Oxford City became the first side to 'do the double' over Dorking this season
Match report by Dan Stobbart
Cutting edge in the final third was lacking for both sides
oxford city 2 Dorking Wanderers 1
NATIONAL LEAGUE SOUTH 22 February 2020
Oxford City became the first side to 'do the double' over Dorking this season, winning by the same score line as they had done in the reverse fixture back in October, on a cold, wet and windy night at Marsh Lane. Nana Owusu, scorer of both goals in the previous game, came off the bench to haunt Wanderers again, smashing home the winner just over fifteen minutes from time. Zac McEachran's long range effort had put the hosts ahead after only 4 minutes, but James McShane levelled just before the interval.
Marc White switched his side up from Saturday, as Dan Gallagher and Ben Dyett joined Ed Harris in the back three in place of Sam Beard and Isaac Philpot, who's two game suspension kicks in for the next two league games. The other changes saw Jimmy Muitt and Tom Richards come in for Niall McManus and Elliot Buchanan, confirmed before the game to be ruled out for at least a couple of weeks with a hamstring injury.
Wanderers had the first chance of the game inside the opening minute, Tom Richards crossing for Jack Barham who got across his marker to flick towards goal, but his attempt went over the bar. But as Dorking had done themselves on Saturday, the scoring was opened on four minutes, Zac McEachran trying his luck from 25 yards out, and succeeding, as the ball nestled low into the right side of Slav Huk's net.
James McShane had a pop of his own from 20 yards out in response a few minutes later, stopper Craig King not quite able to hold it, but pouncing quickly to recover. Ben Dyett and Ed Harris would go close with headers and Jimmy Muitt would side-foot over after good build up as Wanderers rallied swiftly after conceding.
Whilst the hosts probably didn't quite reach the more penetrating levels of play they had done at Meadowbank earlier in the campaign, their passing into feet and quick movement and pressing was forcing Dorking into mistakes, and a number of occasions putting them under pressure when playing out from the back and contending for second balls.
Reece Fleet dispossessed Jake Gallagher outside the area and slid in for Elliot Benyon, who seemed absolutely nailed on to double 'The Hoops' advantage, but Huk spread himself well, stemming the chance but the ball still managing to trickle towards goal, eventually cleared on the line. Fleet himself would then go close a moment later, a measured diagonal strike just skimming the top stanchion.
Dorking had been pegged back with cheap giveaways playing out from the back and getting caught in their own half, but generally recovering well and with minimal goal threat. Five minutes before the break a hoof out from the back would inadvertently become a perfectly placed aerial ball to set Briggs off on a signature run way down the right. He drove a ball across the area, making it's way to McShane on the far side, who emphatically lashed the ball into the roof of the net right in front of the vocal travelling contingent.
In a lively end to the half, Muitt would dig one out from the edge of the box, just about hung on to, before Briggs would smash a shot across goal and win a corner. Up the other end, Kyren Wiltshire delivered a delightful ball to pick out Elliot Benyon on the far side of the area, his shot took a slight nick but Huk was well behind it.
Half-Time: Oxford City 1 The Wanderers 1
Cutting edge in the final third was lacking for both sides as Oxford couldn't capitalise on that continued pressure and forcing of mistakes coming out from the back, and Wanderers squandered the moments they would get forward at pace down the flanks.
Both sides made double changes around the hour mark, and the impact was immediately acknowledged, sub Niall McManus pinging a ball in for Barham who just like in the first minute got across his marker well for a flick, but couldn't quite get a proper contact. A minute later another trademark Briggs surge would tee up Muitt to strike from the edge of the area, his shot stinging the palms of King, the ball momentarily in pouncers territory, but no takers.
AJ George had found fellow sub Nana Owusu with a tidy cut back after getting down the right, his side-footed effort blocked out. With just over a quarter of an hour to go though, the attacker made absolutely no mistake, again receiving the ball from the right, Jake Gallagher just not able to aerially intercept it, and on the half-volley the ball flew into the right side of goal.
Wanderers generally had more of the ball in the second half, and after going behind again rallied further up field, but just couldn't quite make that decisive final move. Sam Beard would lash wide from distance, a McManus knock down at the back post went begging with no one following up, and in the closest moment, McManus would do brilliant to turn and cross on the byline, finding Ed Harris who slammed a header off the crossbar.
There were still a few scares up the other end as Beard and Briggs succumbed to ill discipline with poor challenges, and McEachran would rob McManus of the ball and test Huk with a rasping drive, quickly grasping the ball after initially being unable to hold it. The stopper would make a cameo in the opposition box in the dying moments, unfortunately to no avail, as Wanderers couldn't quite salvage a point.
Whilst Oxford didn't impose themselves in the way they had done at Meadowbank back in October, their was certainly a reprisal in the way they shifted the ball on the deck and pressed, as Wanderers were forced into uncharacteristic errors towards the back, and lacked that bite in generating better opportunities up the other end. The next test and chance to bounce back arrives quickly, but the tests don't come much tougher, as we travel to league leaders Wealdstone this Saturday.
Oxford City: 1 Craig King, 2 Eddie Jones, 5 Tairk Moore-Azile, 6 Joe Oastler (c), 3 Ben Jefford, 4 Josh Ashby, 8 Reece Fleet, 10 Zac McEachran, 14 Kevin Berkoe (11 Nana Owusu 58'), 9 Elliot Benyon (30 Jaani Gordon 80'), 7 Kyran Wiltshire (19 AJ George 58')
Unused Subs: 17 Jenson Wright, 15 Ben Barrett Goals: McEachran 4', Owusu 74' Yellow Cards: McEachran 56' Dorking Wanderers: 1 Slav Huk, 6 Dan Gallagher (2 Isaac Philpot 53'), 17 Ben Dyett (3 Sam Beard 72'), 4 Ed Harris (c), 20 Tom Richards (8 Niall McManus 53'), 9 Jack Barham, 11 James McShane, 10 Jimmy Muitt, 14 Jake Gallagher, 18 Luke Moore, 15 Matt Briggs Unused Subs: 12 JJ O'Sullivan, 19 Gez Sole Goals: McShane 40' Yellow Cards: Beard 86' Referee: Robert Massey-Ellis Attendance: 223