With ins and outs and a couple of suspensions forcing Manager, Adam Hinshelwood into making six changes to the side that surrendered so meekly to Dorking Wanderers, it was a rather unfamiliar looking line-up that trotted out in leafy Surrey.
Debutants were Billy Barker (Burgess Hill) and Eoin Kirwan (Merstham) along with the returns of Perntreou, Parsons, Pattenden and and Zack “attack” Newton ! Josh Gould, Aaron Relf and, for the first time, Dylan Jelley added their names to the subs bench.
In a first half devoid of many clear-cut chances, the opening salvo was fired by the South Coast tourists, when new boy, Kirwan won the ball in midfield and found Pattenden, who slipped in Kealy but he fired wide of the near post, from just outside the area.
The ex-Aldershot Town youngster almost combined successfully with Newton moments later, only for his through ball to just elude the “Return of The Zack, “ as it rolled out of play for a goal-kick.
On the twenty-minute mark, Reds went route one to open the scoring; Perntreou’s huge clearance latched onto by the wing-wonder whose pace and trickery left Dan Gallagher bamboozled, before he sold a dummy to ‘keeper, Zaki Oualah and poked home from close-range. Zack was back !
Unfortunately, the game was then held up for ¾ of an hour, as Pattenden came off (far) worse in an aerial collision with Tanner’s Captain, Will Salmon. The flame-haired midfielder eventually departing on a stretcher, into a waiting ambulance, with the relief around the ground tangible upon hearing the welcome news that he was sitting up in bed and talking, although suffering the effects of concussion and whiplash.
The remainder of the period saw two further opportunities fall to The ‘head, as Jalen Jones’ intervention prevented Shaun Okojie from levelling the scores and Jazz Wallace called KP into his first meaningful action of the afternoon.
Josh Gould – on his Bostik League debut – entered the fray, in place of the stricken Pattenden, at the commencement of the second forty-five minutes. However, it was the lively Newton tormenting home-favourite, Jerry Nnamani on the left and picking out an unmarked Kealy inside the area; Gallagher blocking his effort after he took a touch to set himself.
The away number nine then watched on as his header was cleared off the line by the dome of substitute, Steve Sardinha, before drama at the other end resulted in Ibrahim Olutade holding his head in his hands and soon afterwards, holding his hands in the air, as he celebrated his equaliser.
Charlie Hester-Cook played in the ex-Balham man, only for him to get his angles horribly wrong and then almost immediately make amends, by tapping home Sardinha’s parried free-kick.
Ollie Pearce shot straight at Oualah, while the subsequent flag-kicks were headed away not one, not twice but three times (by) a Tanner.
Zack went back on the attack (sorry, I’ll stop rhyming) but Oualah was there to deny him and Kirwan nearly announced his arrival with a goal, after seizing on a half-cleared corner and shimmying past Sardinha on the edge of the box but chipping narrowly over the framework.
The “Island” came within inches of putting Leatherhead in front, when his free-kick cannoned off the crossbar. The rebound falling, via some head tennis, to fellow half-time replacement, Izunna Ikebuasi, to nod onto the roof of the net.
Regrettably, this had further consequences for Worthing, as the set-piece had been given away by a rash challenge from Captain, Alex Parsons, his second bookable offence of the afternoon.
Despite being down to ten men – for the final twenty minutes – the Sussex side were gifted the chance of a lead-restoring second goal, from the penalty spot.
Kirwan had sent Barker free in the box, where he was unceremoniously bundled over by the host Skipper, Salmon. The spot-kick was spurned when an over-eager Kealy, keen to add to his tally after doing so on Tuesday night, drove his attempt too close to Oualah.
Giant centre-half, Dylan Jelley, immediately summoned off the bench, in response, for his first eleven debut.
A goalmouth scramble culminated in Leatherhead Legend, Nnamani heading onto the roof of the net, until, ten minutes from time, the hosts took all three points.
Salmon’s throw-in and following ball into the box by Ikebuasi, was missed by Barker but not by the predatory Okojie, who swept home to give his side a match-defining advantage.
Travis Gregory had one final occasion to put the icing on the cake but got it all wrong, as he could only send Olutade’s opening over a (largely) unguarded net.