Dorking were defeated by league leaders Wealdstone in an action-packed, feisty encounter at a windy Grosvenor Vale.
Match report by Dan Stobbart
Marc White said The Wanderers "were punished again for ill-discipline late on"
Wealdstone 3 Dorking Wanderers 1
NATIONAL LEAGUE SOUTH 22 February 2020
Marc White altered his starting eleven from that which started at Oxford midweek, opting for a back four as David Ray returned from injury and Sam Beard also started, Dan Gallagher dropping out. The other change saw Niall McManus start in place of Tom Richards, as Jason Prior was welcomed back into the matchday squad with a place on the bench.
Reminiscent of the reverse fixture back in November, 'The Stones' started in rapid fashion, showing why they are where they are, the winning back of balls, transitions into attack and the link up of the frontline causing all kinds of problems. Moses Emmanuel had the ball in the net inside the opening minutes but was flagged offside, before Daniel Green played a slick one-two with the former Billericay man on entry to the penalty area, looking absolutely nailed on to score Green opened his strike up too much and the ball drifted wide. Emmanuel would recover well under challenge from Ed Harris, shooting as he slid on the ground, the ball dribbling just past Slav Huk's far post. The stopper got down well and just about hung on to a Dennon Lewis cross/shot from the left.
Matt Briggs had a deflected effort stopped on the line by Astoli Oxborough early on after good work getting forward by Niall McManus, and it would be ultimately the closest Wanderers would come to scoring in the first half. Through some breakneck, lengthy runs from Jimmy Muitt down the left, and continued persistence from McManus across the middle of the park, they spearheaded Wanderers getting back into the game after surviving that early flurry. They both teed up Sam Beard to deliver a couple of dangerous crosses from wide left, Briggs not able to quite reach one despite a big leap, the other spilt out for a corner by Oxborough. McManus long throw found Jack Barham at the near post but he couldn't get enough power on his flick toward goal, and Muitt would fire a hard shot straight down Oxborough, who had to claw it back after finding it too hot to handle initially.
Approaching half-hour, Emmanuel tried to curl a strike around an out-from-goal Huk, but the keeper met it with a brilliant diving reaction save, ahead of pushing away another curling strike from distance, this time from Green.
It preceded a frenzied five minute window just before the interval. Firstly, a hotly disputed award of a throw-in to Wealdstone rather than free kick to Dorking near the dug outs was left in the dust as the throw was taken very quickly, the ball then rapidly worked over to the right side of the penalty area, finding Emmanuel at the back post to smash home.
Then, a sending off right by the opposing touch line, Connor Smith with a crunching tackle on Sam Beard, straight red card. It instigated a flare up between both sets of players, Dan Green cautioned in the aftermath. Straight after, Lewis picked Beards pocket and had a thundering effort kept out by Huk, who just about clung on to Emmanuel's rebound.
A minute later, Lewis would be on the end of a rebound which this time did find the back of the net. Emmanuel had gotten in well down the right, and after his shot was palmed out but not cleared as it hung about awkwardly in the six yard box, Lewis tapped home.
Half-Time: Wealdstone 2 The Wanderers 0
Marc White brought on Tom Richards for Ben Dyett as Wanderers went to three at the back at half-time, and with the wind and extra man on their side, immediately sought to get back in the game.
Within the opening few minutes, Dorking squandered a pair of golden chances to do exactly that. Sub Richards leaned back and sent a Briggs cut back from the right over the bar, before Briggs himself drove a strike from the right literally through the stand behind the goal. McManus had done well down the left, Barham not quite able to meet his cross in the middle, before it landed at the feet of Briggs. They were the best chances in an opening quarter of an hour where territorially Wanderers had the vast majority of the ball in the Wealdstone half, as Muitt struck over the top, and Oxborough tipped over a Richards corner heading goal-bound, plus a McManus attempt from distance.
Gez Sole came on for Jack Barham to offer a different option with half hour to go, and the sub would get Wanderers back into the game with a free kick from the left side of the area, the ball finding a way through the box and into the bottom right corner.The foul committed by Emmanuel to giveaway the free kick began a pattern where ill discipline, bubbling since the sending off in the first half boiled over, as the cautions began to rack up to a similar number recorded last Saturday against Chelmsford.
Richards dispatched put a couple of dangerous balls in from wide, one spilt and crying out for a rebound, before a Briggs delivery found the head of sub Jason Prior, who met it well, but was shunned immediately by a defender getting swiftly across.
Up the other end, the lively Lewis had started to threaten again down the left, and as a ball in found sub Ross Lafayette, Ed Harris bundled the striker over. Second yellow card awarded, penalty given. Lewis stepped up, struck it well, but got a bit of fortune as the ball hit the inside of the left post, rolled along the line and went in off the right one.
Sub Jake Sheppard went for the sublime late on as he channelled his inner Wayne Rooney with a dinked chip from distance, catching out an advanced Huk, the sumptuous effort bouncing back off the crossbar. Sam Beard did well to head clear a Lewis delivery close to goal in the dying minutes, as Wealdstone couldn't quite put the cherry on the cake.
A similar pattern to the reverse fixture at Meadowbank was ultimately curtailed as Wanderers couldn't take their chances when on top early in the second half, and were punished again for ill-discipline late on. The eradication of that is something Marc White stressed the importance of post-match, particularly costly in recent weeks. Despite the shortcomings, it's another highly competitive contest with a side at the top end of the league, and with David Ray and Jason Prior returning, and those currently side-lined coming back into the training this week, these are the positives Wanderers will take and build on heading into next week. Another test awaits, as we welcome promotion chasing Slough Town to Meadowbank next Saturday.
Wealdstone FC: 1 Astoli Oxborough, 2 Michee Efete, 3 Jacob Mendy Mendy, 4 Billy Clifford (14 Jake Sheppard 77'), 5 Connor Stevens, 6 Jerome Okimo (c), 7 Michael Phillips (15 Herschel Watt 86'), 8 Connor Smith, 9 Moses Emmanuel (12 Ross Lafayette 73') , 10 Daniel Green, 11 Dennon Lewis
Unused Subs: 18 Oliver McCoy, 17 Kieron Cadogan Goals: Emmanuel 38', Lewis 43', 84' Yellow Cards: Green 40', Emmanuel 72', Clifford 75', Lafayette 80' Red Cards: Smith 40' Dorking Wanderers: 1 Slav Huk, 2 Ben Dyett (20 Tom Richards 45'), 3 Sam Beard, 4 Ed Harris, 5 David Ray, 8 Niall McManus (6 Jason Prior 73'), 9 Jack Barham (19 Gez Sole 63'), 11 James McShane, 15 Matt Briggs, 17 Jimmy Muitt, 18 Luke Moore Unused Subs: 12 JJ O'Sullivan, 14 Jake Gallagher Goals: Sole 73' Yellow Cards: Beard 23', Harris 39', 84', Sole 82', Muitt 87' Red Cards: Harris 87' Referee: Richie Watkins Attendance: 1231 Man Of The Match: Dennon Lewis (Official Home Selection)