Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Huddersfield 2-1 Daggers: Hanging On

Dagenham & Redbridge succumbed to yet another defeat, this time to promotion chasing Huddersfield Town by two goals to one, but this game wasn't a walkover by any means.

The day started with an 8:30 start from Victoria Road, where two coaches awaited to take around 100 Daggers to Yorkshire and back. Everyone got on board and by 8:35 we were on our way up North, the DVD is usually a key point of a long coach road, and as per usual Swallow performed greatly again in these stakes, with the TV on board not working. Top marks there then. The first couple of hours passed quite quickly with a little bit of music and such, until we reached Leicester I think it was, where we had a service break and everyone had the chance to stock up and get some food. A 50 minute stop meant there was time for some McDonald's, or a big breakfast if you fancied it, to be honest that went rather quickly and by 11:25 we were all back on board once more and set off again for Yorkshire. No major things to report on the rest of the journey in all honesty, just a normal coach journey with Dagenham, what more can you say ?

We arrived at the Galpharm for about 13:25 I'd make it, where everyone went there own ways. The local pub called "The Gaswork" or something like that, I'm probably miles off, was the pub of choice, whilst some people chose to saunter into the ground or around it. We ended up going to the pub where we then found a mile long queue and that you had to pay admission to get in, so we spun around and set back off in the direction we started, walking back to the ground. Walking over the bridge and threw the Hudds car park the northern accent was becoming ever clearer and when we got to just outside the ground we were greeted with the locals, who you cannot understand. Getting into the ground we bought a programme which was of a good standard, looked like a book and at £3 is in line with most others in the division. However the most disappointing aspect of the day was the fact that the Huddersfield burger bar, did not in fact sell burgers or hot dogs, just pies and crisps, typical northern food eh ? With kick off getting ever near we picked our seats just behind the drum at the back, we were told that we would have to sit, but the stewards were pretty lenient and luckily that rule didn't apply. All four sides of the ground were now filling up to the magnificent arena which had a Bolton like feel to it. Just afterwards the team was read out and it showed two main changes from the Plymouth defeat, Will Antwi was in for Scott Doe who injured himself on Friday and in an unforced change, Billy Bingham replaced Darren Currie.

Rhodes for Hudds
 The teams came out to a good atmosphere, all of which came from the Pink Link Stand, one part was for the Daggers, the other Terriers, this group of home supporters were the noisy not so nice ones if you want to put it like that. The teams lined up and all the usual stuff was done, pictures, coin toss etc, it ended up with Huddersfield attacking the Pink Line End and Dag & Red attacking the opposite end. The opening minutes were spent in the middle of the park, Dagenham getting the first shot away, a neat piece of play ended up with Green chesting it down on the left and volleying a strike that went just over the bar. Unfortunately though it was the team from Yorkshire that opened the scoring. A long ball lumped forward from their captain Peter Clarke was being shepherded out of play by Antwi until he let his guard down. Dagenham lad Benik Afobe snuck behind the big centre back to nick the ball and play it to Jordan Rhodes who was standing on the 6 yard box, waiting graciously to smash it into the back of the net, placed well in between the post and two Daggers defenders on the line. Just after the kick off Afobe cut inside down the right and his low left footed shot was comfortably saved by Tony Roberts in the goal. One of the main problems in the first half was the kicking of Roberts. Not going to anyone or going out of play, it was pretty poor one of the worst we've seen this season. Just after that there was a lengthy stop for an injury to a Town player, Jon Nurse caught him with his boots after the Hudds player went into head the ball.

Romain Drew Us Level.
 Just afterwards came the Daggers first goal of the game. A neat piece of build up in the midfield led to a lovely one two around a Huddersfield player just outside the box. Romain Vincelot laid the ball off to John Akinde, whilst Vincelot continued his run, Akinde placed the perfect ball back to the midfielder who smashed him post Bennett in the goal who could only get finger tips to it, to make it look even better. The 125 away fans were sent into raptures, some of whom couldn't believe we'd equalised I don't think, but we had, and we were now looking to push on from it. However just four minutes later, the lead was restored. Gary Naysmith swung a cross in, which was initially cleared by the defence, but when Gary Roberts tried again from slightly further back, his point perfect cross found the head of Jordan Rhodes who had eluded Mark Arber to head home just underneath Robbo. The Daggers were again silenced as Huddersfield erupted, it was now looking like an uphill task once more. During the injury time of the first half, Danny Green thought he should have had a penalty, he appeared to be tripped by Gary Naysmith inside the box, but referee Eddie Ilderton waved it away as Huddersfield looked to mount a break away. Jordan Rhodes clipped a fine long ball over the top of Arber that found Afobe, who couldn't hit it sweetly and it fell into the arms of Roberts.

As the half time whistle blew, the Daggers could feel rather confident of still getting something from the game, Huddersfield hadn't really torn us apart and at the same time we showed glimpses of what we were capable of going forward. The half time at Huddersfield isn't really top notch. With no scores being read out and a couple of parades going round the pitch there was nothing of note, not even the cheerleaders came our away. Hearing that most scores were going against us did not help to lighten the mood, although with Bristol Rovers going down to ten men it gave us a spark that Bournemouth may get back into it at Dean Court. The only major entertainment was when the Huddersfield fans started chanting to Robbo about KFC, good banter that had everyone smiling, even Robbo himself I'd bet.

Bennett was in fine form

The teams emerged once more for the second half, both looking to score, one to consolidate the lead, the other to get that equaliser that would see a precious point. The half opened with Huddersfield making the first attack, Scott Arfield's effort was saved well by Roberts in goal. Just afterwards Huddersfield showed more intent and only a smart interception from Femi made sure the danger was cleared once more, Mark Arber then denied Afobe a header on goal after a good clearance. Then the Daggers started to take over and begun to dominate the game, Firstly a good ball over the top was just a little to far ahead of Vincelot who couldn't prevent it going from a goal kick in front of the Pink Link. Up the other end a good ball in found Jack Hunt who's shot was well blocked by Peter Gain who was having his best game in quite a while. Then came our first golden chance, a great ball whipped in from the left found John Akinde, unmarked with just Bennett in the goal to beat, the ball glanced off his head and past the post, an opportunity that he really should have done better with. This of course was a head in hands moment for all of us. Peter Gain then had a shot that was saved by Bennett as it became all Dagenham.

Akinde should have made it 2-2

With about 20 minutes to go, John Still made a change, Danny J Green who looked impressive against Plymouth on Friday afternoon came on to replace Billy Bingham who had a fairly decent game as we switched to a 4-4-2 formation in hope of that precious equaliser. Shortly after it nearly and perhaps should have came. A ball in the air was superbly nodded on by DJ Green that released front man Akinde. After taking a touch his prod at goal found it's way rolling slowly until it hit the outside of the post, cue the "ahhs" and cried from Daggers fans. But it wasn't over yet, a scramble between Akinde & Bennett ended up with Akinde taking another shot at a tight angle, about 5 yards from goal that was surely going to make the game 2-2, but no! Bennett made another save to push the ball out for the corner, the away fans had heads in their hands, after these two brilliant chances, everyone realised that perhaps it wasn't to be our day. A penalty box scramble from a corner almost found the ball go into the net, but alas it didn't and was once again cleared. The last two changes for the Daggers were made, Bas Savage replacing Jon Nurse and Darren Currie coming on for Femi who had shown his £175 a week wage in this game, another poor performance from him. Savage then looked like he could create something, after being given the ball he had space to run into, but after about 6 or 7 strides he was ushered off the ball as Huddersfield looked to counter down the right.

Peter Gain was brilliant yesterday
 Straight after the sub, the goal nearly came. Peter Gain who averages a goal once every 7 years or so nearly found a way to get the equaliser. On the outside of the box, his ferocious left footed strike went just wide of Bennett's post, needless to say everyone thought it was in, so when it went wide, a tremendous amount of groaning occurred. Once more everyone thought we'd found a way through. A cross come shot from Danny Green, the one on the right was going into the top corner until a superb tip over from Bennett denied him and forced the corner as the game pushed on into injury time. Other results were coming through as well, frowns turned to slight smiles as we learnt Rovers had throw away their lead and were losing 2-1, Walsall were now drawing as well, it wasn't as bad as it all seemed. The four minutes of injury time went up, it was all Dagenham now, corner after corner, cross after cross, but no way through the stern Huddersfield defence. The last chance fell to Danny J Green, a good knock down from Arber inside the Terriers area allowed Danny J to fire it with power goalwards, but he scuffed his shot and it went out tamely for a goal kick. That proved to be the last action of the game, as the Daggers looked to mount another attack from the centre circle, referee Eddie Ilderton blew up for full time.

After that second half performance you have to be proud of us, after all we pushed the team that are one of the favourites for promotion and on a 23 game unbeaten run all the way and if not for a couple of squandered chances it could have been a different scoreline. They all looked like "Daggers" out there today, fighting for the cause, not giving up on anything, Peter Gain especially looked up for it, raring to go, along with Vincelot who's superb strike took his tally to 12 I think it is now this season.

Coming out of the ground however, a bit of trouble ensued. With several Daggers supporters being surrounded by loutish Huddersfield ones and even a rock being thrown in the direction of our supporters, that clipped someone on the head. It somewhat marred a good game, even more frustrating when the stewards refused to do anything about it. None the less, we all got back on the coaches and set off back for the long trip back to Essex with nothing to show for our travels once more, bar a good performance. It passed quite quickly, a half hour stop off at Peterborough services for a bite to eat and drink broke up the journey well, where we encountered some other fans, Gillingham, Leeds & an Exeter supporter. All aboard the coach again for the final leg and we arrived back at Victoria Road at about 9:50 I think, I can't quite remember off hand.

Crunch Game
A good game and it's really same old for the Daggers, if we were to finish our golden chances and we wouldn't be in this position. We now go on to a crucial home match against Carlisle on Saturday where nothing less than a win will do, should Walsall win and we lose I think that it may see us relegated, so it isn't even in our hands anymore. However I'm quietly confident that we can pull off an escape, but with 4 teams all pushing for one survival spot, it's anyones guess who it will ultimately go to.
Next Match: Dagenham & Redbridge vs Carlisle United, 30th April 2011, 15:00 Kick Off.
Final Match: Peterborough United vs Dagenham & Redbridge, 7th May 2011, 15:00 Kick Off.

As it stands
Click Here For John Still Interview With BBC Essex

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