Oxford City's season ends with defeat at Dorking in play-off semi-final

·4-min read
Joe Iaciofano saw a goal ruled out for offside in Oxford City's defeat at Dorking Wanderers Picture: Mike Allen
Joe Iaciofano saw a goal ruled out for offside in Oxford City's defeat at Dorking Wanderers Picture: Mike Allen

OXFORD City were well beaten in their Vanarama National League South play-off semi-final as Dorking Wanderers proved too strong on a sweltering afternoon in Surrey.

The hosts led the table for much of the season and showed their class in an impressive display, with Jason Prior and Barry Fuller putting them 2-0 up inside 18 minutes.

City improved as the game went on but never recovered from their slow start and Dorking top-scorer Alfie Rutherford increased the lead early in the second half.

The home crowd were enjoying themselves in the hot sun and City could not spark an unlikely comeback, with their opponents going through to face Ebbsfleet United or Chippenham Town in next Saturday’s final.

Ross Jenkins opted for the same starting XI and substitutes as against Eastbourne Borough on Wednesday, despite a turnaround of less than 72 hours between matches.

Dorking had the luxury of making eight changes from their final-day draw at Hungerford Town, where manager Marc White rested several first-teamers with second place assured.

That freshness told, as the hosts dominated the opening half an hour to take control.

Dorking started how they meant to go on and forced a corner inside the first 20 seconds, before James McShane fired a fourth-minute warning shot when he lifted a half-volley over the crossbar from ten yards.

George Harmon had a tough task against fellow wing back Jimmy Muitt on City’s left and the opening goal came from that side.

The Dorking No 7 found half a yard of space on the edge of the penalty area and clipped a cross towards the penalty spot, with Prior climbing well before burying a header in the bottom corner.

Jordan Cheadle almost smuggled an effort past Ben Dudzinski when the ball fell loose moments later, but it was not long before the hosts doubled the lead.

City were a man down defending a corner with Zico Asare receiving treatment and Dorking made the advantage count, with captain Fuller anticipating a flick-on to slam home at the back post.

The hosts were in total control and Dudzinski made a good low save from Rutherford, but Jenkins’ side improved after the half-hour mark.

Josh Ashby had their first shot after 32 minutes when he fired wide from 20 yards, before Joe Iaciofano was on the wrong end of a marginal offside call when played through one-on-one.

Reece Fleet then lashed over following a short corner routine, only for Dorking to remind City of their threat when Rutherford lifted the ball over the top and Prior headed onto the roof of the net in quick succession.

Elliot Benyon scuffed straight at Dan Lincoln when Canice Carroll’s miscued effort fell his way in the penalty area, but the striker pulled up before half-time and was replaced by Jacob Bancroft.

City hoped the interval would break Dorking’s momentum, only for the hosts to score a killer third within three minutes of the restart.

The visitors failed to clear a corner and Rutherford fired against the crossbar, but the striker’s next chance came seconds later.

Nicky Wheeler collected the loose ball and crossed for the top-scorer, who headed firmly past Dudzinski.

White took the opportunity to make all three changes as Dan Gallagher, Wes Fogden and Harry Ottoway replaced Ed Harris, McShane and Rutherford either side of the hour mark.

City, to their credit, continued to push forward and saw a strong penalty shout turned down when Iaciofano was cleaned out just inside the box, but referee Dean Watson was unmoved.

Bancroft then shot straight at Lincoln from 18 yards before Jenkins made his final two changes, Nana Owusu and Lewis Coyle replacing Ewan Clark and Zac McEachran.

Iaciofano’s frustrating afternoon continued when he saw a goal ruled out for offside after Dan Lincoln parried Bancroft’s curling effort. The forward threw the ball away in fury, earning a booking.

Owusu looked lively and fired one deflected effort just wide, before scuffing straight at the goalkeeper from 12 yards when Bancroft was in acres of space to his left.

City’s challenge began to wane and the game meandered towards a conclusion, with Owusu and Ashby shooting off target in the closing stages.

Dorking Wanderers (3-5-2): Lincoln, Fuller, Harris (Gallagher 54), Cheadle, Muitt, Taylor, McShane (Fogden 54), Moore, Wheeler, Rutherford (Ottoway 63), Prior.

Unused subs: Philpot, Taylor.

Booked: Cheadle.

Oxford City (3-4-1-2): Dudzinski, Asare, Carroll, Rowan, Clark (Owusu 66), Fleet, Ashby, Harmon, McEachran (Coyle 66), Iaciofano, Benyon (Bancroft 45+5).

Unused subs: Dasilva, Matsuzaka.

Booked: Rowan, Iaciofano.

Referee: Dean Watson.

Attendance: TBC.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting