Shot-shy Dorchester beaten in turgid affair

BY David Williams: Dorset Echo Sport


A hugley underwhelming display from Dorchester saw them slip to a 1-0 defeat against Hungerford at the Avenue.

Visiting captain Matt Day headed in six minutes before the interval to score what proved to be the winning goal.

The Magpies hardly troubled Crusaders’ keeper Paul Strudley throughout the whole contest.

Jonah Ayunga was back from injury and returned to the Dorchester starting XI, as did Lewis Morgan having come off the bench in the FA Trophy defeat at Kingstonian.

Player-manager Mark Jermyn dropped out of the matchday squad, while Oakley Hanger had to settle for a place among the substitutes.

He was joined by new signing Lewis Holmes and Portsmouth loanee Liam Sayers.

Playing with the wind at their backs, Hungerford almost snatched the lead on 11 minutes.

James Clark’s inswinging corner was cleared by Ayunga before Jon Boardman brought a smart save out of Alan Walker-Harris.

Other than that effort, and a booking for Crusaders’ skipper Day, the opening quarter wasn’t one to get the pulse racing.

Visiting gloveman Strudley had very little, if anything, of note to do in the whole of the first half, and Walker-Harris wasn’t exactly overworked.

Hungerford’s biggest threat seemed to be their set-pieces, while the hosts’ front two of Ayunga and October player of the month Ben Watson only had scraps to feed off.

And it was from a free-kick in the 39th minute that the visitors went in front.

The ball was swept over from the left flank and Day got his head to the ball to beat a stranded Walker-Harris, who came for the cross but rather got caught in no man’s land.

Referee Martin Underhay’s whistle for half-time couldn’t come soon enough at the end of a largely forgettable 45 minutes.

Despite not finding an equaliser straight away, Dorchester began the second period brightly.

Bradley Tarbuck linked up with Watson after a break down the right and Charlie Davis’ cross was fired wide by captain Jake Smeeton.

While several of the Magpies’ players were having off days, Hungerford’s quick closing down proved effective in containing the likes of Ayunga, Tarbuck and Watson.

A frustrated Davis went into the book on the hour mark for a clumsy challenge on Rhys Tyler – Morgan had also been cautioned before the break.

With no sign of his side getting on level terms, Jermyn went for a double substitution with 25 minutes to go.

Holmes came on for his debut and Sayers was also introduced, Morgan and Tarbuck the men to come off.

Sayers made a front three with Ayunga and Watson, while Holmes played on the right of a four-man midfield.

But had it not been for Neil Martin, the home side could well have found themselves 2-0 down.

When Walker-Harris punched clear, the ball fell to Clark a good 35 yards from goal, and his shot appeared to be heading for the net when Martin deflected it wide.

Dorchester’s last-ditch bid to salvage something from the game saw Hanger replace Watson and Nathan Walker pushed forward.

However, the hosts failed to trouble Strudley in the closing stages.

Magpies: Walker-Harris, Oldring, Smeeton, Morgan (Sayers 65), Walker, Dillon, Davis, Martin, Ayunga, Watson (Hanger 83), Tarbuck (Holmes 65). Subs not used: Murphy, Brookes.

Hungerford: Strudley, Horgan, Tyler, Boardman, Day, Rees, Clark, Rusby, Jarvis (Goodger 83), Brown, Preen (John 74). Subs not used: Draycott, Collins, Jones.

Bookings: Magpies – Morgan (foul, 37), Davis (foul, 60)

Hungerford – Day (foul, 20), Rees (time wasting, 86), Goodger (dangerous play, 90+1)