Leatherhead match report
match report by Taimour Lay
There was some doubt whether this New Year's Day encounter would go ahead, given a week of rain in the south. It can’t be said that the pitch was in terrific condition. And yet… it contributed to a wonderfully open and dynamic game of football in a way that only mud can. Long passes held up after landing to allow wingers to retrieve the ball. Defenders trudged wearily across moats. Players slid and turned with ease.
Grass gets a bad name these days. Plastic pitches promise eternal riches and the end to all postponements. But Fetcham Grove’s mud-bowl has played host to many a farcical Isthmian encounter over the years, including during our groundsharing days when it seemed that every shot struck hard and true by a Dynan-signed striker would halt in a trench on the goal-line. These joys far outweigh the grim certainty of a 3G match when players in trainers tiptoe carefully and passes repeatedly fire themselves into touch.
K’s eventually squeezed home against the league’s bottom side but only after making heavy weather of it, allowing Michael Bakare to score on the half-hour before Nyren Clunis’s wicked cross was bundled into the net by a hapless Isaac Ogundere three minutes later. One goal apiece at the break seemed generous to the home team.
The best goal of the game made it 2-1 to K's in the 64th minute. Dan Ajakaiye tormented the backline, keeping close control in the box and then perfectly timed a backheel to the onrushing Jason Banton who curled the ball into the corner of the net.
However, it was Leatherhead’s turn to hit back, former K Hamilton Bunga, long forgotten by most fans, equalising and then knee-sliding triumphantly on the wet turf in front of the away support, presumably avenging a past wrong that only he can recall.
Elliott Buchanan then had the last word, seizing on a defensive error to stroke him and make it 3-2 with 20 minutes remaining. K's held on for a morale-boosting league win as a winter of playoff push agony begins in earnest.
Leatherhead: Myles Bowman, Isaac Ogundere, Tommy Cooney, Jethro Hanson, Garrett Kelly, Archie Burnett. Kwaku Frimpong, Simon Mensah, Michael Bakare, Zachary Guerfi, Potchu Mendes Calucane.
Subs: Hamilton Bunga (for Tommy Cooney, HT), Stephane Bombelenga (for Zachary Guerfi, 65m), Erick Kenko-Djoudie (for Kwaku Frimpong, 72m), Harry Cawdron, Josiah Bridgeman.
Subs: Jason Banton (for Bryant Akono Bilongo, HT), Calvin Ekpiteta (for Aaron Lamont, 65m), Olly Allen (for Nyren Clunis, 74m), Jonathon Gjoshe, Mason Whitnell.
Goal scorers: Michael Bakare (34m, 1-0), Isaac Ogundere (37m og, 1-1), Jason Banton (64m, 1-2), Hamilton Bunga (66m, 2-2), Elliott Buchanan (70m, 2-3)