Wanderers Looking To Build On Opening Win Amidst Injury Crisis
The wait for competitive action to return to Meadowbank certainly didn't disappoint last weekend as Wanderers got off the mark for the new campaign in dramatic fashion, with a 3-2 win over St. Albans City. In front of fantastic support, in good voice throughout the game, Wanderers showed great character to rally in the final twenty minutes and overturn a 1-2 reverse to bag all three points in stoppage time. Alfie Rutherford's leveller and James McShane's winner were scored right in front of the home end, the AD Williams stand, Marc White acknowledging after the game that celebrations with the fans was the most satisfying moment of the day, and hopefully the first of many more to come.
Like the previous weekend, Wanderers couldn't make it through unscathed though as further injuries were sustained. Jason Prior and Matt Briggs both had to be withdrawn in the first half, Prior hopefully looking to be back in action in a week or two, Briggs likely to be nearer to a month. Nicky Wheeler was also bruised in the contest after being forced into the barricades, he and Niall McManus will be hoping to be in contention for the weekend, as James McShane looks set to miss out having picked up illness through the week. In tandem with Wes Fogden's injury, now sadly confirmed to be season long, and Josh Taylor's suspension, it leaves Marc White with selection dilemma's to weigh up heading into this weekend's double bill. Refuting the possibility of emergency loan signings in his interview last week, the manager will very much look to his squad to step up, and whilst
the two games in three days will clearly be a test, the manager has re-iterated how good the squad has been as a whole through pre-season, and with last week's second half rally in mind and particularly the impact of the substitutes, Marc White will be confident his side can carry on with business as usual despite the tricky circumstances.
Since relegation back to the National League South in 2019, 'The Iron' have found themselves competing at the lower end of the division in both of the previously fractured league campaigns. Similarly to the preparations for those respective seasons, the side from Essex have again gone through a summer of re-building on the field. Manager Ryan Maxwell took over from George Borg not long before last season's early curtailment, and in his first pre-season has sought to recruit experienced heads, a strong contrast to the very youthful side assembled for last term. Returning to the club are striker Femi Akinwande from Stevenage Town and midfielder Alfie Pavie from Kings Lynn, with winger Lionel Ainsworth also getting on board carrying vast experience at football league level. Jamal Balogun and Richard Afrane-Kesey are very recent additions to the squad following their respective releases from Watford and Charlton Athletic. Despite the signings of those new and familiar, it's been retained midfielder Luke Holness who has grabbed the headlines early in the season for 'The Iron', bagging a hat-trick in last weekend's 0-3 victory at Hemel Hempstead, earning the first three points of the season for his side following a 1-1 draw with Oxford City on the opening day.
Similarly to our last opponents St. Albans, Hungerford Town were very much a 'surprise package' last term, shaking off the previous season's bottom placed finish to compete right at the top end of the table. And again like 'The Saints', the key to their change in fortunes was very much built on excellent organisation and defensive foundations, with goals in healthy supply up the other end. Striker Ryan Seager was only one goal behind Jason Prior in the goal scoring charts for last season, and got off the mark in 'The Crusaders' opening fixture last weekend. Ruled by the fixture generator as the first 'odd one out' of the 21 sides for the opening matchday, Danny Robinson's team got their campaign under way last weekend, defeating Welling United 1-4 on the road. New signing Simo Mbonkwi hit the ground running by scoring a hat-trick, the imposing midfielder arriving from a Norwegian footballing background, and one of only a few new additions for Hungerford in the close season. The majority of last season's side have been retained, Craig Fasanmade the main departure as he has moved on to Wealdstone.
We look forward to welcoming Dorking Wanderers Ladies, their new chairman Callum Best and the #HerGameToo team, who will be special guests we welcome to Meadowbank for Monday's fixture with Hungerford.
Wanderers made the trip to Cressing Road last October to take on a youthful Braintree side, keeper Preston Edwards looking set to be the only squad member to feature in this weekend's contest having been involved last year. After a frustrating opening period with Wanderers knocking on the door plenty of times, they made the breakthrough right before the interval through Wes Fogden. A brace from James McShane and superb individual goal from Jimmy Muitt in the second half saw Wanderers run out 0-4 winners in the end.
It wasn't a happy Halloween for Wanderers when they clashed with Hungerford at Bulpit Lane last October, Ryan Seager's brace including one from the penalty spot earning an extremely resilient home side a 2-0 victory, having to also play with 10 men for an hour as Matt Partridge was dismissed in the first half. The sides met again in the FA Trophy in December at Meadowbank, James McShane at the double again either side of half-time to send Wanderers into the third round.