Dorking Wanderers 2 Barnet 1
Vanarama National League
March 7th 2023
Dorking came from a goal down to overcome Barnet under the Meadowbank lights on Tuesday evening, getting back to winning ways after a run of three games without victory.
Harry Smith's impressive looping header from near the edge of the box got The Bees off to an ideal start, but Wanderers deservedly got back on terms just before the interval, Josh Taylor showing good composure to finish off a defence-splitting through ball from George Francomb inside the penalty area. The former Crawley midfielder would then put Wanderers ahead just before the hour mark in style, shifting the ball inside and powering a left footed strike into the top corner of goal from range, a resolute defensive effort in the late stages getting Wanderers over the line with maximum points.
Marc White made six changes to his starting line up from Saturday's draw against Halifax; Ed Harris and Joe Cook returning to the back three, with George Francomb, Luke Moore and Nicky Wheeler coming in across midfield and Harry Ottaway starting up top. Dan Gallagher (suspended) and Jimmy Muitt (rolled ankle) were two enforced changes, and with Barry Fuller and James McShane named on the bench, Tony Craig took the captain's armband.
With just a couple of minutes on the clock, the atmosphere around Meadowbank suddenly befell to a feeling of concern as Ed Harris took the full force of a collision going up for the ball midway through the Wanderers half. After a few minutes of treatment, to everyone's relief Ed was able to walk off the field of play but not in a position to be able to continue the match, so Isaac Philpot came on in his place.
Wanderers had begun the brighter of the two sides, taking command of possession and pushing Barnet back into their half, but reminiscent of the away trip to Wrexham 10 days ago, against the early run of play, the opposition fired a sudden warning shot just prior to taking the lead. A ball in from the left sat up nicely for Bees top scorer Nicke Kabamba to meet a header and see if bounce back off the crossbar, and with their next venture forward Dean Brennan's side found the back of the net; another delivery from the left flank this time finding Harry Smith just inside the Wanderers box, and the tall front-man on loan from Leyton Orient angled a superb looping header well beyond the reach of Lincoln to find the top right corner of goal.
Not phased by the setback, Wanderers got back to the early pattern in the game and began creating opportunities in the final third, Luke Moore seemingly relishing playing higher up within midfield and unlucky not to find Ottaway with a dangerous ball across the face of goal, the midfielder then hitting a deflected volley straight down keeper Laurie Walker after good work from Bobby-Joe down the right.
Up the other end, Kabamba nearly benefited from a defensive slip in the Wanderers box, dragging his shot wide of target, the pace and quick feet of Idris Kanu working on the opposite side to Kabamba then nearly carving out a chance at close range as he surged into the penalty area, Philpot making a timely intervention at the corner of the six yard box.
In the lead up to half-time Wanderers continued to be on top in the contest, the industrious work in central midfield led by Francomb keeping Marc White's side on the front-foot as the wingers became increasingly involved in the game. Wheeler forced Walker into a save down at his near post after cutting in from the left and firing a powerful low effort at goal, before turning provider with a searching cross to the back post well struck by Prior on the volley, the effort crashing into the side-netting. Patient build up play proceeded Bobby-Joe taking on a strike from the right, Walker again meeting the shot with a good save round the post.
A few minutes before the interval Wanderers did get reward for their positive play and found an equalising goal. Tony Craig stepping out from defence and finding Francomb, who's through ball slid in behind the Barnet backline sent Josh Taylor away, and he steered the ball home after taking an initial touch to steady himself.
Half-Time: Dorking Wanderers 1 Barnet 1
The second half unfortunately began in not dissimilar fashion to the first, a Wanderers defender again taking a blow to the head and going down in the opening minutes, this time Joe Cook the injured man after appearing to take an arm across the face as a Barnet attack petered out. After a few minutes of treatment, Cook was deemed unable to continue, and Barry Fuller came on in his place. Marc White confirmed post-match that Joe may have suffered a broken nose.
Again though, Wanderers didn't allow the break up in play to deter them; Bobby-Joe timing his movement well to stay onside and feed a low cross in for Prior, the striker not able to fashion a strong enough contact to direct it on target, but just before the hour mark Wanderers did get themselves ahead and it would be in some style. Francomb picked up the ball outside the box after Josh Taylor's cross was cleared, the former Crawley man smartly turning inside to buy himself space away from his marker before unleashing a driving left footed effort into the top corner of goal, the midfielder opening his account with aplomb and to the utter delirium of the Wanderers support in the bank behind the goal.
The introduction of James McShane for Harry Ottaway not long after the goal naturally brought Wanderers back into a more conservative shape as Prior led the line up top, Francomb shifting across the to right back area as well from his original holding midfield position. Barnet gradually took on more possession in the game but chances were kept to a real premium as Wanderers continued to demonstrate the defensive improvements of their recent games in terms of organisation and shape, spearheaded again by skipper for the night Tony Craig.
Bees second half substitute Adam Senior put together a mazy run coming in from the right flank but his eventual strike was sent straight down Lincoln, a dangerous free kick from that same side not finding a contact through the penalty area and Lincoln again able to gather comfortably. Into the final few minutes, consecutive corners from the left gave Wanderers some late scares, the first one just about scrambled clear before Jerome Okimo glanced a header just wide of the post amongst a crowd of bodies.
Wanderers ultimately held out though to register just a second league win in 2023, the victory also meaning Marc White's side have 'done the double' over Barnet this term after coming away from The Hive with a 0-1 win back in September. Remaining in 19th spot but now 4 points clear of the relegation zone, 4 points from the last 6 on offer will give Wanderers a confidence boost heading into Saturday's game away to Notts County, a 5:20pm kick off which will be live on BT Sport.
Dorking Wanderers (3-5-2): 1 Dan Lincoln, 27 Tony Craig (c), 5 Ed Harris (2 Isaac Philpot 4'), 33 Joe Cook (22 Barry Fuller 51'); 3 Bobby-Joe Taylor, 37 George Francomb, 18 Luke Moore, 17 Josh Taylor, 18 Nicky Wheeler; 19 Jason Prior, 24 Harry Ottaway (11 James McShane 65')
Unused Subs: 9 Ryan Seager, 29 Alfie Egan
Goals: J. Taylor 41', Francomb 56'
Yellow Cards: Cook 45', Moore 59', McShane 69', BJ Taylor 83'
Barnet (4-2-3-1): 1 Laurie Walker, 3 Finley Potter (25 Courtney Senior 61'), 6 Jerome Okimo, 27 Moussa Diarra, 23 Sam Beard; 15 Harry Pritchard, 33 Ryan De Havilland; 9 Nicke Kabamba, 5 Marvin Armstrong (20 David Moyo 90'), 11 Idris Kanu; 30 Harry Smith (7 Rob Hall 78')
Unused Subs: 12 James Calan, 28 Sam Woods
Goal: Smith 12'
Yellow Cards: Kabamba 90'
Referee: Aji Ajibola
Sponsors Man Of The Match: George Francomb