Leatherhead kicked off their Isthmian Premier Division season with a solid 1-1 draw against recently promoted Horsham.
The Tanners travelled to the newly opened Camping World Community Stadium on a blustery day and got off to the perfect start after taking the lead in the 8th minute through an Eddie Dsane penalty.
A crowd of 771 saw the referee point to the spot after the striker was fouled in the box as he tried to burst passed a defender. Dsane then brushed himself off to convert emphatically down the middle.
Despite the goal, the game failed to spark into life with both teams keeping each other at arms length.
The scores were level before half –time when Rob O’Toole converted Horsham’s first meaningful attack from close range following a Jerry O’Sullivan cross.
With half-time drawing close, The Tanners should have gone in ahead when debutant Calvin Ekpiteta spun in the box and was denied by Horsham keeper, George Bentley at point blank range.
It was the visitors who started the second half the brighter forcing Izunna Ikebuassi to clear a looping header off the line and some last ditch defending denying Kieran Lavery a clean shooting opportunity.
As the game entered the last 20 minutes, it was the Tanners who looked the likelier to score with Jerry Nnamani failing to convert two chances. The defender, who was dominant in both boxes, combined cleverly with Dan Gallagher following a free-kick but fired wide as the ball dropped to him in the box.
Gallagher was on the end of a number of moves as the Tanners continued to push. Firstly he forced Bentley into a smart save and then shot wide as the ball found it’s way to him following a corner.
The hosts almost had the last laugh as Lavery connected with a cross from O’Sullivan but saw his effort hit the bar and rebound to safety.
Following the match, Tanners boss Nikki Bull said he was satisfied with his team’s performance; “Pre-season is always a difficult time and you never really know where you are until that first game. I’m pleased with our fitness levels and I thought in the last 20 we really came on – I was really pleased with the effort from the players today.”
“I don’t think you could’ve chosen a harder first game of the season – away from home against a newly promoted side in their new ground. I thought we coped with that well today and I’m really pleased we avoided defeat today.”