Hemel Hempstead Town 1 Dorking Wanderers 3
Vanarama National League South 06/02/2021
Match Report by Allan Mitchell
Dorking Wanderers moved into second place in the National League South after goals from Jason Prior and Alfie Rutherford saw the visitors leave Vauxhall Road with three points.
Tudors Boss, Lee Bircham was left to reflect on another defeat in a game that his side had competed well, commenting afterwards that it was “all about a lack of quality in both boxes.”
The visitors made the better start, passing the ball well on a surface that they are very comfortable with. Despite their early possession, they created little to worry new Tudors keeper Nick Hayes, and it was the home side who had the first opportunities.
Both came from crosses out on the right from Gus Scott-Morriss, each time finding Matt Bateman who in the first instance did well to get in front of his marker but couldn’t keep his header down, the ball flying over the bar. The second was a better chance, but the luckless striker saw his glancing close-range flick blocked by Lewis Carey in the Dorking goal.
Almost inevitably, Wanderers took the lead with their first real attempt after 18 mins. It was a poor goal from Hemel’s point of view, a cross from the left was allowed to travel across the goal, and it fell to Jason Prior who made no mistake.
With Hemel somewhat stunned after the first goal, Alfie Rutherford then had a glorious chance to double Dorking's advantage, but he scuffed his shot and Hayes saved easily.
It was only a short reprieve however as Dorking made it two with an almost identical finish after a cross reached the stooping Rutherford who glanced his header into the net.
It looked a tight call as Hemel desperately appealed for a flag, but it stayed down, and the goal was given.
Hemel continued to press, and a cross from the impressive JJ Lacey was headed onto his own bar by McManus with Bateman putting the centre half under pressure.
You felt that if the Tudors could pull a goal back, it would be a different game as Dorking looked suspect at the back at times but, the visitors made sure of all three points early in the second half.
They won a corner on the left and as it came in a Dorking player fell to the ground, with the visitors bench leading a rousing yell, the referee decided there had been a shirt tug in the box.
The impressive Prior sent Nick Hayes the wrong way to leave the Tudors with a mountain to climb from the resulting spot-kick.
To their credit Hemel never gave up and continued to create chances, Sam Mantom drilled a free-kick over the bar, Bernard Christie had a shot blocked, and they deservedly pulled a goal back on 74 minutes when Reggie Young put Lacey through, and he drove home from a tight angle. Lacey, who was having another impressive game, had another chance as the clock ticked down but this time his volley went just over the bar.
Dorking were still looking dangerous on the counter as Hemel pressed forward and Hayes did well to save from Prior to cap an impressive debut from the young keeper.
In the end, Dorking were content to see the clock tick down, and they completed the double over the Tudors to maintain their promotion hopes.
Manager Bircham said it was another difficult defeat to take, but you just cannot legislate for the individual mistakes that keep happening.
Hopefully, they will get the chance to put those right, but nobody really knows what is going to happen with the league, which is frustrating for all concerned, especially for teams like Hemel who have managed their budget accordingly and are able to continue.
Chairman Dave Boggins aired his views on the Non-League Show with Ollie Bayliss on BBC Three Counties radio; you can listen back on the BBC Sounds App. It’s an interesting and informative interview.
Hemel: Nick Hayes, Gus Scott-Morriss, Rene Street, Nathan Cooper, Ryan Kinnane, (Kyle Ajayi), Chris Paul, (Ryan Blackman), Samir Carruthers, Sam Mantom, Matt Bateman, (Reggie Young), Jonathan Lacey, Bernard Christie. Subs not used: David Saunders, Jake Howells. Tudors Man of the Match. JJ Lacey.