Leatherhead 0 Walton & Hersham 2

Leatherhead’s highest gate of the season (223) went away without the benefit of a three-point home victory against an ordinary but well-organised Swans side that allowed them precious little time and space in the midfield.

With John Cartledge still nursing a groin strain and Iain Hendry’s foot injury still not fully healed, Bob Langford’s defensive options have narrowed considerably – Ryan Palmer returned to partner Will Jenkins in the heart of the defence and Dev Williams continued at full back instead of Palmer.

The pitch had stood up very well under some atrocious weather conditions not helped by a midweek game but this did not help the Tanners passing game as they, too often elected to play the long ball – meat and drink to a big Walton defence.

The Tanners had scarce few chances in the opening exchanges and it was left to their visitors to threaten the home goal.

Luckily for the home side, their recently arrived goalkeeper, Chris Lewington is showing what a shrewd signing he was with a string of first class blocks and saves.

Within the first 15 minutes he was called upon to palm away a cross from the Swan’s Matt Smith.

It looked as though he had been fouled but an inconsistent referee allowed the corner.

With Walton shutting down the midfield supply line to the Tanners’ forwards, chances were few and far between for the promising strike partnership of Tom Hutchings and Kev Terry.

They did manage to break free on occasions and one smart interchange between Hutchings and the tricky Jason Henry saw the Leatherhead striker blast over from around 20 yards.

With most of the game bogged down in a poor midfield battle, the Swans broke free to take the lead on the stroke of half time.

A cross to the far post was punched clear by Lewington but fell to Rob Wilkinson on the edge of the area.

His low shot evaded the Tanners covering defenders and settled in the back of the net.

Arguably, the Tanners keeper had been impeded but the foul was not given and Leatherhead went back for their half time drink trailing by a solitary goal.

Tony Cuff had taken a first half knock and did not re-appear after the break – he was replaced by Jean-Serge Musungu in the midfield.

Walton continued where they had left off after the re-start.

Cutting out the ball in the midfield allowed them to press forward and, within 10 minutes of the second half whistle, Lewington was again called upon to make a fine block as the ball feel at the far post.

If the visitors had just shaded the first half, they dominated the second.

Despite a string of free kicks outside the area from Hutchings, there were precious few further opportunities for the Tanners forwards to shine.

At the other end, Chris Lewington more than earned his pay by producing a string of fine saves and dominating the area – something that the Tanners have not enjoyed since Tommy Dunne left for Australia.

The game was finally put beyond Leatherhead’s reach with less than 15 minutes to go.

Again, a probable foul that left Dev Williams on the ground clutching his head was not given and the resultant through ball left Sam Butler with enough space and time to slot the ball neatly under Lewington.

Of the few chances that fell to the home side, a Tom Hutchings shot that rattled the cross bar with a volleyed Will Jenkins rebound that Walton’s Richard Stroud did well to parry was the pick of the bunch.

On this showing, Leatherhead’s chance of making the play-offs are but pipe dreams.

The only consolation is that, if the remainder of the league sides have as much invention as Walton, a winning streak could still see them leapfrogging up the table.

They will have to play much better than this. With only Stewart Holmes and Chris Lewington really impressing, there is much more work for Bob Langford and Mickey Stephens to do.

Tanners: Lewington, Williams (Marshall), Shannon, Jenkins (Elston), Palmer, Cuff (Musungu), Wilfort, Hutchings, Terry, Henry.