Dorking Wanderers 2 Ebbsfleet United 0
Vanarama National League South
January 5th 2021
Dorking got back to winning ways in the league with victory over Ebbsfleet United in the first game at Meadowbank of the new year. Matt Briggs opened the scoring midway through the first half following an excellent team move, before an own goal on the verge of half-time doubled Wanderers advantage, and was ultimately enough to see them take maximum points.
Marc White made a triple change to the side that started at Hampton & Richmond on Saturday. Isaac Philpot and Nicky Wheeler would both miss out on tonight's game through injury, as captain Barry Fuller returned to the side and Niall McManus came in for Wheeler out wide. The final switch saw James McShane replace Jimmy Muitt who dropped to the bench, Matt Briggs returning to wide right after beginning the weekend's game through the middle.
In not dissimilar fashion to Saturday, Wanderers made a blistering start to the game as the visitors looked to settle into their shape. Inside the opening minutes 'Fleet stopper Jordan Holmes had to be alert to keep Alfie Rutherford at bay after he latched on to a deft near post cross from McManus, before tipping the resulting corner over the bar as it turned into a direct effort on goal. McManus would drive a well taken volley over the top, and a few minutes later Matt Briggs' brilliant touch on the half turn set him away to advance into the area, his strike whistling just wide of the far post.
A missed header at the back allowed Reece Grant and Rakish Bingham in on goal for the visitors first effort on goal of the evening; Grant taking on the shot one-on-one with Sam Howes, but he spurned the chance with a tame effort straight at the keeper's legs.
Briggs continued his lively start with another strike on target and was unlucky his mid-air back heeled flick into McShane was halted for offside, but the winger would be the one to open the scoring for Wanderers midway through the half after finishing a flowing team move. Quick link up play in central midfield proceeded McShane playing Rutherford in on the left, the striker doing very well to stay onside, keeping it alive to the touch line he then fired the ball across the six yard box for Briggs to arrive on to and thump home.
Ebbsfleet pressed further up the pitch in the wake of going behind, Adebayo-Rowling unlucky his cross from the right couldn't find a taker as it rattled right across the face of goal, Adam Mekki driving a couple of efforts over the bar, and Bingham forcing Howes into a low save. Ed Harris would get in a crucial block to deny the striker again moments later.
Wanderer's looked to kick on again in audacious fashion; Luke Moore's reactive snap-shot volley dipping the wrong side of the cross bar after a corner was cleared, and McShane's high pressing nearly paying off as he tried to then catch out an advanced Holmes with a chip from distance after wrestling the ball away when 'Fleet played out from the back. They got closer to hitting the target in the run up to half-time with strikes from Reece and sub Will Wood bringing Howes into action.
However, just before the interval Wanderers did manage to double their advantage. A short corner worked from the right was crossed in by Wills into a good area and led to Charlie Rowan thundering in an own goal. Such was the precision on the header there was some initial confusion over whether a Wanderers player had actually got on the end of it, but not the case.
Half-Time: Dorking 2 Ebbsfleet 0
The Fleet set out to make a fast start after the break, Bobby-Joe Taylor getting through the middle of the park at speed to tee up Rowling cutting in from the right, his effort sailing just over the top left stantion. Bingham then took on a strike from just outside the box, but caught it lopsided and it drifted over. Increasingly it looked like a night where the away side were missing their shooting boots - Mekki again firing over, Rowling with one blocked and Wood going closest by clipping the top of the cross bar after a quickly worked short throw from the left.
With just over half hour to go Wanderers went to a back four as they set about managing the game out. Sami El-Abd and Dan Gallagher coming on as the centre back pairing, Harris and Rutherford making way with Moore once again going 'old school' this season to lead the line up top.
Naturally Ebbsfleet took more command of the ball and Wanderers didn't help themselves with increased turnover of possession in midfield, but Dennis Kutrieb's side still couldn't get it right in the final third; Wood capitalising on a giveaway and striking over the bar, Taylor's direct free kick comfortably saved by Howes and sub James Dobson digging one out from distance but sending it too high.
The game became scrappier as it wore on, both sides beginning to rack up the cautions inside the final twenty minutes as ill-discipline and frustration took hold. With just over ten remaining Wanderers had back to back chances to put the game beyond doubt; McManus rapid run down the left concluding in a ball getting across to Briggs via Moore on the opposite side, his shot blocked for a corner with Gallagher then meeting the subsequent delivery at the back stick but nodding wide.
Mekki headed over and was denied well by sub Sam Beard and Howes in the late stages as Ebbsfleet stuck at it, but Wanderers got over the line to preserve a clean sheet and take three points for the first time since late November, moving up to second in the table.
Marc White spoke to Gary Pascoe after the game:
'It was scrappy from us, we've played better and lost, but we did enough really, it was one of them evenings, it's funny how football works. We set off at a blistering pace first half hour, then became guilty of over-doing it and allowed them back in towards the end of the first half, but then scored at a really good time before the break.'
On Ed Harris substitution:
'He picked up a groin strain, hence the change at the back and game plan early in the second half.'
Dorking Wanderers (3-5-2): 13 Sam Howes, 5 Ed Harris (4 Sami El-Abd 54'), 6 Niall McManus, 8 Matt Briggs, 10 Alfie Rutherford (21 Dan Gallagher 54'), 11 James McShane, 12 Callum Kennedy (3 Sam Beard 83'), 15 Kane Wills, 18 Luke Moore, 22 Barry Fuller (c), 23 Wes Fogden
Unused Subs: 7 Jimmy Muitt, 20 Ben Dyett
Goals: Briggs 23', Rowan og 45+'
Yellow Cards: Fogden 64', McShane 75', El-Abd 89', Howes 90', Briggs 90+'
Ebbsfleet United (4-2-3-1): 12 Jordan Holmes, 2 Tobi Adebayo-Rowling, 23 Charlie Rowan (20 James Dobson 64'), 4 Sefa Kahraman, 3 Bobby-Joe Taylor, 22 Ben Chapman, 8 Josh Payne (16 Will Wood 36'), 21 Jack Paxman, 7 Adam Mekki, 9 Rakish Bingham, 19 Grant Reece (18 Alfie Egan 79')
Unused Subs: 1 Tom Hadler (gk), 10 Michael West
Yellow Cards: Kahraman 65', Paxman 75', Taylor 89', Wood 90'
Ref: Phil Staynings
Sponsors Man Of The Match: James McShane
Stats: (provided by Olly Wyse @Olly_Wyse)
2 Goals 0
5 Shots (on target) 8
6 Shots (off target) 10
8 Corners 6
9 Fouls. 14
17 Crosses. 18
5 Offsides 1
5 Yellow Cards 4
0 Red Cards 0
52% Possession 48%