Dorking Wanderers (3) 3 Bath City (3) 4 – Friendly – Saturday 30 January 2021 – Meadowbank Stadium
Report by Mark Stillman
Donovan Wilson’s 88th minute strike settled a seven-goal thriller at Meadowbank as Bath City recovered from 3-1 down to defeat Dorking Wanderers in a hastily-arranged friendly.
Six of the goals arrived in a chaotic first half with both managers probably hoping their defences don’t replicate their sloppiness if the league campaign resumes.
Jason Prior’s free header was swiftly cancelled out by Tom Richards, before Niall McManus and Jimmy Muitt put Dorking in control.
Alex Fletcher’s brace just before half-time made it 3-3 and City after the break with Wilson’s intervention earning them a win.
City would have been aware of Prior’s threat having scored 15 in 15 starts this season, and he needed just 11 minutes to break the deadlock. Jimmy Muitt found room on the right and his cross was perfect for the unmarked forward who easily nodded past Ryan Clarke from six yards.
Within a minute it was 1-1. Sam Beard sliced Fletcher’s ball forward from the kick-off, Tom Smith reacted quicker than Barry Fuller to nudge it into Richards’ path, who delicately lofted it over the advancing Sam Howes from 10 yards.
Muitt wastefully blazed over when Clarke failed to fully punch Nicky Wheeler’s cross away, but by the 18th minute Dorking regained the lead.
Wheeler’s low ball from the left was scuffed by Ryan Harley straight to McManus, who beautifully bent the ball into the top corner from 15 yards past Clarke’s outstretched arm.
While that was truly intended, Dorking’s third on 22 minutes was not. Muitt picked up the ball on the right and his hanging cross was meant for Alfie Rutherford, but instead it flew straight over Clarke and into the far corner.
Clarke made amends with a stunning low save to his left from Prior’s fizzed free-kick as Wanderers looked menacing going forward, but defensively they wilted and gifted City a second on 42 minutes.
McManus’ attempt to dribble out from the back went awry as Smith out-muscled him and teed up Fletcher who nonchalantly lifted it over the grounded Howes.
Two minutes later it was all-square. Harley’s ball forward saw Fuller and Beard collide with one another, leaving Fletcher free in the penalty area. He brought the ball inside and blasted it into the roof of the net from 10 yards to round off the scoring of a manic first half.
Dorking made three changes at the break with Prior one of those withdrawn as he continues his rehabilitation from injury. Defensively the Surrey side still looked shaky. Harley’s low corner was drilled to Smith, who peeled into space and was unlucky to see his fierce strike cannon back off the crossbar.
The lively midfielder shot just over from 30 yards and Wilson was denied by Howes as Bath pressed Marc White’s men into mistakes in their own half. The hosts were further hampered when half-time substitute Charlie Hester-Cook was forced off from Lloyd James’ firm challenge, and other than his replacement Ryan Dickson shooting over from distance, they offered little going forward without Prior’s presence.
Fletcher’s marauding run forward concluded with a volley just over Howes’ bar before Jerry Gill’s men snatched the win with two minutes remaining.
Richards’ throw-in was collected by Wilson, who held off Jake Gallagher before unleashing a low drive from just outside the area which flew past Howes inside his left post. The forward, who is still serving a three-match ban, showed how much he’s been missed as he only needed half a yard of space to score his second goal at Meadowbank in two visits.
While City won’t collect the points as they did from the same venue two months ago, but they’ll take home some further belief and look in good stead should the season resume next week.
City’s Line-Up: Clarke (c), Trialist, Smith (Trialist 72), Batten, Ball, Evans (Trialist 58), Wilson, Harley, James, Richards, Fletcher. Subs not used: Henry, Watts.
Scorers: City – Richards (12), Fletcher (41,45), Wilson (88); Dorking – Prior (11), McManus (18), Muitt (22)
City Bookings – none
Referee – D Austin