Vanarama National League South
October 30th 2021
Dorking continued their recent resurgence and capped off a brilliant week with victory over league leaders Dartford at Meadowbank. Beneath blue skies and in front of a bumper crowd, Wanderers brought 'The Darts' unbeaten run in the league to an end and moved themselves up to fourth in the division after a trio of victories in the space of eight days.
With captain Barry Fuller, ever-present in the side up until today's game, and James McShane both ruled out through injury, Marc White was forced into changes to his starting eleven. The manager decided to go with a back four as Sami El-Abd took the skipper's armband and partnered Ed Harris centrally, with Dan Gallagher getting the nod to play in the right full back position. Niall McManus was moved upfield to play in behind Alfie Rutherford up top, with Jimmy Muitt and Luke Moore both returning to the side as Callum Kealy dropped to the bench.
Wanderers started the game on the front foot, Rutherford and Bobby-Joe Taylor taking on early strikes at goal, but the visitors imposed themselves more strongly through the opening quarter hour, forcing Wanderers back with effective pressing and retention of the ball, but not generating any real pressure in the final third.
'The Darts' had gone close after good work progressing down the right flank, the eventual shot deflecting out for a corner, and they went as close as they would through the course of the half courtesy of skipper Tom Bonner, getting a head on the resulting delivery which was cleared just in front of the goal line.
The away side felt aggrieved around midway through the half as Stuart Nelson looked to potentially handle the ball outside his area when closing down an attack towards the left flank, despite the protests the referee waved play on.
Approaching half-hour Dorking began to get on top in the contest, starting to win the midfield battles and moving the ball forward quicker as the game remained a fairly open contest. Wanderers had a couple of golden opportunities arrive in close succession; Bobby-Joe Taylor collecting a short corner and crossing at pace for Gallagher who headed over, just before Muitt dug out a measured cross again dispatched from the left flank, Rutherford this time meeting it with an angled header but sending it marginally wide of the near post. Josh Taylor was then unfortunate his ball across the face of goal sailed through without finding a contact.
On the verge of half-time both sides had chances, Muitt firing straight down Wilks after good link up between McManus and Bobby-Joe Taylor, before Emmanuel Sonupe and Rutherford both respectively struck over from the edge of the area.
Half-Time: Dorking 0 Dartford 0
A couple of brief injury stoppages broke up the action after the restart, but Wanderers didn't take too long to get back on top in the game. Darts stopper Dan Wilks was forced into action and produced top saves to deny Moore's well struck free kick from 25 yards out, and then McManus low at the near post after the midfielder made a probing run into the area.
Against the run of play Dartford would rue missing arguably the best chance of the game; a long ball over the top reaching front-man Ade Azeez who managed to stay onside, the striker then opting to lob the advancing Nelson but seeing his effort come back off the far post and cleared away.
The game became increasingly open and stretched, Steve King had introduced Danny Leonard at the break and further strengthened his attacking hand by bringing on forward Dan Roberts for Sonupe as we entered the last twenty minutes.
Wanderers were still having the better of the play getting forward though, Matt Briggs rapid break down the right cynically curtailed by Bonner, as Josh Taylor and Ed Harris then directed headers off target.
Several minutes from time however, Briggs would make a decisive move down the right, and got reward. The wing back and his defensive counterpart Jernade Meade had been involved in an intriguing duel all afternoon, and Briggs got joy on this occasion, stabbing the ball forward and running on to gather it near the byline, before firing the ball across the face of goal. Under pressure from approaching red and white shirts, the cross was ultimately bundled into his own net by Darts defender Jordan Wynter, to much rapture from the lively Wanderers fans behind the goal.
Led as they had been all game by the tireless central midfield work of Josh Taylor, Moore and McManus, to a man Dorking continued to graft through the closing minutes to keep a clean sheet for only the second time in the league this campaign and take maximum points.
After a past fortnight which has included successive midweek action, Wanderers now have a week off before their next game, away to Hemel Hempstead next Saturday.
Dorking Wanderers (4-4-1-1): 1 Stuart Nelson, 3 Bobby-Joe Taylor (12 Callum Kennedy 82'), 4 Sami El-Abd (c), 5 Ed Harris, 6 Niall McManus, 7 Jimmy Muitt (16 Nicky Wheeler 82'), 8 Matt Briggs, 10 Alfie Rutherford (29 Callum Kealy 88'), 17 Josh Taylor, 18 Luke Moore, 20 Dan Gallagher
Unused Subs: 15 Kane WIlls
Goals: Wynter og 84'
Yellow Cards: Briggs 24', Moore 70'
Dartford (4-2-3-1): 1 Dan Wilks, 2 Jordan Wynter, 3 Jernade Meade, 4 Noor Husin, 5 Connor Essam, 6 Tom Bonner (c), 7 Michael Kedman (16 Danny Leonard 46'), 8 Kieran Murtagh (17 George Porter 86'), 10 Emmanuel Sonupe (15 Dan Roberts 72'), 11 Jack Jebb, 14 Ade Azeez
Unused Subs: 12 Luke Allen, 18 Josh Hill
Yellow Cards: Kedman 40', Azeez 49', Bonner 70'
Referee: Dean Skipper
Sponsors Man Of The Match: Josh Taylor
Stats: (courtesy of Matt 'The Stat' Albright)
1 Goals 0
4 Shots (on target). 5
8 Shots (off target) 4
8 Corners 3
7 Fouls. 18
1 Offsides. 3
2 Yellow Cards 3
0 Red Cards 0