Dan discusses Wanderers ahead of the gameat Plainmoor
I’ve been involved with Dorking Wanderers since 2019, getting involved with the media team as a match reporter ahead of their first season in the National League South (2019/20). Prior to that I did match reporting and written content for a couple of other local clubs, but Dorking gave me the opportunity to do that on a regular basis which I’m very grateful for. Over the last couple of seasons I’ve become more involved with other media areas around the club and done more written content as well. It’s a unique club with brilliant people around it and to have been involved in these past few seasons of the club’s history has been a great experience.
One win in the last five and a disappointing exit from the FA Cup has slightly dampened things after an encouraging start where the team picked up some good results and played a number of the promotion-fancied sides early on. Given the injuries to key personnel and following the quick turnaround between last season concluding and this one starting there’s an acknowledgement around the club that the acclimatisation to the league may take time and there will be good days and bad days. Defensively we know improvements need to be made but the team’s quality in possession and in attack has been consistently strong throughout the campaign so far and that trademark ‘never say die’ attitude it always there. As the manager often says, ‘never write off the Wanderers!’
Handing Notts County their only league defeat of the season so far has to be the standout moment. To have done it in such dramatic fashion at the end of the game with James McShane, who is one of many players to have been with the club for several consecutive seasons, scoring a hat-trick was just brilliant. Personally I have to say the club’s first ever National League away day against Oldham Athletic which was also live on BT Sport will live long in the memory, the timing of the fixture for both club’s what with their takeover just going through made it an unforgettable occasion. Wanderers gave an excellent account of themselves that day and were really unlucky not to rescue a draw late on.
As it stands three of the club’s key, influential players – captain Barry Fuller, winger Matt Briggs and striker Alfie Rutherford – are all ruled out with injury which is really unfortunate. Of those available and playing in recent weeks, versatile central midfielder Josh Taylor has continued his excellent form from last season and is consistent with in his performances, whilst recent signing Seb Bowerman has been a revelation playing out wide, scoring on his debut coming off the bench against Dagenham and having a hand in a number of the goals scored in the last few games. James McShane has also risen to the level brilliantly, the third highest scorer for the division with 11 goals so far playing in central midfield or deployed just behind the striker.
What Marc White has achieved with Dorking Wanderers is truly unique and is a remarkable story. Forming the club in 1999 with a load of friends and entering a park league, he has remained at the helm as chairman and manager as the club has gone on to achieve a British record 12 promotions in 23 years and reach the top tier of non-league. To have done that by playing an attractive brand of football, with several players staying with the club through many of those years and having to adjust on and off the field to the demands of new levels virtually every other year is some achievement. As many people will know through how he speaks in the media and the Bunch Of Amateurs documentary series on YouTube, he is very hard working, very honest and often very funny, and it’s the combination of those things that make the environment around the club so infectious to be part of and ultimately why it’s been successful.
The 3-5-2 formation is very much locked in as ‘the Wanderers way’, and again those who have watched the documentary series will appreciate how Marc wants the team to completely subscribe to that shape and style of play most matches – playing out from the back, retaining the ball, looking to get the ball into the wide men. There has been more inclination this season to go 4-3-3 or 4-5-1 at various points though depending on opposition or how the squad is looking with injuries etc.
Further to the team news released on Tuesday the two new defensive signings Joe Cook and Archie Procter will be included in the matchday squad so they could potentially make their debut(s). Seb Bowerman and Harry Ottaway are doubtful so that may force a change in attack with different personnel out wide and James McShane may push up to play behind main striker Ryan Seager. Josh Taylor missed the last game against Aldershot through suspension so he is likely to return to the starting line up.
Given the fact it’s a long distance midweek game and considering the current state of the weather, it’s definitely the most challenging away day of the season so far! The away support has been fantastic though throughout the season so far and despite the challenges I’m sure Wanderers will be well backed on the road once again.
Even though Wanderers got the win on the day, for me Notts County were the most complete team faced this season so far. Organised, great in possession, quick in attacking transition, a number of stand-out players, it’s no surprise they are top of the table at this stage. You could see the quality of Ruben Rodrigues for them, he really impressed, and fellow ‘No10’ Joe Sbarra at Solihull Moors also really impressed when the teams met back in August.
I think there might be a few goals and even though Torquay have had a really positive week I’m backing Wanderers to get back on track with a win. 1-3