Wanderers avenged the defeat suffered on Boxing Day by seeing off Oxford City in the second half courtesy of well-taken effort by Niall McManus, his first goal of the season, and a close range finish from Seb Bowerman after good work from Bobby-Joe Taylor down the right. Ollie Sanderson halved the defecit for The Hoops with virtually the last kick of the game to deny Marc White’s side a clean sheet, on an afternoon where Harrison Male pulled off a number of good saves to keep the scores level.
With Barry Fuller, George Francomb, James McShane and Jason Prior all injured during the reverse fixture on Boxing Day, Marc White was forced into changes with his starting line up; Isaac Philpot, Seb Bowerman, Dan Gallagher and Harry Ottaway replacing the aforementioned four, with Luke Moore also coming into the side as Niall McManus dropped to the bench.
After defending a couple of early crosses from the hosts, Wanderers quickly took a grip of possession and were on top of play for much of the opening forty-five.
At the midway point of the half Briggs’ low cross was just about diverted away from the outstretched boot of Ottaway closing in on the six-yard box, Hollis then spurning a good opportunity moments later from Bowerman’s cross, diverting his header wide at the back post.
Moore drove an effort off target and Josh Taylor saw his half-volley closed down as Wanderers went the closer to breaking the deadlock, clear cut chances at a premium as neither side could really bring the respective goalkeeper’s into action.
Debuting Oxford defender Seydil Toure, signed by The Hoops within the last 24 hours, had a headed effort cleared right in front of goal during stoppage time as the hosts cranked up the pressure just before the interval.
Briggs produced a brilliant sliding interception to deny Lewis Coyle and Ollie Sanderson blasted an effort wide as Oxford began brighter after the restart, Male then producing an absolutely outstanding save to palm away Nya Kirby’s powerful effort from just inside the area.
Marc White introduced Niall McManus for Charlie Carter just past the hour and the change paid off within a few minutes as Wanderers broke the deadlock; flowing passing in midfield proceeding Josh Taylor dribbling to the edge of the box, the ball then shifted on to McManus who swept home clinically to register his first goal of the campaign.
Male timed his movement well to deny Sanderson in a one-on-one and clawed away a header from Toure which looked set to nestle in the top left corner not long before Wanderers scored the all important second goal ten minutes from time.
And it was another substitution which had a key impact; Bobby-Joe Taylor had not been on the field long in place of Matt Briggs before emerging from the corner with the ball after a thrown in was worked short, the wing back drilling a cross towards the face of goal, Bowerman on hand to guide the ball in for the second consecutive away game.
Ross Jenkins side pushed late on to get back in the game and did pull a goal back at the end of stoppage time; Jacob Roddy winning the ball in the air and heading downwards at goal, Male making the initial save but Sanderson the fastest to react and tap home the rebound.
Wanderers will now be looking to build on the positive start to 2024 in the first home match of the new year this Saturday afternoon, Oldham Athletic the visitors in a 3pm kick off at Meadowbank.
Oxford City (3-5-2): 26 Jack Bycroft, 25 Seydil Toure, 19 Canice Carroll, 6 Jacob Roddy; 11 Alex McQueen (27 Levi Lumeka 70′), 5 Nya Kirby (20 Latrell Humphrey-Ewers 85′), 8 Reece Fleet (c), 16 Alfie Potter (14 Josh Parker 56′), 7 Lewis Coyle; 15 Renny Smith, 9 Olly Sanderson
Unused Subs: 18 Aaron Williams-Bushell, 24 Phil Croker
Goal: Sanderson 90+5′
Yellow Cards: Kirby 42′, McQueen 49′, Coyle 54′
Dorking Wanderers (3-5-2): 1 Harrison Male, 2 Isaac Philpot, 5 Tony Craig (c), 19 Haydn Hollis; 8 Matt Briggs (3 Bobby-Joe Taylor 74′), 20 Dan Gallagher (4 Dan Pybus 16′), 17 Josh Taylor, 18 Luke Moore, 30 Seb Bowerman; 16 Charlie Carter (6 Niall McManus 61′), 24 Harry Ottaway
Unused Subs: 12 Callum Kennedy, 29 Tom Blair
Goals: McManus 66′, Bowerman 81′
Yellow Cards: Gallagher 14′, Briggs 55′, J Taylor 75′, McManus 77′
Referee: Aji Ajibola