Vanarama National League South January 8th 2022
Dorking won their first home game of 2022 by defeating Braintree Town 2-1 at Meadowbank. Alfie Rutherford's quick-fire brace in the first half proved enough against spirited opposition who pulled a goal back just before the hour mark as Stefan Ilic netted his first goal for 'The Iron'.
Marc White made two changes to the side which started last weekend against Havant & Waterlooville, Bobby-Joe Taylor returned in place of the injured Jordan Cheadle, and Wes Fogden, ruled out since picking up injury in the opening day defeat to Concord Rangers, made his return as Niall McManus dropped to the bench.
It didn't take long for Wanderers to get in the groove, Wheeler's very dangerous cross across the face of goal headed away by Luke Pennell inside the opening couple of minutes. The first proper chance fell just a few moments later, Rutherford demonstrating excellent control ahead of shifting the ball out to Briggs, who crossed for Fogden at the back post, but the returning midfielder headed marginally wide. Would have been some way to mark the come back!
Rutherford then provided for Briggs again, this time with a well timed aerial flick-on, clean through on goal the wing-back struck just wide of target, a great opportunity.
However, the missed chance was not rued for long as Wanderers did make the break through just before the quarter-hour mark. Oldaker's lovely pass into the path of Briggs set him away down the right flank, and his low cross across the six yard box was tapped home from close range by Rutherford.
Then, three minutes later, Rutherford was at the double. Trapping and turning smartly on Fuller's searching pass to the edge of the box, the recently crowned player of the month showed good composure to fend of a challenge inside the box before firing home beyond William Johnson.
Often set out in a compact shape and deployed to press high, the visitors had forced Wanderers into shorter and sloppier passes playing out from the back, instigating a few nervy moments, but despite this pressure hadn't caused Wanderers too many problems inside the opening half-hour. Around his point Lincoln was forced into his first save from a Krasniqi free kick.
Fogden was again desperately unfortunate not to mark his return with a goal, nodding another back post header just wide. Rutherford was then denied his hat-trick after Johnson got down well to save his well carved out strike from the right side of the box.
In the lead up to half-time Braintree started to find an end product in the final third, and Barry Fuller had to make two vital goal line clearances in quick succession. The captain had headed a corner over at the attacking end of the pitch before booting Stefan Ilic's dinked effort away from the line, before then heading away Correy Davidson's powerfully struck volley from the left side the area.
Right before the break Wheeler forced another near post stop from Johnson after receiving an excellent switch of play and cutting inside, Chaynie Burgin then took advantage of a misplaced pass to fire over the bar up the other end.
Half-Time: Dorking 2 Braintree 0
Niall McManus came on for Wes Fogden at the break, Marc White acknowledging the intention was to give Wes forty-five minutes today as he begins to work back to match sharpness.
Just five minutes after coming off the bench, McManus nearly got on the scoresheet, Rutherford and Prior combing well approaching the edge of the box to tee up the midfielder for a half-volley, which arrowed just wide of goal.
A combination of the high press and holding on to the ball too long in central areas was nearly costly a couple of times for Wanderers, including leading to a giveaway which set Crichlow through on goal one-on-one, but Lincoln was out and down well to keep the strike at bay.
I'm tandem with the tempo and urgency in Wanderers play dropping off, just before the hour mark, Ilic got a goal back for 'The Iron'. The attacking midfielder getting his first goal for the club, dispatching a low effort in a congested area as Wanderers couldn't clear their lines, the ball cannoning in off the far post.
Looking for an immediate response, Wheeler's cross turned shot was saved at the near post, before Josh Taylor and Briggs both blasted good opportunities wide after impressive runs into the box.
With a quarter of an hour to go Bobby-Joe Taylor drove forward in signature style from the left back area and cut back for Rutherford, the hat-trick bid again thwarted as his strike was quickly closed down. On the follow up move Briggs then nodded wide after doing well to angle his head on to a cross delivered in from the left. Shortly after, two Wanderers player's couldn't make a decisive touch as the ball fell at the back post, the chance ebbing away.
With the one goal margin and such a chance to kill the game being passed up it set for a nervy final few minutes as the visitors from Essex continued grafting hard. Sub Adam Morgan forced a catch for Lincoln after striking from distance and the lively Krasniqi sent a free kick in good shooting range straight into the wall, Wanderers otherwise not troubled close to goal, and despite keeper Johnson coming up for a corner as the last action of the game, hung on to take maximum points and extend their winning league run to five games.
Wanderers return to league action next Saturday with a visit to Hampton & Richmond Borough.
Dorking Wanderers (3-5-2): 34 Dan Lincoln; 22 Barry Fuller (c), 20 Dan Gallagher, (5 Ed Harris 78'), 3 Bobby-Joe Taylor; 8 Matt Briggs, 26 Darren Oldaker (4 Sami El-Abd 57'), 17 Josh Taylor, 23 Wes Fogden (6 Niall McManus 46'), 16 Nicky Wheeler; 10 Alfie Rutherford, 9 Jason Prior
Unused Subs: 7 Jimmy Muitt, 15 Kane Wills Goals: Rutherford 14', 17' Yellow Cards: Briggs 56' Braintree Town (4-2-3-1): 1 William Johnson; 2 Kyran Clements, 5 Luke Pennell, 6 Nathan Bertram-Cooper, 3 Arjanit Krasniqi; 4 Matthew Johnson (c), 8 Alfie Payne (14 Jay Porter 46'); 7 Gianni Crichlow, 10 Stefan Ilic (16 Luke Holness 77'), 11 Correy Davidson; 9 Chaynie Fage Burgin (15 Adam Morgan 77') Unused Subs: 12 Mack Miskin, 17 Eoin McKeown Goals: Ilic 59' Yellow Cards: Johnson 90'
Referee: Tom Danaher
Sponsors Man Of The Match: Alfie Rutherford