Goals from Jason Prior, Barry Fuller and Alfie Rutherford ensured Wanderers’ passage into the National League South Promotion Final, as they beat Oxford City 3-0 at Meadowbank.
Wanderers came into the clash with a full 7-day respite after final day of the regular season draw against Hungerford Town. But the visitors had an eliminator match to contend with on Wednesday night against Eastbourne Borough. Elliot Benyon and George Harmon’s goals secured their route into this clash with a 2-0 home victory. The fitness level of the Wanderers was evident early on as they flew out of the traps.
We were only in the second minute and Wanderers got their first chance, as Jimmy Muitt made a run from the right-hand side, and his shot deflected out for an early corner. James McShane also fired a shot over from eight yards out before Wanderers made their hard work pay off after just eight minutes. Fantastic work again from Muitt on the right and he floated a ball in the box which met the head of forward Jason Prior and virtually unmarked, he headed brilliantly past despairing Oxford keeper Ben Dudzinski. Wanderers were 2-0 up after 19 minutes. Jordan Cheadle’s corner was flicked on in the penalty area and there was captain Barry Fuller, around four yards out, who fired into the roof of the net past Dudzinski. Towards the end of the half is when Oxford did threaten. The Hoops top scorer Joe Iaciofano brilliantly rounded Dan Lincoln to score only to be flagged offside. His strike partner Elliot Benyon also had a chance to get them back into it as he created space 10 yards from goal after Dorking had failed to clear a corner, but he scuffed his shot and the ball fell gratefully to goalkeeper Lincoln. Defender Charlie Rowan also created space for himself after Ed Harris failed to routinely clear a ball which was lumped forward, but 20 yards from goal he fired over the crossbar.
It took just three minutes of the second half for Wanderers to grab a third. Nicky Wheeler, who had been putting in great crosses all afternoon from the left, did exactly the same again as Alfie Rutherford powered a header past Dudzinski. Despite having a 3-0 lead and looking fairly comfortable, it was the visitors who were threatening the Dorking goal. Just before the hour mark, Iaciofano appeared to have been fouled in the box by Jordan Cheadle only for referee Dean Watson to wave play on. Rowan was booked not long after for a cynical foul on Jimmy Muitt with the Dorking winger looking to advance at goal. Going into the final 15 minutes, Iaciofano was also yellow carded for kicking the ball away after once again having a goal disallowed for offside. Dorking also had a late opportunity as Muitt played in a superb ball from the right only for it to agonisingly miss the head of Jason Prior at the back post.
After five minutes of stoppage time, referee Watson blew the full-time whistle and confirmed Wanderers passage into the National League South Promotion Final. In front of what was likely a record crowd at Meadowbank, the club will be looking forward to the final on 21st May where they will meet the winners of the other semi-final between Ebbsfleet United and Chippenham Town.
Shots on Target
Dorking Wanderers 8
Oxford City 5
Dorking Wanderers 7
Oxford City 4
Dorking Wanderers 1 (Cheadle 66’)
Oxford City 2 (Rowan 59’ & Iaciofano 72’)
Dorking Wanderers 3 Gallagher for Harris 54’ , Fogden for McShane 54’ , Ottaway for Rutherford 64’
Oxford City 3 Bancroft for Benyon 45’ , Owusu for McEachran 67’, Coyle for Clark 67’
Subs not used
Dorking Wanderers Philpot, B-J Taylor
Oxford City Matsuzaka, Dasilva