Solihull Moors 3 Dorking Wanderers 0
Vanarama National League
August 19th 2023
Dorking were consigned to a second straight defeat on the road this season after being comfortably defeated by Solihull Moors at The Armco Arena.
After starting the game stronger, Kade Craig put the home side in front just past the quarter hour mark, but despite Wanderers going on to dominate possession for the remainder of the half, Marc White's side struggled to carve out chances, and Josh Kelly won and scored a penalty to double the home advantage just before the interval after being brought down by Harrison Male. Striker Mark Beck put the home side three goals to the good midway through the second half, Wanderers woes for the afternoon compounded by Aaron Kuhl being dismissed in the late stages for picking up a second yellow card.
Kuhl was one of two changes to the starting line up following Tuesday night's win against Southend, the midfielder coming into the XI for Bobby-Joe Taylor as Dan Gallagher again deputised on the left side of the back three. Niall McManus returned to make his first start of the campaign, replacing the injured Matt Briggs wide right.
In a steadily paced start to the game the home side began brighter, showing greater urgency getting the ball forward in the early exchanges. On 3 minutes Richard Stearman's close range effort bounced off the bar after a corner kick was worked back across the face of goal, Mark Beck then forcing Male into a low save after getting a shot away from inside the box.
Just beyond the quarter hour Andy Whing's team made the deserved breakthrough; Beck's flick-on finding Jay Benn in the right channel, and getting close to the byline the wing-back's ball across the six yard box was steered home by his colleague working on the opposite flank, Kade Craig.
Noses in front, The Moors reverted to an organised shape including 5 at the back, inviting Wanderers to break them down and therefore enabling domination of possession for the remainder of the half. Unable to penetrate the low block and struggling to shift play forwards, Wanderers clearest chance would land for Prior, the striker picked out in space in the middle of the box by Boweman's cross from the left but unable to generate enough power on his header and nodding the ball just wide.
Josh Taylor dragged an effort off target towards the end of the half after good hold up play by Seager, but just before half-time Solihull managed to double their lead; Josh Kelly brought down by Male as he tried to round the keeper after been forced towards the byline. Kelly himself stepped up to take the kick, and slotted the ball calmly into the bottom right corner.
The second period began in slow, sluggish fashion as both sides struggled to find a rhythm, the action suddenly brought back to life approaching the hour as Kelly drove forward and teed up Jack Stevens for a strike from range, the attacker's effort cannoning back off the top of the crossbar.
Shortly after that chance Luke Moore came off the bench to make his first appearance of the season as part of a double substitution with Harry Ottaway, but the hosts remained really well organised and continued to be effective in attack; skipper Jamey Osbourne sending a strike just wide before a third goal was added at the midway point of the half. Kelly made headway down the right and played a ball across the box, bypassing the intended target in the centre, Beck was able to gather on the far side and directed a shot in off the post as he was falling to ground.
Stevens, bright throughout the game up top, was again denied getting on the scoresheet after Male pulled off a good save tipping his low strike around the post, before The Moors No14 tried his luck again but this time saw his shot deflect over the upright.
Play was delayed late on as Barry Fuller and Josh Taylor clashed heads in the middle of the park challenging for the ball in the air, both men fortunately deemed able to continue after a few minutes of treatment.
Wanderers misery for the afternoon was compounded into the final ten minutes as Kuhl received his second yellow card for a late challenge on sub Connor Hall as the forward was breaking from the half-way line. Already cautioned towards the end of the first half, the midfielder was duly given his marching orders.
Bowerman and Ottaway were at the heart of a late push for a consolation goal into ten minutes of stoppage time, Ottaway and Prior both flagged offside as Wanderers peppered the Solihull box, Ottaway having a shot well closed down before heading wide at the back post. Despite the very late pressure, the hosts held on to their clean sheet.
Another contrasting display from Wanderers in the very early stages of the new season, aspects of last Saturday's disappointing defeat to Maidenhead were evident again with Wanderers too often playing within themselves, struggling to get the ball wide and up field at a quick enough tempo, and often being out-battled in midfield by well organised, physically more imposing opposition. The post-match feeling of deja vu also extends back to the previous two fixtures against Solihull Moors last term, both games ending in 3-0 defeats with Wanderers reduced to ten men on both occasions.
Positives can be taken in Niall McManus starting for the first time this term and Luke Moore gaining his first competitive minutes of the season, Assistant Manager Dean Milton hinting after the match that another couple of players currently side-lined could also return for selection next weekend.
Wanderers kick off the annual August Bank Holiday Weekend double-bill next Saturday at home to York City in a 3pm kick off at Meadowbank, before it's the Surrey derby away at Woking the following Monday afternoon.
Solihull Moors (3-4-3): 1 Tommy Simkin, 2 James Clarke, 6 Kyle Morrison, 19 Richard Stearman (3 Joe Newton 73'); 20 Jay Benn, 4 Jamey Osbourne (c) (22 Morgan Owen 87'), 12 Gus Mafuta, 27 Kade Craig; 10 Josh Kelly (15 Connor Hall 76'), 9 Mark Beck, 14 Jack Stevens
Unused Subs: 5 Nico Gordon, 16 Max Brogan
Goals: Craig 16', Kelly pen 45', Beck 68'
Dorking Wanderers (3-5-2): 1 Harrison Male, 22 Barry Fuller (c), 5 Tony Craig, 20 Dan Gallagher; 6 Niall McManus (3 Bobby-Joe Taylor 64'), 25 Aaron Kuhl, 11 James McShane (18 James McShane 58'), 17 Josh Taylor, 30 Seb Bowerman; 9 Jason Prior, 19 Ryan Seager (24 Harry Ottaway 58')
Unused Subs: 23 Jack Jebb, 33 Joe Rabbetts
Yellow Cards: McManus 15', Kuhl 38', 80', J. Taylor 90+5'
Red Card: Kuhl 80'
Referee: Stuart Morland
Attendance: 1205 (108 Wanderers Supporters)
Man Of The Match: Jamey Osbourne (Official Home Selection)