Worthing's winning start to the league season came to an end in a goal fest at Fetcham Grove.
Match Report: Gareth Nicholas
The visitors were without Aarran Racine, Danny Barker and Jesse Starkey so Cam Tutt, Ricky Aguiar and Shaq Gwengwe started. The returning Luca Cocoracchio was joined on the bench by Mo Diallo and U18, Owen Worsdell.
Leatherhead got off to a flying start by going ahead after just four minutes. A ball in from the right went all the way through to Dan Rowe in the six yard box and he had the simple task of slotting home.
However, only a defensive block prevented the away side from getting back on level terms a few minutes later, as Dayshonne Golding was the player denied following Jasper Pattenden’s run to the left byline and low delivery into the danger zone.
It didn’t take long for the equaliser to arrive and it was certainly worth the wait. Charlie Hester-Cook was penalised and booked for a foul on Aguiar going through the inside-left channel and with no Starkey on the pitch, Ollie Pearce stepped up to crash in a free-kick, at least twenty yards out, off the underside of the crossbar.
The Tanners almost regained their advantage when Roco Rees saved point-blank from Hester-Cook who, despite being grounded managed to squeeze a shot in that required Pattenden to clear off the line.
A driving run by Marvin Armstrong saw the midfielder come within a whisker of putting his team in front, as his effort went inches wide of the post.
Then, In first-half stoppage time a combination of home ‘keeper, Zaki Oualah and defender, Jack Currie kept out Reece Myles-Meekums after he’d seized on a half-cleared attempt by Golding, following a burst into the penalty area.
A good advantage played by the referee in the early stages of the second period led to Armstrong holding off Will Seager – despite having his shirt pulled – and pick out Gwengwe who saw his shot beaten away by Oualah.
Just prior to the hour mark, Pearce also held off a green shirt as Tutt’s throw-in reached him, only for the number ten to shoot high and wide.
Fractionally the other side of the sixtieth minute it was actually the hosts who edged back into the lead when Hester-Cook’s lofted pass into the eighteen yard box allowed Joe Leslie to fire across Rees and nestle the ball neatly inside the far upright.
That lasted for all of six minutes though,as an inch-perfect right wing cross from the industrious Myles-Meekums was dispatched by the head of the recently-introduced Diallo to head past Oualah from close-range.
Our lively winger helped put us in front for the first time in this absorbing contest when he was upended by left-back, Currie as he charged towards the byline. Ollie took the resulting spot-kick and, although Oualah went the right way and got a hand to it, Pearce’s placement and power proved too much.
As is typical of recent clashes between these two age-old rivals, Leatherhead weren’t behind for very long ! Non-existent defending gave Stefan Brown the time and space to turn on a sixpence (although it could have been a fifty p piece) and drill a low effort into the back of Worthing’s net.
Rees appeared to get hands to the unmarked Hester-Cook’s near post blast but a goal-kick was the outcome and the visiting netminder held a low drive from the same player moments later.
The points were secured when Leslie’s left-sided set-piece came back off the far stick and right-back, Crossley Lema nodded in.
There was still time for ‘head substitute, Misha Djemali to put his attempt the wrong side of the upright at the end of a lightning-quick counter-attack and Reds replacement, Diallo to curl a last chance equaliser over the angle in time added on but we were unable to salvage a point.