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After the tough winter period continues for Wanderers with a nightmare start to 2023, the addition of a few experienced faces provides much needed optimism...

The January Blues...

After a positive opening couple of months to the season, life in the National League had become tougher for Wanderers as autumn turned to winter, and the relentlessness of non-league's top tier was going to show no sign of let up for Marc White's side at the turn of the calendar year. The opening week of 2023 saw Wanderers suffer two of their worst defeats of the campaign; conceding a remarkable two goals in the opening two minutes away to Eastleigh on New Year's Day as Lee Bradbury's team marched on to a comfortable 4-0 victory, and returning to Meadowbank the following Saturday, Wanderers suffered defeat by the same margin to Oldham Athletic. James McShane had given Wanderers the lead on 9 minutes, but a hat-trick from Mike Fondop, including a superbly taken volley, plus goals from Peter Clark and Ellis Chapman sent The Latics on route to a 1-5 win.

Respite came the following weekend as Wanderers progressed from the FA Trophy 4th round after defeating National League North side Kidderminster Harriers 3-2 at Meadowbank, clinical first half strikes from Harry Ottaway and Ryan Seager at the double securing Wanderers passage into the next round of the competition for the very first time. It was then back to reality though for the final game of January as Solihull Moors became the third team of the month to register a league 'double' over Wanderers; a brace from Andrew Dallas and composed finish from substitute Joe Sbarra in the second half giving the Midlands side a 0-3 victory on an afternoon where Joe Cook was dismissed just before half-time for bringing Dallas to ground closing in on goal.

Introducing New & Familiar Faces...

The difficult run of form in the middle part of the season had seen Wanderers slip down to 19th place in the National League table. Recognising the need for change with the business end of the campaign on the horizon, the opening week of February saw manager Marc White take decisive action in the transfer market as he looked to provide his squad with the necessary boost to pull away from danger. Whilst defender Joe Cook's loan from Chesterfield had been made permanent in mid-January, the loan's of defender Dan Quick, winger Jasper Pattenden and goalkeeper Joe Walsh had all come to an end. Conscious of bringing in player's who can commit properly to the cause and with preparations for next term in mind as well, an extraordinary week of business saw midfielder Aaron Kuhl join from Slough Town, defender George Francomb sign from Crawley Town and striker Jason Prior, who had left Wanderers the previous summer, make a dramatic return to the football club having scored 68 goals in 120 appearances after arriving in 2018. A fortnight later, Tony Craig would also join on loan until the end of the season from Crawley, the defender becoming the most experienced footballer to ever play for Dorking Wanderers in the process after a stellar career in the Football League playing over 300 times for Millwall, as well as the likes of Brentford, Crystal Palace and Bristol Rovers.

Double Shots, Defeat At Bromley & Another Midweek Thriller With Torquay...

Francomb and Prior were handed immediate debuts as Wanderers made the first of back-to-back visits to The EBB Stadium to face Aldershot Town. In addition to the new signings, Marc White was also able to welcome Josh Taylor and Matt Briggs back to the matchday squad after injury, the latter having been ruled out for nearly a year with an ACL injury. The duo came off the bench in the second half, but an organised Shots side would ultimately have too much for the re-shuffled Wanderers on the day, goals at the very end of each half from Justin Amaluzor and Ryan Glover securing a 2-0 win for the hosts. Drawn away to the Hampshire outfit in the FA Trophy 5th round the following week, an even closer and more competitive contest was settled in first half stoppage time by Tyler Cordner's close range effort after Dan Lincoln produced a brave initial save, the game finishing up 1-0 despite a late flurry in front goal from Wanderers spearheaded by the returning Josh Taylor.

Tony Craig would make his Wanderers debut the following Saturday in the return to league action as Wanderers travelled to play-off chasing Bromley. Goals in each half from Omar Sowunmi and Charley Kendall respectively gave the hosts a straight-forward 2-0 win, Wanderers continuing to demonstrate improvements in their organisation and structure but not able to produce much in the final third against a very complete Ravens side who were solid at the back, showed fluidity within central midfield and offered plenty going forward as well.

The midweek visit of Torquay United to Meadowbank provided an opportunity for Marc White's men to get points on the board for the first time in 2023 and bring to an end a run of five straight league defeats. Gary Johnson's Gulls had been in the bottom four for much of the campaign, and whilst Wanderers recent form had dragged them ever-closer to the relegation places, they had not yet dropped beneath the dreaded dotted line. James McShane's 17th goal of the campaign rewarded a bright, positive start to the game, but goals from Torquay scored either side of the interval stunned the packed-out Meadowbank crowd; Aaron Jarvis levelling with a long range effort before Tom Lapslie's run from deep and close range finish after a one-two at the edge of the box put the visitors in front. Midfielder Kieran Evans picked up a second yellow card within a few minutes of the goal to dampen Torquay's spirits, and the introduction of Jimmy Muitt and Harry Ottaway from the bench just before the hour would pay very quickly dividends for Marc White. The duo combined almost immediately to get Wanderers back on terms, Muitt getting down the right and crossing for Ottaway to powerfully nod home before just moments later, Muitt again crossed to find Ottaway after good work from Josh Taylor getting the ball to the byline, and the Wanderers striker again made no mistake thudding a towering header into the back of the net. Another memorable comeback win under the midweek lights, the important victory gave Wanderers that extra bit of daylight between themselves and the bottom four.

Welcome To Wrexham...

Two tough assignments back on the road completed February's schedule for Wanderers, the first of which being a visit to The Racecourse Ground to title-chasing Wrexham. As promised, the Welsh side reciprocated the gesture made by Marc White for the reverse fixture back in September, offering complimentary drinks and merchandise to travelling Wanderers fans, the gaffer himself even taking in the pre-match atmosphere by joining home and away fans in the fan zone. After extra media duties were completed ahead of kick off, including speaking to the 'Welcome To Wrexham' documentary team, the Wanderers boss took to the dugout to see his side compete well in the first half, although clinical strikes from Elliott Lee and Paul Mullin showed The Red Dragons class up the top end of the pitch, setting up a 2-0 half-time lead which was added to not long after the restart by Sam Dalby, cutting in from the right channel and slamming a shot beyond Dan Lincoln from several yards out. Taking a greater command of possession as the second half progressed, Wanderers did find a consolation goal with just over ten minutes remaining, Jimmy Muitt rising well to head Seb Bowerman's cross from the left into the top right corner. 3-1 was the final the score on an afternoon where Wanderers had played in front of their biggest crowd of the season, 10,053.

Back on their travels again three days later, on the final day of February Wanderers faced another side pushing for promotion in the form of Boreham Wood. Femi Ilesanmi's early header from a set piece gave Luke Garrard's play-off chasers the lead, and despite dominating possession and creating a number of openings thereafter, the hosts, who boasted the best defensive record in the division, managed to keep Wanderers efforts at bay and hold on to the slender 1-0 lead to take maximum points.

Slowly showing signs of improvement over recent weeks with their performances, the season would take an upward turn for Wanderers in the month of March, picking up form and putting crucial points on the board...

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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