Boreham Wood v Dorking Wanderers
Tuesday 28th February 2023, 7.45pm
LV BET Stadium Meadow Park, Vanarama National League 

The Wood return to midweek action with the visit of Dorking Wanderers, looking to kick off a winning run after finally ending their run of four draws in a row with victory over Scunthorpe United last time out.

IN FOCUS: DORKING WANDERERS

After being established in 1999, Dorking Wanderers have steadily climbed the non-league pyramid from park football to the National League in a short space of time, with manager Marc White being the architect to it all. White was one of five founding members of the Surrey-based outfit and brought the club to life in the Crawley & District League, where they remained for a season before switching to Division Four of the West Sussex League which they won at the first attempt, and their momentum didn’t stop as they procured a third consecutive promotion in 2001/02 before two further promotions over the next four years saw them compete in the Premier Division, which they won on the last day of the 2006/07 season. Wanderers then kicked off the 2010’s with the Sussex County League Division Three title and before long found themselves in Division One, and after struggling to adapt at first added to their several promotions already by reaching the Isthmian League, which they got out of after just two seasons before reaching the National League South by a margin of 22 points in 2018/19, winning the division on their 20th anniversary as a club. Their time in the sixth tier proved to be very stop-start due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but another history-making promotion was on the cards as they reached the top level of non-league football after just 23 years as a club, winning promotion to the National League for the first time in 2021/22.

Wanderers’ maiden campaign in the fifth tier has unsurprisingly been their most difficult test yet, with the club sitting just a point above the drop zone in 20th place. Nonetheless, they have impressed in attack with the joint-seventh most amount of goals scored, as the likes of James McShane has continued his fine form for the club in his seventh year while the summer arrival of Ryan Seager has ensured the loss of star man Alfie Rutherford to injury hasn’t affected them, with the former Hungerford Town man being the only other player alongside McShane to reach double figures. Seager was joined by Sebastian Bowerman, Jack Jebb and Alfie Egan in the summer, while Aaron Kuhl and Jason Prior arrived at Meadowbank in January in an attempt to bolster their frontline. Additionally, Dorking have added experience and solidity at the back with George Francomb, Tony Craig and Joe Cook joining in January, and they will be hoping to sure up a defence which has conceded a league-high 76 goals to help them enjoy a more consistent second half of the campaign, as they attempt to cement their National League status for next season.

LAST TIME OUT

Wrexham AFC 3-1 Dorking Wanderers
Saturday 25th February 2023
Vanarama National League

Dorking Wanderers were defeated by a clinical Wrexham side after goals from Elliot Lee, Paul Mullin and Sam Dalby saw them go down 3-1 to the promotion chasers at a packed out Racecourse Ground.

Wanderers began confidently and had the hosts pushed back in their half through the opening exchanges, with a succession of Josh Taylor long throw in’s giving the Dragons defence something to think about, but it would be Wrexham who created the first opportunity of the game when Lee headed Mullin’s volley across the six-yard box off the crossbar. This certainly served as a warning shot for the visitors, and the former Luton Town midfielder would open the scoring just a few minutes later in style when he received the ball from the left flank before bending a strike into the top-right corner from 20-yards out. Ryan Seager and Bobby-Joe Taylor had half chances as they tried to find a quick equaliser, but the hosts soon upped the ante and began to apply pressure around the Wanderers box, with Dalby twice testing Dan Lincoln before Luke Young’s deflected effort was well read by the Wanderers stopper, with Jimmy Muitt later making an important intervention to deny Mullin. A rare chance for Wanderers saw them threaten on the counter-attack as Taylor linked up with Harry Ottaway with the forward testing Rob Lainton, but the hosts would double their lead just a few minutes before the break as Mullin steered a low strike with precision into the bottom left corner.

The Red Dragons kept the up the momentum after the restart with Mullin and Dalby quickly finding themselves beyond the Wanderers backline, with some hesitation allowing the recovering Tony Craig to snuff out any effort at goal. However, just a couple of minutes later Dalby would get in behind again and this time make it count, cutting into the penalty area from the right channel before slamming home a left foot strike between Lincoln and the near post from several yards out. The hosts started to sit back a bit in their shape after adding the third goal and were passing within themselves, while Wanderers by contrast took a stronger grip on possession for the remainder of the game and their quality and patience on the ball for long periods lead to chances being created in the final third, with Seb Bowerman almost picking out Seager before Isaac Philpot’s low ball driven in front of the six yard was too close to Lainton. Their impressive, sustained spell of possession from back to front proceeded to Wanderers getting a consolation, as Bowerman found Muitt who rose highest to nod the ball home. Lincoln was called into action at the other end to make further good saves in the closing stages; denying Lee, Dalby and Ollie Palmer before Bowerman again provided from the left as Seager this time couldn’t get the ball out of his feet, with Wanderers unable to further reduce the deficit and set up a grandstand finish as they fell to defeat in North Wales.

RECENT FORM

Wrexham AFC (A) L3-1
Torquay United (H) W3-2
Bromley (A) L2-0
Aldershot Town (A) L1-0
Aldershot Town (A) L2-0
Solihull Moors (H) L0-3

Despite a promising start to their maiden campaign in the fifth tier, Dorking Wanderers have seemingly fallen off in recent months and as a result find themselves just a point above the drop zone, having lost all but one league game since the turn of the year. Defeat at home to Solihull Moors saw them unable to produce a winning run after beating Kidderminster Harriers in the FA Trophy the week before, and they subsequently lost three further outings with Aldershot Town eliminating Wanderers from the aforementioned competition to seal a second win over them in a week. They followed this up with a fourth defeat in a row away at Bromley, and although they bounced back to winning ways when Harry Ottaway’s second half brace secured a narrow victory over relegation rivals Torquay United, they then had to endure a harrowing visit to title contenders Wrexham who condemned Marc White’s men to another loss last time out.

IN THE DUGOUT: MARC WHITE

Wanderers manager Marc White has enjoyed a unique journey with the club, being the architect to Dorking’s formation in 1999. Having founded the club with some friends and taking on both the role of Chairman and manager, the enthusiastic 49-year old has guided the club to a record 11 promotions in 19 years, overseeing a meteoric rise which started in the park.

ONE TO WATCH: JAMES MCSHANE

A naturally gifted and highly skilled footballer, James McShane quickly became one of the first names on the teamsheet after his move to Dorking Wanderers in 2016. After spending time with a number of Scottish teams as a youngster including the Shire Under-20’s, a move to Staines Town preceded a switch to Combined Counties League side Molesey where he would make a name for himself. Brief spells away from the Moles saw him turn out for Chipstead, Egham, Clyde, East Stirlingshire, Walton Casuals and Walton & Hersham, but he would go on to rack up nearly 250 appearances and 100 goals for the Surrey-based outfit across three separate spells at Walton Road. He is regarded as one the club’s greatest ever players thanks to his skill, work rate and eye for goal, with his form seeing him get picked up by Dorking Wanderers in 2016 where he has remained ever since, going on to score over 60 goals in over 200 appearances in red and white including 17 this season, across a seven-year spell.

LAST TIME WE MET

Dorking Wanderers 1-4 Boreham Wood
Monday 29th August 2022
Vanarama National League

The Wood came away with maximum points after consigning Dorking Wanderers to back-to-back defeats across Bank Holiday Weekend, while Luke Garrard’s men continued their 100% record on the road at the start of the season.

Lee Ndlovu had a couple of early efforts in a steady opening to proceedings, showing his strength to get past a couple of Wanderers before striking a rising effort over the top. However it was the hosts who opened the scoring with their first real venture forward, with Niall McManus reacting brilliantly to quickly intercept the ball as the Wood tried to come out with it, showing great agility to keep his balance before passing to Alfie Rutherford who remained ice cool before turning and directing the ball accurately into the bottom corner. Both side lacked that bit of cohesion in their play midway through the half, although the visitors did go close on the counter a couple of times with Ndovlu hitting the bar before Érico Sousa robbed possession from Isaac Philpot and advanced forward before striking a low effort that was well-saved. Wanderers grew into the game and started to push the Wood back with a tighter a grip on possession, and in the lead up to half-time generated some good chances to extend their advantage as Josh Taylor twice going close before setting the ball up for Bobby-Joe Taylor to strike just inside the box, with Nathan Ashmore producing an outstanding reaction save to claw the ball away and keep the deficit at one goal.

Some changes at the break gave the Wood an evident boost after the restart, applying greater pressure up the pitch and pulled Wanderers into complying with their more direct approach. Luke Moore and Jordan Cheadle produced timely blocks during a particularly scrappy period inside the home box, as Mark Ricketts forced Slavomir Huk into a comfortable save from range before Dennon Lewis struck wide. Substitute Ryan Seager would set up Jack Jebb at the other end who tried to swerve a volley into the top corner, but he would pay the price for missing the target as the hosts continued to carry a threat up, and scored two goals in the space of two minutes to turn the contest on its head. Josh Rees had gone close with a first time strike that forced Huk into a brilliant reaction stop, but the subsequent corner ball fell to Ndlovu who headed beyond Huk, and they would soon take the lead with the next attack when Lewis showed a great turn of pace to get past his man on the left flank, with his eventual shot being diverted into the back of the net by Tyrone Marsh. Wanderers sought an immediate equaliser with a goalmouth scramble being cleared away in front of the goal line before Taylor’s fierce strike cannoned straight off Ashmore. The Wood to go continue putting on the pressure through Ndlovu who was a thorn in Wanderers side throughout the match, who teed up the arriving Jack Payne following a corner who tested Huk, before even Ashmore almost got in on the act when a goal kick bounced back off the crossbar. However, the Wood would soon seal the victory with two goals in stoppage time, finally putting the game to bed when Ndovlu latched onto a ball before shrugging off Taylor to rifle the ball into the roof of the net, before Zak Brunt sat the ball up perfectly for Marsh who slotted the ball past Huk, securing all three points.

HAVEN’T WE MET BEFORE? ALFIE EGAN

Alfie Egan made the move to the LV BET Stadium Meadow Park in the summer of 2022 following his departure from National League South side Ebbsfleet United. The AFC Wimbledon academy product had initially gained experience out on loan at Sutton United, East Thurrock United and Kingstonian, before being released by the Dons and subsequently joining Ebbsfleet shortly after. The 25-year old impressed during his time at Stonebridge Road, offering plenty of energy in the centre of the park as well as adding some eye-catching goals to his game, but Ebbsfleet’s relegation in 2020 meant he spent just a single season at the highest level of non-league football, barring a brief loan spell at Maidenhead United in 2020/21. Egan will have jumped at the chance to join Boreham Wood last summer and thus will have been eying up a chance to compete at the top-end of the National League for the first time, with the midfielder showing glimpses of his quality during pre-season. Unfortunately, the National League campaign kicked off with first team opportunities being restricted, with just three unused substitute appearances owing to the early form of the team, while the later arrivals of Jack Payne and George Broadbent further limited chances for the midfielder. Egan ultimately departed Hertfordshire after just two months without a competitive appearance to his name, opting to join Dorking Wanderers in search of regular game time, and he racked up 13 appearances since his move to Meadowbank.

OUR TOWN. OUR CLUB. OUR COMMUNITY.

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