Glenn Charker’s St Francis Rangers excellent winning run came to a halt at the hands of Marc Whites high flying Dorking Wanderers at the Colwell on Wednesday.
The only goal of this evenly contested game came via Darryl Coleman’s precisely executed free kick on the half hour mark and was enough to secure Dorking all three points on the night.
Charker’s side were without Josh Hawkes who picked up a groin injury during Saturday’s win at Crawley Down, he was replaced by man of the match Steve Smith who partnered Captain Walsh at the heart of the defence with Bryant moving to right full back, Nathan Millroy also returned to the starting eleven at the expense of Dan Lawrence who had work commitments.
Rangers started the brighter of the teams and worked the ball into good areas without generating any clear goal scoring opportunities despite some good combination play originating from midfield four of Westlake, Weston, Millroy & Saunders linking well with forward partnership Leppard & Saunders.
After the initial opening period Dorking started to take a foothold on the game and dominated possession for the remainder of the half, they attacked at pace with Former Rangers Front man Charlie Pitcher having their best chance when picking up the ball on the left flank, cutting inside but he saw his effort from 25 yards skimmed the Rob Gordon’s far post
The only game of the game came after 30 minutes when Dorking where awarded a controversial free kick on the edge of the box after Pitcher went down far too easily for the home team. Coleman duly despatched the free kick leaving Gordon helpless. Gordon was to become Rangers saviour shortly after when Pitcher once again raced down the Dorking left and rolled the ball across the home sides six yard box where Luke Akehurst’s attempted clearance was goalbound only for Gordon to make a fantastic reaction save to keep his side in the game.
After the break as with the first half Rangers started the brighter and the introduction of new signing Harry Flower gave Rangers more power in the midfield, Dorking changed their shape with 20 minutes remaining having withdrawn their two biggest threats in the form of Pitcher & Tolfrey and decided to place bodies behind the ball at every opportunity to stall any rangers attacks at every opportunity which stifled Rangers opportunities to get the ball down on what was a difficult Colwell surface.
Rangers best chance fell to Tom Saunders when Westlake’s free deep kick fell to him unmarked six yards out having almost too much time he couldn’t convert as he faced visiting keeper Shaw from close range when he should have done better.
In the closing stages of the game the home technical area was very animated when Westlake went down in the box in the closing minutes where Charker clearly felt they should have had a penalty kick just minutes after Luke Leppard had been given his marching orders following an altercation off the ball where many supporters felt the away player was lucky to stay on the pitch.
Rangers boss Charker, post match said ‘on the back of that showing, we deserved something out of the game we really went for it, which is what I asked the boys to do tonight especially in the second half when I felt we were on top for large periods. I think tonight shows how far we have come, it wasn’t so long ago they turned us over 5-2 at their place. They know they’ve been in a game tonight and we should be proud of that.
I don’t want to criticize the referee, but to be honest, I thought we should have had a penalty in the closing minutes when there was two fouls in quick succession in the box. Tom (Saunders) had a great opportunity to bring the game level as well but they were our only real clear cut chances. But fair dues, they’re a top side and Marc (White) has got them set up well this year again and they’ll be right up there come May so we have to take the positives from the game into the East Preston game on Saturday’
MoM; Steve Smith. Kept Tolfrey & Pitcher at bay without fuss and was a rock for Rangers at the heart of their defence.