Saturday, 27 August 2011

Daggers 1-1 Torquay: Paying The Penalty

Dagenham & Redbridge gained another point after a somewhat frustrating 1-1 draw at home to Torquay United earlier today. The match was effectively a game of two halves, with the Daggers outplaying Torquay in the first and vice versa for the second.

Before Kick Off
After a knackering morning of playing football, a interesting 3-3 draw I might add, I was set for Victoria Road as the sun come out down Victoria Road. Walking into the ground I picked up a double helping of programmes and the usual pointless golden goal & 50/50 ticket before making my way over to the Sieve where I met up with a couple of mates, with about 15 minutes until kick off. The main news over the tannoy was that Danny J Green was starting in the absence of Medy Elito through yet another injury. One of the major plus points however was hearing Peter Gain being named on the bench, a return was imminent for the passionate Irishman.

The Daggers lined up as follows: Lewington, Ogogo, Doe, Arber, McCrory, Danny J Green, Luke Howell, Oliver Lee, Jon Nurse, Gavin Tomlin, Sam Williams.

The teams came out as the sun shone down once more, the Daggers hoping to continue their good early season form against a well placed Torquay side. The one noticeable thing was the height of Danny Stevens of Torquay, he should have been sponsored my miracle grow!

It was Torquay, attacking the Bury Road end who were fastest out of the blocks getting a couple of shots away on Chris Lewingtons goal, but nothing to call the former Letherhead man into action. A Torquay man got into the box amongst the players and got a shot away, but it went past the post. The Daggers began to get themselves in the game, the ball being passed out to the left on a number of occasions for Danny J Green to bamboozle his defender and get a cross in, but both times it happened in the opening 10 minutes, Torquay's keeper claimed it easily.

Gavin Tomlin then produced a magnificent chance for Sam Williams, a run from the half way line, dodging defenders before laying the ball out to Williams when he could have shot himself, Williams' cross come shot was blocked well by a Torquay defender who slid it out for a Daggers corner which came to nothing. Gavlar was then involved again, bursting into the box before lashing his shot high over the bar, if only we were playing Australian Rules! Once again, just minutes later the ball fell to him outside the box, running across his body he hit hit it with a slice, again high and wide. Gavin Tomlin seemed fired up for this game, maybe something to do with the fact he played on loan at Torquay last season, scoring 4 goals in his time their and taking them to the play off final, before losing to Stevenage.

After some more very neat play down the sides, the Daggers made the breakthrough. Abu Ogogo played the ball out to Jon Nurse on the right, who rolled it out from under his foot. His beautiful inswinging ball found the highlighted head of Sam Williams who's magnificent placed header nestled in the far corner of the goal. Cue jubilation from 3 sides and Sam himself who had netted his first Daggers goal with a fine header. It was no less than what we deserved after being on top for a 15 minute period and we were rewarded with the lead.

Just minutes later Abu Ogogo crossed the ball from the right in acres of space to Danny J Green who's well taken volley flashed over the bar. Just minutes later Eunen O'Kane was booked for Torquay for "unsporting behaviour", or in short, doing something idiotic. Torquay then had a chance, Ateino picked the ball up on the far right hand side before dribbling in a few yards and unleashing a fantastic and powerful shot that just cleared Lewingtons far post. He was given far too much space and if it was on target, may have had Lewington worrying a lot more than he was.

That was effectively the end of a good first half in which the Daggers dominated proceedings, the attendance was announced as 2012 with 222 coming from the South West club, a good effort, but it didn't look that many! We were "treated" to a mascot race at half time, although it was the horniest and weirdest mascot race I've ever seen. Half of the mascots were having a fight with eachother whilst the others were frolicking, make of it what you will but they all finished together, "aww". Half times rang round next and Crawley were losing to everyones disappointment, possibly the biggest use of sarcasm ever. That was basically the half time, nothing much, although at least Pulse have disappeared for the time being.

The teams re emerged for the second half, the Daggers would now be attacking the Bury Road End whilst Torquay would be going forward towards their own fans in the Marcus James Stand. The first action was a short corner by Gavin Tomlin to Damien McCrory who whipped it in, but it came to the usual nothing.

Minutes later Jon Nurse saw his headed effort go wide of the target as the Daggers began to push for a second goal to take the game beyond the Gulls. Torquay were now beginning to establish a foothold on the game, Lee Mansell and the previously booked O'Kane both getting shots away but both blocked by both central defenders as they went looking for an equaliser. A ball was then swung in from the left, I'm oblivious to who swung it in, but it found the head of a Torquay striker, Rene Howe I think who directed it low and hard, but it was well saved by Lewington.

Then there were two almighty scrambles in the box. The first looked as though Lewington had made yet another fantastic save or a defender had made a sensational block, either way it was cleared out and McCrory booted it up field to safety. It found Danny J Green who after some good hold up play found Sam Williams. Williams turned his mane on the left before cutting in and curling a shot just over the far post and into the terrace, a very good move. Then it all happened once again, once again it was down the left. A ball in caused panic and another scramble but this time I'm certain Chris Lewington made two fantastic saves to keep the attempts out. I say it every week, but he will be a top goalkeeper when he sorts out his dodgy kicking, a bit of Robbo retained!

Martin Ling then made a change, looking to press home Torquays second half dominance, new loan signing Billy Boden coming on for the lively Taiwo Ateino. The Daggers made a couple of subs of their own, Peter Gain coming on for his first appearance after his injury lay off, replacing Luke Howell who had a decent enough game in the middle. Then Danny J Green got a decent shot away but it went over the bar, not testing the Gulls stopper. Then the Daggers second sub in a 5 minute period, Gavin Tomlin who had a mixed game, creating some good opportunities and bamboozling defences with his footwork but missing numerous chances once more, came off for Hayley, or Brian Woodall as he's more commonly known.

The major talking point of the game came minutes afterwards. Billy Boden was fouled by Mark Arber on the edge of the penalty box, mass confusion in the Sieve occurred, but the referee pointed to the spot. Looking back on it, I believe the foul was outside the box, let me state here I am fairly sure it was a foul, whether it was inside or outside the box was another question as the margin between the two looked tighter than a ducks arse. Anyway, the "biggest" striker in the league, Rene Howe faces Chris Lewington, the tension was there, all four sides waited in anticipation. Howe stepped up and put it straight down the middle, Chris Lewington dived to his left and the Gulls has got their deserved equaliser.

At this point John Still opted to make his final sub of the game, taking Danny J Green off who had a decent game, creating a lot of play down the left, he was replaced by Damien Scannell who had such a positive impact a week previous away at Bradford City. It was a nervy 10 minutes until the end, with Torquay on the up and the Daggers looking nervy. Abu Ogogo undeservedly went into Mr Sheldricks book for a foul that never deserved a caution, luckily nothing came of the free kick.

That was the last action of the half, with both sides not able to find the second goal to secure the win and the three points. Upon reflection it probably was a fair share of the spoils. It was a tale of two halves, the Daggers winning the first and Torquay winning the second. We sat back too much in the second half for my liking, not playing with the same flair we did in the first 45, and that cost us dearly, at the end of the day I was more than satisfied with the point.

The problem is that it's the same old story of missed opportunities, Gavin Tomlin missed a hatful today and there were numerous other chances that went begging. If it wasn't for Chris Lewington once again we wouldn't have even come away with a point, he's received a lot of plaudits for his performances recently and for good reason, Robbo's boots were big ones to fill, he's come in, filled them, and gone up a size, brilliant performance worthy of his man of the match award. Another standout for me today was Sam Williams, I'm a big fan of him and he had a terrific game. His hold up play is superb and he wins plenty of headers, something that previous forwards at Victoria Road didn't. He deserved his goal today and what a fine one it was.

My final mention today goes to Jon Nurse, wishing him luck for Barbados' World Cup Qualifiers next weekend, it's great to have an International at the club regardless of what Nation he plays for. His input on and off the pitch will undoubtedly be missed next weekend, but we'll do our best. Let's hope he's thinking of us playing in Hereford next weekend whilst he's enjoying Barbados.

I hope you've enjoyed reading and I'll be back to report on the Daggers Johnstones Paint Trophy game against lowly Leyton Orient in a week and a half.

Something to end on, if someone would have offered you 10 points out of the first 15 on the 5th August with our current injury crisis, would you have taken it? Of course you would.

Come on the Daggers!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Daggers 1-0 Swindon: Mamma Mia!

Dagenham & Redbridge got back to winning ways with an impressive 1-0 victory of Paolo Di Canio's Swindon Town at Victoria Road. A result that is sure to make a few heads turn considering the Daggers current injury plight.

Very Big!
In truth, before the match I was the least optimistic I've been, as were a fair few others. With our current injury list nearly as big as Gervinho's forehead, it wasn't looking promising. Walking into the ground I noticed that Richard Rose was warming up, and it was confirmed over the tannoy that he would be taking part at right back for us this evening. Alex Osborn and Danny J Green were also warming up and they found their place on the bench with James Shea, Femi and Jake Reed. At this point it should be mentioned, the abundance of sponsors on Swindon's team coach, makes our coach look somewhat plain.

Victoria Road began to fill up quite rapidly from 7:15 onwards with the Sieve seemingly in the mood for the Tuesday night fixture. We've had a decent record against the Robins last season, winning at home 2-1 and getting a somewhat lucky 1-1 draw at The County Ground. The programme was also a very good read once more, although neither competitor in the quiz managed to get our all time top goal scorer correct, the answer being Danny Shipp!

Woodall Started
Swindon & The Daggers came out to a good round of applause, with a decent crowd, although I was a bit disappointed with Swindon, for a club who boast about getting 9,000 a home game, bringing 400 away is quite poor in my opinion, but there you go. The teams were read out and Di Canio surveyed the state of the art stadium that is Victoria Road, I'm sure he loved it. So it was all set, a chance to put things right after the weekend and another first time starter in Brian Woodall, alongside Jon Nurse/ Gavin Tomlin.

The referee blew his whistle and we were off under the lights. The first five minutes were the usual midfield battle, with the amount of foreign players in Swindon's side, I won't even attempt the names, so I'll say "Italians." The first real chance of the game fell to Brian Woodall, signed from Gresley, a neat header over let Woodall in on goal. A good first touch to set his strike up was followed by a poor shot, straight into the ground leaving Phil Smith with an easy save in front of The Marcus James Stand, the first good opportunity of the contest. Damien McCrory then committed a foul on former Daggers favourite, Matt Ritchie which earned the Irishman a yelllow card.

Swindon then had their first shot of the game just after the 10 minute mark, Etienne Esajas, formerly of Sheffield Wednesday testing Chris Lewington who got down and saved comfortably. After another period of midfield battle Esajas once again, looking like Swindons main threat got a shot away that went over Lewingtons bar. Of course a bloke just under the scoreboard tried to catch it, and failed, cue abuse from everyone. Di Canio was then forces into a change with Alberto Comazzi coming off and being replaced by Nathan Thompson, he must have picked up a knock at some point in the opening 20 minutes.

De Vita
 Swindon then got a bit of a foothold in the game, De Vita had a shot which tested Lewington into making a good save, Lewy looks like a real shot stopper and has really come of age recently, definately our number one for the season for me, an even better strike by a Swindon player came from the rebound and Lewy made another fantastic stop, the flag had gone up for offside anyways! But he was not to know that. Oliver Risser should have done better when given a free header inside the box, but missed horribly to the right hand side. The Daggers then started to attack once more, the Daggers International (wry smile) Jon Nurse crossed for Brian Woodall who got slightly in front of the ball and headed way over, encouraging signs down the right hand side!

Some good promise down the left with Medy Elito all the way through the half although it frequently came to nothing, one of his shots going harmlessly over the bar, whilst a McCrory cross nearly met Jon Nurse at the far post, only for a Swindon defender to head it clear in the nick of time.

Mamma Mia!
Then came the half's big incident. Raffaele De Vita, who I recommend you don't name your child, got into the box and was "hacked" down by Scott Doe, Di Canio and Swindon left incensed that a penalty was not given. Now I didn't see the incident particularly well so in an Arsene Wengeresque way I can't comment but what I can say is two things, from reactions of others it appears that they probably could have had a penalty. The other thing is this; possibly one of the best things I have ever seen whilst watching football, Di Canio going absolutely mental on the touchline, absolutely brilliant. Of course when an Italian manager goes mental, it's followed by a dose of terrible Italian impressions and phrases which certainly went down very well with me!

That was the end of the half and as the referee blew his whistle a cluster of Swindon players surrounded the referee, it seemed as though the Daggers had got away on one for a change. All credit to Di Canio though, where most managers would have joined his players in protesting he went straight into the dressing room, fair play to the man. Half time went very quickly with some decent music and a good chat about the injuries etc, as well as laughing at a friends accumulator going straight down the swanny due to Ipswich being 3-0 down at home to Southampton.

This kit suited the little man better!
The teams re emerged for the second half, the Daggers would be attacking the Bury Road end and Swindon their own fans in the Marcus James Stand, the Daggers kicked off the half. The first thing of note for me to report on is the taking of a short corner. Anyone who knows me should know that I hate short corners, whether it's player or watching and McCrory of course angered me by playing it short. Not only did he do that, but he committed the cardinal sin of being caught offside straight after the pass back to him, lesson learned! Paolo Di Canio then made his first unforced substitution of the match, Alan Connell, replacing Billy Boden. Swindon then had a good opportunity to open the scoring. A foul by McCrory on a Swindon player gave the Robins the chance to swing a good ball into the box. Anyone who remembers Matt Ritchie, will know he has the prowess to swing in a good ball, so some of us were understandably wary. Ritchie opted to shoot and only a good block from McCrory prevented the former Portsmouth man from potentially testing Lewington.

Then came the Daggers best opportunity yet. Jon Nurse got down the left and beat a defender before hugging the byline superbly and sticking in a low ball straight to the feet of Brian Woodall. Woodall looked composed and hit it well, unfortunately for us and him it just crept wide of the far post as some of us thought it was in. Very promising signs from the new man however! Matt Ritchie then was involved once more, getting down the right, beating one and unleashing a daisycutter that was never going to trouble Lewington between the sticks.

The Daggers then made their first change of the match, John Still opting to bring off Medy Elito who received a good reception and brought on Danny J Green, who received an even better one! As many know, DJ began to creep into the team at the back end of last season and looked like the next big thing, lets see if he proved himself in the 25 minutes or so he had. Alan Connell then got a shot away that was held well by Lewington.

Then came the breakthrough. Danny Green flicked the ball on to Tomlin down the left hand side before Paul Caddis brought the tricky winger down inside the box. The Daggers fans appealed as did the players and for once it was not in vain, Mr Berry was very fruitful and gave us a penalty, you loved that pun, don't lie! Paolo was obviously very incensed, he and some Daggers fans thought it was a dive, but at the end of the day, I couldn't give a tiniest amount of shit (apologies for younger readers), we had a bit of luck, finally! Mark Arber, who's last penalty was against Morecambe, we all remember that, stepped up to take it. And my, didn't he put it away wonderfully. The Sieve erupted as the Daggers took the lead, hugs, cheers and the first home goal, beautiful!

The Daggers had to hold out for 20 minutes, but the chants were all out in force, a nice simple 20 minutes, no mistakes and a lot of fun. Of course, you have to commend whoever makes the Steve Evans one's, and when we go there, it will undoubtedly be the best atmosphere ever at a football match! The man that sounded like a biscuit franchise, De Vita went off and was replaced by Kerrouche who gets very high scores on a scrabble board.

Mr Berry!
Swindon were now looking to break back and get an equaliser, Matt Ritchie swung in a corner but Lewington gathered well. Ritchie then received a booking which obviously went down well with the Sieve, for handball with just over 15 minutes left to play. Nathan Thompson then got his name in the notebook for a cynical challenge on Gavin Tomlin. Kerrouche then got a shot away but Mark Arber blocked it very well, the fighting spirit of the Daggers was evident more than ever now. To continue the fashionable trend of being booked, Luke Howell got his name into Mr Berry's book for the first Daggers yellow card of the evening.

A number of free kicks for the nervy 80-90 minute period ensued, as Swindon looked to find an equaliser, Kerrouche getting himself into the book for "unsporting behaviour." The Daggers then made a sub, with Jake Reed coming on, Gavin Tomlin was replaced, a rapturous applause for both, especially Tomlin who had worked his socks off once more tonight and made some decent runs, not to mention winning us the penalty with his Tom Daley impression.

Then came a nervy moment, five minutes of added on time were signalled and everyone thought Swindon had found their equaliser. A brilliant ball in from the left to a man at the backpost left Lewington scrambling, I think he dropped it before a scrap for the ball began, I don't have a clue if it went in or not, it was manic. Everyone thought they'd scored I reckon, but luckily for us, heart running faster than Adan Gemilli, the referee blew for a free kick. We escaped, and that looked as though it was the last action of the contest, and thank god it was.

The referee blew for full time, the Daggers had defeated Swindon Town by a goal to nil to get their first home win of the campaign. John Still & Paolo Di Canio, two men at opposite ends of the spectrum shook hands as the Daggers players came over to applaud the fans as they do brilliantly every game and the rapport between the players & fans was evident once more.

The Players Coming Over At The End
Apologies For Poor Quality

Every player played a role in tonights game and it was a fantastic result considering the massive injury list we have. The defence were solid with Richard Rose having a very good debut at right back in place of Abu Ogogo, Damien McCrory also played well and even got a couple of crosses on point. The centre halves, were as usual, solid. The midfield was very good, Oliver Lee done his job as he always does, one of these players that sometimes you don't tend to notice, but does the work regardless. Luke Howell who I confess am a major critic of done well, battled well this evening and the two wingers were good value, Medy didn't get as much of the ball as I would have liked. My standout player was Brian Woodall, he worked his socks off and even though he didn't score and probably could have done better, making your first league start must be very hard and he can be proud of his performance tonight. Nursey played like his usual self, decent performance. Chris Lewington made another couple of brilliant stops tonight and will be our number one for a while.

Thanks for reading and I have to urge you, to whenever you see it, listen to Paolo Di Canio's interview on this game as I imagine it will be something to behold. As for any Swindon fans reading this, Esajas is your key man, no more needs to be said.

Next up: Bradford City away, a game we usually do well in, however I will not be there unfortunately! My next game is Torquay United at home, up the Daggers!!


Saturday, 13 August 2011

Daggers 0-2 AFC Wimbledon: Left Foot Syndrome

Dagenham & Redbridge succumbed to AFC Wimbledon at Victoria Road to lose their first opening home game since the 2006/2007 season.

Looking towards to the game on the walk to Viccy I thought we'd do well against the Wombles, they would be a stern test, but I thought we'd at least have enough to get a draw against thew new boys. With nearly 9 players injured and a patchwork midfield it was my main concern along with who would play in goal, I'm in the Chris Lewington camp if you didn't know by now. Walking up to Victoria Road and there was a mass of Wimbledon fans, the club that rose from the ashes and done the unimaginable had brought a brilliant following with them across London.

I met up with a couple of mates in the car park and proceeded in to see the ground filling up very nicely. Having made my way to the Sieve it was already rocking and I got the usual burger & coke, where they even keep the lids on in the Sieve, it just gets better! A quick flick through the programme with some good new features in, a little fact file on the away team and a quiz between fan and player. Mark Arber should be ashamed he didn't know Craig Mackail Smith joined us from Ayrsley Town, that's rookie Dagenham & Redbridge knowledge! A very good page for Tony Roberts and a very clever thought by the Borough by sticking in pictures of rioters, hopefully some of them will get brought to justice.

The teams were read out over the tannoy with Lewington restored in goal following the end of his one match ban and Jake Reed making his first start in place of Medy Elito who fell to the bench. Everything was set to go for the first home game at Victoria Road, talk of Orient (Away) in the JPT as well, it was set to be a good afternoon. The teams came out and all four sides of the ground sounded their appreciation for the sides. There was even a mascot chase as one of the little kiddies didn't want to stand next to Arber so Nurse picked him up and planted him by Arbs side, something that made me laugh.

Wimbledon kicked off and within 10 seconds it was a throw in after going out of play, a fine start I must say. Wimbledon had the first corner of the game on the minute mark with came to nothing, Lewington able to gather well. At this point I have to tell you the Daggers formation looked 4-3-3 I believe with Reed, Nurse & Williams being the front men. To be fair it looked like something out of "Football Manager" which was ironic as Sports Interactive, Wimbledons sponsors, actually make the game. Sam Williams was given the first half chance of the game,going into the 18 yard box and producing some sort of swivel movement to get his foot on the ball, but it went straight over Seb Browns crossbar.

Oliver Lee then got a shot away as the tempo intensified, it was blocked and went out for a corner which dually came to nothing, as most Daggers corners do. Jon Nurse came mighty close with a volley that was sliced slightly, no vodkas on offer today, but it went wide of the goal. When Wimbledon attacked they usually were given offside, but they do have a lot of pace going forward. Gareth Gwillim took a little bit of stick when coming over to the Sieve but all in good nature.

Jonny Nurse then broke down the right hand side and stuck in a neat low cross which found Jake Reed, who's scuffed shot was cleared easily by a Womble defender. A feature of the first half was Abu Ogogo getting forward quite a lot, however his judgement was very poor, there were times when he should have shot or passed but continued on running into a dead end, something that was very frustrating watching the game. Then the Daggers should really have gone a goal behind, about 30 minutes in, a Wimbledon winger got down the left and slung a low ball in which got to the feet of Midson who put it over the bar, a very good chance and one that he should have done better with in my opinion.

Then on about 35 minutes a Daggers player was upended outside the Wimbledon box which left referee Mr Madley no choice but to award us a free kick. With Gavin Tomlin & Damien McCrory over it, Damien was the one that took forward the duties. He took on the free kick and would have scored some points, if we were playing Aussie Rules football, high over the bar and into the Marcus James Stand.

Then came the major incident of the first half. A shot or cross in the Daggers area hit Scott Doe and from what I saw it didn't appear to be a handball, but the referee decided to give Wimbledon the penalty. This was by the way the 8th time the Wimbledon fans had appealed for a penalty, and if theres ever an award for appealing for penalties, they'd get it. Anyways it left myself and some others aggrieved for the second week running after the incident with Lewington last week at the game, looking back you know my stance on it. Anyways Luke Moore stepped up and as Lewington touched the top of the net and got focused, the whistle blew and he blasted it straight down the middle, the Dons were leading. May I say here that I'll look back at the game on the Football League Show and if it was a penalty, I'll happily admit I was wrong.

The Daggers kicked off and it was a midfield battle for another five minutes or so until Ogogo went on yet another run and this time got a shot away that was saved. Then some even more bad news. Abu Ogogo who had gone down previously went down once more and John Gowens signalled that was the right backs all. Phil Walsh come on for the injured Abu who received a good reception as he went off. This meant a re-shuffle in defence, with Scott Doe going to right back and Phil Walsh take the centre half reigns. That was about the final action of the first half, which was rather poor in all honesty.

The half time whistle blew and anxious faces were the order of the day in The Sieve. We were 1-0 down and we were marginally the better team in my opinion, although both teams were playing poorly. Now comes the time where we refer to the title of the blog. The amount of times we could have tested Seb Brown in the Dons goal if our players had used their left foot. Abu Ogogo, Oliver Lee, Gavin Tomlin & Jake Reed all had opportunities but decided to try and shift it to their right and consequently gave it away to leave me and some others cursing. The players emerged from the first half as I chucked my 50/50 ticket on the ground, I mean bin hoping for an improved second half performance.

Dagenham & Redbridge kicked off the second half attacking the Bury Road End with the Wombles going at the Marcus James Stand where their fantastic support of 950 odd was housed, well done Wimbledon. The first real opportunity was when Damien McCrory was give some time and space down the left and put in a beautiful cross which found the head of Jake Reed who headed it wide of the far post, he really should have got it on target. I then noticed Jack Midson was still on the pitch, he had a nasty incident at the end of the first half which caused his head to pour with blood, didn't even have a headband on!!
Luke Moore then ended up getting himself booked for being too close to Damien McCrory when he took a free kick, now Internet sites have this down as "unsporting behaviour", personally I'd have it down as "being an arsehole", the free kick came to nothing anyways.
The Daggers then fell further behind, with no immediate danger apparent, Rashid Yusseff of the Dons picked the ball up in the centre circle and took a couple of strides forward. He then unleashed a brilliant shot that went straight into the top corner of the net, the Daggers were now two behind through no fault of Chris Lewingtons might I add. The thing was, the closing down of Yusseff was terrible, mainly because there was none. A very big mistake and one that cost us this time.

Then on the 60 minute mark the usual flurry of corners came, rather ironically it was a McFlurry as Damien McCrory was taking the majority. How we didn't score from one of these was beyond me. Pinball in the box was an understatement. If one Daggers player got a firm and proper connection we would have scored, Seb Brown fluffed his lines once when Jake Reed scuffed a shot in his direction. It was then headed clear, where Gavin Tomlin took on his defender, got around in and stuck another floated ball in the box, this time a foul was given for something and Wimbledon got away with it.

Woodall Came On

It looked increasingly likely that we would lose this game and John Still then brought on two to change the game. Medy Elito came on for Jake Reed who had a good game and Brian Woodall took the place of Damien McCrory, or maybe they were the other way around. Sammy Moore then came on for Max Porter for AFC. Luke Moore was given an opportunity to add to their advantage, but Luke Moores driven shot was blocked well by Mark Arber who had a fairly solid game. Samuel Hatton was then booked, no relation to Ricky for unsporting behaviour, although you know my stance on that term as well. AFC Wimbledon then made another sub, with Charles Ademeno being withdrawn and Christian Jolly coming on, if only he'd have scored an own goal, such an apt song would have been sung.

Gareth Gwillim, the former Daggers then took a corner which found the head of a Wombles player and it looked as though it was going in before Arber I believe saved us from conceding a third before heading it off of the line. Not much action for 10 minutes or so before Oliver Lee managed a first shot on target from outside the box, a fierce strike well held by Seb Brown on his near side. Then a couple of minutes later Gavin Tomlin swung a right footed free kick in that went beyond everyone and out for a goal kick, cue groans from three sides of Victoria Road.

The game drew to a close with only a Phil Walsh header in injury time that I thought was in provoking any more noise, the referee blew up and the Daggers had gone down to AFC Wimbledon, and fair play to Terry Browns men, they took their chances and the Daggers didn't.

For Daggers fans reading this and maybe the Daggers players if they do, don't be disheartened. At the end of the day, I thought both teams were as bad as each other and there were some positives to take from the game as well as the negatives. For example, we were playing it well on the ground, passing it around and creating some openings. A real plus point for me was Sam Williams, whilst he may not be everyones cup of tea, he got some good headers away and held up the ball very well this afternoon. Jake Reed, a future gem, played well considering it was his first start. Oliver Lee, many peoples man of the match today, ran the midfield really and was picking out some very good passes.

Ollie Lee played very well this afternoon
At the end of the day, you have to remember we have nigh on 10 players out injured, it was always going to be tough, I fully expected a draw, but we showed promising signs. If we shoot early and with our left feet then we may get more success. It wasn't a particularly pleasing performance as I'm sure fans & players alike know, but we're two games in. We've lost a game at the end of the day it's not the end of the world, we were always going to lose games, Wimbledon are a tricky team and we failed to overcome then.

I have full faith that we will come good even if we have a tough start, we're Dagenham remember, we don't do things the easy way. To players and fans, keep the confidence up as demoralising as this may be, as I've seen us play worse and win, it was one of those days and we'll bounce back with a better performance on Tuesday, regardless if we win or not, as long as the players give their all and try their best, that's all you can ask for.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Macclesfield 0-1 Daggers: Lewy Lewy

Dagenham & Redbridge opened their league two campaign with a hard fought win at Moss Rose against Macclesfield Town, with the goal coming courtesy of Medy Elito, although I'm sure Mark Arber will claim it!

The first part of the day was spent on the coach making the trip up to the North, a wonderful journey as per, although at least the company was a laugh. The stop off at Norton Caines services set the standard, meeting the Accrington fans at the services and after being "forced" into playing football with about 25 of them in the car park it set the tone of the day. We was buzzing and I have to say, the Accrington fans are all nutters, or maybe that's because they had barrel loads of booze in the coach, hmmm. With everyone raring to go now, we set out for the final stretch, going through very small, narrow, bending roads, only god knows how a coach fitted through them before arriving at Moss Rose at about 14:20.

The first thing we had to do was get the tickets, a rather large queue accumulated at the ticket office so there were going to be quite a few Daggers at the ground. With no disrespect to the Macclesfield fans, the first impression of the ground, is effectively a dump, it is the first ground I've been to that's worse than our own, the most old school Conference ground. After having my bag checked, we went into the ground and got a reasonable programme for £2.50, well I had to get two for a certain git back home.

Return Of The Macc!
We then proceeded to get some grub, and as it was £1.90 for a coke, my wallet had a severe hole in it and why do Northern grounds only serve pies. When I go to football I want a burger or chips, I'm Southern, not Northern, you want my money then satisfy me! Crisps are not football food Macclesfield, all Northern grounds are rubbish when it comes to catering, I don't bloody well want a pie!
The teams were read out as we settled in at Moss Rose and a couple of surprises, Lewington started ahead of Shea & Josh Scott was not even named in the 16, we later learned this was due to injury in a Thursday training session. As small ground began to "fill up" if you want to call it that, we encountered two of the weirdest mascots you will ever see and the usual season build up began. The tannoy bloke was going down a dead end trying the get the Macclesfield fans to make a cheer, but when the Daggers were asked, need I tell you more; fantastic support as per usual.

The Daggers team was: Lewington, Ogogo, Arber, Doe, McCrory, Elito, Howell, Lee, Tomlin, Nurse, Williams. Subs: Shea, Femi, Woodall, Reed, Walsh.

Phil Walsh started the songs and by kick off the Daggers were buzzing and as the teams come out the excitement, tension & anticipation was back, the 2011/2012 football season was just minutes away. Mark Arber won the toss and opted to swap ends so the Daggers would be attacking the empty terrace end in the first half & the Silkmen would face their own fans.

Macclesfield kicked off the game and it was all go, within seconds they had won the ball and Tomlinson stuck a powerful right footed shot way over Lewingtons bar. It was then a midfield battle for the next five or so minutes with only a few free kicks to see and a chorus of "Digger Dagger" to sing before Luke Howell was given time and pulled a shot away which went straight down Jose Veiga's throat. Oliver Lee who isn't a shy boy when it comes to shooting tried his luck then, but it went just wide of Veiga's far post, the Daggers were beginning to get into the game after a somewhat sluggish start. It was then Macclesfields turn to take a foothold, a period of pressure up the other end saw new signing Waide Fairhurst go close and Ben Tomlinson who shot one wide of Lewy's post, no troubles there.

Mark Arber was looking very suspect at the back, making a few uncanny errors, missing headers and loose balls and misplacing a few passes, it seemed as though he was having one of them games. Then a neat move on the far side of the pitch from the Daggers with some good interchange saw Nurse get the ball and get a shot away which went over the bar not troubling the Macc keeper.

Macclesfield then had a flurry of corners, coming from a fantastic save from Chris Lewington, a header that was a certain goal was saved brilliantly by the former Letherhead keeper to start the flurry. Scott Doe & Mark Arber were busy for five minutes or so getting their nut on the ball, before it finally went out for a goal kick.

Minutes later Abu Ogogo committed a slightly rash challenge, although at the time I thought he got the ball on Waide Fairhurst for which the striker needed some treatment. Whilst he tried to run it off he eventually had to go off, Emile Sinclair replaced the striker as some Macc fans were calling for a red for Abu, no chance. However I do wish Waide a speedy recovery as it seemed as though afterwards he injured himself to a larger extent than first thought. That was really the last action of the first half. Chris Lewington made another fantastic save from point blank range to deny Macc at some point in the first half, but I can't remember at what point so I left it until here!

That was half time and now it's time for my moan. The Macclesfield fans on the opposite side for us, absolute arseholes (sorry for the language) but they are. Chanting EDL songs at a football match, no wonder no one wanted to stand with them, there is no room for that in football and I'd like to say the Daggers fans put them to shame with the brilliant chants, so up yours you fat twat who was leading the hostilities. On the lighter side however, I noticed a brilliant and heart warming banner dedicated to Keith Alexander & Richard Butcher, a fantastic tribute to two great men in football who died so young.

The teams emerged for the second half as we hoped the Daggers would improve after a rather poor first 45, my main conerns were Arber who was playing poorly, but we all have them games and McCrory who's marking wasn't there, Macclesfield were getting their success down the right hand side and it had to be stopped.

Arbs claimed it

The Daggers started much brighter and after Sam Williams was fouled, Gavin Tomlin got a free kick into the box which was headed away, it fell to Scott Doe on the edge of the box who should have had a vodka with his slice. The Daggers then got a couple of shots away which were finely blocked by Macc, especially as Elito's shot looked as though it was going into the top corner. Emile Sinclair once again forced Chris Lewington into action, a well executed scissor kick was saved brilliantly by Lewy who punched it over for a corner, he has the potential to be one of the best shot stoppers in the league in my opinion.

The Daggers then took the lead. A Macclesfield player scythed down Luke Howell I believe it was to give the Daggers a chance to swing a ball in, bearing in mind most other free kicks previous in the game were taken quickly and came to nothing. Gavin Tomlin swung it in and Mark Arber got a fantastic head on it at the near post to flick it towards the back post goalwards, with it just going over the line Medy Elito nipped in to smash it home just to make sure. The Daggers travelling faithful erupted, we had taken the lead and we were loving it, Mark Arber sped away whilst Medy claimed it was his, who cares, we were ahead! Whoever created the chant "He plays on the left, he plays on the right, that boy Elito, makes Greeny look shite" deserved a medal, brilliant!

Everyone was buzzing now and we nearly added a second straight after, Nursey cutting down the right and whipping a ball in before Veiga gathered it. Medy then nearly doubles his tally, a good shot from outside the box hit a Dagger on the back as it went out for a goal kick, we were looking lively now. It all settled down again for 15 minutes or so, until the match's big incident.

Mark Arber let a ball go over the top which left Chris Lewington scrambling out to get it with a Macclesfield attacker, it appeared to us he headed it away and as it came back to a Macc player he shot and it hit Lewy again. The referee blew up and shockingly at the time sent one of our star performers off. Over 200 Daggers were in shock and unleashed abuse on the man in the middle for the next 20 minutes for what appeared to be an absolutely shocking decision, having seen it later back on TV, I do somewhat regret that, but in the heat of the moment you can understand. Medy Elito was then replaced by James Shea who came on in goal as the Daggers were down to 10 men, his first task was facing a close range free kick, which luckily enough was shut down fantastically by Sam Williams.

The final 15 minutes or so, was a blur of shouting, anxiousness and tension, Macclesfield came forward, but not nearly enough, James Shea made a very impressive punch for a goalkeeper of his size and then was very commanding in catching the ball from a good cross. A quick break away ensued from the punch and it was 5 on 1 at one point, but Tomlin when given the ball opted to scamper to the corner, and I don't blame him. Scott Doe came close with a header late on that was saved well by Veiga to deny the centre half his first Daggers goal. A nervous 4 minutes of injury were finally over as the Daggers celebrated the first win of the new campaign and a much needed one at that.

Every season we win our first game, we go on to do fairly well and learning that Steve Evans was escorted out of Port Vale made the day even sweeter. As rain began to come down the Daggers players made their way over to applaud us, a fantastic day, fantastic atmosphere and a fantastic result, football was back.

After a fairly sluggish first half, the second half was much improved and Mark Arber was much more commanding and back to his usual self. Damien McCrory also improved in the second half, his marking was still slightly off but going forward he was pretty decent. Oliver Lee was fantastic in the middle, running the midfield and a very fine player, whilst Howell done ok, which I think is a fair assumption. Up front we were ok once more, the fact that Nursey shouldn't have played didn't help, but Tomlin coped well and Williams was fantastic. The man of the match though, was Chris Lewington, three fantastic saves, saved our bacon and he kept us in it, such a shame about the handball, but once again it saved us in a quirky way. James Shea also coped well when put under pressure, being thrown in at the deep end late on.

So concluded my first away trip of the season and my first away win, next up for the Daggers is AFC Bournemouth on Tuesday night in the Carling Cup, and next up for me is AFC Wimbledon on Saturday.

I hope you enjoyed this blog and I'll speak to you next week!

Oh, and what were these mascots all about! 

Thursday, 4 August 2011

League Two 2011/2012: The Lowdown Part 2

The second part of my little look at league two with the final 12 teams, starting with Hereford United.

Hereford United Football Club
Stadium & Capacity: Edgar Street, 5075
2010/2011 Finishing Position: 21st League Two
Manager: Jamie Pitman
Key Players: Michael Townsend, James McQuilkin, Joe Colbeck, Stuart Fleetwood.
Prediction: An improved team on last season and have plenty of fighting spirit, I expect them to be comfortable in mid table, 15th.

Macclesfield Town Football Club
Stadium & Capacity: Moss Rose, 6355
2010/2011 Finishing Position: 15th League Two
Manager: Gary Simpson
Key Players: Nat Brown, Colin Daniel, Waide Fairhurst
Prediction: Macclesfield always seem to finish mid table once more avoiding the job easily and maybe even providing a top half push if they perform well enough, 17th.

Morecambe Football Club
Stadium & Capacity: The Globe Arena, 6918
2010/2011 Finishing Position: 20th League Two
Manager: Jim Bentley
Key Players: Andy Parrish, Izak Reid, Kevin Ellison, Phil Jevons
Prediction: The second season in their new stadium and a change of management with a club legend coming in, I can see them pushing for a play off place like two season ago, 13th.

Northampton Town Football Club
Stadium & Capacity:
Sixfields, 7653
2010/2011 Finishing Position: 16th League Two.
Manager: Gary Johnson
Key Players: Ben Tozer, Kevin Thornton, Tadgh Purcell, Shaun Harrad, Jake Robinson.
Prediction: One of the deadliest forward lines in the league and a proven manager to steer the ship, a good season could be in order for the Cobblers, but their unproven back line may be their downfall, 9th.

Oxford United Football Club
Stadium & Capacity: The Kassam Stadium, 12,500
2010/2011 Finishing Position: 12th League Two.
Manager: Chris Wilder
Key Players: Jake Wright, Alfie Potter, Peter Leven, James Constable, Jon Paul Pitman.
Prediction: One of my tips for promotion, they have a very large squad which is good and they've brought in good players such as Peter Leven to start the charge, 3rd.

Plymouth Argyle Football Club
Stadium & Capacity: Home Park, 19,500

Carl Fletcher

2010/2011 Finishing Position: 23rd League One
Manager: Peter Reid
Key Players: Stephane Zubar, Carl Fletcher, Simon Walton, Warren Feeney (if he signs)
Prediction: With the most thread bare squad for obvious reasons, they may struggle in the League, but I expect their experienced heads to make sure they don't go down, 21st.

Port Vale Football Club
Stadium & Capacity: Vale Park, 19,052
2010/2011 Finishing Position: 11th League Two
Manager: Micky Adams.
Key Players: John McCombe, Gareth Owen, Lewis Haldane, Marc Richards.
Prediction: A fairly strong defence will be their best quality this season, a fairly average squad elsewhere, with no real strength in attacking, I say they'll be towards the bottom end, this years draw specialists, 18th.

Rotherham United Football Club
Stadium & Capacity: The Don Valley Stadium, 25,000.
2010/2011 Finishing Position: 9th League Two
Manager: Andy Scott.
Key Players: Ryan Cresswell, Danny Harrisson, Danny Schofield, Chris Holroyd, Le Fondre.
Prediction: Once again you expect Rotherham to challenge but will they keep hold of Le Fondre, the saga continues, a good manager who is proven at this level should lead them towards the top half, 8th.

Shrewsbury Town Football Club
Stadium & Capacity: Greenhous Meadow, 9875
2010/2011 Finishing Position: 4th League Two.
Manager: Graham Turner
Key Players: Shane Cansdell Sherriff, Nicky Wroe, Matt Richards, James Collins.
Prediction: Like many others, expect a promotion push , I'm not convinced with their forward line as yet, Marvin Morgan will not do the business for them, 10th.

Southend United Football Club
Stadium & Capacity: Roots Hall, 12,392
2010/2011 Finishing Position: 13th League Two.
Manager: Paul Sturrock.
Key Players: Bilel Mohsni, Jean Paul Kalala, Kane Ferdinand, Jemal Johnson, Neil Harris.
Prediction: A very strong squad all round and Neil Harris' addition will scare a lot of defences, if they don't reach the play offs I'd see it as a failed season for them, 4th.

Swindon Town Football Club
Stadium & Capacity: The County Ground, 14,700.
2010/2011 Finishing Position: 24th League One.
Manager: Paolo Di Canio
Key Players: Alberto Comazzi, Joe Devera, Matt Ritchie, Simon Ferry, Alan Connell.
Prediction: A new manager and a fresh approach at the County Ground with an influx of foreign players, this will either send them up or I'll go into mid table, I vote for the first, 2nd.

Torquay United Football Club
Stadium & Capacity: Plainmoor, 6104
2010/2011 Finishing Position: 7th League Two (lost in play off final)
Manager: Martin Ling
Key Players: Kevin Nicholson, Lee Mansell, Billy Kee, Rene Howe.
Prediction: Clubs have a tendency to struggle after they've lost in the play offs and they haven't strengthened enough for my liking however I have a soft spot for them and hope they do well, 22nd.

The league is so tight this year, anyone could do anything, it's anyones guess who will get into the play offs, but I'm fairly sure that Cheltenham & Barnet will face the drop.

Where are we all this season!