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Dorking Wanderers 1 Ebbsfleet United 4 match report: Rakish Bingham (2), Luke O’Neill and Dominic Samuel score as Dorking’s Tony Craig is sent off in National League win

Danny Searle’s dream start to life in the Ebbsfleet hotseat continued with a comeback win at Dorking Wanderers on Saturday.

It was a first win at Meadowbank - the scene of that infamous 2022 play-off final defeat - for the Fleet but more importantly it was another big step towards National League safety.

Ebbsfleet's Ben Chapman tries to get past Dorking's Tom Blair on Saturday. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC
Ebbsfleet's Ben Chapman tries to get past Dorking's Tom Blair on Saturday. Picture: Ed Miller/EUFC

The three points were no more than Ebbsfleet deserved, despite the home side taking the lead in the first half as Rakish Bingham scored twice to help his team to victory.

Ebbsfleet made one change from the side that won against Woking in midweek. Franklin Domi was suspended after collecting another yellow card in that game so Billy Clifford got the nod in midfield and produced an accomplished display.

The early exchanges were more notable for two balls that had to be replaced rather than any real action. Both sides had a chance on 13 minutes, Fleet keeper Mark Cousins comfortably saved Bobby-Joe Taylor’s right-foot shot from distance before the visitors broke to the other end and Ben Chapman’s cross was well diverted away by keeper Harrison Male with Dominic Poleon lurking for a simple tap-in.

The breakthrough arrived midway through the first half when Dorking worked the ball down the right and Taylor crossed into the box. The ball was met by Alfie Rutherford at the far post and when he was twice denied by Cousins, Charlie Carter raced in to slam home from close range.

Ebbsfleet were only behind for five minutes, though, as a lovely turn by Bingham left his former team-mate Haydn Hollis in his wake, and he strode forward before firing in a brilliant right-foot shot off the far post from 25 yards.

The visitors were looking the more likely and so it proved on 41 minutes when they added a second. Josh Taylor fouled Poleon on the edge of the box and Ebbsfleet’s Luke O’Neill stepped up to find the far corner from 20 yards for his sixth goal of the campaign.

Dorking replaced Hollis at the break, along with Rutherford, and introduced another ex-Fleet man in Luke Moore plus Joe Cook.

There was an early clash between Dorking captain Tony Craig and Poleon in the second half, not for the first time in the afternoon. The referee booked Craig and gave Ebbsfleet a free-kick.

Dorking had the ball in the net but the flag was up for offside, then Carter rounded Cousins after Fleet coughed up possession cheaply, only for the Dorking man to find the side netting.

Ebbsfleet almost added a third on 54 minutes but Bingham’s 20-yard shot, after Chapman was crowded out, hit the crossbar and then home keeper Male got fortunate when Poleon beat him to a ball over the top but it bounced wide of the vacant goal.

Dorking were reduced to 10 men on 64 minutes when Craig’s nasty challenge on Chapman was going to be at least a yellow - possibly even a red on its own - but having already been cautioned, he knew his fate well before the referee reached to his pocket.

It seemed to ignite a fire in Dorking and the visitors looked unsettled for a few minutes with both Myles Kenlock and O’Neill quickly being cautioned themselves.

But any hopes that the home side had of getting back into the contest were ended with 18 minutes left when Chapman did well to work his way to the byline and pull the ball back for the outstanding Bingham to sweep home his second of the afternoon.

It was nearly 4-1 moments later but O’Neill headed over from a Josh Wright free-kick. However, the fourth goal finally arrived with four minutes left when a slip by Bobby-Joe Taylor let in substitute Dominic Samuel, who raced clear and never looked like missing as he confidently slotted his shot low beyond Male.

It was a sixth home defeat in seven league games for Dorking while Searle’s stunning start means he’s now won three games in a week - and is unbeaten in five matches at the helm since taking over from Dennis Kutrieb.

Dorking: Male, B Taylor, Pybus (Ottaway 70mins), Craig, Prior, Rutherford (Moore 46mins), Carter, J Taylor, Hollis (Cook 46mins), Blair, Francomb. Subs not used: McManus, Muitt.

Ebbsfleet: Cousins, O'Neill, Skura, Kenlock, Chapman (White 83mins), Edser, Wright, Clifford (Cisse 90mins), Bilongo, Poleon (Samuel 73mins), Bingham. Subs not used: McQueen, Fogarty.

Referee: Sam Mulhal.

Attendance: 1,858.

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