Five star - Leatherhead secure home play-off with a stellar demolition of Crawley Down Gatwick
Leatherhead ripped into relegation-threatened Crawley Down Gatwick on Saturday to secure another three points and home advantage in the Ryman Division One South play-off semi- finals.
Three well-executed goals gave the visitors a comfortable lead inside the first 20 minutes before a combination of better defending and a few wasted opportunities restricted Leatherhead to a 5-0 victory.
With Mohamed Eisa unavailable and Tom Bradbrook nursing a hamstring injury, Tanners boss Richard Brady gave the number nine shirt to Tom Parkinson with deadline-day signing Richard Avery occupying the holding midfield position.
Following a quiet opening, the match burst into life after 16 minutes with Tanners scoring the first of three goals in four minutes of attacking football amid some woeful defending from the hosts.
Kev Terry burst through the middle to lay off a ball to Parkinson who fired home from the edge of the box.
Ninety seconds later, Ryan Mahal ran clear down the right, picking out an unmarked Avery in the box to head home from close range.
Within a minute of the restart, Tanners added a third goal after the nervy Crawley Down defence conceded a corner.
Ian Draycott sent a probing ball into the box and central defender Jerry Nnamani bundled it across the line to score his first Leatherhead goal for this season.
Draycott and Terry missed chances to build on Leatherhead’s lead before Darren Smith struck the best goal of the match after 41 minutes.
Draycott was felled just outside the area and the Tanners captain stroked a delightful 25-yard free kick beyond the reach of Anvils’ goalkeeper Zane Campbell-Rose.
Karl Akehurst had a shot on target for the hosts just before the break, but Deren Ibrahim saved comfortably.
Tanners added a fifth goal after 52 minutes. Ryan Cooper sent a cross in from the right and Avery struck it sweetly beyond the reach of the young keeper.
Avery missed a couple of chances to complete his hat-trick and Theo Fairweather-Johnson was also denied after 89 minutes with a spectacular diving save from Campbell-Rose, palming his goal-bound shot behind for a corner.
Leatherhead will face a much more severe test in their next match, when play-off chasing Burgess Hill Town visit Fetcham Grove on Saturday.
Leatherhead: Deren Ibrahim, Ryan Cooper, Daniel Johnson, Richard Avery, Jamie Coyle, Jerry Nnamani, Ryan Mahal (Theo Fairweather-Johnson 55), Darren Smith, Tom Parkinson (Chris Manda), Ian Draycott, Kevin Terry, (Matt Smart 62).
Unused subs: Tom Bradbrook, Paul Semakula.
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