be alert to prevent Travis Gregory from putting the away side ahead, shortly before veteran forward, Elliot Benyon came even closer, when his header also rattled the bar, after a succession of corners.
The Reds changed tack when a long clearance from Covolan left Newton with a chance but, he could only lob his effort over both Zaki Oualah and the goal.
John Ufah managed to clear the crossbar but not quite the Clubhouse, before Benyon laid the ball back to Dan Gallagher, after Gregory had robbed Clarke on the left and his shot was held, rather dramatically, by the eccentric Brazilian, who appeared to be auditioning for a part in the next Superman film, as he atoned for his error.
Jerry Nnamani saw his header clawed away from his near post by Lucas, Gregory tried his luck from long range but only succeeded in giving the pitch an extra roll, before Ollie Pearce dragged wide of Oualah’s near post, all in the space of sixty seconds.
Then, the real drama unfolded, as Lucas looked like he was penalised for a push on Gregory in the area, as he came out to clear and ended up in a heap on the floor with him and his teammate, Will Salmon.
Captain, Benyon stepped up to take the resultant spot-kick and his initial effort was comfortably kept out by Covolan but both he and Gregory were quickest to react to the rebound, with the latter first to it as he smashed home for a slightly soft but, not undeserved lead.
Cullen looked to increase the advantage, five minutes before the break but, his shot went so high over the bar, Sergey Bubka would have been impressed.
Zack had the same idea when he let fly from twenty-five yards but his effort was straight at Oualah, as the half came to a close.
A lovely piece of skill by Ajiboye left D’Sean Theobalds for dead and he drove his cross into the six yard box, where James Crane had his shot beaten away in impressive fashion, by the outstanding Oualah.
Approaching the hour mark and half-time sub, Alex Parsons – who had come on for Jazz – played a delightful little ball round-the-corner to Starkey, who was inches away from connecting.
Inside the final third of the game and Pearce, clean through the middle, delayed too long and the chance went begging, while Will Miles had an equally presentable opening but his weak header from a Starkey free-kick, was somewhat less taxing for Oualah this time.
Entering the final throes of the afternoon’s, ahem, entertainment, Ufah went on a lung-bursting run from his own half, past two red shirts, only to be denied by the outstretched leg of Lucas.
Ajiboye took a set-piece that was met by Crane and headed wide by sub, Hayden Skerry and then…it came !!
Callum Kealy turned on a sixpence and fired a low, left-footed shot past a seemingly unsighted Oualah and into the custodian’s bottom corner, from just inside the ‘D’.
The shock palpable, after the dismissal of captain Miles barely two minutes earlier for two soft but, obvious bookings.
Leatherhead also finished the game with ten men, after Tommy Cooney got first dibs on the showers when he too was shown a second yellow card by referee, Gerry Heron.
Joe Clarke couldn’t keep his attempt low enough from another dead-ball delivery by Ajiboye, while Alfie Cue, on at the same time as Kealy, fired wide, with the match now into stoppage time.
It was our Summer signing from Down Under, that had one final chance at stealing all three points but his weak header failed to test Oualah.