Farnborough 2 Dorking Wanderers 2
July 28th 2023
Dorking's final pre-season game ahead of the 23/24 campaign ended with a draw against National League South side Farnborough on Friday night.
After missing the last two games through injury, Barry Fuller (calf strain) and Aaron Kuhl (hip flex) were welcomed back to the starting line up, the trio of Matt Briggs, Josh Taylor and James McShane all in from the start as well as they continued building fitness and gaining further match minutes. Marc White confirmed that Niall McManus, still on the recovery trail following an achillies injury suffered in February, would be rested, whilst Isaac Philpot, Callum Kennedy and Luke Moore would be ruled out of action for at least a fortnight after picking up knocks in Tuesday's draw at home to Horsham.
Beginning at a steady tempo which would carry for much of the evening, chances through the opening quarter of the game were scarce for both sides, much of the game contained in midfield areas as both teams looked to get the ball down and play. Defender Sid Nelson spurned the first real effort at goal on 13 minutes, heading roaming left back Jordan Norville-Williams cross wide at the back post.
The home side opened the scoring midway through the half; tidy interplay through the middle of the Wanderers attacking third proceeding Jaden Perez playing a through ball into the path of Reggie Young, who one-on-one with Male calmly poked the ball beyond the keeper from several yards out.
Just three minutes later though, Wanderers got themselves back on terms with their first attempt at the Boro goal; Prior netting his 4th of pre-season with a clinical first-time finish from the rear of the penalty area after meeting a low cross from the left flank.
Briggs had made a couple of successful in-roads down the attacking right and managed to tee up Bowerman straight after the equaliser, the former Bracknell Town man seeing his strike at goal quickly blocked. Up the other end, Male was called into action twice in quick succession, pouncing across his line to keep an effort out after his defence failed to clear their lines, former Wanderer Adam Mekki then bringing the keeper into action with a superb diving save from a free kick looking destined to find the top left corner.
In the run up to half-time Wanderers managed to get themselves in front, and it was the returning Kuhl who opened his account in some style; showing good strength to fend off a challenge before lining up an effort at goal from 25 yards out, striking the ball with enough dip to send it flying over Boro goalkeeper Jack Turner and find the top right corner.
Male had to make a double save from a corner in the opening minutes of the half, reacting well to gather at the second attempt after being unable to hold on to Jack Ball's initial effort from very close range. Moments later though, from another set piece, the home side did manage to get themselves back on terms; Connor Cullen fastest to react as a long throw-in was flicked towards the back post, the named trialist Cullen on hand to tap home having only been introduced as a sub just a few minutes earlier.
As the standard number of second half changes were made by both sides the game became increasingly broken up, a couple of delays for players going to ground also slowing the pace as the remainder of the game ticked down. Josh Taylor went for the spectacular from outside the box with a volley after good work from Ottaway and Fuller in the build up, the effort powered well over the crossbar, Dan Gifford and the goalscorer Cullen also driving efforts high and wide up the other end, the latter not quite able to get over the top of the ball as it was fizzed across the box at pace from the right.
Neither team could ultimately find a winner, and for Wanderers the result would represent a third draw in the space of a week following last Saturday's 2-2 draw at Bognor Regis Town and Tuesday's 1-1 result against Horsham. Ending the season unbeaten overall but feeling his side are 'not where they want to be heading into Chesterfield', manager Marc White acknowledged the arrangement of particular games in recent weeks mixed with limited training sessions had not helped the cause, but also re-iterated general performances from his players would have to improve as well.
After a week of full training Wanderers will begin their second National League campaign next Saturday afternoon away to early promotion-favourites Chesterfield, a 3pm kick off at The Technique Stadium.
Farnborough FC (3-4-1-2): 1 Jack Turner, 35 Sid Nelson (4 CJ Fearn 73'), 2 Jack Ball, 3 Jordan Norville-Williams; 7 Adam Mekki, 6 Joe Partington, 19 Ryan Upward (Tommy Jackson 79'), 11 Reggie Young; 8 Jaden Perez; 10 Michael Folivi (14 Connor Cullen 53'), 17 Dan Gifford (12 Adam Payce 73')
Goals: Young 24', Cullen 55'
Dorking Wanderers (3-5-2): 1 Harrison Male (21 Slav Huk 73'), 22 Barry Fuller (c), 5 Tony Craig, 37 George Francomb (15 Joe Cook 46'); 8 Matt Briggs (14 Spike Steggall 80'), 25 Aaron Kuhl (20 Dan Gallagher 46'), 11 James McShane (23 Jack Jebb 53'), 17 Josh Taylor (32 Jack Saunders 32'), 30 Seb Bowerman (3 Bobby-Joe Taylor 46'); 9 Jason Prior (24 Harry Ottaway 46'), 19 Ryan Seager (2 Matt Hay 80')
Goals: Prior 27', Kuhl 38'
Referee: Shelby Elson