Dorking continued their winning pre-season form with a 0-1 victory over Horsham at The Camping World Community Stadium. Jake Gallagher grabbed the only goal of the game midway through the second half, as both sides lived up to their reputations of playing the game in the right way in a spirited contest, with a decent crowd in attendance.
Marc White welcomed Callum Kennedy back to his defence having been rested at VCD in midweek, whilst defensive colleague Ed Harris would return to action for the first time since 'El Clasimo', coming on for the second half.
Unsurprisingly, the game began at a fast tempo, and Wanderers would immediately look to make inroads down the left through Callum Kennedy advancing from the back. After a couple of near-miss crosses searching for Jason Prior, the ball would fall for Jimmy Muitt on the edge of the box, his ambitious downward header drifting wide of target.
Straight after, Horsham would have their first opportunity at goal from their first venture forward, Charlie Harris afforded space to travel through the middle, his low strike from 20 yards out cannoning back of the foot of the post, unlucky.
Prior would then be found from a cross a moment later and nod just over, before a really good opportunity was carved out by Jimmy Muitt from the right side. He would conclude a swift counter attack with a low ball into the box, ideal for Wes Fogden arriving on the scene with a late run, but instead McShane took hold, manoeuvring on the edge of the box to carve out the space before striking and forcing a diving save from Bentley, just about clawing it away.
The initial explosion of pace in the game began to calm down after the first quarter of an hour, Wanderers continuing to show strong command of the ball, but Horsham continuing to be a threat closing down and getting forward on the counter, particularly through Harding on the right, he and Reece Hall on the opposite channel unlucky as each of them would both end up literally treading on the ball when released into dangerous areas.
It would remain a case of nearly-so for Dorking up the other end, Kennedy's superb through ball not capitalised on by Fogden when in on goal, and Muitt unable to work the keeper from a separate strike and header from the right.
Just before the break the hosts would see the two best chances of the game pass them by. Harding would get to the right byline, his brilliant ball across the six-yard box begging for a tap in from Kieran Lavery, but instead hitting Kane Wills, coming back off Lavery, and out for a goal kick. Then, from a corner ball, Will Miles would have a powerful header cleared off the line by Philpot.
Jack Brivio and Lavery would strike straight down Huk and splice wide of goal respectively in quick succession after good play again getting forward, before Matt Briggs, fresh off the bench replacing Muitt, would accelerate past his marker and cross for Fogden, who standing on the penalty spot powered a header at goal and forced Bentley into a diving save. McMshane and McManus would both drive wide from tight angles just ahead of the half-time whistle.
(It was confirmed after the game that Muitt had been taken off at the time he was as a precaution for a tight muscle.)
Half-Time: Horsham 0 Dorking 0
Within 60 seconds of the restart, McManus would charge down the left, placing a measured dink into the area for Giuseppe Sole, who produced a deft touch himself to take the ball down, before lashing a strike well saved by Bentley at point blank range.
David Ray would nod marginally wide and Ed Harris would head straight down Bentley as the defenders got on the end of set piece action, either side of Sole again forcing a save with a strike from distance.
Horsham began to take more of a command of possession just past the hour mark, Harding with a tame effort at Howes after good work down the right from JJ O'Sullivan, and Lavery would link with Hall before producing a couple of stepovers and a firmer strike from the edge of the box, Howes again behind it.
The pace of the game, having ebbed and flowed throughout the first period, dropped off more notably as we entered the final quarter , the endeavour from both sides to get forward waning as well. So somewhat falling in with the changing pattern of the game, Wanderers would break the deadlock in scrappy fashion. McManus initial cross from the right bobbled around, going via the head of Briggs and an impressive overhead effort from Rutherford, before landing for Jake Gallagher to lash home from close range.
Howes would do well to punch clear a couple of corner balls, and Briggs and Sole would spurn long range efforts, as the game became more broken up, the Gallagher brothers at the heart of it and fortunate not to be cautioned for a couple of 'robust' challenges in the middle of the park.
Ed Harris would slide and rescue the ball really well after sub Kieran Monlouis would look to play Lavery through, and the forward just couldn't quite get on the end of a follow up delivery from Sparks shortly after. James Dickson got forward a couple of times, outmuscled initially, he then overlapped Briggs and flashed a dangerous ball across the front of goal, crying out for a tap in at the back stick, but no takers.
Wanderers hung on, seeing out their toughest pre-season test so far with a performance that picked up where they left off midweek, but became more subdued after the restart.
Marc White acknowledged this chatting to Gary Pascoe after the game:
'It's a big squad, the other night at VCD the second half boys did really well but were pretty poor today. Don't know if it's a stereotypical thing in pre-season where the boys mentally maybe start picking the team, but the dedication and way we play second half was not on the same page, big gulf to the first half, where we were excellent, aside from the final third, better delivery and we're probably 2 or 3 goals to the good. Credit to Horsham - they changed things around a bit, kept at it, kept pressing, their changes came on with enthusiasm. Don't want to take the shine off it - this is a difficult place to come, we were excellent first half.'
Horsham: 1 George Bentley, 2 JJ O'Sullivan, 3 Harvey Sparks, 4 Doug Tuck, 5 David Ray (14 Tom Day 64'), 6 Will Miles, 7 Lee Harding (16 Steve Metcalf) 67' , 8 Jack Brivio, 9 Kieran Lavery, 10 Charlie Harris (15 Kieran Monlouis 75'), 11 Reece Hall (17 Gary Charman 80')
Unused Subs: Rob O'Toole
Dorking First Half XI: Hulk, Philpot, Fuller, Kennedy, Wills, Fogden, McShane, Muitt (Briggs 40'), McManus, Prior (c), Wheeler
Dorking Second Half XI: Howes, Dyett, Harris, Beard, D. Gallagher, J. Gallagher, McManus (Philpot 75'), Briggs, Wheeler (Dickson 75'), Rutherford, Sole
Unused Subs: Membrillera
Goals: Jake Gallagher 70'
Referee: Gerry Heron
Stats provided by Ollie Wyse (@ollie_wyse)
Horsham Dorking Wanderers
0 Goals 3
5 Shots (on target). 7
3 Shots (off target) 9
5. Corners. 8
7. Fouls. 13
3. Crosses. 20
38%. Possession. 62%