Bradbrook's late free-kick masterclass puts Tanners through
Tom Bradbrook’s sensational goal in the fifth minute of injury time took Leatherhead though to next round of the FA Cup after this breathtaking 2-1 win over Binfield.
With the scores level at one-all and a Fetcham Grove replay beckoning, Bradbrook sent a 25 yard free kick round a wall of defenders and into the corner of the net. It was a cruel blow for the Hellenic League side that had shown so much effort and matched their Ryman League visitors throughout a marvellous cup tie.
The splendid free kick earned Leatherhead a third qualifying round tie at Southern League Premier Division side Biggleswade Town.
Tanners had to start the match without three of their key squad players. Jerry Nnamani, Paul Semakula and Elie Kayembe were held up in traffic after a serious accident had earlier closed off a section of the M25. The gallant trio persevered, arriving at Binfield in time for the final 10 minutes.
Leatherhead manager Richard Brady had already used two of his three substitutes, but Nnamani’s arrival on the pitch settled the visitors and ultimately steered them on to a hard fought victory.
The Tanners defence looked uncomfortable when the match kicked off and their unbeaten hosts sensed the possibility of a big cup upset.
The Berkshire club’s hopes were further raised when they took the lead after only nine minutes. The ball was played down the middle to an unmarked Danny Wing who dinked it over Leatherhead keeper Deren Ibrahim and into the goal from 30 yards.
Binfield had a chance to double their lead four minutes later but Carl Davies’ fierce drive from the edge of the box was met by a fine save from Ibrahim.
The hosts were very comfortable going forward, playing the ball along the ground and passing to feet. Davies outpaced his marker after 27 minutes before attempting to lob Ibrahim from the edge of the box. But this time the ball sailed high over the bar.
The tentative Tanners defence were caught off guard again on 39 minutes with Ibrahim making another good stop as he turned a Binfield shot behind for a corner.
Leatherhead showed little composure in the first half. They won a corner just before the break and Bradbrook tested goalkeeper Callum Whitty with a stinging shot.
Tanners began to settle in the second half, equalising after 57 minutes with a goal out of nothing. Bradbrook broke clear on the right and his cross into the box was met by a firm left footed drive from Draycott which flew into the net.
Binfield weren’t beaten yet and Ibrahim had to make another fine save from a James Suarez shot after 68 minutes.
Leatherhead’s Jamie Coyle took an elbow in the face after 75 minutes which caused a deep cut above the centre back’s right eye. The referee saw it as an accidental challenge and cautioned the Binfield player amid loud calls for a red card from a small section of Leatherhead supporters. Coyle had to go off and was replaced by Adam Burchell.
The missing Leatherhead trio arrived at pitch side after 80 minutes and Nnamani was immediately thrown into the action, replacing Jake Downs in defence.
Binfield missed a great chance to win the tie after 89 minutes, as the Leatherhead defence failed to clear the ball away from their six-yard box. It fell to the feet of Davies, but his scrambled effort produced the best save of the afternoon from Ibrahim, who somehow managed to get down and prevent the ball from crossing the line.
With the tie deep in stoppage time and heading towards a replay, Bradbrook was bundled off the ball 25 yards from goal by Joel Havermans. The Binfield player was cautioned as Bradbrook lined up the ball for his ‘Get Out Of Jail’ free kick.
As the ball hit the back of the net, Bradbrook threw himself into the arms of the exuberant group of Leatherhead supporters behind the goal, earning himself a yellow card for his over enthusiastic celebrations.
But it hardly mattered as the referee blew the final whistle within seconds of the restart. Leatherhead had been outplayed for long periods by a very well organised side from a lower division, but had shown enough character to win through on the day.
Leatherhead: Deren Ibrahim, Jake Downs (Jerry Nnamani 80), Liam Pestle (Dan Parkinson 59), Matt Smart, Jamie Coyle (Adam Burchell 78), Tom Parkinson, Darren Smith, Ian Draycott, Tom Bradbrook, Allan Tait, Kev Terry. Unused subs: Paul Semakula, Elie Kayembe and Mark Worsfold.
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