Vanarama National League South October 9th 2021
Dorking returned to winning ways in the league with their most comprehensive result so far, defeating Bath City by four goals to one at Meadowbank. In vastly different weather conditions to last weekend's game, beneath sunshine and blue skies Wanderers overcame the early setback of conceding to Codey Cooke's spot kick, going on to win the match in comfortable fashion courtesy of goals from Alfie Rutherford, Matt Briggs and a brace from James McShane.
Marc White made a trio of changes to the side which started last weekend's cup win. A debut was handed to new goalkeeper Stuart Nelson as Slav Huk begins to recover from the injury suffered in last Saturday's game, and with Kane Wills and Jason Prior also left out of the matchday squad for rest and recovery, Luke Moore and Alfie Rutherford came into the starting line up in their respective places.
Wanderers began the game brighter, moving the ball forward with greater urgency and going very close to opening the scoring inside three minutes, Josh Taylor's cross and follow up shot blocked at the near post, before Niall McManus cut in from the left and saw his low strike cannon off the far post via a deflection. Rutherford then drove an opportunity received at the far post over the bar shortly after.
With their first real venture forward though, the visitors did manage to opening the scoring on nine minutes. Ed Harris was adjudged to have been overly forceful in his barge on Alex Fletcher outside the six-yard box, and the referee pointed to the spot. 'The Romans' top scorer Codey Cooke stepped up and confidently drove the penalty into the bottom right corner, Nelson diving the right way and getting close but the accuracy and power just too much.
Wanderers chased an immediate response as McManus brought keeper Murphy Mahoney into action with a comfortable save, but following the goal the contest really opened up for the remainder of the half, play often drifting from end to end.
The front trio for Bath were moving well, Alex Fletcher dragging a strike wide and Josh Owers taking on a strike from range which was straight down Nelson, but on twenty minutes Wanderers produced a moment of real quality to equalise. In not dissimilar fashion to last weekend, Briggs showed quick feet and turned on the afterburners to sail past his marker down the right flank, this time crossing to find Alfie Rutherford in the middle of the area, who struck first time and confidently guided the back home.
In the aftermath both sides went close to getting in front as the game continued to see-saw; Rutherford bringing out a couple of saves from Murphy, Tom Smith driving a set piece effort over the bar from ideal shooting range before Cooke couldn't quite establish decent contact as the ball was driven across the six-yard box, the chance veering just wide of target. Callum Kealy was then played clean through into the left side of the area, but Murphy demonstrated real calmness to cleanly tackle the ball away from the forward.
Just past the half-hour, Wanderers again put together a move of real quality and got themselves ahead. In a reversal of roles from the first goal, Rutherford did brilliantly on the left flank to dig out a cross near the touchline, finding Briggs towards the rear of the area, and the wing-back took advantage of the space around him to powerfully plant a header into the far left corner beyond Mahoney.
Elliot Frear led the rally to get Bath back on terms with a couple of dangerous deliveries from the left, the first well cleared at the near post by Fuller, but Wanderers finished the half stronger, Luke Moore's strike through the bodies saved by Mahoney, before Briggs again did well in the air to bring the ball down under challenge, then going for the spectacular with a volley, but driving it over the bar.
Half-Time: Dorking 2 Bath 1
Marc White made a tactical switch at half-time, introducing Nicky Wheeler for Callum Kealy. The change pushed McShane to play behind Rutherford up top, as McManus moved into central midfield with Wheeler taking his place out wide.
Wanderers picked up where the left off following the restart, Briggs and Fuller's crosses shut down from the right before finding McShane in the middle of the area, the midfielder just not quite able to sort his feet, and the possible chance at goal ebbed away. Briggs then forced a top save from Mahoney, cutting in from the left and unleashing a fierce effort which had to be tipped over.
Elliot Frear and Bobby-Joe Taylor squandered direct free kick opportunities in close succession as we went past the hour mark, Marc White shortly afterwards forced into a change which would be the one real downside of the afternoon, Ed Harris landing awkwardly in an aerial challenge and having to be replaced by Sami El-Abd.
The back and forth nature of the game and tempo had dropped off through the course of the second half for both sides, Fletcher heading just wide from Frear's cross as close as the visitors came to getting back into the contest, Wanderers otherwise in general command of possession but not creating much in the final third.
As we approached ten minutes remaining, Wanderers stirred themselves to put the game to bed, scoring twice in as many minutes. Briggs measured pass down the right flank was latched onto by Rutherford, he did well to keep hold of the ball before crossing for McShane, who kept his composure to steer the ball home. Then, it would be 'Macca' at the double, fastest to react to Rutherford's initial strike being parried by Mahoney, tapping home from close range in front of a jubilant AD Williams stand.
In the closing minutes the home contingent were nearly treated to a couple of spectacular finishes as Wanderers looked to put gloss on the win; Fuller was unlucky with a volley attempt earlier in the half striking first time from a corner, and went close again with a similar effort, before Bobby-Joe Taylor was denied from finding the top right bins with his free kick effort after a superb stop from Mahoney.
Wanderers now turn their attention to a big game next weekend, the return of the FA Cup and the chance to make more history, as Hayes & Yeading are the visitors to Meadowbank in the 4th Qualifying Round.
Dorking Wanderers: 1 Stuart Nelson, 3 Bobby-Joe Taylor, 5 Ed Harris (4 Sami El-Abd 66'), 6 Niall McManus, 8 Matt Briggs (20 Dan Gallagher 81'), 10 Alfie Rutherford, 11 James McShane, 17 Josh Taylor, 18 Luke Moore, 22 Barry Fuller (c), 29 Callum Kealy (16 Nicky Wheeler 46')
Unused Subs: 7 Jimmy Muitt, 12 Callum Kennedy
Goals: Rutherford 20', Briggs 32', McShane 79', 81'
Assists: Briggs 20', Rutherford 32', 79'
Yellow Cards: Harris 8', Marc White 58', McShane 90'
Bath City: 1 Murphy Mahoney, 2 Joe Raynes, 4 Ben Gerring (c), 5 Jack Batten, 7 Alex Fletcher, 8 Omar Holness, 9 Codey Cooke, 10 Tom Smith (19 Momodou Touray 60'), 11 Elliot Frear, 12 Eddie Jones, 17 Josh Owers
Unused Subs: 13 Ryan Clarke, 15 Lloyd James, 16 Tom Richards, 18 Ethan Cannings
Goals: Cooke 9'
Yellow Cards: Gerring 41'
Referee: Steven Hughes
Sponsors Man Of The Match: Matt Briggs