The Tanners effectively gave away three points with two defensive errors that allowed Athletic to complete the double over them this season.

Leatherhead started with new signing Jason Turley drafted straight into the midfield and with John Cartledge partnering Iain Hendry in the centre of the defence. Tony Cuf was still missing from the starting lineup following his 2 match ban.

The match started badly for the home side when, after just six minutes, Cartledge mistimed his clearance, allowing the ball to drop to the feet of Sam Clayton on the edge of the penalty area.

The Croydon midfielder’s low shot hit the back of the net before Chris Lewington was able to move.

This was a day when defensive errors were to be the Tanners undoing. Within minutes more uncertainty allowed Clayton a second opportunity but, this time, his shot flew straight at Lewington.

After that initial flurry, Leatherhead began to settle down and take the game to their visitors although the nippy but diminutive pairing of Tom Hutchings and Kev Terry were never going to win the aerial battle that the long ball set up.

Their attack looked far more effective with the ball moved wide to the excellent Steve Goddard and the hard working Jason Henry (who, yet again won his share of the high balls against much taller defenders).

Despite all of their pressing, the visiting goalkeeper, Ross Fitney, had barely a shot to save and had a significant role in setting up the Croydon second goal. With nine minutes of the half left, his huge lofted ball bounced somewhere around the edge of the Tanners area. with Cartledge leaving the ball to his goalkeeper and Lewington hesitating, it was left to a brave header from Ben Godfrey to beat the late-coming Lewington and extend the Athletic’s lead.

For his pains, the Croydon target man was left on the ground following the collision with the home ‘keeper but it left Leatherhead leaving the field at half-time chasing the game but with no real chances to show for their first half endeavours.

With the Tanners pressing for a goal, it took some robust defending by the Croydon back line to keep them away from the danger area. They should have had their centre-half, Richard Blackwell booked for a two footed lunge on Steve Goddard deep in the right hand corner after he had comprehensively beaten two defenders. As it was, the Tanners striker was the one receiving the yellow card as he was adjudged to have tackled the defender over the ball. It was a poor decision.

The injury prone, John Cartledge completed what was a bad afternoon at the office when he limped off to be replaced by Ben Shannon.

With Leatherhead continuing to apply a good deal of pressure, they received their stroke of good fortune just two minutes later.

Stewart Holmes had battled to get his crosses into the area and, after a corner and a long throw from Shannon, Croydon’s Karl Murray handled the ball inside the penalty box and, inevitably, Tom Hutchings stepped up to drill the ball low beyond the diving Flitney.

Steve Goddard has become an influential player for the Mole Valley side and when, again, he skinned his marker and struck a low ball into the area, he was unfortunate to see the ball fly to the rear of the onrushing Hutchings and cleared away by a grateful defence.

With stoppages, the officials signalled four minutes of injury time and it was in that period, Leatherhead could have scored the goal that would have given them a deserved share of the points.

The first chance fell to top scorer, Tom Hutchings. a fine ball from Iain Hendry, found the young striker who turned inside and struck a fierce low shot that Flitney could not have seen.

Unfortunately, the ball cannoned off a post and wide. If that were not enough, Hendry had his own chance to level the score.

A ball in from Ben Shannon was played on by Kev Terry for the waiting Tanners skipper to slice his shot wide with the goal well within striking range.

Leatherhead will be disappointed that they did not collect even a share of the points from a mid-table but big spending Croydon side.

They will need to eradicate the defensive sloppiness if they are to gain due reward for their efforts.

Team Lewington, Williams, Palmer, Cartledge (Shannon), Hendry, S Holmes, Turley, Goddard (Horley), Hutchings, Terry, Henry.