Preview by Dom Bleackley
After watching his side fall to their third loss on the spin, the Wanderers boss described the 0-2 defeat as “a circus of problems”, stating his side didn’t create “anywhere near enough” to threaten the City rearguard.
Second half goals from Renny Smith and Reece Fleet earned The Hoops their first win in eight games. Post-match, Ross Jenkins described the contest as a “battle” and was left delighted as his side came out victorious in the first of the City – Wanderers double header.
The circus of problems began for White when Barry Fuller went down with what looked to be a muscular injury, the skipper had enjoyed a fine start to proceedings, posing the most threat of breaking in behind with his trademark overlaps. Jason Prior, who made his return to the XI after a months lay-off, also went down injured no less than 15 minutes later, meaning Dorking had used two of their three available substitutes after 27 minutes. After the match, White expressed his frustration with the continuation of his injury problems, stating the two substitutes halted what was a very fluid start to the game from his side.
Evidently sensing a vulnerability to an injury-hit, makeshift Wanderers XI, Oxford found their feet in the game and carved out some good openings – the best falling to Josh Parker, who’s goal-bound strike was blocked on the line by his own teammate. Dorking went on to weather the Oxford storm and soon regained some rhythm at the tail-end of the first half.
As time went by there was an expectancy within Meadowbank that a goal was edging closer; the home side looking the more likely with a succession of balls into the box, all well cleared by the City backline. One of such clearances was beautifully taken by Oliver Sanderson, who span past Niall McManus after taking the ball down, Oxford’s #9 then broke clear and found Smith in the middle, who slotted past a helpless Harrison Male to give City the lead. A frustrated Wanderers chased an equaliser, only to be undone by another, very similar, City counter, this time Alfie Potter the man breaking down the right, before squaring to Fleet for a tap in.
White, speaking candidly after the game, was disappointed with his sides efforts after going a goal down, citing specifics such as deliveries into the box coming “way too late”, leading to City being able to deal with the majority of the aerial duels comfortably. The Wanderers boss also revealed some details on how he has tried to play certain players into fitness “we’ve tried to give players who aren’t 100% 45 minutes here and there to play them into fitness, ultimately that’s not worked”.
To view the highlights of our Boxing Day defeat, click here.
Looking forward, White gave an insight into how he looks to adapt to the shortcomings, “[in upcoming weeks] expect to see a much more consolidated team, players may be out of position, but they’ll be fit and we can rely on them to get through the game”.
James McShane, who landed awkwardly and received extended treatment against City last time out, is set to be missing for Dorking’s trip to Oxford, as revealed by White in his post-match interview.
The Wanderers boss also stated Fuller would be unavailable, along with George Francomb, who’s stitches came out mid-way through the first half.
Opposition Focus – The Hoops
City’s win at Meadowbank was only their second taste of victory on the road this season, their only other being a 0-4 win at Ebbsfleet United. Their win at Ebbsfleet meant Jenkins’ side enjoyed back to back victories for the first and only time this season, having beaten Woking at the RAW Charging Stadium the week prior – incidentally, also the last time City won at home.
City’s win on Boxing Day meant they enter 2024 just a point away from safety, if they were to make it back-to-back wins over Dorking, it’d move them above White’s side, meaning Wanderers enter the drop zone.
Phil Croker, a regular for City’s U18 side, made his senior debut at Meadowbank on Boxing Day, the teenager impressed in what was a physical introduction to National League football. Jenkins was without the trio of Zac McEachran, Tafari Moore and Andre Burley for the Meadowbank clash, who all missed out through injury – it is unclear whether any are set to return for New Years Day.
City’s top scorer this campaign, Josh Parker, was close to bringing his goal tally up to 10 for the season at Meadowbank on Tuesday afternoon. Oliver Sanderson, who was also a constant threat to Dorking’s backline, has eight league goals since arriving on loan from Fulham’s U21’s in the summer.
Last Time We Met
You have to go back as far as December of 2021 to find our last trip to Marsh Lane, where an Alfie Rutherford hat-trick helped Wanderers to a 2-4 win. Rutherford opened the scoring against the then league leaders, clinically lashing home a volley after City failed to deal with a long throw-in. James McShane doubled the scoring on the 20 minute mark with a superb strike from outside the area. The hosts went on to get a goal back from the penalty spot, Joe Iaciofano sent Dan Lincoln the wrong way after winning the penalty himself. White’s men went on to regain their two goal cushion before the interval, Rutherford converting Matt Briggs’ cross to grab his brace. Josh Ashby diverted a rebound to bring the score to 2-3 on the hour mark, but City’s hopes of comeback were later slashed Harvey Bradbury received a straight red card for a late challenge on Josh Taylor. After defending well for the remainder, Dorking made it four in stoppage after Fuller’s cross was diverted by Rutherford to ensure he went home with the match ball.