Hemel Hempstead Town 1
Dorking Wanderers 3
February 6th 2021
Vanarama National League South
On the day National League South action resumed following a two-week suspension, Dorking returned with a win after defeating Hemel Hempstead Town at Vauxhall Lane.
Wanderers were originally scheduled to face Chippenham Town at Meadowbank, the late change in fixture sending Marc White's men on the road, where victory was secured with a goal from Alfie Rutherford and a brace from Jason Prior inside the opening hour of play. JJ Lacey, who scored in the reverse fixture in early January, grabbed a consolation for the hosts in the second half.
With keeper Slav Huk confirmed to be ruled out of action for some time with a fractured ankle, Lewis Carey was signed earlier this week on a one-month loan from Cray Wanderers. He started in goal for his debut in what would be the only change to the side that started last Saturday's friendly against Bath City. Wes Fogden and Luke Moore were back among the substitutes following recent injuries.
Both sides looked to feel their way into the game early on, Rutherford and Sam Beard both seeking to find Jason Prior from the left channel with crosses, before Hemel fared better through the right channel. Full back Gus Scott-Morris drove forward continually throughout the contest, and found front-man Matt Bateman for the first opportunity of the game, the striker nodding over from just outside the six-yard box. Carey was then called into action for the first time, reacting quickly to get his body in the way of a Scott-Morris near-post delivery possibly creeping in.
Carey then did his best 'Ederson' with a quickly-taken, precise drop kick which was flicked on by Rutherford into Nicky Wheeler on the left, the winger's delivery coming up short though and gathered by Nick Hayes. Niall McManus did get success a couple of minutes later though; receiving the ball from Wheeler in the same channel and crossing for Prior towards the back stick, who was in enough space to guide the ball beyond Hayes into the back of the net.
Wanderers began to establish more of a grip on possession, and just five minutes later they doubled their advantage. James McShane and Kane Wills battled to recover the ball in central midfield, working it across to the right channel where Barry Fuller crossed for Rutherford at the near post. Not picked up and very much onside, the striker got down low to angle a diving header into the bottom left corner.
Approaching the half-hour Hemel went close to pegging a goal back; Beard producing a brilliant last ditch challenge to deny Bernard Christie as he was sent through on goal. JJ Lacey then received an excellent cross-field pass and picked out Bateman from the right, 'The Tudors' No9 this time thundering his header off the underside of the bar. A Samir Carruthers free kick delivery from deep looked like one of those destined to evade a contact and nestle in the bottom corner, but Carey was alert to dive across and cover.
Half-Time: Hemel 0 Dorking 2
Marc White brought Wes Fogden on for Nicky Wheeler at the break, Fogden taking up his usual position in central midfield with Niall McManus moving to wide left.
Shortly after the restart, Wanderers further extended their advantage. Prior and Rutherford produced a neat give-and-go in the middle of the park to instigate a counter attack, the ball making it's way over to Fuller on the right who crossed for Prior in the area, winning a corner. From the resulting set piece, Fuller himself was bundled over in the area, penalty awarded. Prior stepped up, and calmly stroked the ball to Hayes left, making it 14 goals for the striker this season, joint top of the scoring charts with Hungerford's Ryan Seager.
Wills switched play beautifully to find Jimmy Muitt, he in turn punched the ball into Rutherford from the right. Just outside the six-yard box and with his back to goal the striker improvised with a flick towards goal to no avail, he was then denied by an instinctive one-handed stop at point-blank range by Hayes a moment later.
Hemel boss Lee Bircham made a double change around the hour mark to freshen things up for his side, the introduction of Reggie Young out wide providing the hosts with an injection of energy and pace down the left. Beard was on hand to block the winger's cross and hard-struck effort from the edge of the area, before Lacey blasted his shot from just outside the box into the stands.
The changes certainly helped open the game up, particularly through the final twenty minutes. Rutherford latched on to Prior's through ball and did well to keep his run alive under pressure at the byline, eventually digging out a cross/shot palmed away by Hayes.
In the follow up attack, Hemel grabbed a goal back, JJ Lacey taking advantage of space opening up on the attacking left, Fuller just not quite able to get a decisive foot-in to prevent the attacker getting a firm shot off and find the bottom right corner.
Sub Matt Briggs surged forward, playing the ball on to Fogden who's shot outside the area was blocked, McShane then finding Prior and Fuller from corners, both fizzing their respective headers over the top. Fuller then put in a decisive block to keep Lacey at bay up the other end, 'The Tudors' goal scorer then meeting a cross-field pass on the volley but driving into the stand from the right side of the area. Beard produced another key block at the death after slick interplay from the home side on the left led to Young driving a ball across the six-yard box, the potential 'grandstand' finish avoided.
Marc White spoke to Gary Pascoe after the game: 'Any 3 points in an away game in this division is good, they are a great side with their own dangers and threats. Felt we were good value across the 90, defending our box and attacking theirs well, we could have put the game to bed earlier, the goal from them led us to show our hard working ethics late on.'
Hemel Hempstead Town: 1 Nick Hayes, 2 Gus Scott-Morris, 3 Rene Steer, 20 Nathan Cooper, 5 Ryan Kinnane (16 Kyle Ajayi 57'), 6 Chris Paul (15 Ryan Blackman 81'), 7 Samir Carruthers, 8 Sam Mantom (c), 9 Matt Bateman (12 Reggie Young 57'), 10 JJ Lacey, 11 Bernard Christie
Unused Subs: 14 Jake Howells, 17 David Saunders
Goals: Lacey 74'
Yellow Cards: Scott-Morris 61'
Dorking Wanderers: 1 Lewis Carey, 3 Sam Beard, 5 Ed Harris (4 Sami El-Abd 76'), 6 Niall McManus, 7 Jimmy Muitt (8 Matt Briggs 67'), 9 Jason Prior, 10 Alfie Rutherford, 11 James McShane, 15 Kane Wills, 16 Nicky Wheeler (23 Wes Fogden 46'), 23 Barry Fuller (c)
Unused Subs: 14 Jake Gallagher, 18 Luke Moore
Goals: Prior 18', 51' pen, Rutherford 23'
Yellow Cards: McShane 90'
Ref: Ross Martin
DWFC Man Of The Match: Alfie Rutherford