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Ebbsfleet United 1 Dorking Wanderers 1

Vanarama National League South

March 26th 2022

Dorking and Ebbsfleet shared the spoils in an entertaining contest at The Kuflink Stadium to mark the annual Non League Day. James McShane's opener was immediately cancelled out by Rakish Bingham within an evenly contested first half, Wanderers dominating much of the play in the second period but unable to find a winner.

Dan Lincoln returned to goal after serving his one-match ban last Saturday, Marc White also brought Callum Kennedy and Wes Fogden back into the starting line up as Jordan Cheadle and Davide Rodari both made way. James McShane retained the captain's armband in the continued absence of Barry Fuller, and pushed on to play behind Alfie Rutherford up top. Jason Prior returned to the matchday squad for the first time since suffering his broken collar bone injury in December.

Beneath clear blue skies and the glaring sun, both sides began the game at a high tempo, the hosts matching Wanderers shape and making the stronger start. Shaquille Coulthirst took on the first strike of the contest in the opening minutes, blocked well by Kennedy, the former Tottenham striker then forcing Lincoln into action, tipping his header over the bar from a corner ball.

Against the run of play, Wanderers opened the scoring just beyond the quarter hour mark. Bobby-Joe Taylor combined with Kennedy, who's cross from the left flank took a slight deflection and fell kindly for McShane arriving several yards out, the interim skipper fashioning enough contact to volley the ball high into the net.

From the subsequent kick off, the hosts got themselves back on terms. Space opened up on the left flank for Coulthirst to advance into, he played the ball across impressively with the outside of his boot for Rakish Bingham striding through the middle, and the striker calmly slotted the ball beyond Lincoln.

Following the quick-fire scoring, Ebbsfleet continued to be on top, the front men leading the line well as midfield duo Ben Chapman and Christian N'Guessan competed well to win their battles. The latter made a strong run down the centre of the pitch and fed Coulthirst who drove his shot over the bar from the edge of the box. Coulthirst then headed Sido Jombati's cross wide of target shortly after.

Beyond half-hour though Wanderers started to take a grip of possession, and began to create chances in the run up to half-time. McManus and Rutherford combined well ahead of the former forcing a good reaction save from Louie Moulden towards his near post, Josh Taylor then linked with Rutherford to release McShane through the centre, but he took on his strike at goal too early and it was comfortably saved. The on-loan Wolves stopper Moulden then kept out Rutherford's measured header from the resulting corner.

Half-Time: Ebbsfleet 1 Dorking 1

Marc White made a straight swap at the break as he brought on former 'Fleet man Luke Moore for Darren Oldaker.

Within minutes of the restart, Jack Paxman made good progress down the right wing and sent a deflected effort wide, Lincoln then catching a header from N'Guessan in the follow up move.

Despite this very early threat Wanderers quickly re-established dominance of possession and sought to generate activity in the final third. The tireless McManus had been in the thick of much of the good attacking work, controlling Kennedy's cross with a neat Cruyff turn to buy space on the right side of the area, smashing his shot at goal and forcing Moulden into a tip-over save. McManus then instigated good link up with Rutherford down the right to tee up Wanderers best chances of the game, McShane forcing a brilliant save from Moulden inside the area, the keeper then reacting impressively to deny Bobby-Joe Taylor's rebound effort.

Rutherford forced the stopper into action again with a low deflected strike just ahead of being replaced by Jason Prior with twenty minutes to go. Jimmy Muitt also came on at the same time for Bobby-Joe Taylor as Marc White looked to refresh the attacking threat.

Dennis Kutrieb had made attacking switches of his own, introducing top scorer Dominic Poleon for Coulthirst and Elliott Romain for Craig Tanner around the same period in the game. Lee Martin, the final sub, crossed from the left to reach Poleon several yards out, and it was Lincoln's turn to make a key save, palming away the striker's effort. Poleon threatened again a couple of minutes later firing the ball narrowly wide and into the side netting after Romain's cross-field ball was then shifted forward by Chapman.

Wanderers had a few set piece opportunities from wide late on, including Moore's delivery finding Prior in the middle of the box with a couple of minutes remaining. The returning striker couldn't quite write the perfect headline for the afternoon though, unable to properly get over the ball and nodded over.

Certainly on the balance of play in the second half Wanderers will be disappointed not to have come away with maximum points, on an afternoon where 'Fleet keeper Louie Moulden made crucial saves and ultimately took the man of the match award. In spite of results elsewhere, a point away from home against a fellow promotion rival may well prove to be a crucial one, and Wanderers will look to build on that as they return to Meadowbank next Saturday for the visit of Slough Town.

Daniel Stobbart

Ebbsfleet United: 1 Louie Moulden; 3 Joe Martin, 6 Sido Jombati, 20 Chris Solly; 7 Adam Mekki (11 Lee Martin 79'), 8 Christian N'Gussan, 22 Ben Chapman, 17 Craig Tanner (19 Elliott Romain 74'), 21 Jack Paxman; 9 Rakish Bingham, 25 Shaquille Coulthirst (14 Dominic Poleon 60')

Unused Subs: 12 Chris Haigh (GK), 16 Will Wood

Goal: Bingham 18'

Yellow Cards: Chapman 21', N'Guessan 68'

Dorking Wanderers: 34 Dan Lincoln; 2 Isaac Philpot, 20 Dan Gallagher, 12 Callum Kennedy; 6 Niall McManus, 26 Darren Oldaker (18 Luke Moore 46'), 17 Josh Taylor, 23 Wes Fogden, 3 Bobby-Joe Taylor (7 Jimmy Muitt 71'); 11 James McShane, 10 Alfie Rutherford (9 Jason Prior 71')

Unused Subs: 5 Ed Harris, 45 Davide Rodari

Goal: McShane 17'

No Yellow Cards

Referee: Richie Watkins Att: 1271

Man Of The Match: Louie Moulden (Official Home Selection)

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