What Chesterfield can expect from National League new boys Dorking Wanderers on opening day

Chesterfield travel to Dorking Wanderers on the opening day of the new National League season this Saturday.

By Liam Norcliffe
Wednesday, 3rd August 2022, 10:10 am
Updated Wednesday, 3rd August 2022, 10:10 am

The Spireites head to Meadowbank for what will be a first-ever meeting between the two teams.

Wanderers won promotion from the National League South through the play-offs last season.

We spoke to Dorking’s match reporter, Dan Stobbart, for the lowdown on this weekend’s opponents...

Chesterfield visit Dorking Wanderers for the first game of the new season. Picture: Carl Watkins.

With just a couple of days to go until the new season the excitement must really be building at Dorking then?

Yeah absolutely, it's all systems go behind the scenes preparing for what will of course be the highest-profile league game in the club's history. The first home game was always going to be a historic and momentous day but to be welcoming such an established club like Chesterfield makes it even more special.

What transfer business have Dorking done in the summer?

True to how the club likes to do business in the windows it's been very measured with all business being completed early on. Of course, Darren Oldaker made the switch to Chesterfield and we look forward to welcoming him back to Meadowbank on Saturday. He was one of four who departed, the other's being striker Jason Prior and midfielder's Wes Fogden and Kane Wills. Prior and Fogden's moves away from the club have been mainly due to personal logistics, they are now at club's more local to them (Havant & Waterlooville and Poole Town respectively). All four will be missed but the loss of Prior in particular is a big one for the club having been such a talismanic figure up front for the past four seasons.

In replacing them and adding quality the club have brought in player's who have been outstanding in the National League South in recent seasons and also carry that experience of previously playing at a higher level. Jack Jebb has come in from Dartford, a technically gifted midfielder who was in the National League South Team of the Year last term, effectively replacing Oldaker in the playmaker role. Experienced winger Adam Mekki has arrived from Ebbsfleet United, and striker Ryan Seager has come in from Hungerford Town, prolific in his time there scoring 41 goals in 59 appearances over two seasons. Exciting young wing-back Joe Rabbetts also joined from Aldershot Town, but will be on loan at Bognor Regis this season to continue his development."

Out of the new arrivals, who has looked the best so far in pre-season?

All four have impressed and fitted into the Wanderers style of play very quickly. Seager has caught the eye and impressed fans so far with his clever movement and has already found his shooting boots, scoring 4 in pre-season, including a really well taken volley against Leatherhead."

From the players who are still there from last season, who should Chesterfield fans be most wary of and why?

Keeping hold of striker Alfie Rutherford has been big for the club in the close-season and he will no doubt be one to watch out for this term. With Prior injured for much of the last campaign, Alfie had to really step up and he more than did that, finishing top scorer for the division with 32 goals, including five hat-tricks. He scored 13 goals for Havant & Waterlooville in the year they were relegated from the National League in 2018/19, so I'm sure he will be chomping at the bit to test himself at this level again. As well as Jebb in the middle of the park, Josh Taylor is another player to keep an eye on, a technically sound, versatile, slick operator who makes things happen.

What have results been like in pre-season?

In terms of results it's been a mixed bag, winning four and losing three. Good wins came against newly-promoted National League South side Farnborough at home and on the road at Barry Town United, and two of the defeats have come in the tougher tests, losing narrowly at home to Sutton United and then being defeated by a Chelsea XI behind closed doors last weekend in Cobham.

The team have picked up where they left off from last season in an attacking sense, scoring plenty of goals and showing their quality in possession and moving forward, but there's been that acknowledgement that organisation and work off the ball could be better, particularly in the later stages of games. Unfortunately the club suffered the blow of captain Barry Fuller breaking his toe in the defeat against the Chelsea XI, ruling him out for up to a couple of months.

What's manager Marc White said in the build-up to the season regarding expectations?

The outlook from Marc has been that the team will not be just going in to make up the numbers. He want's the team to be competitive and finish as high up the table as possible.

How do you think Dorking will approach Chesterfield? Just go for it?

Yeah very much so, that's always been the Wanderers way, to go all out for the win.

Will it be a sell-out?

Yes, it’s heading that way. We look forward to Chesterfield fans packing out the away end, it should be a brilliant atmosphere.

Score prediction?

A narrow opening day win for the Wanderers!