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Bognor Regis Town 2 Dorking Wanderers 2

Pre-Season Friendly

July 22nd 2023

Dorking's fourth pre-season friendly ahead of the 23/24 campaign ended in a draw against Bognor Regis Town on a rainy afternoon in West Sussex.

Marc White was able to welcome Niall McManus and James McShane back to his matchday squad for the first time this pre-season after the duo overcame injury concerns, but took the decision to rest Barry Fuller (calf strain) and Aaron Kuhl (hip flex) who both picked up knocks through the week. Matt Briggs and Spike Steggall both missed out through illness.

Whilst Wanderers saw more of the ball in the early stages and for much of the first half, it was the home side who looked more dangerous in attack with an organised midfield providing incisive passes through for the attackers. Lucas Pattenden received a sweeping through ball into the right channel and had an effort on goal closed down by the Wanderers defence inside the opening sixty seconds, the brother of former Wanderers loanee Jasper then getting further success down that side with a couple of crosses before being denied by Male at close range, the linesman's flag going up anyway for offside.

Sam De St. Croix was denied by a good block from Craig before Wanderers managed to carve out their first opportunities at goal; Craig getting on the end of Francomb's free kick but heading into the hands of Rocks keeper Ryan Hall, Prior then nodding Bowerman's cross wide of target on the follow up move.

Midway through the half Robbie Blake's side opened the scoring, his skipper Calvin Davies providing a measured through ball for Tommy Lee Higgs to latch on to, and the striker showed good strength to advance into the penalty area and drive a composed low finish beyond Male from close range. Shortly after, Davies picked out Pattenden with a lovely cross-field ball as The Rocks continued to prioritise attacking down the right channel, Pattenden's subsequent strike fired straight down Male after cutting inside.

Around the half-hour mark Wanderers went as close as they had done in the game so far; Josh Taylor getting forward from central midfield and swinging a cross in for Prior to knock-down for striker partner Seager, but he couldn't quite get over the ball and volleyed over from six yards out. With the next attack though, Wanderers did get themselves back on terms, Bobby-Joe Taylor coming in from the right at speed and steering a low ball into the middle of the box, Prior meeting the delivery with an instinctive back-heeled flick to find the bottom right corner of goal in style.

The hosts would finish the half like they started it, applying pressure and again often going through Pattenden, who had an effort blocked before Male got out well from goal outside the box to deny Higgs getting a shot off, Jasper Mather then coming in from the left side but dragging his attempt at goal wide of the near post after creating a good angle.

H/T: 1-1

Niall McManus was introduced at half-time for his first minutes of pre-season and first Wanderers appearance since February following an achillies injury, the midfielder part of a double substitution at the break as Harry Ottaway also came on, Josh Taylor and Ryan Seager both making way.

And within a few minutes of the restart, Wanderers got themselves in front; Bobby-Joe Taylor again key in the build up doing well to keep Prior's through ball in play at the byline before cutting back for the striker to slam the ball home and net his second of the afternoon and third in pre-season so far.

A moment of real quality got the home side back on terms though just moments later; midfielder Sam De St. Croix receiving the ball from the left channel just outside the penalty area and lifting the ball brilliantly into the top right corner of goal, giving Male no chance of reaching it.

James McShane came on for his first pre-season appearance just before the hour, and it was in this period of the game Wanderers fashioned a string of chances which could, should have put them back in front. Bowerman provided a couple of decent crosses after good work progressing down the left flank, his first trapped nicely by Bobby-Joe Taylor who then dug out a strike which was blocked, McShane then received the follow up delivery but also saw his effort shut down before directing the rebound wide.

'Macca' was quickly presented with another opportunity to mark his return to the side with a goal; Ottaway's aerial flick-on again kept in play brilliantly by Bobby-Joe Taylor, who picked out Wanderers top scorer from last term arriving into the box, but his strike at goal was cleared just in front of the goal line.

Bobby-Joe and Bowerman would go close themselves after cutting inside at pace and firing efforts across the face of goal, Ottaway then nodding wide at the back post after McManus intercepted Hall's free kick and the ball was worked for sub Kennedy to cross from the left.

The rhythm and tempo of the game became increasingly disjointed through the latter part of the second half as both sides continued to ring the changes in personnel, for Wanderers Slav Huk came on for his second pre-season appearance and young trio Jack Saunders, Matt Hay and Jaevon Dyer also featured in the late stages.

In the closing minutes both sides went close to grabbing a winner, Bobby-Joe hitting the side-netting after shifting the ball forward impressively inside the penalty area to buy space, Rocks sub Tom Holland sending a back-heeled flick wide up the other end following late pressure around the Wanderers box.

Another competitive test for Wanderers in pre-season so far, Marc White reflected on the positives post-match, pleased that Josh Taylor gained further minutes and Niall McManus and James McShane were able to pick up their first, on an afternoon where Tony Craig and George Francomb both played the full 90.

With two wins and two draws so far, the manager will hoping his side can continue making progress this Tuesday night for the final home game of pre-season as Horsham are the visitors to Meadowbank in a 19:45 kick off.

Dan Stobbart

Bognor Regis Town (4-3-3): 1 Ryan Hall, 2 Ben Anderson, 5 Kieron Douglas (16 Danny Howick 70'), 6 Craig Robson, 3 Trialist (12 Jude Mason 57'); 7 Sam De St. Croix (18 Tom Holland 63'), 4 Calvin Davies (c) (17 Joe Briffa 57'), 8 Josh McCormick (15 Harvey White 52'); 11 Lucas Pattenden (14 Isaac Olaniyan 52'), 10 Tommy Lee Higgs, 9 Jasper Mather

Goals: Higgs 22', De St. Croix 54'

Yellow Card: Davies 50'

Dorking Wanderers (3-5-2): 1 Harrison Male (13 Slav Huk 70'), 37 George Francomb, 5 Tony Craig (c), 15 Joe Cook (12 Calum Kennedy 70'); 3 Bobby-Joe Taylor, 20 Dan Gallagher (23 Jack Jebb 55'), 17 Josh Taylor (6 Niall McManus 46', 32 Jack Saunders 82'), 18 Luke Moore (2 Matt Hay 77'), 30 Seb Bowerman (25 Jaevon Dyer 82'); 19 Ryan Seager (24 Harry Ottaway 46'), 9 Jason Prior (11 James McShane 55')

Goals: Prior 32', 49'

Referee: Alex Bradley

Att: TBC


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