On his first league start since returning to the club in January, Jack Barham was the match winner
Match report by Dan Stobbart
Dorking notched their first league win of 2020 with a hard-fought 0-1 victory over Hungerford Town on a cold Tuesday night at Bulpit Lane.
Hungerford town 0 Dorking Wanderers 1
NATIONAL LEAGUE SOUTH 04 February 2020
Dorking notched their first league win of 2020 with a hard-fought 0-1 victory over Hungerford Town on a cold Tuesday night at Bulpit Lane. On his first league start since returning to the club in January, Jack Barham was the match winner, getting the better of his marker and finishing from close range not long before half-time.
Injuries new and old dictated a shuffled starting eleven from Marc White as several changes were made from the weekend. Isaac Philpot returned from suspension and joined the injury-recovered Ed Harris and Ben Dyett in defence, Jimmy Muitt, Tom Richards, Jack Barham and Elliot Buchanan also got the nod as David Ray (injured), Nick Wheeler (unavailable), Luke Moore (injured), Matt Briggs (rested) and Jason Prior, unfortunately injured during the warm up, made way.
In a fraught opening period of the game, both team's struggled to really get a foothold, endeavour aplenty in getting the ball forward from midfield, but neither keeper really tested throughout much of the half. Elliot Buchanan had struck a few efforts wide from just outside the area after quick link up play, Barham doing brilliantly in one manoeuvre by jumping impressively under challenge to flick the ball on to Buchanan, but the effort fell off target.
Wanderers defensive trio were in resolute form and set their stall out early, dealing with numerous attempted chipped balls into the area, and the lively movement around the box of Ralph Graham and Zidan Akers. Ed Harris stood up well to strikes from Akers and skipper Joe Tomlinson, before Liam Ferdinand squandered Hungerford's best chance, doing really well to defy the offside trap, but lashing his strike wide of target.
Slav Huk was tested by a deflected George Smith strike from the edge of the area, getting down well to save it, but Wanderers had begun to make more threatening inroads through the attacking third. Buchanan, Harris and Barham all came really close to getting contact on dangerous deliveries from wide.
Several minutes before the break, they broke the deadlock. Jimmy Muitt would fire a measured delivery into the area, Barham out-wrestled the ball from his marker and kept his composure to drive home from close range. On the brink of half-time Barham nearly doubled the lead, Muitt accelerating to get to the byline and pulling back for the striker who was denied by a superb point blank stop from Patrick Ohman. On the subsequent counter attack, McManus got back brilliantly to tackle Akers on the edge of the area.
Half-Time: Hungerford Town 0 The Wanderers 1
The home side had the ball bobbling around in the Wanderers box at the beginning of the second half but without manifesting any chances, but as the game got to the hour mark, Dorking again put together a few chances in a short space of time to try and double the advantage.
Ed Harris would smash the ball into the back of the net from a Tom Richards free kick, but the ref chalked it off for a foul off the ball. Jake Gallagher and Jack Barham linked quickly in midfield to release Barham, but the striker was ushered out toward the byline. After some patient build up play Muitt pinged a high cross into the area which was met well in the air by McShane, but his header sailed just wide. McShane would also strike an effort from the edge of the box straight down Ohman.
The introduction of Matt Briggs and his pace kept Wanderers on the front foot but proved defensively crucial as well, as he tracked back well on a couple of occasions, denying Akers superbly after a very quick through ball was dispatched from midfield to release the lively attacker.
Ohman attempts at trying to shield the ball suddenly backfired after receiving it on the left side of his penalty area, Buchanan pressed firmly and nearly got reward, looking to trickle the ball into the far corner after pinching it from a fairly tight angle, but it rolled wide.
The introduction of a few subs, plus a melee after Dan Gallagher's hard challenge midway through the Dorking half steadied the pace but prolonged the nerves in a final quarter of an hour that saw Hungerford gradually turn up the pressure on Wanderers. For all the effective link up around the area and drive to get forward, the defensive trio and work rate of the midfield kept finding a way, as The Crusaders just couldn't unlock that killer final ball. Marc White's men held on through five minutes of added on time, and just about got over the line.
With cutting edge and finesse lacking from both sides, particularly strong performances from the returning back three and a high work rate across the field just about did enough to earn maximum points against a spirited Hungerford side, who mixed up their forward play effectively in the game, but just couldn't make it count. Like Bath on Saturday, following a heavy defeat in their previous fixture, Town boss Ian Herring will surely take heart from the improved performance levels of his side, Dorking this time getting the result in another 'fine margins' score line. Back to back clean sheets and the strong performances of those coming back into the side tonight are real positives for Marc White, as we now countdown to AFC Fylde visiting Meadowbank in the FA Trophy on Saturday.
Hungerford Town: 1 Patrick Ohman, 2 Matt Berry-Hargreaves, 3 Joe Tomlinson (c), 4 George Smith, 6 James Ashby, 7 Zidan Akers, 8 Mike Jones (Conor Lynch 82'), 9 Liam Ferdinand, 12 Ralph Graham, 16 Yan Klukowski (11 Matt Jones 75'), 17 Bradley Webb
Subs: 5 Baboucarr Jarra, 13 Tommy Rees, 15 Dan Bailey Yellow: Akers 45' Dorking Wanderers: 1 Slav Huk, 2 Isaac Philpot, 4 Ed Harris (c), 5 Ben Dyett, 8 Niall McManus, 9 Jack Barham (19 Gez Sole 76'), 11 James McShane, 10 Elliot Buchanan (6 Dan Gallagher 82'), 15 Jimmy Muitt, 20 Tom Richards (18 Matt Briggs 54'), 14 Jake Gallagher Subs: 12 Jerry O'Sullivan, 17 Jason Prior Yellow: Harris 45' Referee: Andrew Humphries Attendance: 181