• Dan Stobbart

Dorking Wanderers 3 Oxford City 2

Dorking Wanderers 3 Oxford City 2

Vanarama National League South

November 24th 2020

A brace from Jason Prior and a goal from James McShane took Dorking to the top of the table as they overcame Oxford 3-2 in an entertaining encounter under the lights at Meadowbank.

Marc White made three changes to the side that started at Concord Rangers on Saturday, Isaac Philpot, Matt Briggs and Luke Moore coming in for Sam Beard, Kane Wills and Wes Fogden, who is still recovering from his unfortunate injury sustained at the weekend. The changes would see Niall McManus move into central midfield as Matt Briggs would take up his usual position on the right wing. Dan Gallagher missed out on a place in the matchday squad, serving his one match suspension following his dismissal a week ago.

It was an even and open start to the game as both sides looked to get the ball down and play, setting a high-tempo level that would barely drop off across the 90 minutes. James Roberts and Nicky Wheeler served up dangerous deliveries from the channels, and James McShane was unlucky his deft flick from Barry Fuller's free kick couldn't quite unlock the back door, but approaching the quarter hour 'The Hoops' pressured further upfield, and got reward.

Sam Howes produced a brilliant diving stop to keep Roberts at bay, a moment after Josh Ashby had a deflected strike drift over the bar. The lively Roberts would then be involved again, and Howes would again move sharply to make a diving save, but this time Louis Hall would be alert to the loose ball, and tapped home from close range.

Howes then denied Nana Owusu shortly after the goal, but the attacking waves from the visitors did subside as we moved past the midway point of the half, and Wanderers gradually began to put together some good moves and produce more in the final third.

Jason Prior connected with Fuller's free kick from deep, looking to guide the ball into the net with a first touch finish. Ben Dudzinski got a hand on it though, but not enough to turn the ball away properly, Alfie Rutherford coming agonisingly close to getting a decisive contact. Lovely interplay between the strike partners and McShane then put Matt Briggs in on goal but Dudzinski got down well to meet it, and Ed Harris got on the end of a couple of threatening deliveries from Wheeler, the defender heading off target just before the break.

Half-Time: Dorking 0 Oxford 1

The energy levels showed no sign of letting up after the restart, Zac McEachron stinging the palms of Howes inside the opening minute, the stopper getting hold of the ball at the second time of asking. Isaac Philpot was then unlucky not to get Dorking back on terms after thundering a header off the crossbar from a McShane corner.

However, in the space of 5 minutes Wanderers would not only equalise, they would edge ahead in the contest. The familiar combination of Wheeler accurately crossing for Prior to head home was quickly followed up by Luke Moore laying off for the striker from a free kick outside the area, the ball then emphatically driven low and hard into the back of the net.

Josh Ashby had squeezed in a strike between the goals which forced Howes to punch away, and immediately after going behind Roberts would strike over the bar as Oxford retaliated.

Around the hour the introduction of Kane Wills for Rutherford saw McShane push up to play closer to Prior, and shortly after that Sam Beard would come on for Nicky Wheeler as Wanderers shifted to 4-4-1-1 formation, but it initially didn't deter the attacking threat posed by the visitors. Roberts continued to be in the thick of the action, having strikes blocked and rise over the bar respectively, before Owusu showed good skill on the edge of the box to turn, before driving his effort just wide.

Wanderers again shielded the pressure, and managed to grab a well worked third goal with just over a quarter of an hour remaining. Prior pinged a brilliant through ball on the half turn into Briggs down the right channel, and the winger cut back to McShane on the far side of the area. The central midfielder kept his composure, and cooly dispatched a low finish in at the near post.

A few minutes later, Roberts responded, and in some style, driving home a swerving strike from 25 yards out, and it instigated another flurry of chances for Oxford. Roberts would have consecutive efforts blocked, before sub Lewis Coyle flashed one over the bar.

McManus was unlucky not to put the game beyond doubt, taking down Briggs' ball across the six yard box brilliantly at the back stick, sending a strike back the other way but just whistling past the post.

In the midst of Wanderers closing the game out near the Oxford corner flag, ill- discipline reared it's head again, and for the fourth time in three games, a Dorking player was on the receiving end of a red card. Uncharacteristically, McManus flew in hard and recklessly on Aaron Drewe in the middle of the park, referee Isaac Searle swift to confirm the dismissal.

Wanderers hung on though, and Marc White spoke to Gary Pascoe after the game:

'I thought we played some good football tonight, couple of the goals were excellent back to front, we've still got a lot more to come though. Teams are playing troubling formations against us, that's something we're coming up against this year that we didn't last year. What's getting us through is our quality - but I'm disappointed with the goals (conceaded), we knew before the game they would run at us and look to get shots off. I thought it was a good game - both teams looked to get the ball.'

On discipline:

'It's got to improve - I'm sure Wes Fogden's will get overturned from the weekend, Alfie (from the weekend) and Niall from tonight though, that let the team down, unnecessary, that's three game bans, we've got 5 game cautions around the side as well. We'll have to gather the troops up ahead of next week.'

Daniel Stobbart

Dorking Wanderers (3-5-2): 13 Sam Howes, 2 Isaac Philpot, 5 Ed Harris, 6 Niall McManus, 8 Matt Briggs, 9 Jason Prior, 10 Alfie Rutherford (15 Kane Wills 58'), 11 James McShane, 16 Nicky Wheeler (3 Sam Beard 66'),18 Luke Moore (14 Jake Gallagher 85'), 22 Barry Fuller (c)

Unused Subs: 4 Sami El-Abd, 7 Jimmy Muitt

Goals: Prior 53', 58', McShane 73'

Yellow Cards: Philpot 19', Beard 78', Prior 90'

Red Cards: McManus 90+'

Oxford City (3-4-3): 1 Ben Dudzinski, 2 Aaron Drewe, 3 Louis Hall (14 Harvey Bradley 83'), 4 Josh Ashby, 5 Pablo Martinez, 6 Jo Oastler (c), 7 James Roberts, 8 Reece Fleet, 10 Zac McEachran, 11 Nana Owusu (12 Jacob Bancroft 88'), 17 Joe Gubbins (15 Lewis Coyle 66')

Unused Subs: 18 AJ George, 19 Luis Fernandez

Goals: Hall 15', Roberts 77'

Yellow Cards: Drewe 60'

Referee: Isaac Searle

Sponsors Man of the Match: Jason Prior

Stats: (provided by Olly Wyse @Olly_Wyse)

Dorking                       Oxford

     3               Goals                2

     8      Shots (on target)    7

     4      Shots (off target)      9

     8          Corners              4

     12            Fouls.               18

     17          Crosses.              7

  1                Offsides              1

  3              Yellow Cards          1

  1              Red Cards              0

  57%          Possession            43%