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Dorking Wanderers 1 Staines Town 1
Posted: 15th August 2017
An 89th minute Dean Hamlin header earned Dorking Wanderers a deserved point as a resilient performance brought an end to Staines Town’s free scoring run.
The days before the game had seen Dorking lose goalkeeper and player of the year, Slavomir Huk, with a broken hand. So Staines, fresh from resounding 5-0 and 6-0 wins, posed a daunting prospect.
The early signs were ominous for Wanderers. With little more than ten minutes gone, stand in keeper Harry Palmer did superbly to get across his goal and block a far post shot with his feet, just two yards out. Two minutes later and Staines were ahead. Mohamed Bettamer’s free kick from just outside the box was driven low under the wall, Palmer dived to get a hand to the ball but couldn't keep it out.
The visitors should have doubled their lead on 25 minutes, as Max Worsfield picked up the ball on half way and skipped past Beckles, O’Neil and Ray, only to poke the ball wide of the near post with just the keeper to beat.
Manager Marc White conceded it had been a slow start for Dorking. “We were ponderous playing out from the back and struggled to get out of our own half,” he said. “It was our own mistakes giving Staines chances. In the first ten minutes we gave them six dead balls to put us under pressure.”
Matters got worse for White’s team on half an hour when Jerome Beckles was sent off for a second yellow card. Having already been booked and with the referee showing cards liberally, the midfielder dragged back Staines Town’s Elliot Buchanan as he turned and broke free.
“The referee was punishing absolutely everything, so it was silly to make a cynical foul at that stage,” admitted the boss.
If spectators considered the man in the middle was being rather strict in booking players, he was at least doing so consistently and, just before half time, the teams were levelled up at ten-a-side, Staines’ Wadah Ahmidi seeing red for a high foot that connected with James McShane’s head.
“Staines are very direct and we’re a footballing side that likes to pass the ball around, so at 10 v 10 I thought the game would open up to favour us,” said Marc White.
And so it proved in the second half. Winger Matt Briggs began to see more of the ball and get behind the defence. His first cross was palmed into the air by the Staines keeper into the path of Dan Pearse but, with an awkward bounce, the Dorking midfielder couldn’t keep his far post shot down.
A ball into the box by the impressive Brannon O’Neill, on his first start, found the head of David Ray, but the defender just failed to get over the ball. And, on 70 minutes, Briggs junked his way into the box, but his left foot shot went comfortably over the bar. With Staines Town offering little in the way of attacking threat, the equaliser arrived a minute from time. O’Neil whipped a superb free kick into the box, and central defender Dean Hamlin stooped to power a header into the net.
“Our dead ball deliveries were great all day and if we’d been a little more committed getting on the end of them, we might have scored more,” reflected the Manager. “But with Brannon and Giuseppe Sole we now have two dead ball specialists, so we can definitely build on that in the coming weeks.”
With Wanderers adjusting to life in the Bostik Premier, a draw was a good result, but it might have been more as Isaac Philpot rose in injury time to flick a header just wide of the post, and O’Neil combined with Tom Tolfrey in the box, but the keeper was out quickly to smother the ball as the visitors held on.
Dorking Wanderers: Palmer, Summerfield (Philpot 45), Boulter (Sheridan 23), Hamlin, Ray, O’Neil, Beckles, Briggs, Sole (Pearse 45), Tolfrey, McShane
Unused subs: Chendlik, Morgan