Back At Meadowbank For Boxing Day
Dorking will return to league action for the first time in nearly a fortnight on Boxing Day as Eastleigh are the visitors to Meadowbank for this year's annual festive fixture.
Marc White's men got back to winning ways in their last league outing at home to Maidstone United, coming from behind in stoppage time as a Bobby-Joe Taylor brace against his former club secured a dramatic 3-2 win. James McShane bagged the opening goal in the contest early on, his 100th for the club and 15th for the campaign so far, putting 'Macca' in second place now in the race for the division's golden boot behind Notts County's Macaulay Langstaff.
Wanderers preparations for that last league game were hugely impacted by an unknown virus running through the camp, and the illness only got worse in the lead up to the FA Trophy 3rd round tie at Yeovil Town the following Saturday. A patched up squad including B team and academy players Spike Steggall, Ben Aubrey and Hayden Gale made the trip down to Somerset, with Spike and Ben both getting game time as a resolute Wanderers, set up more conservatively than normal, held out for a 0-0 stalemate, forcing the game to go straight to penalty kicks. Ryan Seager, James McShane, Jack Jebb each made no mistake in scoring from the spot, whilst Dan Lincoln saved two of the three penalties taken by The Glovers, paving the way for Bobby-Joe Taylor to secure Wanderers passage into the next round by hammering home the 4th and decisive kick.
Further to the draw held this past Monday afternoon on Talksport 2, Wanderers will host National League North side Kidderminster Harriers in the next round, with the tie taking place at Meadowbank on Saturday January 14th. Tickets are available to purchase in advance from the website now.
Against the backdrop of injuries and illness, Wanderers head into Boxing Day following a positive week of results, and Marc White will no doubt be hoping his side can maintain the wining habit to finish 2022 on a high and put his side in good stead for the swift return trip to Eastleigh on new years day.
Captain Barry Fuller (knock) and Seb Bowerman (achillies) are both expected to return to the matchday squad for Monday's game after recovering from their respective injuries, however Josh Taylor (ligament damage) and Luke Moore (leg injury) are very likely to remain ruled out. Illness and sickness remains problematic within the camp but Marc White is expecting more of his players to be available ahead of Monday, albeit with many of them still in the process of recovering from the virus.
Matt Briggs continues to make good progress in training and the expectation remains that he will be able to return to the match action in late January.
Opposition Focus: The Spitfires
An established National League Premier side since their first ever promotion to the division back in 2014, Eastleigh made an impressive start in their inaugural campaign at non-league's top tier eight years ago, finishing 4th. They would go on to face Grimsby Town in the play-offs, ultimately losing to the East Lincolnshire side 5-1 over two legs. After just missing out on a play-off spot in the following campaign, the 2018/19 season saw Eastleigh secure a 7th placed finish and this time go a step further in the promotion hunt, overcoming Wrexham 0-1 away in the eliminator tie before suffering defeat to eventual winners Salford City in the semi-finals.
Last term Eastleigh finished in their lowest position since coming up to the National League Premier, 19th. Former Bournemouth and Havant & Waterlooville manager and recent Crawley Town assistant manager Lee Bradbury took up the reigns back in February, and will no doubt be looking to push the team on this year and get them back competing towards the top end once again.
Currently sat in 9th, The Spitfires are 2 points better off than Wanderers in the league standings having played a game less. They come into Monday's clash having begun December with back-to-back home games - a 1-0 victory over Boreham Wood proceeding a 0-2 reverse at the hands of Wrexham, with their last scheduled league game away to Dagenham & Redbridge called off due to a frozen pitch. Lee Bradbury's side progressed through to the FA Trophy 4th round last Tuesday night with a 0-2 away win over Woking.
Striker Danny Whitehall scored a penalty in that game and is the club's top scorer so far with 8 goals in all competitions. He is well supported in attack by Watford loanee JJ McKiernan and former Woking midfielder Charlie Carter, prolific from midfield for the Surrey side in his last spell playing in the National League back in 2018/19. At the back, central defender and skipper Aaron Martin will provide plenty of experience after extensive spells in the football league, he arrived from Port Vale in the close season after enjoying promotion success in League 2 last term.
Eastleigh and Wanderers of course met at the FA Cup 4th round qualifying stage earlier this term. Played at Meadowbank back on October 15th, Dan Gallagher's goal in stoppage time at the end of the first half gave Wanderers the advantage at half-time, but goals through the second period from Tristan Abraham, Ryan Hill and Danny Whitehall saw The Spitfires get the win and progress through to the first round proper, where they were defeated 3-1 away to Boreham Wood.
TICKETS - SELLING FAST! SECURE YOURS NOW ONLINE:
PRICES: Adults £16 / Concessions £13 / U18s £8 / U8s £4
FAMILY OFFER! A family of 4 (2 adults, 2 U12s) can watch the Wanderers against Eastleigh for only £35!
MATCHDAY PROGRAMME: £3 (physical copies only, available at ground)
Why not join us for a festive drink in the FanZone? Open to supporters from 1pm!
Not attending Saturday's match? Stay in the loop...
STREAM: National League TV will streaming the game, visit https://www.nationalleaguetv.com/ for all the info & how to sign up!
LIVE COMMENTARY: Gary Pascoe will be providing live matchday commentary via Mixlr, keep an eye on our social media channels for more information!
UPDATES: We will be providing action and score updates throughout the afternoon via Twitter (@DorkingWDRS) VISITING FANS INFORMATION: Getting to Meadowbank, where to grab a pre-match drink beforehand and more... https://www.dorkingwanderers.com/visiting-supporters