First Team
National League Tue 19 September Meadowbank Stadium
Dorking Wanderers

Marc White named a largely unchanged lineup from Saturday’s win at FC Halifax Town. With Barry Fuller still out injured, Tony Craig once again captained the side as Bobby Joe Taylor continued to fill in on the left side of the back three. Matt Briggs returned to the matchday squad for the first time since 15 August following his injury, whilst Tom Blair made his first appearance at Meadowbank following his impressive debut last time out. The only change to Saturday’s lineup came with James McShane taking the place of Ryan Seager.

Despite recent good form, it was the visiting side that made the brighter start on a misty Tuesday evening. With barely a minute on the clock, Wealdstone caught out the Wanderers high line as Micah Obiero found Corrie Andrews from the left flank, but the forward’s shot was blocked before troubling Harrison Male.

Wanderers soon found their way into the game, though. A high press caught Wealdstone out after Jed Ward played a short goal kick to Sam Bowen who was crowded out on the edge of his box before losing possession. Seb Bowerman was the recipient of the loose ball, and after driving unobstructed toward the byline, his pullback found an unmarked James McShane who tapped home to give Wanderers the lead in the 12th minute.

As the rain beginning to pour, Wanderers looked to assert control of the game with Wealdstone unable to conjure much of a response. Continuing to hunt high in the Wealdstone half, a smattering of chances came for White’s side with Blair and Bowerman running riot down the flanks. Constant pressure told in the 28th minute with a looping Bowerman ball from deep as Jason Prior got ahead of Charlie Barker and forced a diving header past Ward to double Wanderers’ lead.

Wealdstone finally looked to have recovered following the second goal; maintaining possession and shifting the ball around. And a first clear-cut chance of the evening presented itself for the Stones shortly after as Obiero beat the offside trap to face Male one-on-one, but his poked effort skimmed past the near post.

With Wealdstone missing that golden opportunity to make their way back into the game, Wanderers turned the screw in the 35th minute with a long ball out from the back. Possession eventually made its way to Blair on the right wing with the Meadowbank debutant firing the ball into the box for Josh Taylor to expertly divert past Ward for Wanderers third of the half. A handful of half-chances came and went for both sides following the third goal, but the hosts went into the break with a convincing lead.

H/T: 3-0

The second half began as expected, with Wealdstone pushing for an early goal in search of a potential comeback and five minutes into the half, a commanding Obiero run almost got Wealdstone onto the scoresheet. After riding Craig’s challenge and bearing down on goal, Male scrambled to smother the shot and the ball popped up for Kyle Smith inside the box but his effort flew wide of the gaping goal.

Wealdstone got their goal in the 58th minute, however. A freekick from deep was only half cleared and Bowen was able to collect the ball before taking a touch and firing a low effort past Male from the edge of the box. Despite the setback, Wanderers fans would have been delighted to see the return of Matt Briggs in the 66th minute after he replaced the impressive Blair on the right.

With the visitors continuing their hunt for goals, Wanderers road their luck with the Stones seemingly unable to find the back of the net. George Francomb’s cross-field pass was intercepted by Andrews on the edge of the box, but the forward’s effort was tame as Male gratefully collected the ball with Wanderers still two goals to the good. After sustained pressure from the Stones, Wanderers nearly extended their lead further after a neat breakaway saw a Bowerman ball into the box cleared just before the onrushing Ryan Seager could fire home.

With time running out for Wealdstone, the introduction of Sean Adarkwa looked to breathe new life into their comeback fight with just 15 minutes remaining. The lofty striker found himself to the left of the box after being played in by a looping ball, and after cutting inside his driven strike tested Male with the keeper able to palm the ball away. Smith had the last real chance of the game for Wealdstone, jinking into the box to find a sight of goal he chose to tee up Abdulsabor Abdulmalik but Wanderers recovered to block the shot.

As clear-cut chances became few and far between, the game petered out in the final few minutes with White’s side managing to see out the remainder of the match relatively comfortably. With Wanderers undoubtedly in their best form of the season so far, they will be hoping to make it a hat-trick of victories this Saturday as Rochdale make a first ever visit to Meadowbank.