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Dorking Wanderers 'B' 2 Arundel FC 1

Southern Combination Div 1 Challenge Cup Quarter-Final

March 21st 2023

Dorking Wanderers B booked their place in the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup after coming from behind to defeat Arundel under the Meadowbank lights on Tuesday night.

Ruben Gaspar's side came into the match in good form having won their previous 3 league games against Forest Row, East Preston and league leaders Shoreham this past weekend. Having gone out of the Peter Bentley Cup exactly one month ago away at Loxwood in the quarter finals of that competition, the motivation to go one better in the Challenge Cup was all set for the B Team, who overcame Surrey rivals Epsom & Ewell 2-1 at Meadowbank in the previous round back in January.

Academy midfielders Joel Brown, Matt Hay and Jack Saunders all started the game, on a night where fellow Academy players Seb Tauta-Caballero, Paddi Harland-Goddard, Luke Roberts and Oli Scovell all featured in the first team friendly away to Eastbourne Borough.

Wanderers began the brighter side, taking an early command of possession and getting on the front-foot, nearly opening the scoring on 10 minutes; front-man Oussman Diop-Traore receiving a pass from the left flank and forcing a low diving save from Leesun Donaldson with a powerful strike, the rebound gathered by Dan Berry who couldn't quite find the far corner of goal from an acute angle.

Skipper Tommy Williams would see his header land onto the roof of the Arundel net after meeting a cross from the right, Matt Hay and Tyrese Johnson then both having strikes closed down before Berry demonstrated great control on the left side taking an aerial ball down, he passed inside for Hay who's fierce effort stung the palms of Donaldson, the loose ball quickly scrambled clear.

Williams and keeper Josh Wilson had cleared away a couple of crosses from the left, but approaching the mid point of the half the visiting side had otherwise not made much headway getting into the attacking third. It was therefore somewhat against the run of play when the 'The Mullets' opened the scoring; former Bognor Regis striker James Crane hammering a shot from just outside the D, the strike taking a deflection on route and sailing past Wilson into the back of the net. The goal seemed to fire up the side from Sussex for much of the remainder of the half; central midfielder Harrison Mott leading by example for his side as they began to win their battles in the middle of the park, pushing Wanderers back in their attempts to play through the lines. Goalscorer Crane turned provider as Arundel went close to doubling their advantage, driving a ball across the six yard box which Harry Russell couldn't quite meet towards the back post. In the lead up to half-time though Wanderers started to regain control and make waves again up top; Hay trapping the ball and turning smartly near the edge of the box and sliding Berry through on goal, his shot straight down keeper Donaldson, Williams then forcing the stopper into another comfortable save in the follow up move. Two minutes before the break, Wanderers managed to get back on terms, Berry's cross from the left punched out by Donaldson without enough conviction, Hay able to gather and calmly direct the ball into the bottom right corner from the edge of the penalty area with a low finish. H/T: 1-1

Several minutes into the restart, Ruben Gaspar's men got themselves in front; Diop-Traore just about staying onside as a through ball reached him on the attacking left, and after doing well to retain the ball inside the penalty area he released it to Johnson, who emphatically smashed home from six yards out.

The Mullets sought a quick response; claims for a penalty waved away straight after the goal before Harry Russell's driving effort drifted wide after persistent play down the left, James Crane then smashing a good free kick opportunity taken right on the 18-yard line straight into the wall.

Entering the final quarter of the game the contest began to open up; Tyrese Ayeni's low ball from near the corner flag running all the way over to Diop-Traore but he could only blast his shot high and wide, Josh Wilson then called into action and making a strong save down to his left to deny attacking midfielder Carl Brown, who had offered a threat coming in off the left for much of the game for 'The Mullets'.

His opposite number Berry had also carried much of the attacking danger for Wanderers throughout the game, the left sided player spearheading a couple of rapid counter-attacking moves, aiming for the top right corner with the latter after cutting inside but sending the ball over the top. Brown again forced Wilson into action with a firm strike, the keeper this time leaping to his right and pouncing on the ball to keep hold of it, and with just a minute left of regulation time Wanderers spurned an excellent opportunity to kill the game off; Williams instigating a move down the left with good skill to get upfield, Berry applying further quality footwork approaching the byline and sliding the ball across for Diop, who's side-footed effort at goal somehow trickled wide of the post. Holding midfielder Joel Brown had put in an industrious shift in front of the back four and was continuing to put in the hard yards through five minutes of stoppage time as Arundel looked to force penalties with late pressure, the Wanderers centre halves Jack Bingham and Reece Tierney continuing to dominate play in the air in the closing minutes as a succession of free kicks came into the box, Wanderers ultimately holding out.

A Surrey derby now awaits in the semi-finals as Wanderers take on Godalming Town, the game to be played at a neutral venue next month with exact date, timing and location to be confirmed shortly.

Next up, it's back to league action on Saturday afternoon for the B team and an away visit to Wick FC, a 2pm kick off at Crabtree Park.

Dan Stobbart

Dorking Wanderers B: 1 Josh Wilson, 17 Tyrese Ayeni, 5 Jack Bingham, 6 Reece Tierney, 3 Tommy Williams (c); 20 Tyrese Johnson, 4 Joel Brown, 8 Matt Hay (14 Vinnie Murray 69'), 10 Jack Saunders, 7 Dan Berry; 11 Oussman Diop-Traore (12 Joshua Afonso 90')

Unused Subs: 13 Freddy Leather (GK), 15 Ben Paccie, 16 Josh Lawson

Goals: Hay 42; Johnson 53'

Arundel FC: 1 Leesun Donaldson, 2 Jack Ratcliffe, 3 Will Breden, 4 Harrison Mott, 5 Toby Ponting, 6 Rob Madden, 7 Carl Brown, 8 John Phillips, 9 Harry Russell, 10 Ryan Quirke, 11 James Crane

Subs: 12 Thomas Jefkins, 14 Joseph Futers, 15 Alex Pearce, 16 Edward Longhurst, 17 Andrew McCarthy

Goal: Crane 23'

Referee: Neil Wallace

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