Dartford 2 Dorking Wanderers 3
Vanarama National League South
November 7th 2020
Matt Briggs was the match winner for Dorking as they overcame Dartford by 3 goals to 2 in an enthralling contest at Princes Park, living up to the hype after two memorable league clashes between the sides last season.
Marc White opted for one change from the team which started at Hungerford last weekend, Dan Gallagher coming in for Alfie Rutherford, providing extra defensive shielding in midfield as Wes Fogden pushed up to play closer to Jason Prior. Pre-match, White confirmed Callum Kennedy was the only player to be ruled out of the matchday squad by injury. Jack Barham, fresh off the back of netting his first two goals for the club last weekend, would line up for Dartford having left Dorking in the summer following two stints at the club last campaign.
With less than two minutes on the clock, Wanderers got off to a dream start. Niall McManus persistence down the right channel would pay off; playing Wes Fogden into the area the industrious midfielder managed to get to the ball ahead of his opponent and struck an effort which looped off of keeper Craig King and toward the open goal. Jason Prior made absolutely sure right on the goal line with a header, but it would be confirmed as Fogden's goal later in the half, the ball ruled to have already crossed the line.
Dead ball specialist Jake Jebb was then presented with a near immediate opportunity to get 'The Darts' back on terms, the imposing Elliot Romain winning a free kick right on the edge of the Dorking box. Jebb stepped up, and forced a superb flying save from Huk, getting over well to cover his top left corner.
The early opportunities epitomised the frenetic start both sides had made to the game, but as the half progressed the high energy display would become increasingly fraught, a few cautions collected, and numerous fouls given away in the middle of the park as the bulk of the contest would be battled hard in that part of the field.
Jack Barham had nearly punished a lapse on the ball outside the Wanderers box approaching half-hour, and would get reward with his next effort at pressuring play. Doing well to win the ball in the top right corner, he quickly relayed the ball on to striker partner Romain, who in turn drove the ball across goal for Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong to emphatically thunder home at the far post.
The goal scorer was a threat all afternoon with his bursts from midfield pushing into the box, and in the run up to half-time he would fire a couple of shots straight down Huk, as would Romain after capitalising on a slack clearance. Jebb would threaten again with a set piece; his cross from near the left touchline set to be one of those which evades everyone and nestles into the bottom corner, on this occasion drifting just wide.
Prior was involved in a proper tussle with Darts skipper Tom Bonner throughout the half but would get the better of him and his defensive counterparts in stoppage time with a moment of real quality to edge Wanderers ahead going into the break. Nicky Wheeler didn't have too many opportunities to show what he could do as the ball was rarely shifted out wide, but after receiving Huk's diagonal free kick, his measured cross from the left was emphatically flicked home by the Wanderers top scorer, leaving King no chance.
Half-Time: Dartford 1 Dorking 2
Marc White made a change during the interval, Alfie Rutherford coming on for James McShane, joining Prior up top, as Fogden reverted back into central midfield.
Both teams pushed forward after the restart, Rutherford and Romain running through on goal to be denied swiftly by the keepers, before a Berkeley-Agyepong surge to the edge of the area would be curtailed abrasively by Ed Harris. In not dissimilar fashion to last weekend's game, a close call was to be made over whether it was in or outside the area, this week's ruling deeming it outside. The specialist Jebb stepped up and made no mistake, impressively getting the ball up and over the wall, jamming home between Huk and the underside of the bar.
Whilst the game was still mainly contested hard in the middle of the pitch, the goal did spur on the hosts to produce more in the attacking third and have increased command of the ball. Bonner's header sailed well wide of target, Huk got down well to deny Barham, and Noor Hussin rustled the side netting from the left of the area after good build up play. Amongst this Prior did find the net again with a header, only for it to be ruled out for a foul in the build-up.
On 65 minutes, Matt Briggs was introduced, replacing Dan Gallagher. Taking up his position on the right wing, McManus moved into central midfield. Sam Beard also came on in place of Isaac Philpot in a like for like change, Philpot understood later to have picked up a knock.
The midfield change nearly paid immediate dividend as McManus neatly played through Rutherford, who at the second time of asking struck straight down King. However, with a quarter of an hour to go, one of the substitutes would go on to be the match winner.
Undone by a long throw last week at Hungerford, Wanderers would inflict the same punishment on The Darts. Harris got the crucial headed flick-on as the ball flew in from the right touchline, and Briggs met it with just enough contact and power first time to direct it beyond King's dive and into the bottom right corner.
Holding on to the lead, Wanderers continued to graft hard in the closing stages to get over the line. Spearheaded by Harris, the hosts were reduced to few chances; sub Ky Marsh-Brown having a shot closed down well after a good turn at the edge of the box, Huk then getting down quickly to deprive another sub Charlie Sheringham before a lucrative through ball dispatched by Berkeley-Agyepong down the left.
Marc White spoke to Gary Pascoe after the game:
"Delighted with the result, didn't think the performance was great. It's where we are now, we're nursing a number of boys not fully fit. Thought they were the better side over 90 minutes but there weren't many goal-mouth chances. They were effective in stopping us playing the way we play, well drilled in a good shape, I think we need to improve against that particular shape. When we moved Niall inside, I felt we were more robust and stood up better in the last twenty minutes."
Dartford FC (4-1-3-2): 1 Craig King, 2 Jazzi Barnum-Bobb, 3 Craig Braham-Barrett, 4 David Ijaha (16 Ky Marsh-Brown 85'), 5 Ronnie Vint, 6 Tom Bonner (c), 7 Noor Husin, 8 Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong, 9 Elliot Romain (12 Charlie Sheringham 80'), 10 Jack Barham, 11 Jack Jebb (17 Luke Allen 80')
Unused Subs: 14 Jordan Wynter, 15 Connor Essam
Goals: Berkeley-Agyepong 27', Jebb 49'
Yellow Cards: Bonner 21'
Dorking Wanderers (3-5-2): 1 Slav Huk, 2 Isaac Philpot (3 Sam Beard 66'), 5 Ed Harris, 6 Niall McManus, 9 Jason Prior, 11 James McShane (10 Alfie Rutherford 46'), 15 Kane Wills, 16 Nicky Wheeler, 20 Dan Gallagher (8 Matt Briggs 65'), 22 Barry Fuller (c), 23 Wes Fogden
Unused Subs: 14 Jake Gallagher, 19 Giuseppe Sole
Goals: Fogden 2', Prior 45+', Briggs 76'
Yellow Cards: McShane 12', Prior 21', Fuller 31', Harris 49', Briggs 74', Rutherford 90+'
Ref: Alex Blake