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.
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.
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.
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.