Dorking Wanderers (2) 4 Bath City (1) 1 – Saturday 9 October 2021 – Vanarama National League South – Meadowbank
Match Report by Mark Stillman.
“Pathetic” was the adjective Jerry Gill used to describe his side’s defending in Saturday’s 4-1 collapse at Dorking Wanderers.
The Romans led through Cody Cooke’s 9th minute penalty but the Surrey side were on terms 11 minutes later through Alfie Rutherford.
The impressive Matt Briggs headed Wanderers in front before a quickfire James McShane double late on helped seal a deserved three points for the hosts.
It was Dorking’s first win at Meadowbank against City, who has seen off lower league opponents in cups in the past weeks but overpowered late on by a side surprisingly positioned in mid-table before the contest.
The hosts were agonisingly close to opening the scoring on four minutes when Niall McManus’ placed drive flicked off the heel of Jack Batten and clipped the post before being hacked away.
City reacted by earning a penalty with their first meaningful attack. Elliott Frear’s ball from the left was met by Alex Fletcher who went down under minimal pressure from Ed Harris, but referee Steven Hughes pointed to the spot and showed the centre-back a fifth yellow card of the season. Cooke wasn’t phased by the delay and neatly placed his penalty to the left of debutant Stuart Nelson, who had dived the right way. A ninth goal of the season for the number nine in the ninth minute.
Dorking weren’t deterred. They levelled on 20 minutes when Briggs ran from one end of the 3G to the other, bypassing Omar Holness and Joe Raynes, before his low centre was tidily guided home by Rutherford, the striker’s first goal of the campaign.
Briggs nodded his side in front 12 minutes later. Again a cross from wide did the damage, this time Rutherford’s delivery wasn’t stopped and Briggs didn’t have to move as he headed across Murphy Mahoney from 10 yards – an excellent header but made easier by non-existent marking.
Frear’s shot on the turn just evaded Tom Smith at the far post as City remained a threat going forward but looked just as susceptible at the other end, resulting in an open, entertaining half of football for the neutral but awkward viewing for the respective coaching staffs.
Dorking made a change at the break, replacing Callum Kealy for Nicky Wheeler and pushing McShane, a peripheral figure in the first half, into a central attacking role. It later paid off handsomely.
Briggs aimed for a second when he was left in space from a short corner but his 20-yarder was fisted away from Mahoney. Nelson, 40, was given an easier second half than his counterpart, happy to see Frear’s free-kick sail miles over after a foul from Harris on Fletcher saw Luke Moore and home boss Marc White receive cautions for taking their protests too far.
Fletcher headed Frear’s free-kick wide in a difficult chance while Mahoney kept out BJ Taylor’s stinging free-kick from an acute angle and watched Barry Fuller’s half volley land just over his bar after more slack marking from a set-piece.
The third goal which killed the game off left Gill apoplectic in his post-match interview. Briggs’ ball down the right saw Batten left one-on-one with Rutherford. One touch inside from the front man saw him leave the centre-back for dead and he squared to the untracked McShane who expertly lofted the ball into the roof of the net past the grounded Mahoney.
The Scotsman completed his brace three minutes later when again Rutherford tied Batten in knots before his shot was saved by Mahoney. It bounced back perfectly to McShane who prodded the rebound in from six yards – the 18th goal conceded in Bath’s eighth league match this season, their most at this stage for twenty-one years.
Although creating little in the second half compared to the first, the late collapse which allowed a slender lead into a comprehensive one left Gill exasperated and he’ll be hoping for a stronger unit for next Saturday’s awkward FA Cup tie at Banbury United.
City’s Line-Up: Mahoney, Raynes, Gerring (c), Batten, Fletcher, Holness, Cooke, Smith (Touray 60), Frear, Jones, Owers. Subs not used: Clarke, James, Richards, Cannings.
Scorers: City – Cooke (pen 8); Dorking – Rutherford (20), Briggs (32), McShane (79, 81)
City Bookings: Gerring (41)
Officials: S Hughes, J Hurst, C Fiddler