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In the final month of the season, Wanderers build on their recent upturn in form by securing some crucial wins on the road, contesting a Surrey derby in front of a record breaking crowd at Meadowbank and producing another memorable home comeback on route to achieving National League survival...

No Fools...

The joint busiest month of the season for games with October, the packed schedule for April began on the 1st day of the month with Wanderers travelling to East London to face Dagenham & Redbridge. Marc White's side recorded their most emphatic win of the season in the reverse fixture back in September with a 5-1 victory, but through the course of the first half in this one it was The Daggers who went closest to scoring, Inih Effiong and Myles Weston spurning guilt-edge chances from close range as Wanderers managed to hang on through to half-time with it all square at the break. Better organised after the restart, Wanderers reduced the attacking threat of the home side in a more evenly matched second half, but hadn't carved out many opportunities themselves until two clinical finishes just beyond the midway point secured all three points. The Daggers defence were unable to clear Josh Taylor's long throw into the box, Dan Gallagher duly gathered and passed to Jason Prior, who proceeded to stroke a calm finish into the bottom corner of goal from near the edge of the box. Not long after, strike partner Harry Ottaway doubled the lead with a similar effort, Seb Bowerman this time the man capitalising on indecision at the back to assist the striker who coolly place his effort home from the outskirts of the box. On an afternoon where Tony Craig was absent from the matchday squad for the only time between making his debut in February and the final match of the season, Wanderers continued to demonstrate the resolute qualities Craig had helped instil in recent weeks, earning a first away on the road since the 0-1 defeat of Barnet back in September. The win arrived on a memorable day for James McShane, captaining the side in the absence of Barry Fuller and Tony Craig, and making his 300th appearance for the Wanderers.

Easter Weekend...

With three consecutive wins registered for the first time all season, Wanderers came into Good Friday in confident form ahead of the Surrey derby with Woking. Beneath blues skies and sunshine the new away stand at Meadowbank was packed out for the first time since opening the previous month, Cardinals fans making the short trip across the county contributing to a record breaking home attendance of 3,732. The bumper crowd witnessed a competitive first half largely contested in midfield areas as neither side were able to fashion many chances, but just past the hour it was Wanderers who broke the deadlock; James McShane brought to ground by Woking keeper Will Jaaskelainan inside the box, and Jason Prior stepped up to dink the ball down the middle of goal from the spot, making it 5 goals from his last 6 matches in the process. It remained an evenly matched contest until just into the final quarter of an hour, where two goals in the space of three minutes completely flipped the game on it's head and saw Woking get in front. It was midfielder Rohan Ince at the double, his first goal quite simply the best scored by an away team at Meadowbank all season, lashing a dipping volley 30 yards from goal over Dan Lincoln to find the back of the net and be greeted by an eruption of noise from the Cardinals fans behind the goal. To Wanderers frustration, Ince's second was much scrappier; a corner ball headed back across the face of goal was bundled over the line by the tall midfielder at the back post amongst a crowd of bodies. Despite going on to push for more goals in the late stages, Wanderers kept the play-off chasing Cardinals at bay, but unable to salvage a point and continue the recent unbeaten form.

Three days later, the Easter Weekend was rounded off with Bank Holiday Monday, and a second trip of the season down to Huish Park for Wanderers to face Yeovil Town. Defined as 'a six pointer' in the build up, The Glovers were in real relegation trouble coming into the game, and Wanderers knew a win in tandem with the recent upturn in form could be a big step taken in consolidating their place in the league for another year. On another hot afternoon both teams struggled to find their rhythm in an often lacklustre opening forty-five, but Wanderers were given a boost on the stroke of half-time as Chiori Johnson received his second yellow card of the afternoon for a poor challenge near the touchline and was dismissed by the referee. The benefit of the extra man advantage for Wanderers didn't really change the pattern of the game though as play remained fairly balanced, but with a quarter of an hour to go, Marc White's side managed to net the decisive goal which would ultimately settle the match. Ryan Seager had done really well to keep the ball alive in the right channel before switching play to Seb Bowerman on the opposite flank, he combined with Josh Taylor to tee up Luke Moore arriving at the edge of the box, and after his low strike could only be palmed away, Jason Prior was quickest on the scene to tuck the ball home. Holding on from there, the win established a six point gap from Wanderers down to the bottom four, although point margins to the surrounding teams had tightned up, with Maidenhead United, York City and Gateshead all on the same total as Wanderers on 49.

Getting Over The Line...

Wanderers penultimate home fixture of the campaign saw Altrincham travel down to Meadowbank on April 15th. The reverse fixture in October had served as one of the more disappointing days on the road for Wanderers this term with a poor 4-1 defeat, and despite the visitors going through a number of on-field changes in personnel since then, there was early concern The Robins would again have Wanderers card marked this season after making a stunning start to the game. Regan Linney curled an effort away from Dan Lincoln to find the far corner of the net impressively with just 5 minutes on the clock, and moments later, it was 0-2, a mis-hit pass out from the back punished as Maxi Oyedele collected and dribbled towards goal before sending the ball beyond Lincoln when closing in one-on-one. With less than a quarter of an hour played Wanderers managed to quickly reduce the defecit; Seb Bowerman's cross headed home emphatically by Jimmy Muitt as both he and Jason Prior dashed towards the near post. Momentum had shifted back to Wanderers for the remainder of the half but Phil Parkinson's side again made a fast start following the interval, Linney going close on a couple of occasions to adding to his tally for the afternoon, including bringing Dan Lincoln into action with a strong diving save. Harry Ottaway had been brought on by Marc White at half-time, and just past the hour he got Wanderers back on terms; Jason Prior with the aerial knock-down from Joe Cook's long range pass to find Ottaway in space, and the striker had time to take a touch and calmly slot the ball home inside the box. With memorable home comeback wins already recorded over Maidstone United, Torquay United and Barnet in the second half of the campaign, the home support had plenty of faith that Wanderers could go on and do the same again, and so they did, with a moment of real quality twenty minutes from time. Muitt confidently knocked the ball into space and turned on the afterburners to beat his marker racing him on the outside, arriving on to the ball near the byline and crossing to find Prior unmarked in the six yard box, and the striker made no mistake heading the ball home to complete jubilation from The Bank Stand behind the goal. In spite of the win, results elsewhere kept Wanderers in the same position they were at the beginning of the day, six points clear of the drop zone, but a win away at Gateshead on Tuesday night would definitely confirm their status in the National League for another season.

Originally scheduled to go ahead in January but postponed due to bad weather, player work commitments and restricted availability midweek meant that Wanderers travelled with a 14 man squad up to the North East, and in not dissimilar fashion to when a patched up Wanderers squad travelled to Yeovil in the FA Trophy 3rd round back in December, Marc White opted for a 4-4-2 more conservative approach, looking to keep proceedings tight and catch Gateshead on the counter attack. A fairly open first ten minutes of the contest gave way to the home side dominating possession for much of the remainder of the game, working a few good openings in front of goal in the first half including Dan Lincoln producing one of the saves of the season to deny Ed Francis free kick from flying into the top left corner of goal. It was a similar backs-to-the-wall effort in the second half for Wanderers as The Heed kept on the front-foot, Lincoln with another fine save to deny Greg Olley one-on-one before Dan Gallagher did remarkably well to block an effort on the goal line, keeping the ball out with his chest despite practically lying down at the point of making contact. News had filtered through that Yeovil and Torquay were looking unlikely to get the results they needed to keep it competitive heading into the final two games of the season, a draw between Gateshead and Wanderers increasingly likely to be enough for both sides to maintain their place in the division next term. And through an agonising, nervy end to the game as The Heed kept knocking on the door, Wanderers managed to hold on to the clean sheet and get themselves over the line, National League status for 23/24 secured. Cue the celebrations with the committed travelling supporters who made the longest of midweek trips, and witnessed Wanderers grind out the point which guaranteed survival in non-league's top tier for another year.

The Final Two Games...

The last away trip of the campaign saw Wanderers head up to Middlesex to face fellow part time side Wealdstone. Dominic Hutchinson got the hosts off to an ideal start by opening the scoring with just 3 minutes on the clock, but like the previous weekend against Altrincham, Wanderers were quickly able to find a response to the early setback, Dan Gallagher slamming home a Jason Prior knockdown from close range. Somewhat against the run of play, Wanderers went in ahead at half-time courtesy of Seb Bowerman's superb strike. A late contender for one of the goals of the season; Harry Ottaway demonstrated great hold up play in the build up and swept a through ball into the channel for Bowerman to latch on to, and after taking what looked like a poor initial touch, the winger proceeded to smash the ball into the top right corner with aplomb, giving former Wanderers keeper Sam Howes no chance in The Stones goal. Stuart Maynard's side again began the half brightly though, and swiftly levelled after the restart through Charles Clayden running onto a central through ball and finishing one-on-one up against Lincoln. As the game became increasingly typical of a late season 'dead rubber', neither side could go on and find a winning goal, 2-2 the final score.

Already relegated Scunthorpe United were the visitors to Meadowbank on the final day of the season. Ryan Seager opened the scoring for Wanderers just before the half-hour mark with a clinical first time finish inside the box, the striker doubling the lead and his tally for the afternoon early in the second half with another composed effort after excellent build up play involving Aaron Kuhl and Jimmy Muitt. Danny Elliott pulled one back for The Iron with less than ten minutes remaining to threaten the possibility of a positive season finale, but Wanderers held out to take all three points and sign off their first ever season in the National League with a win.

Follow the drama from the very start next season and secure your seat for 23/24 with one of our season ticket packages, on sale now:


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