Oldham Athletic return on the road in the National League when they make the trip to Meadowbank to face Dorking Wanderers on Saturday.
Latics picked up their first home win in six at Boundary Park last weekend when they beat Hartlepool United 2-0 to breach the top ten for the first time this season. Josh Stones continued his impressive start to life in a Latics shirt by volleying home his third strike in four appearances to open the scoring early on.
Callum Cooke went closest for the visitors after his snap volley inside the area was well kept out by Mathew Hudson’s feet just short of the half hour mark. James Norwood meanwhile went close to adding to his 14 National League goals this season when his instinctive poke inside the area was crucially deflected wide.
The home side however were not made to rue their missed chances, Mike Fondop netted just his third effort of the season when he powered home after the ball fell to him following a corner to seal Latics’ final victory of 2023.
It further secured consecutive league wins for the first time since September, and a first clean sheet in five. Latics meanwhile are on a terrific run of away form in the National League winning their last four, whilst a win against Dorking would mark their longest run of wins on the road for Latics since the 2020/21 season.
The Wanderers secured an important win at Court Place Farm when they beat Oxford City 2-1 to create a four-point gap to the drop zone. Niall McManus’ precise strike and Sebastian Bowerman’s tap in were enough to give Dorking a satisfying win over a side who had beat them five days earlier.
It was a needed win for Dorking who had suffered three successive defeats in the lead up to their final game of the year, it did however see the Wanderers win on the road for the first time since the tail end of September where they beat Hartlepool 2-0.
Dorking will hope to build momentum, particularly in their first home fixture in 2024. They have lost consecutive home games to fellow strugglers Woking and Oxford and will look to win at Meadowbank, in front of what is sure to be a bumper crowd on Saturday, for the first time since their 2-1 win over Boreham Wood.
They meanwhile will welcome a side who are the inform team in the league away from home and will have to use the crowd to help create a special atmosphere to open the new year.
Dorking’s meeting with Latics this weekend meanwhile will see the hosts look to go unbeaten across the season against their opponents after their 0-0 stalemate at Boundary Park earlier on in the campaign.
28-year-old wide man Bowerman has struggled for consistent output across the 23/24 season though a recent burst of form in front of goal has seen the winger increase his importance to Marc White’s side.
Two of Bowerman’s three efforts this season have come in his last three appearances for Dorking, whilst his goal on Tuesday at Oxford was his first in a win this season. The signs of an efficient wide man have always been there meanwhile.
Bowerman showed great anticipation for his first strike of the season at Chesterfield on the opening day, sneaking around his man at the back post before blasting into the roof of the net. He did so similarly for his simple effort earlier in the week.
He has shown accuracy and composure in the final third for the Wanderers this season, though his energy and intensity pressing from the front have been a key highlight of his game this campaign.
Bowerman has been particularly effective off the left and has shown the ability to go to the outside and inside. Though Latics will have to focus on keeping the wide man out of the box, where his sharp instincts have proved deadly whether it be creating or finishing a chance.
In the dugout
Long-time head coach Marc White has seen a flurry of ups and downs during his tenure at Dorking. Steady recent progress meanwhile has seen the club climb the tiers of the English football pyramid, an impressive 2018/19 campaign in the Bostik Premier League saw Dorking’s rise gather momentum.
A dominant title winning season saw White lead his side to the National League South. A solid first season in the sixth tier saw the Wanderers finish seventh and narrowly miss out on promotion, where they were edged out by eventual winners Weymouth FC in the semi-final.
A few seasons of uncertainty and inconsistency in the football world saw action standstill due to the pandemic, Dorking and White were unfortunate to see their 20/21 season cut short after leading proceedings by five points halfway through the campaign.
The following season meanwhile saw White lead a ruthless Dorking side to a promotion clinching campaign. His side finished runners up scoring 101 times in just 40 fixtures, though they were just the foundations, a dominant playoff run was the cherry on top.
Cruising past Oxford 3-0 in the semi-final moved them onto Ebbsfleet United in the final, where a tense 3-2 victory saw them into the National League for the first time in their history as a club.
It has been a steady run of progress for White at Meadowbank, and whilst Dorking are yet to come to life in the National League the beginning of a new year marks the opportunity to finish the second half of the season in impressive fashion.
The fixture is set to kick off at 15:00pm on Saturday 6th January 2024 at Meadowbank.
The referee is Ryan Atkin with assistants Thomas Cooke and Aaron Conn. The fourth official is set to be Steven Hughes.
Match coverage and information
Live audio commentary is available on Latics Player, guiding you through the match.
Alternatively, supporters can also follow the game with live updates on the club's official Twitter account: @OfficialOAFC
As this game is not being played within the blocked broadcast hours stipulated by UEFA, live streaming will be available through National League TV for supporters in the UK and overseas.
As always, we will endeavour to ensure confirmation of the line-up is published as soon as possible on social media.
However, supporters should note that team sheets in the National League are not exchanged until an hour before kick-off. This is 15 minutes later than in the EFL and as a result, the line-up is likely to be published slightly later than in previous seasons.