Dominic Hutchinson got the hosts off to an ideal start by opening the scoring with just 3 minutes on the clock, but like last weekend against Altrincham, Wanderers were able to find a quick response to the early setback, Dan Gallagher slamming home a Jason Prior knockdown from close range. Somewhat against the run of play Wanderers went in ahead at half-time through Seb Bowerman’s superb effort after great work from Harry Ottaway in the build up, but The Stones again began the half brightly and swiftly levelled through Charles Clayden, neither side able to go on and find a winner from there.
Two changes were made to the side which started Tuesday night’s draw against Gateshead; Seb Bowerman and Jason Prior both returning to the starting line up having not travelled in midweek, Nicky Wheeler and Ryan Seager respectively making way and named among the substitutes.
Stones joint top scorer Michah Obiero had already had an effort at the back post closed down inside the opening couple of minutes after good work from Charles Clayden getting down the left, and in the next attack Stuart Maynard’s men got reward for their positive start. His team again targeted the left flank as Charlie Barker drove forward, slipping a ball into the path ofDominic Hutchinson, who managed to skip past a couple of challenges inside the box before finishing from close range.
Just five minutes later though, with virtually their first attack of the game, Wanderers got themselves back on terms. Josh Taylor’s long throw from the right touchline was flicked on by Prior at the near post, Gallagher reacting fastest to crash the ball home from a central position several yards out.
The momentum remained with the home side in wake of the goal as they continued to stretch the Wanderers defence in wide areas, the fluid movement of the front trio and overlapping runs from players further back ensuring a man in blue was often spare. Lincoln stood up well to deny Derby County loanee Sonny Blu Lo-Everton after a quickly taken free kick before getting an outstretched leg to Hutchinson’s effort after Wanderers played themselves into trouble with a loose pass in-field.
The two Wealdstone players would combine again to take on strikes from range as we entered the latter stages of the half, Lincoln equal to both efforts, but it was Wanderers who managed to go into the interval ahead after producing an attacking move of real quality. Ottaway showed his strength to protect a long ball from Lincoln and then impressively spun inside to play through Bowerman down the left, the winger initially looking like he had taken a heavy first touch before quickly lashing the ball with his next into the top right corner of goal, stunning the home crowd and sending the travelling Wanderers support into rapture up the other end.
Wanderers cranked up the pressure in the closing minutes before the break and worked a good opening to extend the lead; Bobby-Joe Taylor’s cross nodded down by Craig for Prior to line up an audacious volley near the edge of the box, the striker over-hitting it though and sending the ball over the bar.
Half-Time: Wealdstone 1 Dorking Wanderers 2
It was a case of deja vu after the restart as again, inside just 3 minutes, the hosts got reward for starting on the front foot. Barker’s through ball from central midfield managed to sqirum through the middle of the Wanderers backline, Clayden able to gather and run through on goal before lifting the ball over Lincoln with a composed finish.
In and around the hour mark both sides had chances to edge ahead in the contest; Wanderers scrambling the ball clear as Obiero threw himself at a cross in the six yard box, Bowerman then collecting a lovely diagonal ball out to the flank from Josh Taylor but hesitating to get a shot off, Ottaway picking it up and forcing former Wanderers stopper Sam Howes into a save with his legs. Bobby-Joe would then bring the keeper into action again as he tried to bend an effort from range into the bottom corner, Howes getting across well to make a diving save.
With both sides making most of their changes in a similar space of time the final quarter of the game became scrappier and the feel of contest increasingly like an archtypcal ‘end of season’ encounter. Play was absorbed largely in midfield entering the late stages, but Wanderers did spurn a great opportunity to grab a winner with several minutes to go; neat link up play around the Stones box involving Prior and Ottaway proceeding the ball arriving for substitute McShane in space on the left side of the box, Wanderers top goalscorer this season trying to place an effort into the top right corner of goal but sending it high and wide.
Through 4 added minutes neither team could make a decisive breakthrough, and it finished honours even.
Their place in the National League secured for next season earlier this week, the point moves Marc White’s side up a place in the table to 16th having lost just 1 of their last 8 matches, and in a good position to potentially finish the campaign close to mid-table.
The final game of the season is an all-ticket affair next Saturday afternoon at Meadowbank as already relegated Scunthorpe United travel down from East Lincolnshire for a 17:30 kick off, the time all games are starting on the final matchday.
Wealdstone (4-3-3): 13 Sam Howes, 6 Mason Barrett (2 Jack Cook 71′), 24 Charlie Barker, 28 Sam Habergham (c), 19 Charles Clayden; 4 Ashley Charles, 8 Nathan Ferguson, 16 Sonny Blu Lo-Everton; 14 Michah Obiero, 17 Dominic Hutchinson (9 Olufela Olomola 82′), 7 Tarryn Allarakhia (18 Alex Dyer 76′)
Unused Subs: 10 Corie Andrews, 25 Lewis Simper
Goals: Hutchinson 3′, Clayden 48′
Yellow Cards: Clayden 21′, Ferguson 51′
Dorking Wanderers (3-5-2): 1 Dan Lincoln, 2 Isaac Philpot, 27 Tony Craig (c) 3 Bobby-Joe Taylor; 7 Jimmy Muitt (16 Nicky Wheeler 67′), 20 Dan Gallagher (25 Aaron Kuhl 67′), 17 Josh Taylor, 18 Luke Moore (11 James McShane 63′), 30 Seb Bowerman; 19 Jason Prior 24 Harry Ottaway
Unused Subs: 9 Ryan Seager, 12 Calum Kennedy
Goals: Gallagher 8′, Bowerman 37′
Yellow Cards: Bowerman 36′, Philpot 43′, Prior 72′
Referee: Lloyd Wood
Attendance: 1575 (209 Wanderers Supporters)