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Dorking Wanderers 2 Walton & Hersham 2

Pre-Season Friendly

July 8th 2023

Dorking's first pre-season match ahead of the 23/24 campaign ended all square at Meadowbank after Walton & Hersham came from behind twice, scoring late in each half to deny Wanderers making a winning start.

Marc White confirmed before the game that Niall McManus, Josh Taylor, James McShane and Jimmy Muitt were all sidelined with injury, whilst Matt Briggs and Luke Moore would not be available until Tuesday's game against Leatherhead.

Harrison Male started in goal to make his Wanderers debut, whilst the shortage of personnel available in central midfield meant that George Francomb would play further up-field than usual to partner Jack Jebb, making his first appearance for Wanderers since February after finishing last term on loan with Havant & Waterlooville. Summer signing Jaevon Dyer was named on the bench alongside B team and Academy midfielders Spike Steggall and Matt Hay. For the visitors, on-loan Wanderers midfielder Ollie Allen started the game to make his debut for The Swans.

Both sides founds their passing rhythms quickly to generate an up-tempo, competitive beginning to the game, Stefan Illic and Bowerman making headway down their respective left flanks and getting crosses away, but unable able to pick out a man in the box.

Neither team had yet worked an opportunity on goal but just before the quarter-hour mark, Wanderers opened the scoring; Seager the recipient of a defensive pass-back intended for goalkeeper Liam Allen, the striker gathering and turning quickly before sweeping the ball home from close range.

The away side nearly back on terms immediately after good play down the left proceeded John Gilbert being released into space inside the penalty area, but the striker was unable to fashion any power behind his effort on goal and it tamely ran through to Male.

From the midway point of the half the game became increasingly open; Jake Frailing cutting inside and seeing his effort blocked ahead of Gilbert dragging an effort wide of target after this time making a breakthrough from the right. Up the other end, Bowerman clipped the top of the frame with a cross-come-shot, the ball then recycled and crossed in for Jason Prior to head just wide. Seager then took control of a loose pass in midfield and strode forward to play a one-two with Prior at the edge of the box, but was unable to land the subsequent strike on target.

The fluid movement of the Walton & Hersham attackers continued to open up spaces for the away side in the build up to half-time, Allen stepping up from central midfield to fire high and wide and the lively Illic also whipping a shot across goal and off target, but a few minutes before the interval The Swans got themselves back on terms, and it was another moment of close play at the back which was punished. Francomb under-hit his pass intended for Male, and Illic was well positioned to intercept and tuck the ball home inside the six yard box.

The debuting Wanderers stopper Male prevented his side from going behind just before the interval, coming out from goal and spreading himself well to deny a side-footed effort from Frailing after Gilbert had skipped past a couple of challenges nicely in the build up to advance to the edge of the box and slide the ball across.

H/T: 1-1

The Swans continued to press on after the restart, Kuhl with a key block to deny Munting's strike just before Gilbert bent a free kick positioned right on the 18 yard line over the bar. Gallagher and Philpot then provided timely interventions to keep the strike force of Gilbert and Simon at bay, Bobby-Joe Taylor getting forward for Wanderers up the other end and hammering a couple of efforts wide.

On 54 minutes, Wanderers got back in front, and for the third occasion in the game short play in the defensive third would prove costly; Francomb the recipient of a pass out from the back and the former Crawley man made no mistake quickly sending the ball in the same direction with interest.

Just like when they went behind in the first half though, The Swans sought an immediate response, Huk producing a good save with his legs to deny Frailing after being sent through on goal by Simon. Not long after, Liam Allen was brought into action up the other end, getting up to his top left corner impressively to tip Bowerman's curling strike away. Ottaway then also went real close to extending Wanderers lead, meeting Francomb's cross with a glancing header but directing it just wide.

Young duo Dyer and Hay came on in the middle part of the second half to make their Wanderers first team debuts, Dyer not taking long to demonstrate his electric pace, driving forward and skipping past opponents impressively a couple of times down the left, and also found himself in the right place in the middle of box to receive Jebb's low cross from the right, but was unable to quite bring the ball under control to work a shooting opportunity at goal.

Substitute No14 connected with the upright of the goal for Walton after getting on the end of a quick counter attacking move down the left as general play continued to remain open into the late stages, and five minutes from time, Scott Harris side would earn themselves a draw. It was two of his substitutes who combined; Reece Robbins measured through ball over the top finding Skylar Burrowes, and after his initial effort was kept out by the fingertips of Huk, the attacker reacted quickly to tap home the rebound.

A competitive opening game for Wanderers against newly-promoted, confident opposition who also commit to playing possession based football, Marc White acknowledged post-match that his side had been perhaps more open than ideal at times, citing the performance as 'disjointed' having to juggle player's minutes with a lack of options in central midfield due to injuries in that area amongst other unavailability.

Pre-season continues for Wanderers this coming Tuesday night as The Advertiser Trophy and 'El Clasimole' returns to Meadowbank, Hayden Bird's Leatherhead making the short trip across Mole Valley for a 19:45pm kick off.

Dan Stobbart

Dorking Wanderers 1st Half: 1 Harrison Male; 22 Barry Fuller (c), 5 Tony Craig, 12 Calum Kennedy; 3 Bobby-Joe Taylor, 25 Aaron Kuhl (20 Dan Gallagher 32'), 23 Jack Jebb, 37 George Francomb, 30 Seb Bowerman; 9 Jason Prior, 19 Ryan Seager

Dorking Wanderers 2nd Half: 21 Slav Huk, 2 Isaac Philpot, 20 Dan Gallagher, 15 Joe Cook; 3 Bobby-Joe Taylor (22 Barry Fuller 60'), 25 Aaroh Kuhl, 23 Jack Jebb, 37 George Francomb (32 Matt Hay 70'), 30 Seb Bowerman (27 Jaevon Dyer 70'); 9 Jason Prior (19 Ryan Seager 60', 14 Spike Steggall 75'), 24 Harry Ottaway

Goals: Seager 14', Francomb 54'

Walton & Hersham: 1 Liam Allen, 2 Arsen Ujkaj, 3 Charlie Nicholas, 4 Jacob Munting, 5 Mitchel Gough, 6 Joe Hicks (c), 7 Stefan Illic, 8 Ollie Allen, 9 Eddie Simon, 10 John Gilbert, 11 Jake Frailing

Subs: 12 Skyler Burrowes, 14 Trey Pender-Brown, 15 Reece Robbins, 16 Taurean Roberts, 17 Anis Nuur, 18 Eoin Bolger, 19 Ollie Twum, 20 Trae Cook

Goals: Illic 41', Burrowes 85'

Referee: Emanuel Adebowale

Attendance: 574


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