Croydon Athletic 2 Leatherhead 0

Two defensive errors saw Croydon take a somewhat fortunate three points off a Tanners side for whom luck is in short supply at the moment.

Bob Langford gave starting chances to Matt Jones and Dan Dean – the latter in the problem position of central defence where he coped with a physical Meshach Nugent very effectively.

A solid performance on his debut from Jack Holmes meant that the youngster retained his right sided defensive position.

The home side started the brighter when some slack marking in the defence allowed a far post header to drift just wide, and it took a sharp save from Chris Lewington to keep the Tanners in the game.

Once the shaky first fifteen minutes were out of the way, Leatherhead began to assert themselves and, although certain of the players are still not firing on all cylinders, began to take the game to an ordinary Croydon side.

Jason Henry is a player whose presence belies his size and this match proved no exception.

Giving Robbie Ryan a torrid time on the Rams left flank he was able to make space for a number of crosses that, although in the target area, could not find Tanners’ shirts to threaten the home goal.

Leatherhead could have taken a first half lead midway through the half.

A Ryan Palmer free-kick wide on the left was met powerfully by Will Jenkins whose header was scrambled away to the waiting Stewart Holmes just outside the box.

Holmes (who many have said has scored his annual goal) unleashed a fierce shot that seemed goal bound until a Croydon back deflected it over the bar for a corner.

Although the home side just shaded the first half, Leatherhead looked good value to get something from this game until they became the author of their own misfortunes.

A misguided Will Jenkins challenge resulted in a penalty which Shabazz Baidoo nonchalantly stroked into the net having dummied Lewington into going the wrong way.

A suicidal error from the otherwise excellent Henry effectively killed the game on the stroke of half time. His ill judged ball back into his own area enabled defenderBradley Duke to stab the ball home.

With a two goal cushion, the Rams started the second half intending to hold the lead, which they eventually did very effectively.

The Tanners, on the other hand had come out of their collective shells and were looking like a team with a purpose.

Ben Shannon was replaced by a more attack-minded Kev Terry and the ex-Banstead striker was soon to show his worth.

Chasing down a Will Jenkins free-kick, he cleverly controlled the ball and lofted it over a stranded Ross Flitney only to see it bounce to safety off the cross bar.

The jittery defensive manoeuvres that caused the goals did not end for the Mole Valley side.

With two defenders watching the ball as it bounced between them, Lewington had to get down smartly to stop the Rams from extending their lead further.

With a quiet John Wilfort giving way to Jean-Serge Musunga, the Tanners continued to press and Terry could and should have done better when a good passing move between Jason Henry and Tom Hutchings resulted in the striker bundling the ball wide – it was symptomatic of the run of the ball for Leatherhead.

Tom Hutchings, skipper for the night, continually caused the home defence problems with his tight control and sheer physical presence but, like so many others in the side, it wasn’t his night.

A trade-mark free-kick whistled narrowly over the bar and a fiercely hit cross shot just evaded the far post.

It was not that Leatherhead played badly or that Croydon were exceptional, it was more a case of defensive frailty that lost the three points.

With the two regular centre-halves prone to injury, the central defensive position is one that Bob Langford must resolve if the Tanners league form is to improve.

Tanners: Lewington, Palmer, Holmes, Jenkins, Dean, Holmes, Henry, Wilfort (Musunga), Hutchings, Jones, Shannon (Terry).