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At the mid-point of the season, Wanderers find themselves tested with a run of three straight away games to begin the month, a crucial contest back on home soil in the middle and a bout of sickness hampering much of the squad just before Christmas...

3 Away Days On The Spin...

Wanderers began the final month of 2022 with three away trips in the space of a week, starting with a visit to Maidenhead United on December 4th. With the Qatar World Cup just under way, kick-off times across the National League were moved back to 12:30 on this particular weekend, and Wanderers got off to the perfect start in the earlier time slot, getting themselves in front after just two minutes. Jasper Pattenden and Josh Taylor combined in central midfield before Taylor slid a measured through ball into the path of Ryan Seager, who did well to stay onside before tucking the ball home confidently from several yards out. On the half-hour, Josh Taylor's afternoon was unfortunately brought to an early end after suffering an ankle injury; the midfielder subsequently ruled out of action until February. Wanderers had been in control of proceedings for much of the first half but were unable to find that all important next goal, and as the second half got under way and Joe Walsh became increasingly involved having to make a number of good saves, Alan Devonshire's side rallied to get back on terms on the hour; defender Remy Clerima beating the committed Walsh to an aerial ball and looping a header into the back of the net. At approaching the time we were usually accustomed to fixtures kicking off on a Saturday afternoon, the referee's whistle blew for full-time neither side able to grab a winning goal, and it finished honour's even 1-1.

Three days later, Marc White's team faced a midweek trip up north to take on FC Halifax Town. Originally scheduled to go ahead in September but postponed due to the passing of Her Majesty The Queen, the fixture would be delayed on a further two occasions due to bad weather before finally getting the go ahead in December. On a bitterly cold night at The Shay Stadium, Wanderers struggled to get out of first gear from early on in the contest, and were duly picked off by a clinical Halifax side who themselves grew into the game. Low, well-taken strikes from Jamie Cooke, Kian Spence and Tylor Golden had Chris Millington's side 3-0 up by the midway point of the second half, Ryan Seager netting a late consolation for Wanderers and getting into double figures worth of goals for the season in the process after finishing Bobby-Joe Taylor's cross delivered into the near post area.

The reverse fixture from the opening day of the season brought Wanderers week of travels on the road to a close the following Saturday, promotion chasing Chesterfield the opposition as Wanderers visited The Technique Stadium. Shaking off the disappointment of midweek, Wanderers turned in a much improved display in an evenly contested first half, and were unfortunate to go in a goal down at the interval; Ed Harris harshly penalised for bringing Kabongo Tshimanga to ground just inside the box, The Spireites striker making no mistake driving home the resulting spot kick himself. Undeterred by the setback though, Wanderers got back on terms not long after the restart with a brilliantly worked team goal. James McShane started the move by spraying the ball out wide to Bobby-Joe Taylor, he crossed to find Ryan Seager, who showed great awareness to then back heel the ball and tee up the arriving McShane, who confidently steered the ball home to net his 14th of the campaign in style. Still in the game entering the late stages, a double substitution from Paul Cook paid dividends inside the closing ten minutes as his side quickly pulled the game away from Wanderers reach, Armando Dobra and Joe Quigley each netting from clsoe range in the space of two minutes to make it 3-1.

Back To Winning Ways...

The games continued to arrive thick and fast as Wanderers returned to Meadowbank to face Maidstone United on Tuesday night. One win in the last nine league games had seen Wanderers slide down the table to 18th place, but with The Stones residing in the bottom four, the fixture was seen as a good opportunity to try and stop the recent rot. Wanderers picked up their first ever National League victory with a 2-4 away win over Maidstone back in August, and the reverse fixture would prove to be as equally entertaining. The game began at a fast pace which rarely let up, Wanderers opening the scoring in the 6th minute through a James McShane volley, and it was a special goal for 'Macca', the midfielder's 100th for the club. Former Wanderer Jack Barham was a lively presence up top for Hakan Hayrettin's team, and he equalised midway through the half, stroking home Roarie Deacon's astute flick-on. Shortly before half-time, Deacon got his name on the score sheet, putting The Stones in front after meeting an in-swinging free kick with a first time finish inside the box. Bobby-Joe Taylor had been brought on by Marc White at half-time to freshen up Wanderers attacking options, but despite this and Maidstone midfielder Ben Greenidge being dismissed for collecting two yellow cards within five minutes midway through the half, it was shaping up to be 'one of those nights' as Wanderers struggled to make it count in the final third. Into stoppage time, however, it all turned round very quickly. Accompanied by now infamous commentary from club commentator Gary Pascoe, it was Bobby-Joe who headed home Isaac Philpot's cross to level things up and just two minutes later, the roaming wing-back managed to get his head to the ball again, this time guiding home a corner at the near post, the moment met with an eruption of noise and sheer jubilation all around Meadowbank, particularly from the packed-out Bank Stand behind the goal. Back to winning ways and up to 15th, amidst a difficult period for Wanderers mid-season, this performance and result shone brightly and certainly stood out as one of the real highlight's from the camapign.

Sickness Around Christmas...

Attention switched to the FA Trophy the following Saturday as Wanderers travelled down to Somerset the week before Christmas to face Yeovil Town at the 3rd round stage of the competition. In the build up to the game a virus had swept through the camp and wiped out a number of the Wanderers squad, Marc White forced to call upon his first team fringe players and B team trio Spike Steggall, Ben Aubrey and 16-year old Hayden Gale from the Academy to form a patched up matchday squad. Set up in a 4-4-2 formation and looking to counter, the more conservative approach was adhered to in determined, impressive fashion by the Wanderers players in light of the circumstances, but neither side managed to carve out many chances throughout the contest, and with the game finishing 0-0 after 90 minutes we went straight to penalties. In the shoot-out, Dan Lincoln was the hero, impressively saving two of Yeovil's spot kicks, whilst Ryan Seager, James McShane, Jack Jebb and Bobby-Joe Taylor all held their nerve and scored to send Wanderers back to Surrey with a 2-4 win on pens and in the hat for the 4th round draw on Monday.

The final game of the calendar year saw Eastleigh travel over to Meadowbank on Boxing Day. Last year's 8-0 demolition of Havant & Waterlooville will live very long in the memory of Wanderers supporters, but it's unlikely the 2022 edition of the annual festive fixture will be remembered by many in the years to come. In not dissimilar fashion to the FA Cup tie between the two sides back in October, neither side could really find their rhythm, the tone of the game flat and the pace slow, with Wanderers course not helped by still being hampered with sickness around the squad. On loan Millwall attacking midfielder Alfie Lloyd showed a lightening turn of pace down the left flank and hammered a fierce strike into the roof of the net to put The Spitfires in front during the opening forty-five, and the Hampshire side were looking set to come away from Meadowbank with maximum points until Ryan Seager rescued a draw late on, gathering a loose ball and firing home after Seb Bowerman's cross was not initially cleared by the Eastleigh backline.

The next two months would prove to be a transitional period in the campaign for Wanderers; after suffering a nightmare start to 2023, the addition of a few experienced faces provided some much needed optimism and fortunes began to slowly turn around...

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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