Eastbourne Borough 0-3 Dorking Wanderers
Eastbourne Borough 0 Dorking Wanderers 3
Vanarama National League South
October 6th 2020
Dorking kicked off the new league season with a 0-3 win over Eastbourne Borough at Priory Lane. In the unfamiliar opening day parameters of no supporters, and beneath the night time October sky, Wanderers grew into the game after their hosts had started brighter, going on to secure the points with three goals in the first half, including a brace for Jason Prior.
Marc White made just the one change following Saturday's FA Cup shootout defeat to tonight's opposition, Jimmy Muitt coming into the side in place of Matt Briggs. Nick Wheeler and Callum Kennedy would remain absent from the matchday squad, still recovering from recent injuries, as Barry Fuller would retain his place in the side, his suspension picked up at the weekend likely to be enforced in the next league game, at home to Slough.
'The Sports' started the game stronger, and took the game to Wanderers in the early going. Steven James hooked the ball over the bar after getting on the end of a free kick delivery from the right, before James Ferry forced a low save from Slav Huk, shooting from the right of the six-yard box. Fuller and Harris had to be alert to a couple of threatening deliveries in the air, and Chris Whelpdale, so effective on Saturday, would shoot wide on the stretch after a quick break getting forward.
Rutherford and Prior had both tried ambitious lobs up the other end after a couple of breakaways, the former going closer and winning a corner, but otherwise Wanderers had been on the back foot, racking up the fouls in the process, not being able to settle.
Midway through the half though, against the run of play, they would open the scoring. Kane Wills had been unlucky not to pick out Prior with a deep cross, but in the subsequent attack produced a measured through ball into the right channel to release Rutherford, going on to square the ball from the byline to Prior, who tapped home from close range.
Following the breakthrough, Wanderers began to grow into the game, and they carved out a couple of really good chances in the aftermath of the goal. Both came via aerial flick-on's from Prior, first finding Rutherford who turned well and struck brilliantly from the edge of the box, denied equally well by Ravizolli with a diving save. Then, McManus was played in on goal and managed to round the keeper, his shot from the angle just drifting wide of the far post.
Whelpdale did have a half-chance blocked after a bit of a scramble in the penalty area, before Joel Rollinson would strike over the bar after being teed up well by Walker. Wanderers continued to improve though, and doubled their lead on 39 minutes.
It would be another dose of deja vu from Saturday; Prior again fouled in the area, and another spot kick awarded. The man himself stepped up, and this time traded the confident chip for power, lashing the ball to the keepers left.
James Hammond headed wide of goal after a superb cross from James Vaughan on the brink of the interval, before Wanderers would find a third goal in stoppage time. Rutherford skilfully diverting the ball into the left channel to McManus, who whipped a fast ball across the six-yard box, inadvertently stabbed into his own net by James Ferry under pressure from Prior.
Half-Time: Eastbourne 0-3 Dorking
Muitt went close straight after the restart, a rapid burst of pace getting him into the area, his eventual strike closed down though, Fogden not quite able to get on the end of the rebound.
Wanderers set about looking to manage the game, and combined with Eastbourne's approach to avoid further damage and look to counter, chances at both ends dried up, neither keeper tested for the remainder of the contest. Dan Gallagher had come on for Kane Wills at the break and worked closer to the defence to continue shutting out the threat of Whelpdale and the attacking line, as Wanderers took further control of possession.
Marc White introduced Luke Moore and Jake Gallagher midway through the half to further consolidate managing the contest, as the game continued to be mainly fought in the midfield. Hammond and sub Dean Cox played in Greg Luer down the right but his efforts on goal were swiftly blocked, Huk only really called into action to catch a wind-assisted cross from Vaughan from wide. Ravizolli remained largely untested as well, Muitt and McManus looked to make things happen down the wings but the final ball falling short, the latter scuffing a couple of efforts when closing in on goal late on.
Ultimately it was a game that Wanderers grew into, being clinical when it mattered, and going on to manage the game effectively in the second half. The clean sheet capped a really good night's work at the back with Whelpdale's influence reduced and the playmakers not able to carve out many chances.
Marc White spoke to Gary Pascoe after the game:
'We were really disappointed Saturday, but we've got a great squad and we wanted to be professional tonight, dealing with the dynamics of this first game of the season away, in October, at blustery Eastbourne. Great performance, the team showed their class, good defensive performance, but I can see how much more we've got to come. I'm really delighted though.'
Eastbourne Borough (4-4-2): 1 Franco Ravizzoli, 2 James Vaughan (12 Charley Kendell 71'), 3 Kai Woolard-Innocent, 4 James Ferry, 5 Mitchell Dickenson, 6 Steven James, 7 Joel Rollinson (14 Dean Cox 56'), 8 James Hammond, 9 Greg Luer, 10 Charlie Walker (c), 11 Chris Whelpdale (15 Daniel Blackmore 76')
Unused Subs: 16 Charlie Lambert, 21 Luke Glover (GK)
Yellow Cards: James 16', Walker 85'
Dorking Wanderers (3-5-2): 1 Slav Huk, 2 Issac Philpot, 5 Ed Harris, 6 Niall McManus, 7 Jimmy Muitt, 9 Jason Prior, 10 Alfie Rutherford, 11 James McShane (18 Luke Moore 61'), 15 Kane Wills (20 Dan Gallagher 46'), 22 Barry Fuller (c), 23 Wes Fogden (14 Jake Gallagher 71')
Unused Subs: 3 Sam Beard, 8 Matt Briggs
Goals: Prior 23', 39', Ferry og 45'+
Yellow Cards: Harris 60', Marc White 65'
Referee: Alex Blake