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Dorking Wanderers 5 Ebsfleet United 1

Vanarama National League South January 22nd 2022

In the battle at the top of the table, Dorking prevailed with a resounding victory over Ebbsfleet United in front of a record crowd at Meadowbank. Man of the match Matt Briggs scored a hat-trick on a day where Wes Fogden's close range finish and Alfie Rutherford's late strike saw Wanderers in clinical form in front of goal, making the visitors pay a heavy price for the early dismissal of Sefa Kahraman after the defender collected two yellow cards inside the opening twenty minutes.

Marc White brought Briggs and fellow winger Nicky Wheeler back into the starting line up after the pair were rested on Tuesday evening in the win over Dulwich, as Jimmy Muitt and Bobby-Joe Taylor both consequently dropped to the bench. Josh Taylor returned to the starting eleven having come off the bench for Jason Prior in midweek, and Wes Fogden started as he finished that game by playing up top, in behind Rutherford.

A lively opening to the game saw both sides fail to take golden opportunities inside the first five minutes. A cross found Fogden in space several yards out centre of the the area, but he spliced his shot over the bar. In the immediate follow up counter, Barry Fuller, in not dissimilar fashion to the last home game with Braintree, produced two outstanding goal-line blocks, first to deny Dominic Poleon from the right side of the area, and then Alfie Egan's rebound. Craig Tanner and Poleon then combined to set up Egan, but Lincoln was equal to his strike on target.

The open start to proceedings were shaken in the 17th minute as Ebbsfleet were reduced to 10 men. Sera Kahraman had caught the advancing Fogden near the edge of the penalty area several minutes in and collected the first caution of the game, before almost replicating the same tackle even closer to the box, this time on Briggs as he darted in from the right, Kahraman duly given his marching orders. Oldaker almost made the visitors pay further with the subsequent free kick, his effort coming back off the cross bar as he took aim for the top right bins.

The visitors swiftly reverted to a more compact shape when out of possession, to be expected when down to 10 men but sat deeper than anticipated given the score and timing in the game. Approaching the half-hour Wanderers began to make their control of possession show in the final third; Cheadle's deep cross headed wide by Fogden, before an Oldaker corner ball found Harris, who also nodded wide of target.

Shortly after, Briggs broke the deadlock. A trademark run from the right saw him advance past a couple of Ebbsfleet defenders, and as he cut into the area the space opened up for him to drive a measured, low strike into the bottom left corner of goal.

On the stroke of half-time Rutherford headed on Fuller's cross into the path of McManus, on the stretch he fashioned enough of a contact with his foot to force a fine save from Chris Haigh, just about tipping the effort over the bar.

Half-Time: Dorking 1 Ebbsfleet 0

After the restart it was clear that Ebbsfleet were re-organised to hold their shape but press higher up the pitch, the midfield looking to get hold and look after the ball rather than allow Wanderers space to build. As they had been throughout the game, they remained quick in transitioning to attacks, and right from the kick off they threatened to equalise as Craig Tanner spun away and got a shot off well saved by Lincoln, Poleon then driving the rebound just wide.

Wanderers adjusted and weathered the change of tact, and on 53 minutes, managed to double their advantage. Briggs again cutting in from the right, his shot from further out this time saved by Haigh but Fogden was fastest to react to tap home from close range. Rutherford would head the ball into the back of the net from Cheadle's excellent cross from deep shortly after the second goal, but it was chalked off for a foul in the build up.

However not long after that, around the hour mark, Briggs would effectively put the game beyond The Fleet as he added a further two goals and earned himself the match ball. Slack play out from the back was quickly closed down by Rutherford, who helped the ball on to Briggs to fire a low effort into the bottom left corner, before producing a similar finish again just a few minutes later, this time sub McShane with a measured sliding through ball to set the wing back on his way and thump the ball into the back of the net.

The introduction of Adam Mekki at half-time and Lee Martin had a positive impact as Dennis Kutrieb's side looked to keep the contest competitive. In tandem with Wanderers becoming more passive they sought to make inroads down the attacking left, winning a couple of dangerous set pieces on that flank. From one of them, they got reward, Martin's delivery finding Mekki in the middle of the area and the midfielder rose well under challenge to loop a header beyond Lincoln into the top right corner.

Attacking intent was hampered for The Fleet with five minutes remaining as Raskish Bingham picked up an injury, and with all three subs used, the away side were forced to play with 9 for the closing stages.

With a minute of regulation time remaining, Rutherford capped an unforgettable personal week by bagging Wanderers fifth goal of the afternoon and his eighteenth of the league campaign. The Ebbsfleet rear-guard were slow shifting the ball out from the back and after sub Bobby-Joe Taylor was shut out from trying to get a goal against his former side, McShane calmly played the ball into Rutherford, who from just inside the area drove a shot off the outside of his boot into the bottom left corner beyond Haigh.

Wanderers now turn their attention to Surrey Senior Cup action as we welcome Walton & Hersham to Meadowbank on Tuesday evening.

Daniel Stobbart Dorking Wanderers: 34 Dan Lincoln; 22 Barry Fuller (c), 5 Ed Harris, 19 Jordan Cheadle; 8 Matt Briggs, 26 Darren Oldaker (4 Sami El-Abd 54'), 17 Josh Taylor, 6 Niall McManus, 17 Nicky Wheeler (11 James McShane 54'); 23 Wes Fogden (3 BJ Taylor 70'), 10 Rutherford

Unused Subs: 7 Jimmy Muitt, 20 Dan Gallagher Goals: Briggs 33', 60' 66', Fogden 53' Rutherford 89' Yellow Cards: Harris 48', McManus 78' Ebbsfleet United: 12 Chris Haigh; 2 Tobi Adebayo-Rowling, 6 Sido Jombati (22 Ben Chapman 44'), 20 Chris Solly (c), 4 Sefa Kahraman, 24 Alex Finney (7 Adam Mekki 46'); 18 Alfie Egan, 23 Craig Tanner, 9 Rakish Bingham; 19 Elliott Romain, 14 Dominic Poleon 6 (11 Lee Martin 61') Unused Subs: 12 Harrison Firth, 21 Jack Paxman Goal: Mekki 79' Yellow Cards: Kahraman 7', 17', Jombati 44', Chapman 53', Adebayo-Rowling 63', Martin 86' Red Card: Kahraman 17'

Referee: Jason Richardson Att: 2142 Sponsors Man Of The Match: Matt Briggs Stats (with thanks to Aaron Fidler):

Dorking - Shots On 11, Shots Off 10, Corners 4, Fouls 14, Offside 0, Yellow Cards 2, Reds 0 Ebbsfleet - Shots On 6, Shots Off 1, Corners 3, Fouls 9, Offside 0, Yellow Cards 6, Reds 1


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