A bolstered-looking Dorking squad welcomes a Gateshead side who are without a win in their last three league games. Alfie Rutherford is in line to return to White’s match-day squad for the first time in over a month, following the forwards brief loan stint at Weymouth FC, with our group looking the healthiest it has done for some time.
League leaders Chesterfield put Rob Elliot’s men to the sword with a convincing 5-0 victory in their last league match. Heed’s interim boss stated he and the club need to “face the challenge head on” in reaction to the heavy defeat, as well as losing a number of players at the start of the month due to loan recalls and sales. Stephen Wearne’s departure represents perhaps Gateshead’s biggest loss, the high-flying midfielder who had netted eleven times this term, has moved to MK Dons, reuniting with his former manager, Mike Williamson, after they activated his release clause. Elsewhere, Billy Chadwick, who scored a hat-trick against Dorking earlier in the season, has been recalled by his parent club Stockport County.
Saturday’s fixture between us and The Heed offers multiple opportunities of redemption for White’s men, who ought to be looking to vastly improve on their last showing against The Tynesiders back in October, where Gateshead hit Wanderers for six, recording Elliot’s first win in the dugout. The boys will also be looking to right the wrongs of their last outing, where Macclesfield knocked them out of the FA Trophy with a convincing 5-0 victory.
The Wanderers boss described the display at Leasing.com Stadium as “the worst performance in the clubs history”, whilst insisting that The Silkmen were “great on the day.”
As we put the Trophy disappointment behind us, the group have had an unanticipated full week between games. The Wanderers boss stated in his weekly catchup that his men were “chomping at the bit” for the game at York City on Tuesday evening “after a sleepless few nights”.
White insists that the team are “ready to go tomorrow”, in a massive game at Meadowbank.
“We’ll focus on what’s in front of us, we’ve got a big few games ahead”
Thursday’s training at Meadowbank saw a healthy number of players involved, with Matt Briggs (hamstring), Barry Fuller (hamstring) and James McShane (ACL) the only notable absentees.
In his weekly update, White stated that Briggs should be back in training next week, while club captain Fuller is still “a few weeks away.”
After being rested at Macclesfield last time out, Tony Craig is expected to return to the squad. Should the experienced centre-half start against The Heed, it’ll be the first time this season which he has started six consecutive games.
Luke Moore is unavailable for selection tomorrow, after receiving a four game ban as a result of his straight red card at Macclesfield last Saturday.
White also has Jimmy Muitt available for selection again, after he was cup-tied for the Fourth Round clash in Cheshire.
Opposition Focus – The Heed
Since the start of his interim period in the dugout, Rob Elliot has picked up six wins from 14 games in all competitions. Elliot watched his side survive a late scare against Weston-super-Mare in the FA Trophy weekend, winning on penalties conceding in the 91st minute, giving the Seagulls hope of an upset reminiscent to the one Dorking suffered in Cheshire. Louis Storey and Marcus Dinanga netted for The Heed either side of half-time, the latter maintaining his prolific scoring form this campaign.
Dinanga’s return of 12 goals this term renders the forward Dorking’s biggest threat this Saturday.
A busy month for The Tynesider’s has seen a number of incomings and outgoings. In addition to losing Wearne and Chadwick, experienced defender Elliot Forbes also departed at the start of the month, ending a five-and-a-half year spell at Gateshead International Stadium. Elliot also lost his starting goalkeeper, Archie Mair, after he was recalled by his parent club Norwich City.
In response to the mass exodus, The Heed have been busy recruiting. Promising goalie Eddie Beach has arrived on loan from Chelsea, and is in line to make his second start in Heed colours at Meadowbank this weekend. Jack Stott could also make his second appearance, after arriving from Middlesborough earlier in the month. Attacking midfielder Kieron Evans this week arrived from Cardiff City on loan to bolster Elliots options – Evans spent the 2022/23 season on loan at our National League counterparts Torquay United, where he netted against Gateshead.
Last Time We Met
A James McShane brace against The Heed in August 2022 made it back-to-back Wanderers wins for the first time in their National League history. Macca diverted Niall McManus’ fierce cross home 18 minutes into play, before doubling the Dorking advantage no less than three minutes later with a superb strike from outside the area.
Adam Campbell pulled one back for The Heed with 20 minutes to play, but Dorking resiliently held out for the three points.
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