A superb finish from Tom Bradbrook settled a tightly contested match between play-off contenders Leatherhead and Folkestone Invicta at Fetcham Grove on Saturday.
Bradbrook notched up his 30th League goal of the season for Leatherhead with a goal out of nothing after 16 minutes to hand the Tanners a 1-0 win, and keep them second in the Ryman Division One South table.
The Tanners striker latched onto a loose ball 35 yards from goal, and beat Invicta keeper Tim Roberts with a powerful strike which flew into the top corner of the net.
Folkestone started confidently, moving the ball around tidily and controlling possession in midfield.
But final deliveries into Leatherhead’s box were snuffed out by the centre back pairing of Jamie Coyle and Jerry Nnamani, allowing Tanners keeper Deren Ibrahim to enjoy a relatively quiet afternoon.
Following Bradbrook’s stunning strike, scoring opportunities were restricted at either end in the opening half, with both sets of defences taking control.
Frankie Chappell missed a chance for the visitors to draw level after 32 minutes - heading over from close range - but that was the nearest Folkestone came to scoring.
Leatherhead manager Richard Brady reshuffled his pack in the second half, using four different players in the lone striker’s role.
Bradbrook went off after 58 minutes, leaving Theo Fairweather-Johnson up front, as sub Matt Smart provided extra strength in midfield.
Fairweather-Johnson missed a chance to score after 63 minutes, latching onto a through ball from Ian Draycott before drawing a fine save from Roberts.
Tanners grew in confidence as the half progressed. Fairweather-Johnson made way for Ryan Mahal after 74 minutes, with Mahal adopting a wide midfield position while Draycott took on the striker’s role.
Draycott missed a chance to add to Tanners’ lead after 80 minutes. Kev Terry flipped a ball over the Folkestone defence to the far post, but the former Maidstone forward headed just wide.
Brady made his final substitution on 88 minutes, withdrawing Draycott for the fresh pace of Mohamed Eisa up front.
Tanners could have sealed the win with two further chances in stoppage time.
Terry tested Roberts with another low shot, before Mahal missed a golden chance to add his name to the score sheet with Leatherhead’s final attack of the match.
The right sided midfielder did well to win possession deep in Folkestone’s half, jinking his way past a defender and around the keeper, only to hit the ball against the crossbar with his final touch.
Fortunately that miss did not matter, as Leatherhead outplayed their visitors to consolidate their play-off spot.
Leatherhead: Deren Ibrahim, Ryan Cooper, Dan Johnson, Tom Parkinson, Jamie Coyle, Jerry Nnamani, Theo Fairweather-Johnson (Ryan Mahal 74), Darren Smith, Tom Bradbrook (Matt Smart 58), Ian Draycott (Mohamed Eisa 88), Kevin Terry.
Unused sub: Paul Semakula.