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Dorking Wanderers 'B' 1 Epsom & Ewell 0 Southern Combination League Division One

January 2nd 2023

Dorking Wanderers B team began the New Year with a win after defeating league leaders Epsom & Ewell at Meadowbank. An evenly fought contest between two well organsied sides looking to get the ball down and play, clear cut chances were often at a premium throughout the game but striker Ben Aubrey made the decisive breakthrough with a few minutes of regulation time remaining, heading home Hayden Gale's cross from several yards out.

Ruben Gaspar's side were defeated for the first time in six matches in their last fixture on Boxing Day, winning four and drawing one of their proceeding games ahead of a narrow 2-1 defeat to Godalming Town at the Bill Kye Stadium. At the turn of the year Wanderers were sat 4th in the league standings, with opponents Epsom & Ewell ahead of them by five points and top of the table with two games in hand. Going into kick off revenge was likely to have been on the visitors minds after Wanderers won the Challenge Cup First Round encounter between the two sides just a few weeks ago in early December.

Tyrese Johnson had the first effort of the game blocked several minutes in, Matt Hay then latching onto the rebound but fizzing his rising effort just wide of the top right corner. Coming up to the midway point of the half, the movement of the front trio for Epsom & Ewell began carving out opportunities; Jamie Byntt often holding the ball up and bringing fellow attackers Athan Smith-Jones and Mario Quiassaca into play. The latter would nearly find Byntt at the back post as he volleyed the ball across the six yard box at pace, the cross just too high for a header, before dragging an effort at goal comfortably saved by Josh Wilson.

Ben Aubrey's attempt at a scorpion kick was as close as Wanderers would go since the early exchanges as play continued to be predominately battled out in the middle of the park, Wanderers solid in their shape as Spike Steggall and Jack Bingham led the defensive effort, Jude Salmon and Jack Saunders looking to receive the ball and get play going from central midfield.

The away side did manage to get the ball in the back of the net five minutes before the interval, Quiassaca with a smart turn and through ball to find Byntt at the back stick, the front-man putting the chance away but denied by the linesman's flag for offside.

Half-Time: 0-0

The game slightly opened up after the restart as both sides increased their attacking intent; Tommy Williams and Nyack Thomas doing well to get forward and deliver dangerous crosses from the respective flanks, up the other end Quiassaca forced Wilson to backtrack after trying an audacious chip before Salts skipper Brad Peters spurned a great chance as he nodded an in-swinging free kick over the bar from close range.

Beyond the hour Anthony Jupp's side turned up the heat and produced a few successive moments of quality in the attacking third, Smith-Jones unlucky not to find someone closing in as he drilled a ball across the six yard box after good play advancing down the right, Wilson then spreading himself brilliantly to deny Quiassaca as he was played through one on one. Amidst both sides making substitutions Smith-Jones spurned another golden opportunity, not getting properly over the ball as he drove a measured cut back high and wide. With a few minutes left on the clock, Wanderers would ultimately make their opponents pay the price for the missed chances. Matt Hay showed quick feet to shift the ball forwards, beating a couple of Epsom players on route to finding space outside the box, and after his strike was closed down the ball spilled out to Hayden Gale on the left, who after taking a touch to steady himself crossed for Aubrey, who made no mistake glancing home from just outside the six yard box. The final minutes produced drama at both ends; Ryan Smith forcing Wilson into a low save from a free kick at the edge of the Wanderers box, ahead of Aubrey bundling the ball home from a Williams cross at close range, the celebrations cut short as the linesman's flag chalked the goal off for offside. Back to winning ways following the disappointment of Boxing Day, Wanderers remain 4th in the table and just two points behind new leaders Shoreham, who do have as many as four games in hand on those around them. The next couple of weeks will see the number of games played balance out a bit though as Wanderers take a break from league action, not returning until January 14th where they travel to Mile Oak. Dan Stobbart

Dorking Wanderers: 1 Josh Wilson, 2 Tommy Williams (c), 5 Spike Steggall, 6 Jack Bingham, 3 Hayden Gale; 4 Jude Salmon; 7 Tyrese Johnson (12 Tyrese Ayeni 69'), 8 Matt Hay, 10 Jack Saunders, 11 Nyack Thomas (15 Seb Tauta-Caballero 90+'); 9 Ben Aubrey Unused Subs: 13 Blake Williams (GK), 14 Vinnie Murray, 17 Kayden Gooding Goal: Aubrey 86' Assist: Gale Epsom & Ewell: 1 Kane Charles, 2 Gideon Acheampong (14 Aaron Bogle 90'),, 3 Jonny Akoto, 4 Ryan Smith, 5 Brad Peters (c), 6 Oliver Thompson, 7 Nick Wilson (16 Josh Alder 85'), 8 Ben Bauchop, 9 Jamie Byntt, 10 Athan Smith-Jones, 11 Mario Quiassaca (12 Gavin Quintyne 69') Unused Subs: 15 Zac Powell, 17 Josh Owen Referee: Neil Wallace


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