Dorking Wanderers Defeats Barry Town United, 2–0
The Surrey side keeps their cool in the intense Cardiff afternoon heat
Football in the UK is now at peak pre-season with warm-up matches coming thick and fast for sides up and down the league pyramid.
On what was a roasting Saturday afternoon, just a day before much of the country was to be issued an extreme heat warning, I made my way across Cardiff to watch newly relegated Cymru South side Barry Town United host Vanarama Conference club Dorking Wanderers.
You might be wondering why Barry was playing a home match in Cardiff, I know I was, and it wasn’t until a chat with a Barry Town United official revealed that it was due to work being carried out on their home ground.
Walking was a viable option from Cardiff City Centre, but with the heat, I figured a short train journey would be the more sensible route.
The central station was rammed with, ironically, queues of people waiting for the regular trains to take them to the beach down at Barry Island.
My train was much emptier, and it was just the one-stop to Ninian Park — a name that will be familiar to Football League stalwarts from all corners of the country.
This was, of course, the name of Cardiff City’s old ground, and the station is almost right next to the Bluebirds’ new home, the Cardiff City stadium.
A pub around the corner from the match made for an ideal stop for 30 minutes or so as I was fairly early for the 2:30 p.m. kick-off.
Walking past this new stadium, I reached the Cardiff International Sports Campus which is where the match was held.
The first stadium on the campus is a decent size athletics venue. The friendly took place on a smaller ground with two small seated stands and which was mostly surrounded by trees. Handy for a day of high temperatures.
Entry was £5, and I opted to take a spot behind the goal opposite that of a wall of Barry Town United flags.
On what was a fantastic surface, Dorking made the better start, passing the ball around well and seemingly looking a yard or two sharper than Barry.
Bobby Joe-Taylor made the most of a good forward run to get the first effort on target in the match, this was saved well by Barry keeper Mike Lewis.
A lively run from Josh Taylor into the Barry box resulted in the midfielder being brought down — penalty to Dorking.
Ryan Seager sent Lewis the wrong way — making it 1–0 to the English side.
It was a quiet half in terms of chances for Barry, but an overhead kick effort from Josh Graham didn’t go a million miles over.
Into the second half and Barry was once again thankful to their keeper for making sure the score remained at one.
Lewis pulled off a superb double save, firstly from James McShane’s long-range effort and then to tip away a rebound hit from Wheeler.
The heat was a real factor in this one, and each half had a midway water break. Just before the second-half break Dorking cracked an effort off the post.
With 10 minutes left on the clock, Dorking wrapped up a much-deserved win.
A defensive mistake allowed McManus to get a chipped effort in goal over Lewis which came back off the post.
McShane was quickest to the rebound, and he held his nerve to slot home from a very tight angle.
It was a high intensity performance by both sides given the heat, and it would have been a great warm up for the 2022/23 campaign.