Gateshead vs Dorking Wanderers
Vanarama National League
November 11th 2023
Gateshead, who sit in 8th place will be looking to bounce back from their 0-4 drumming at the hands of AFC Flyde last time out. Looking to regain some form themselves, Wanderers will travel north on the back of a 1-3 defeat at home to Dagenham & Redbridge last weekend, where, amidst the poignant backdrop of Alfie Rutherford’s return from an ACL injury and heart operation, The Daggers prevented a fairytale homecoming for the forward, recording their third win in their last four games, shuffling above Wanderers in the league standings.
Dan Gallagher’s unfortunate own goal to open the scoring at Meadowbank last weekend followed an unusual trend which has developed in the early stages of Wanderers recent fixtures; it was the fourth time in five games that the scoring had been opened inside the first 10 minutes. However, Marc White’s side may be challenged to find more avoidable goals in the coming weeks and months than the first and second conceded last weekend, with the manager stating the mistake that led to Freddie Sears latching onto possession and firing into the path of a helpless Gallagher was a result of the backline being, in White’s words, “too lethargic”. The Daggers continued to press high after taking the lead, but Wanderers were only behind for nine minutes; Harry Ottaway firing home a fierce strike from the edge of the penalty area on what was his fifth start of the season to level the scores. Following a frantic opening quarter of an hour, the game entered a more settled phase before Ben Strevens’ side gleefully capitalised on another Wanderers mis-hap to re-take the lead; Niall McManus this time falling victim to The Daggers press as his wayward back-pass was pounced upon by Inih Effiong who clinically put the visitors back in front. Post-match, White alluded that his sides shortcomings came from a lack of ownership at the back, “we went a bit quiet, we had to own the playing out [from defence] rather than playing backwards”. Rutherford’s introduction in the second half unsurprisingly lifted the Wanderers faithful, and the forward did offer a different dimension for Dorking in attack in what was an improved second half performance, James McShane also returning to action for the first time since the away victory at Hartlepool in September. A host of chances for either side preceded The Daggers’ third with just shy of 10 minutes remaining; following Myles Weston’s looping cross Josh Hare would head home unchallenged after making a late dash at the back post, diminishing any hopes of a late Wanderers comeback.
The Wanderers boss, rueing the nature of how his side conceded the first two goals, conceded that “the better side won” in his post-match interview. A full week of recuperation for Wanderers has included the standard training on Tuesday as well as a session at St. George’s Park, the home of the England National Team, on the journey up to the north east on Friday afternoon.
Jason Prior and Luke Moore will both be back in contention after serving their respective one-match bans, however Barry Fuller will miss out on this weekend through suspension after collecting a fifth yellow card during last Saturday’s game.
At the end of the week where Ryan Seager made the move to Havant & Waterlooville for an undisclosed fee, Marc White will again be boosted in attack after both James McShane and Alfie Rutherford returned and came through last weekend’s game unscathed. Tony Craig will be pushing for a first involvement since mid-September as his recovery from injury continues, but Charlie Carter (broken wrist), Bobby-Joe Taylor (dead leg), Seb Bowerman (hernia), Matt Briggs (hamstring) and Tom Blair (ankle) will all remain side-lined.
Opposition Focus – The Heed
After a flying start to the season, The Heed’s form has stuttered of late, with the departure of head coach Mike Williamson in mid-October evidently holding an impact. A run of one win in their last five in the league has resulted in The Tynesiders surrendering their position in the play-off places but despite this recent run of form still stand as one of the division’s surprise packages so far this campaign, with manager Mike Williamson’s departure to League Two MK Dons reflecting the exemplary job he and his management team have produced since achieving promotion to the National League at the end of 2021/22. Now under the tutelage of interim boss Rob Elliot, The Heed have been among the most entertaining to watch, with the third most potent attack in the division. A key contributor to side’s impressive attacking returns this campaign is Marcus Diangana, his 12 goals putting him joint top of the league goalscoring charts with Eastleigh’s Paul McCallum, Dinagana’s good form recognised by being awarded September’s National League ‘Player of the Month’. The 25-year-old will no doubt be looking to capitalise on Wanderers recent defensive struggles, as Marc White’s side travel to Tyne & Wear looking for their first clean sheet in the last six outings in all competitions.
Among a number of incoming’s for Gateshead, the centre-back pairing of Ed Francis from Notts County and Joe Grayson from Barrow will bring a wealth of nouse and experience from their respective League Two clubs.
Still searching for their first league win under Elliott, The Heed have shipped nine goals in their last three matches, three of which came last weekend as they bowed out of the FA Cup to Yeovil Town in a 3-2 thriller.
Last Time We Met
Last season’s clash at The Gateshead International Stadium ended as a goalless draw, but was a notable day for both clubs as the point a piece ensured National League safety for both sides. Dan Lincoln’s run-in heroics continued as he kept out Ed Francis’ free kick with a wonder save on the 20 minute mark. Dinanga saw two opportunities go begging before half-time while Tony Craig denied the forward opening scoring just after the restart with a last-ditch challenge, Dan Gallagher also producing a memorable goal-line clearance during the second half. As neither side went onto make the breakthrough, Chesterfield’s 5-1 win over Torquay United on the same night meant both teams would again play fifth-tier football in 2023/24.