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Dartford 3 Dorking Wanderers 2

Dorking were narrowly defeated by Dartford in what was another thrilling encounter between the two clubs at Princes Park. The win ensured that 'The Darts' continued their unbeaten status at home in the league this campaign, whilst Wanderers lead at the top of the table was cut back to three points.

Marc White confirmed shortly before kick off that Callum Kennedy and James McShane were unavailable due to injury and sickness respectively. In tandem with the unfortunate ACL injury to Matt Briggs, the manager was forced into three changes to his starting eleven from last weekend. Jordan Cheadle came in for Kennedy within the back three, Nicky Wheeler would replace Briggs as Niall McManus switched flanks to play from the right rather than his more accustomed left side, and a debut was handed to Davide Rodari, just signed on Thursday evening, he would be deployed in behind Alfie Rutherford up top. Barry Fuller returned to the matchday squad and was named on the bench following the completion of his three game ban, Nicky Wheeler was handed the captain's armband for the afternoon.

And it was the new skipper who took on the first strike of the game in the opening minutes. Cutting in from the left, his shot was well blocked by Connor Essam. Set piece specialist Jack Jebb then fired a direct free kick into the Wanderers wall, before it was Oldaker's turn to have a go from a dead ball situation up the other end, but the midfielder sent his effort over the bar.

It had been a frenetic start to proceedings, the cut up playing surface and wet and windy conditions forcing both sides to go more direct than they would like, control of the ball harder to maintain as the two teams worked hard in midfield. The hosts had adapted better though; a greater willingness and determination saw them effectively disrupt Wanderers from finding their passing patterns and often win the duals for second balls.

On the quarter-hour, that stronger start was rewarded as they opened the scoring. A lofted ball from Jebb drifted just beyond the Wanderers back line, and despite Oldaker's best effort to get a foot on the ball as it came down, George Porter latched on quickly and slotted past Lincoln from close range.

The scorer had gone close again, taking aim for the top right bins as the Kent side remained in the ascendancy, and in the follow up move, they doubled their advantage. Another aerial ball was clipped into the box, this time gathered by central striker Marcus Dinanga on the left side of the area, and the forward impressively swivelled and struck a low shot into the bottom right corner.

Wanderers sought an immediate response; a corner ball spilt out to Cheadle who's deflected strike bounced just wide, Rutherford then had a shot comfortably saved by Wilks as he broke away down the left.

Kalvin Kalala could and should have sent the hosts into an even more comfortable lead just moments later; released into space down the attacking right, he made a swift beeline for goal but blasted his shot well over the bar.

Wanderers were continuing to show more in the final third as we ventured past the half-hour point, a succession of corners proceeding their best chance of the first half. Taylor shifted the ball across to Fogden from the left side, but the industrious midfield didn't get over the top of the ball, and thundered his strike over the bar from just inside the area.

A couple of injury breaks in play took the pace out of the game as we approached half-time, Dartford forced into a straight change with the first of these stoppages as Kieran Murtagh replaced Luke Allen.

Half-Time: Dartford 2 Dorking 0

Marc White made a switch of his own during the interval, with Barry Fuller coming on for Jordan Cheadle. Fuller would play on the more unfamiliar left side of the back three for a large portion of the second half, switching sides with Philpot in the later stages.

Dinanga went close to nabbing his second of the afternoon just after the restart, arrowing a header wide, but within ten minutes, Wanderers pulled a goal back to half the deficit. The ball was worked over to the left side of the Darts box, Fogden persisted well to direct a strike across goal, the ball taking a looping deflection to land for McManus positioned towards the back post, the midfielder making no mistake tapping home from close range.

The home side immediately set about trying to restore the two-goal cushion, peppering the Wanderers goal with strikes from range; Jayden Sweeney aiming wide, Kalala having one well blocked, before Jebb would go closest with a dangerous direct free kick hitting the top of the crossbar.

Rutherford did force another save from Wilks during this run of chances, but despite the introductions of Jimmy Muitt and Luke Moore for Wes Fogden and Davide Rodari respectively, the hosts remained dangerous getting forward. Porter forced Lincoln into back to back saves, the keeper firstly getting fingertips to a long range strike, before Porter cut in from the left and showed resilience to fend off challenges, ahead of unleashing a low effort which Lincoln kept out down to his right.

The Dartford man of the match would get his second and his side's third with just over ten minutes remaining. Again worked over from the left flank, Kalala shifted the ball into Porter's path entering the right side of the area, and he calmly slid the ball beyond Lincoln from several yards out.

Wanderers rallied entering the final ten minutes; Muitt and Fuller combining well to set up McManus, who forced Wilks into a diving save, just ahead of pulling another goal back. A short corner was swiftly played to Wheeler, who cut inside and thundered an effort through a crowd of bodies and beyond Wilks into the far right side of goal.

Late subs and a couple of other stoppages (including an intruder very briefly entering the field of play) broke up the action as we entered the final stages, but Wanderers continued to push for an equaliser. Rutherford did well to stay onside and cross for Wheeler, but the effort at goal was closed down, Fuller launched a threatening ball across the face of goal, but found no takers. Dartford ultimately held out through five added on minutes to take maximum points and extend their unbeaten home record for the campaign to 14 games.

Dorking return to National League South action next Saturday as Hemel Hempstead are the visitors to Meadowbank.

Daniel Stobbart

Dartford (4-2-3-1) : 1 Dan Wilks; 2 Jordan Wynter, 5 Connor Essam, 6 Tom Bonner (c), 3 Jayden Sweeney; 4 Luke Allen (16 Kieran Murtagh 44'), 8 Jack Jebb; 11 Ody Alfa (12 Kory Roberts 85'), 10 George Porter, 7 Kevin Kalala; 18 Marcus Dinanga (14 Ade Azeez 86')

Unused Subs: 9 Jake Robinson, 15 Danny Leonard

Goals: Porter 15', 79', Dinanga 25'

Yellow Cards: Kalala 90'

Dorking Wanderers (3-5-2) : 34 Dan Lincoln; 2 Isaac Philpot, 20 Dan Gallagher, 19 Jordan Cheadle (22 Barry Fuller 46'); 6 Niall McManus, 26 Darren Oldaker, 17 Josh Taylor, 23 Wes Fogden (7 Jimmy Muitt 58'), 16 Nicky Wheeler (c); 45 Davide Rodari (18 Luke Moore 69'), 10 Alfie Rutherford

Unused Subs: 4 Sami El-Abd, 5 Ed Harris

Goals: McManus 55', Wheeler 83'

Yellow Cards: None

Referee: Alex Blake

Attendance: 1522

Man Of The Match: George Porter (Official Home Selection)


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