The Tanners turned league form on its head with a performance that belied their lowly position and gave their supporters a glimpse of what this team should be capable of.

Fleet had not lost since mid – November and were in real contention for a play-off place before last Saturday’s encounter.

The Tanners wanted to build on the good win against Crowborough and put the midweek disappointment at Cray Wanderers behind them.

The home side were without first choice goalkeeper, Chris Lewington (knee injury) and Andy Layzell moved from his usual position on the bench to replace him.

With Ryan Palmer and Andrew Wareing unavailable, Stewart Holmes dropped back on to the left side of defence.

If Leatherhead had any respect for their opponents’ loftier league position, they didn’t show it. Right from the whistle they took the game to Andy Sinton’s with wide men Jason Henry and Steve Goddard causing the Hampshire side’s defence real problems.

The first ten minutes saw Jason Henry cause untold misery for the left sided defenders with his close control and mazy runs.

One effort would have almost certainly opened the scoring for the Tanners and Tom Hutchings had a defender not just scrambled the ball away.

Despite three solid chances in the first ten minutes, it was Fleet who came closest to opening their account.

Darren Campbell’s shot had beaten Layzell but John Cartledge was there to clear the ball from the Leatherhead goal-line.

That close shave must have been a wake-up call for the Mole Valley side. Within two minutes, a typical tricky break down the left from Jason Henry saw off three defenders and enabled him to pull the ball back to Tony Cuff.

Some twenty yards out, the midfielder curled a sweet shot that gave Dave Smalley little chance and the Tanners were deservedly in the lead.

This was a first class performance from the Tanners. With both Henry and Goddard continuing to push the full backs back and the midfield and defence more than coping with Fleets robust tackling, Leatherhead had by far the better of the first half.

Fleet were unable to put undue pressure on the home goal but when they did get within striking distance, Andy Layzell did more than enough to suggest that he was a very able deputy for the injured Lewington.

To be expected, Fleet started the second half in much more lively form. It did not last long with Hutchings and Kev Terry combining to cause a few flutters at the heart of the visiting defence.

Terry could have done better when a skied a good chance set up by his strike partner but there was more than enough on display to give some real hope to the home supporters.

With the game heading toward its conclusion, Iain Hendry was replaced by midfielder John Wilfort (making his first appearance in 2009 after being out through injury).

This was precautionary move by Bob Langford with Tommy Moorhouse dropping back into the middle of defence.

If the Tanners supporters were getting nervous after a number of late collapses by the team, their fears were finally allayed with a simply terrific goal from Steve Goddard (his first in a Tanners shirt).

Stewart Holmes had another superb afternoon for Leatherhead and capped it with a late run that took him from his own half deep into Fleet territory – seeing off a number of stiff challenges on the way.

His low near post cross was flicked on by Kev Terry to Steve Goddard who cut inside and struck a powerful shot across the Fleet ‘keeper and into the net.

It was no more than he and the team deserved and gave the Tanners three valuable points.

With Assistant Manager, Mickey Stephens inexplicably sent to the dressing room by a fussy referee and six bookings (three for each side – including one for Ben Shannon who was simply warming up on the touch line) this was not the best of afternoons for the officials but nothing could detract from what was probably the best Tanners performance of the season – if not longer.

Six points out of the last nine is a good return for a team struggling to find its form and with a trip to the South Coast and Worthing on Tuesday, Leatherhead with have had a tough seven days before they make the next road trip on Saturday to Folkestone Invicta.

With a superb team performance like this under their belt, they can make the road trips with confidence.

Team Layzell, Williams, Holmes (S), Hendry (Wilfort), Cartledge, Moorhouse, Henry, Cuff, Goddard, Terry, Hutchings