Dorking Wanderers v Eastleigh FC
Saturday 2nd September
Dorking return to Meadowbank this Saturday afternoon to take on Eastleigh as September's busy schedule of National League action gets under way.
The return to home soil this weekend follows a disappointing performance last Monday at The Laithwaite Community Stadium, where Woking would run out worthy 2-0 winners in the Surrey derby. Whilst making the short journey back across the County as the Bank Holiday weekend neared to a close, Wanderers may have deemed themselves fortunate to have just conceded the two goals, Marc White stating he was “really disappointed" with his sides performance post-match. Ricky Korboa put the hosts into the lead ten minutes before half-time, rewarding a dominant first half from Darren Sarll’s side, Dennon Lewis going on to seal all three points for The Cardinals in the latter stages of the contest.
Speaking candidly following the defeat, White admitted his side “lacked aggression” in the first 45 minutes, “the only positive from the half was that it was only 1-0”, but was keen to stress Sarll’s men are an “extremely well coached” side. Korboa’s opener epitomised the lack of aggression White alluded to, a long throw into the area wasn’t dealt with any real conviction by any of the Wanderers defenders, resulting in the ball dropping to a grateful Korboa who made no mistake in punishing the Wanderers sloppiness. Dan Pybus and Ryan Seager came on at half-time, White singled out Pybus post-match as a positive in a largely negative afternoon following a stellar second half performance from the recent signing. Recently-voted Wanderers 'Player of The Month' Harrison Male pulled off numerous saves to keep the score at 1-0, leaving the hosts vulnerable for much of the second half. However, with five minutes to play, new loan signing Alex Lankshear, just brought on as a late substitute, was caught in two minds in his own half, and following a challenge from Nana Boateng, Dennon Lewis found himself one-on-one with Male before tucking his finish into the bottom corner to seal the win for his side.
Dan Gallagher continues to be assessed by the day as he was taken off at half-time at Woking on Monday due to a recurring problem with his ankle following last Saturday's draw against York. Marc White stated that Jason Prior [knee] “might be out for the weekend” following his omission from the match-day squad against Woking. New signing Matt Everitt [illness] was also a notable absentee from the group on Monday, however the Wanderers boss stated post-match that the forward should be back in contention for this weekend.
Matt Briggs (hamstring), Isaac Philpot (hamstring) and Jimmy Muitt (stomach) continue to be side-lined, but George Francomb will pushing for a return to action after missing out on Monday.
Opposition Focus: The Spitfires
Entering their tenth successive season in the National League, Eastleigh have established themselves as a consistently strong outfit in non-league's top tier, and will be no doubt be targetting making this campaign their sixth where they have finished in the top ten. Despite never making the jump to the Football League, The Spitfires have come close on two occasions since being crowned Champions of the National League South in 2014. They enjoyed a marvellous debut 2014/15 season, finishing 4th in the then Conference Premier, before being knocked out of the play-offs in the semi finals by Grimsby Town. Their next appearance in the play-offs would come in 2019, following a strong campaign and seventh place finish, before being beaten on penalties by Salford, again in the semis.
Among a raft of acquisitions in the summer made by The Spitfires, the most notable are towards the top end of the field with former Oxford United, Sunderland and Lincoln City man Chris Maguire most recently joining the club alongside strikers Paul McCallum (Dagenham & Redbridge), Enzio Boldewijn (Sutton United) and Scott Quigley (Stockport County). Full-back's Jake Taylor (Stevenage) and Ryan Clampin (Colchester United) also arrive at The Silverlake Stadium having departed EFL sides in the summer.
A turbulent start to their 2023/24 campaign had seen The Spitfires win-less through their opening five games, leading to the departure of First Team Manager Lee Bradbury and a return to dugout for Richard Hill as caretaker manager. Hill, returning to the club following his spell as First Team Manager in 2017, guided the Hampshire side to their first win of the season on bank holiday Monday, defeating Aldershot Town 3-0, Maguire opening the scoring shortly after The Shots had goalkeeper Jordi van Stappershoef dismissed with a straight red card, a brace from Boldewijn in the second half ultimately providing a much needed turn in form for The Spitfires off the back of consecutive defeats away at Rochdale and then Southend United.
With three draws from their opening three games, Eastleigh currently sit in 15th, two points above Wanderers. As the bottom half of the league begins to take shape, both sides will view Saturday’s clash at Meadowbank as vital to gain some form and momentum.
Last Time We Met
Eastleigh made the trip to Meadowbank on Boxing Day last season, Ryan Seager snatched a point in the latter stages of the affair, denying Eastleigh their second away win of the season. QPR loanee Alfie Lloyd gave the visitors the lead on the 25 minute mark, lashing a shot beyond Dan Lincoln into the top corner. Michael Kelly nearly doubled his sides lead nine minutes later after crashing an effort off the crossbar. Seager would later leave the play-off chasing visitors to rue their missed chances, latching onto a loose ball and finishing in the late stages, earning Wanderers a valuable point.
Words: Dom Bleackley
Tickets Available online or at the turnstiles, tickets are priced at Adults £18, Cons £16, U18s £9 & U8s £5. Our family ticket returns for 23/24 with two adults and two children able to watch the Wanderers take on The Spitfires for just £45!
Save time at the turnstiles by purchasing your tickets online:
Matchday Programme The printed programme remains in play for 23/24, available at the merchandise and food outlets on Saturday priced at £3!
Join Us In The FanZone!
The FanZone will be open from 1pm on Saturday afternoon, join us for a drink and soak up the atmosphere before kick off! Match Updates Not able to to get to Meadowbank this weekend?
LIVE COMMENTARY: Tom Rogers has got you covered with live commentary of the game via Mixlr! Stayed tuned to our social media channels for more information. LIVE UPDATES: We will be providing action and score updates throughout the afternoon via Twitter, give us a follow us @DorkingWDRS
Visiting Fans Information All the info on getting to Meadowbank, where to grab a pre-match drink beforehand and much more... https://www.dorkingwanderers.com/visiting-supporters