Leatherhead could not prevent Horsham picking up their first away win of Ryman League Division One South season slipping to a 2-1 defeat at Fetcham Grove.
Tanners had plenty of possession throughout the match but they were unable to break down a well-organised Hornets defence and once they fell behind on 35 minutes they were made to chase the game.
It had all started so well for Leatherhead when Tommy Hutchings won a penalty in the fourth minute, after being tagged by the outstretched hand of Michael Hunter while trying to take the ball around the Horsham keeper.
The striker duly scored from the spot and the crowd anticipated another breathtaking Tanners display to match the previous week’s eight-goal thriller against Bath City in the FA Trophy.
However, questions have been raised about Leatherhead’s ability to defend a lead this season and, sure enough, the opposition were not behind for very long.
After nine minutes, Tanners keeper Gareth Williams spilled a harmless looking cross at the feet of Ryan Woodford before clashing with the Horsham player as he tried to recover the ball.
The referee pointed straight to the spot before showing a yellow card to Williams, and Woodford stepped up to firmly dispatched the penalty into the bottom right hand corner.
Tanners pushed forward in an attempt to restore their early lead and a couple of Hutchings’ shots were turned behind for corners by the Horsham defence.
Leatherhead were unable to make anything from a succession of corners. The missing ingredient was Tanners’ captain, Mark Simmons, whose corners had so unsettled the Bath City defence seven days earlier, but whose absence against Horsham made a notable impact.
Hornets soaked up everything Leatherhead could throw at them and then took the lead against the run of play on 35 minutes.
Scott Tipper, signed earlier in the week from Worthing, won the ball deep in Tanners’s penalty area before turning and drilling in a shot which took a heavy deflection on its way over the line.
Leatherhead manager Richard Brady brought on Charlie Holness in place of Sam Blackman at the start of the second half, but both sides began to lose their way with a catalogue of stray passes and long balls played into no man’s land.
Kev Terry had Leatherhead’s best chance to equalise after 73 minutes as he broke clear with the ball down the middle.
Terry faced Hunter in a one on one but the Leatherhead player’s fierce drive was well smothered by the Hornets’ keeper.
Vernon Francis and Greg Andrews both missed opportunities to salvage a point for Leatherhead with a couple of half chances late in the game.
Francis headed wide a cross from Terry, while an 18-yard Andrews thunderbolt was well taken by Hunter in the dying minutes.
Tanners will be very disappointed to have lost at home again against another team sitting below them in the league table.
They now have a full week to rest and prepare themselves for the visit of Folkestone Invicta next Saturday, after having to play twice a week for the past six weeks.