Isthmian Premier Division Sat 15 January The Crucial Environmental Stadium
  • Meekums (25')
  • Pearce (26', 40')
  • Barker (63')

Jesse Starkey recovered from illness to reclaim his starting berth and Reece Myles-Meekums also returned to the team that took to the pitch at 3:00pm. Dajon Golding was fit and well once more, so took his place amongst the replacements alongside Marvin Armstrong.

A slow start in an eerily quiet atmosphere meant a noteworthy chance wasn’t created until fifteen minutes in. Starkey swung the ball out to Cam Tutt, hugging the left-hand touchline, who slipped in Danny Barker and goalkeeper Myles Bowman parried.

Leatherhead responded thanks to some quick-thinking by Simon Mensah, as he pinched possession off the toes of Jasper Pattenden and crept into the eighteen yard box to sting the palms of Harrison Male, as the Red’s custodian got down well to hold a sharp shot at the base of his front stick.

In fact, we’d nearly reached the half-hour mark before fans were on the edge of their seats but it was worth the wait.

Ollie Pearce took and turned on Arran Racine’s short forward pass, then lifted an inch-perfect ball into the box and the path of Myles-Meekums, who timed his run ahead of Seth Owens to slot past Bowman.

Hands suitably warmed on the terraces, they were soon producing more heat as a second goal inside sixty seconds doubled the home side’s lead.

This time, a purposeful punt upfield by Danny Barker led to James Bersford surging clear to the byline, where he pulled back for Pearce to beat both Owens and Bowman to bury number two at the near post.

Five minutes before the break, Pearce secured his brace by beating Bowman to Starkey’s right-sided corner to head in a third and leave the shell-shocked visitors reeling.

The opening exchanges after the interval saw Starkey cushion a Tutt header in front of the main stand and send Pearce clear with a swift swivel and pass over the top, for the division’s leading marksman to chase. Despite getting the better of Cameron Black, Ollie was unable to get the power in his attempt that he would have liked and Bowman gathered safely.

Moments later, a slight feeling of deja-vu hit Black, when he and Pearce both swapped sides, so to speak, with Colbran the instigator on this occasion and our number ten hitting the side-netting from a tight angle.

A little past the hour, Barker made it three to round off a flowing team move.

Callum Kealy, on the left, flummoxed Aaron Lamont via a rapid change of direction to break away and play across to Barker, who soon found Beresford lurking menacingly at the opposite corner of the penalty area. He showed a similarly clean pair of heels to Tommy Cooney, thanks to a fine first touch, then drove the ball into the danger zone, whereupon Black stretched out his right leg to loop it up in the air and drop it nicely for Barker to finish from close range.

Sporting an entirely different look to those who faced us in leafy Surrey nearly four months ago, the guests responded through Josh Bohui pouncing on a Racine header just inside the box. He outfoxed the recently-introduced Dean Cox and laid back for Player Assistant-Manager Jermaine Mc Glashan to float over to an unmarked Black, on the precipice of the six yard line. Only for the tall centre-half to direct his improvised attempt some distance above the target.

Top versus bottom can be unpredictable at times but the hosts were well on top throughout.

Next to go close was Golding, whose run was spotted and located by Tutt’s rangy pass from left-back. Bursting into the penalty box, he chopped back inside Black who, disregarding his otherwise torrid afternoon, did well to recover and block the seven yard shot.

Tanners belied their lowly status on occasions and McGlashan demonstrated that never-say-die attitude by seizing on a rare Beresford slip, to fire narrowly over the top, around twenty yards out.

However, barely a minute later, Pearce dinked a delivery, right to left, for the former Eastbourne Borough man to almost instantly redeem himself, although McGlashan did likewise to deny him from close quarters.

Roles were then reversed, as Beresford found Pearce who drew a dynamic finger-tip save out of Bowman, at the expense of a flag-kick.

Still refusing to accept defeat, the visitors continued to threaten – albeit sporadically – with Archie Burnett drilling marginally the wrong side of the upright, a fraction away from the eighteen yard line.

The game seemed up for the Surrey strugglers though; Golding performing his best Shakira impression when showing that his hips don’t lie either, bamboozling Louie Paget and Bowman producing another top stop to deny him.

The final throes resulted in Paget’s pass allowing McGlashan to make progress along the right flank, before crossing for substitute Zak Guerfi to guide goalwards. Fellow replacement Josiah Bridgeman agonisingly unable to find the net at the back stick.

Immediately afterwards, Bohui drove into the eighteen yard area from the opposite side (angle), similarly flashing inches past the same piece of apparatus.