Leatherhead 2 Walton Casuals 1

The Tanners scored maximum points with a narrow win over Walton Casuals at the Grove on Tuesday evening.

Bob Langford brought in ex-youth team midfielder Matt Jones in place of Aaron Cole-Bolt but fielded an otherwise unchanged team from the one that lost at Godalming the previous weekend.

Despite starting brightly, with Billy Marshall and Jason Henry trying to exploit their pace down either flank, it was Casuals who looked the more likely to score in the first half.

First Gary Meakin and then Daniel Plater called the impressive Chris Lewington into early action, the goalkeeper responding well to both efforts within a minute of each other.

Leatherhead still have problems taking control of the midfield with too many passes going astray and with no-one able to impose themselves, the defence was always going to be under pressure.

Walton were, by no means, more impressive. They, too, suffered from a lack of precision passing and, when they did break free, the Leatherhead goalkeeper had enough class to keep them at bay.

The first half passed without too much positive happening for the home side and with Lewington to thank for a number of first-class saves that kept the Tanners in the contest.

Clearly Bob Langford and Mickey Stephen’s half time talk had some effect as the Tanners came out in the second half with more purpose.

The breakthrough came just five minutes after the restart and was an audacious but sweet shot from their diminutive winger Henry.

Picking up the ball from fully 30 yards out, he found space, made a couple of yards, cut inside and floated a superb shot that took everyone by surprise and found the top left hand corner of the net.

It was the Tanners' first shot of the game and, on the balance of the whole of the game to that point, was against the run of play.

The visitors came right back into it just five minutes later.

A free-kick into the heart of the area was not picked up by a sleeping Leatherhead defence and Daniel Plater had plenty of time to head the ball home albeit from a deflection that wrong footed Chris Lewington.

A share of the points would have been a fair result at that stage but Leatherhead finally took the lead with a superb end to end move that started with a quick and accurate throw that saw Marshall leave his marker floundering and set him away down the right flank.

For once, the final ball was a killer. The low, diagonal curling cross is almost impossible to defend and, on this occasion, proved decisive.

For all of his pace, Mark Elston has not found the net for the first team since his arrival at the Grove.

This time he made no mistake using his speed to get beyond the defender, he met Marshall’s cross cleanly and hit a low shot across Craig Bradshaw and into the net.

It was a superbly, clean incisive move that shows what this team ought to be capable of.

It was not all plain sailing for the home side. A badly gashed foot saw the unlucky Iain Hendry leave the field with an injury that is likely to keep him out for several weeks.

It was very unfortunate for a highly committed Tanners man who has only just returned from a lengthy spell out of action.

Henry also aggravated a hamstring tweak that caused his substitution.

For the rest of the match, Elston found himself in the clear but blasted over and Will Jenkins hit a shot on the turn that flew back after hitting the foot of the post.

It was not a particularly pretty display but a hard fought three points that, on the second half performance, the Tanners just deserved.

For the new management team of Langford and Stephens, it was a welcome first win.

Tanners: Lewington, Palmer, Gray, Hendry (Williams), Cartledge, Holmes, Henry (Elston), Jones, Jenkins, Marshall, Cuff