Dorking Wanderers 1 Horsham 1
July 25th 2023
Dorking's final pre-season home game ahead of the 23/24 campaign ended in a draw with Horsham under the lights at Meadowbank on Tuesday night.
After being absent from the weekend's 2-2 draw with Bognor Regis Town through illness, Matt Briggs and Spike Steggall both returned to the matchday squad, with Briggs named in the starting line up. Barry Fuller (calf strain) and Aaron Kuhl (hip flex) remained side-lined with their respective injuries having also missed out on Saturday's trip down to West Sussex.
Ahead of kick off a special presentation was made to former Wanderers captain Sami El-Abd, acknowledging his 100th appearance for the club made on the final day of last season against Scunthorpe United. Now a Horsham player for the upcoming season, Marc White presented a commemorative trophy to Sami in front of The Stonegate Homes stand just after the two side's had shaken hands after entering the field of play.
Alongside Sami, former Wanderers players Lewis Carey, Charlie Hester-Cook and Tom Richards were also part of the travelling Horsham squad, with Matt Briggs (not the Wanderers version) also included after recently signing for The Hornets following his departure from Gosport Borough.
In not dissimilar fashion to Saturday's game down on the coast, it was the opposition who started brighter in an attacking sense, Charlie Harris firing the first effort of the game off target before Daniel Ajakaiye stung the palms of Male with a strike from similar range. The impressive movement of Ajakaiye and Daniel Kadell down the the left and right channels respectively asked questions of the Wanderers defence in the early stages and through much of the game, Kadell and full-back Bobby Price combining nicely down the right but unable to pick out Shamir Fenelon ready to make a decisive contact in the six yard box.
Wanderers struggled to find their rhythm and took time warming to the game, but approaching the quarter hour a signature burst of pace from Briggs provided the first attempt at goal; the winger receiving Prior's in-field pass and taking a lovely first touch to beat Harvey Sparks and race through on goal, but couldn't direct his strike on target, dragging the effort just wide of the post.
Male was perhaps fortunate to get away with no further punishment after appearing to handle the ball just outside his box as The Hornets again made headway down the attacking right, the resulting free kick from Daniel punched away by the keeper and the rebound comfortably gathered. Up the other end, Wanderers would go closer to making a breakthrough; Bowerman skimming the outside of the post after Prior couldn't get an initial shot off, Ottaway then seeing his volley from the edge of the box really well saved by Carey after the striker held the ball up well initially to play Josh Taylor through on goal.
Just past the half-hour though it was the away side who did open the scoring; Gallagher guilty of tripping Ajakaiye inside the box, penalty awarded. Tom Kavanagh stepped up, and fired the ball down the middle of goal confidently as Male dived to his right.
In the run up to half-time Dom Di Paola's side looked to add to their lead; Prior making a couple of key aerial clearances and Cook heading against his own post as dangerous crosses came into the box, Kavanagh and Daniel both taking on strikes well closed down.
Marc White made a few changes at the break, including introducing James McShane, who within a minute of the restart saw his low effort saved after being played through by Briggs. Striker Jack Mazzone had also been brought on during the interval and forced Male into action just a few minutes later, the stopper producing a good reaction save down at his near post.
The number of changes made by both sides at half-time and around the hour mark diluted the tempo of the game and chances at both ends dried up, but just beyond the midway point of the half Wanderers managed to get back on terms with a moment of real quality. Bobby-Joe Taylor lofted a ball over the Horsham backline which Seager brought under control brilliantly, and the striker calmly dinked the ball over keeper Lelliott to notch his 4th goal of pre-season so far.
James Hammond was presented with a swift opportunity to put The Hornets back in front with a free kick in shooting range just outside the Wanderers box, managing to bend his effort around the wall the shot was comfortably saved by Huk.
With several minutes remaining Isaac Philpot was forced to leave the field after picking up a knock, Jack Saunders came on in his place as Dan Gallagher dropped into the middle of the back three.
In the late stages Wanderers established as strong a grip on possession as they had done all evening and nearly found a late winner; Kennedy not quite able to pick out Seager from a free kick before himself trying to neatly flick home a corner ball drilled towards the near post, Seager spurning the last effort of the game with a volley easily saved by Lelliott after play was recycled.
In his post-match interview Marc White expressed real disappointment in his side's performance, acknowledging that Horsham had delivered quite the opposite display and again, true to all games through this pre-season, had provided a decent, competitive test. Still unbeaten and with further minutes given to the likes of Josh Taylor, Niall McManus, James McShane and Matt Briggs, the manager highlighted these as positives and praised Bobby-Joe Taylor and Ryan Seager for their work in the game and throughout pre-season so far.
One pre-season game now remains ahead of the 23/24 season getting under way on August 5th as Wanderers travel to National League South side Farnborough this Friday evening in a 19:45pm kick off at The BR Saunders Transport Community Stadium.
Dorking Wanderers (3-5-2): 1 Harrison Male (13 Slav Huk 73'), 37 George Francomb (14 Spike Steggall 79'), 5 Tony Craig (2 Isaac Philpot 46', 32 Jack Saunders 84'), 15 Joe Cook (12 Callum Kennedy 73'); 8 Matt Briggs (3 Bobby-Joe Taylor 54'), 20 Dan Gallagher (23 Jack Jebb 46'), 17 Josh Taylor (6 Niall McManus 46'), 18 Luke Moore (20 Dan Gallagher 54'), 30 Seb Bowerman (27 Jaevon Dyer 84'); 9 Jason Prior (11 James McShane 46'), 24 Harry Ottaway (19 Ryan Seager 46')
Goal: Seager 69'
Horsham (4-2-3-1): 1 Lewis Carey, 2 Bobby Price, 5 Jack Strange, 6 Danny Barker, 3 Harvey Sparks; 8 Tom Kavanagh, 12 Charlie Harris; 19 Kadell Daniel, 18 James Hammond, 10 Daniel Ajakaiye; 14 Shamir Fenelon
Used Subs: GK A Lelliott (46'), 4 Charlie Hester-Cook (80'), 7 Lucas Rodrigues (60'), 9 Jack Mazzone (46'), 11 Tom Richards (60'), 16 Sami El-Abd (60'), 17 Lee Harding (60'), 15 Jack Brivio (60'), 20 Matt Briggs (60')
Goal: Kavanagh pen 32'
Referee: Emmanuel Adebowale