Dorking Wanderers 2-3 Dartford
Vanarama National League South
January 4th 2019
Dorking succumbed to a second consecutive 3-2 reverse in the space of a week as they were defeated in the very last minute by an in-form Dartford in a highly competitive opening contest of the New Year at Meadowbank. 'The Darts' had gone ahead inside the opening couple of minutes from the spot through Darren McQueen, and doubled their advantage through Elliot Romain with about twenty minutes to go. Once again this season though Dorking showed character late on, and got back on terms through sub Jimmy Muitt, followed quickly by a spectacular volley from Luke Moore moments later. Unfortunately, Wanderers would be undone at the death as another penalty would be conceded, McQueen again stepping up and making no mistake, ensuring Steve King's side continue their impressive recent run as they now enter the play-off fray.
Four days on from the defeat away at Eastbourne, Marc White would shuffle his starting eleven with Dan Gallagher, Tom Richards and James McShane coming in for Lewis Taylor, Niall McManus and Gez Sole, McShane playing in behind Prior up top. The returning Elliot Buchanan, who has been on loan at Hayes & Yeading in recent weeks, was touted to come back into the matchday squad today, but instead looks set to be back in a fortnight's time after completing more training sessions with the squad.
The game barely underway, Dartford had just begun to push down the attacking right, and were awarded a penalty in the second minute. Nick Arnold, signed just 24 hours prior to the game from Wealdstone, used quick feet and pace to get past his marker, the subsequent delivery into the six yard box hitting the arm of Isaac Philpot. Darren McQueen stepped up and drove the penalty firmly to Slav Huk's left as the stopper dived the right way.
The competitive nature of the match led to an often fractious, broken up first half, niggily fouls aplenty and with a few injury stoppages. The imposing Elliot Romain was spearheading the spirit of the game up front for the visitors and was a handful, but ultimately clear cut chances were not forthcoming either way, with both teams often resulting to balls into the box without real threat. James McShane had the best opportunity of the half for Wanderers, rising well to meet a sumptuous cross from Jake Gallagher, getting under the header as it just bobbled over the bar.
Up the other end, after surviving a potentially awkward 'keeper strikes ball at defender and bounces back' clearance, play would suddenly rapidly transition up-field. Jacob Berkley-Agyepong was sent through on goal after resilience from Romain in the middle of the park and a neat ball through from Kyjoun Marsh-Brown. Huk stayed big though emerging from his goal, and got something on the strike to send it out for a corner.
Half-Time: Dorking 0 Dartford 1
Jimmy Muitt was brought on as half-time sub for Jake Gallagher in a bid to up the offensive ante as James McShane would drop deeper, but the general pattern of the game continued after the restart, and was punctuated by a bad injury to Ed Harris, who came off worst in a collision with Romain. Already depleted in defensive options, it was a hammer blow to Wanderers, Marc White adjusting the side by sending Lewis Taylor on and having Dan Gallagher drop back into the defence three.
Just past the hour mark 'The Darts' started to ascend, particularly down the attacking right as the pacey threat of Marsh-Brown and
Luke Wanadio started to manifest into chances. The latter would have a couple of close run efforts, cutting in and dragging one just wide of goal, and McQueen would also hit the woodwork. It proceeded Romain doubling the visitors advantage on 71 minutes, Marsh-Brown's effort on goal parried out, the lively No9 then reacting swiftly in tight proximity to defenders to smash the ball into the roof of the net.
In response Dorking started to knock on the door, Briggs striking straight down Alhaji Sesay from the right channel, before Tom Richards would lash a half-volley from the opposing channel and force a save at the near post. From the subsequent corner the ball would be worked back in from the right to Jimmy Muitt, who cooly finished low inside the area to claw one back.
Romain would drive a couple of shots over the top, and Sam Beard would have to clear a Tom Bonner header off the goal line as Dartford pressed on again, but just minutes after grabbing a goal back, Wanderers would get back on terms. After a corner was headed away by Berkley-Agyepong, the ball sat up nicely for Luke Moore on the edge of the box in space, and he sweetly struck a volley into the top right corner, nestling just under the bar. A goal of the season contender for sure.
It initiated a final ten minute grandstand finish as both sides would have golden moments at each end. McShane had a 'Gazza' moment sliding in but not able to get a contact on a fast cross-the-box delivery, and not long after he would have a similar chance, this time making contact but with the ball striking the inside of the post and rolling across the goal line, collected by a relieved Sesay. Up the other end, Romain impressively produced a 'backwards header' which cannoned back off the post as Dartford rallied.
In the last minute of stoppage time, Luke Moore, of all people, fouled McQueen on the left side of the area and another spot kick was awarded. McQueen again stepped up, and copied his approach successful at the very beginning of the game, wheeling away to celebrate with a jubilant away contingent behind the goal, as the rest of Meadowbank had heads in hands.
Another day where fine margins reign once again, but an improved display from the performance at Eastbourne, the determination and character of Marc White's side matched that of Dartford, with better retention of the ball and a couple of great goals scored. However, the physically imposing and well organised set up of 'The Darts' rang effective in the end, inducing pressure, and ultimately forcing costly mistakes. The loss of Ed Harris certainly didn't help, as Wanderers now have a full week to re-group and focus ahead of next Saturday's big FA Trophy Second Round encounter with Stockport County.
Dorking: 1 Slav Huk, 2 Isaac Philpot, 3 Sam Beard, 4 Ed Harris (c) (17 Lewis Taylor 50'), 6 Dan Gallagher, 15 Matt Briggs, 9 Jason Prior, 11 James McShane, 14 Jake Gallagher (16 Jimmy Muitt 46'), 18 Luke Moore, 20 Tom Richards
Unused Subs: 7 Jerome Beckles, 19 Gez Sole, 8 Niall McManus
Goals: Muitt 74', Moore 80'
Yellow Cards: Philpot
Darftord: 1 Alhaji Sesay, 2 Sanchez Ming, 3 Nick Arnold, 12 Kyjoun Marsh-Brown, 5 Josh Hill, 6 Tom Bonner (c), 7 Jacob Berkley-Agyepong, 8 Billy Crook, 9 Elliot Romain, 10 Darren McQueen, 11 Luke Wanadio
Unused Subs: 4 Jordan Wynter, 13 Charlie Sheringham, 15 Ronnie Vint, 16 Rowan Liburd, 17 Ryan Hayes
Goals: McQueen 2', 90+5', Romain 71',
Yellow Cards: Marsh-Brown, Ming
Referee: Jack Packman
Sponsors Man Of The Match: Luke Moore