Report by Dom Bleackley
The Wanderers boss welcomed Jason Prior back into the starting XI for the first time in over a month, the only other change from Saturday’s defeat at Eastleigh was the return of George Francomb, Dan Gallagher the man making way.
The narrative of the opening 45 was dominated by some forced changes for Marc White and the management team, who lost Barry Fuller and Jason Prior to what seemed to be muscular injuries. Seb Bowerman replaced the Wanderers skipper, resulting in Francomb dropping into the back three, while Harry Ottaway was Prior’s like for like replacement.
The first real chance of note for either side fell to Matt Briggs, who raced onto Josh Taylor’s astute flick after he held the ball up well. Briggs, however, was unable to test Jack Bycroft in the Hoops net, sending his effort well over the bar.
City’s first sight of goal came immediately after Prior’s injury. A quick Oxford counter-attack resulted in Levi Lumeka breaking in behind the Wanderers rear guard for the first time, he then found Josh Parker with a cut back, but City’s top scorer was denied by a courageous block.
James McShane saw a headed effort just clip the top of the crossbar after meeting Taylor’s cross. A strong end to the half from the hosts followed, who regained their footing after adapting to the forced changes, but also couldn’t find an opener.
An uneventful start to the start second half was halted by a scare for McShane, who landed awkwardly after putting pressure on Bycroft, thankfully the midfielder played on, unharmed.
Josh Taylor, who was instrumental in much of Dorking’s good work in the second half, nearly put his side in front after meeting Tony Craig’s knock down, but skewed his effort wide. Minutes later, Charlie Carter was presented with a great chance after some miscommunication from the City backline, Carter was however denied by a fantastic save from Bycroft.
As Wanderers looked to be edging closer to an opener, Oxford raced away with a rare venture into the Dorking half. Oliver Sanderson broke clear and was able to find the oncoming Smith who darted into the acres of space in the centre of the pitch. Smith went on to cooly slot an effort beyond a helpless Harrison Male to put the visitors ahead against the run of play.
City’s resilient nature at the back continued after their opener, as they nullified any threat a frustrated Wanderers would pose.
In the latter stages of the seven minutes of additional time given, Ross Jenkins’ men were able to hit Dorking on the counter again. This time Alfie Potter breaking clear down the right channel, the substitute had time to pick out Fleet in the middle for a tap in, wrapping up all three points for the visitors.
A frustrating Boxing Day at Meadowbank for Marc White and his men saw them fall to a third home defeat in their last four in the league. The result leaves his side a point above the relegation places, and The Hoops, who moved up to 21st after their win.
Attention will now turn to New Years Day, where these two sides meet again at Marsh Lane for the reverse fixture.
Dorking Wanderers: 1 Harrison Male, 5 Tony Craig, 6 Niall McManus, 8 Matt Briggs (29 Tom Blair 58’), 9 Jason Prior (24 Harry Ottaway 27’), 11 James McShane, 16 Charlie Carter, 17 Josh Taylor, Haydn Hollis, 22 Barry Fuller (C) (30 Seb Bowerman 14’), 37 George Francomb
Unused subs: 18 Luke Moore, 20 Dan Gallagher
Oxford City: 26 Jack Bycroft, 5 Nya Kirby, 6 Jacob Reddy, 7 Lewis Coyle, 8 Reece Fleet (C), 9 Oliver Sanderson (24 Phil Croker 83’), 12 Mitchell Roberts (18 Aaron Williams-Bushell 58’), 14 Josh Parker, 15 Renny Smith, 19 Candice Carol, 27 Levi Lumeka (16 Alfie Potter 66’)
Unused subs: 17 Pierre Fonkeu, 20 Latrell Humphrey-Ewers
Referee: Farrai Hallam
Sponsors Man of the Match: Niall McManus