Saturday, 24 September 2011

Northampton 2-1 Daggers, Cobblers!

Dagenham & Redbridge went down 2-1 against Northampton Town earlier today to make it a literal pointless month, the song "wake me up when September ends" has never been more appropriate.

It was a nice start today, with the coach not leaving until 11:45, although even that was delayed by 10 or so minutes as we were waiting for someone. The fairly fast journey was interrupted by news of the league cup draw, the standout tie being Aldershot Town vs Manchester United; and there was a crash on the M1 which saw us sitting in traffic for twenty minutes or so. We approached Sixfields at about 1:50ish and had a nose around the ground for 10 minutes or so. The surrounding area is actually quite nice, with a TGI Fridays and KFC just outside the ground, for people who like food, it's a dream! The only thing that lets it down is the slopes around the ground, if you want extreme hill rolling, this is definitely the place for you, they were sloping more than our decline down the table.
Northamptons Ground
Just after 2:00 after buying an averaged price £3 programme we made our way into the ground, first impressions, it's a very nice, neat little ground although with nearly of the stands the same it lacks a lot of originality. A quick walk along to the end with my mate Kieran and we got to see a brand new Daggers Flag, very good design and watching Charlie, Ryan, Jack & Carl trying to rope it down provided some comedy! Then it was on to the most important part of the day so far, the food. I opted for a hot dog that was priced well at £3.30 and it didn't disappoint, fantastic quality, although the roll it was in was about as soft as Woodall's voice.

Our end was starting to fill up now and as the Daggers came out, two very positive signs, both Kevin Maher & Jake Reed doing some training aside from the rest of the team, they weren't included in the 16, but it's good to see them on the pitch getting some work done. It was filling up rapid, as you could tell from the amount of people walking down the hill behind the opposite stand, then I received news from my man back in Dagenham, you may know him as Lee, that Brian Woodall was getting his second start of the season alongside Sam Williams, interesting news!

It was almost time to kick off and the muffled PA system read the Daggers team out as follows: Lewington, Ogogo, Doe, Arber, Femi, Scannell, Lee, Gain, Nurse, Williams, Woodall. Subs: Hogan (who looked fantastic warming up), Rose, DJ Green, Tomlin, Walsh. You may also like to view my video of the Daggers players shooting pre match for some comedy, apologies if you dislike bad language, yadda yadda yadda.

The Teams
The teams came out on the dot, the Daggers would be attacking the hill end first half and the Cobblers would be attacking The Paul Cox Panel & Paint South Stand or, the away end if you like it short! We kicked off and the Daggers got the first chance of the game, the first of a thousand or so corners came in and Sam Williams headed high over the bar to squander a half chance, very difficult, but very positive.

Then came the usual midfield battle, very scrappy with quite a few free kicks, made bearable by my inane humour, then came the Daggers second chance. Oliver Lee who scored a belter against Morecambe a week previous, got down the right hand side and hit a fierce shot across the goal that was just too high, out of play for a goal kick, still very promising. The Daggers hadn't been able to get the wingers into the game as yet, an area that has been lacking quite a bit in recent weeks and contributing to the poor form. Then the lump that is Adebayo Akinfenwa was caught offside, which gave me some amusement.

But for all of the Daggers early pressure, you can just guess what happened next. Northampton got their first corner of the match which was saved on the line well by Lewington, but it wasn't cleared, an almighty scrap in the box with two or three blocks before the ball fell to Aaron Davies who took a touch on the six yard box and slammed home off of the bar and in, there was no need for goal line technology, I assure you this one was over the line. Three sides of Sixfields erupted whilst the Daggers end was stunned into relative silence, once again, it'd been all Daggers, but the opposing team that made the breakthrough. Despondency was the order of the day once more, along with being pissed off at their ludicrous mascot.

Then the Daggers were caught cold from the restart, a complete mix up between Abu Ogogo & Chris Lewington left them to clatter into eachother with the ball falling to Marlon Jackson just inside the box, with his first touch he chose to try and chip it over the pair, but failed horribly and it rolled away, a very lucky escape. Northampton were in the ascendancy now and a free kick was nearly turned in, when one of their players rose highest and glanced his header just past Lewingtons far post, yet another escape; the Daggers early dominance seemed ages ago, mind you we wouldn't know this was yet another ground with no scoreboard!

The Daggers got another flurry of corners, which came to nothing, but not without the want of trying, another Oliver Lee shot blocked to deny us another Poznan. Just after the half hour mark, came the frustration of two offsides, the first for Sam Williams who would have been through had he have held his run; with the other for Woodall who was in the same situation just the other side of the pitch. Chris Lewington then came to the Daggers rescue for the umpteenth time this season. The ball was given to goalscorer Aaron Davies who tee'd himself up superbly and hit an unstoppable shot towards the top corner, or so he and we thought. I'll confess, I thought it was in, but from out of nowhere came the cat, or Chris Lewington as he's more affectionately known as, diving high to get finger tips to send the rasper over, a fantastic save.

That was the last good chance of the opening period, with Northampton probably edging it, Damien Scannell & Peter Gain whipping some balls in towards the end that went straight down the keepers throat. It was the same old story really for the Daggers, the final ball wasn't quite good enough although there was some promise with Scannell, the Daggers went into a goal down from a fairly drab first half. The half time at Northampton is nothing short of dreadful, the little kids penalty shoot out was so entertaining that the bloke who was meant to keeping count didn't even know what the score was, furthermore when one team had won on penalties he was completely oblivious, and there was a shout for goal line technology after one penalty could have been over the line! Music selection was poor and the half time felt longer than usual.

We kicked off for the second half with the Daggers our end, where there was no real atmosphere for a change, you can tell how much difference the drum makes on away days, although the scoreline may have had something to do with it. The first chance of the second half came the Daggers way, Brian Woodall shot was blocked well before Abu Ogogo hit a decent strike with his weaker foot which went just past the post, a positive start once more from the Daggers. Then straight from the goal kick, Ollie Lee won the ball back and threaded it through to Peter Gain who wormed his way past two players to get a tame shot away when he should really have looked up and played in Scannell who was free to his left and had a much better opportunity; however Scannell needed to use his voice a bit more.

Sam Williams then put a header over the bar after some excellent defending from Northampton, a chance that he could have perhaps done better with if I'm being super critical. However, it was carbon copy time, the Daggers are attacking and seem to be in the ascendancy, so what happens, that's right, the Cobblers score. Michael Jacobs was given far too much space down the left and swung a ball in which found the head of Akinfenwa who planted home to double the lead, the Daggers defenders unable to do anything as the fat blocked them out, whilst Lewington had absolutely no chance. As the home fans danced in delight, I proceeded to smash my head against the brick wall behind me.

Umpteenth Corner
Then just over ten minutes after the goal came the Daggers best chance of the game so far, a shot from Damien Scannell was tipped over by Sam Walker between the sticks which meant yet another corner, if only games were won on corners eh. Oliver Lee swung a ball in once again and it met Mark Arbers head who glanced it onto the top of the crossbar and it almost rolled agonisingly across before falling down about a yard from the line. It fell and it was a race to see if Damien Scannell could poke home or the Northampton defender could smash clear, in keeping with the Daggers poor luck, the defender got their first and the ball found its way out of the ground to my and 250 odd others despair.

Then it was substitution time, Marlon Jackson was withdrawn by Gary Johnson and replaced by Jake Robinson as the Cobblers looked to secure their first home victory of the season. Then a bit of action, another Ollie Lee corner found the head of Williams I think it was who's header was blocked by Cee Lo Green, or Bayo Akinfenwa if you don't want to know his lookalike. Then came on Danny J Green as Stilly made his first sub of the afternoon, Brian Woodall who had been decent but ineffective at times departed for the long haired winger.

Daggers Fans
Then for the next five minutes or so came another succession of corners, it was becoming ridiculous the amount we had and that only two or three had actually worked Walker in the Northampton goal. This has been a criticism of mine for a while, the amount of corners we have always had through the years, we have never scored enough from them, something that needs to be worked on if possible in training as it's one of our best threats if worked properly. Then Akinfenwa who was awarded the man of the match came off and was replaced by Greg Kaziboni, local lad makes good once more. John Still made a Daggers change withdrawing Damien Scannell who had been our best player in my opinion for Phil Walsh, who went to play at centre half which seemed a very strange move at the time considering we were two bloody goals behind!

Phil Walsh nearly made an instant impact quite shockingly, a good ball in from the right hand side saw him get a firm connection, but Walker parried well to deny the former striker his first Daggers goal. However in injury time the Daggers did pull one back, Jon Nurse made some room down the right, where the Daggers were getting most of the luck in the second half and swung a good ball in that found Oliver Lee who volleyed in from inside the box, with minutes left it was 2-1, could we salvage something! Unfortunately, nothing did come, although had the referee who resembled a cue ball not given a free kick in the middle of the park, I think Danny J Green could have been away and made a chance.

That was it, a fifth straight defeat and as the despondent Daggers filed out of the exits the team done the usual and came over and clapped us which is to be respected, a game that could have been oh so different had certain chances been taken, but that seems to be the story of the season doesn't it. If that chance was put away the game would have changed, if that ball was delivered in, if he'd have started etc. At the end of the day, it's been a miserable month if we're all honest, but now it's gone, put it behind us, a new month, a new run of games and a new found optimisn for some of us after we win next weekend.

I can't really pick out anyone from todays performance that was particularly good or bad, although if you want my man of the match I'd probably have to go Scannell although Lewington played well this afternoon, the thing was, nothing really concerned me, maybe lack of marking was a concern, but other than that, we played it on the deck for the large part, but didn't quite get it down the wings, it will all come in time, remember Medy & Josh are still out of action and they make a significant difference. All the league games that Medy has started so far, we haven't lost, and that' a stat! My last bit, a mention to "Pabs" as he's known on the forum or Paul O'Brien in person who got a mention in a column in the programme today, thanks for giving the Daggers a good reputation to other fans!

Next week it's Crewe Alexandra and it's Family Fun Day, although if we make it six straight defeats it may turn into a house of horrors. Don't worry, your trusty correspondent will be there reporting on that one!

Keep The Faith & Up The Daggers!

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Daggers 1-2 Morecambe, Revenge.

Dagenham & Redbridge suffered a fourth successive defeat to take their September points total to a big fat zero after a quickfire Morecambe double early in the second half sent the Shrimps home happy.

Walking down to Victoria Road, I was feeling pessimistic, in an optimistic way, which makes no sense at all. I thought we'd lose the game because of our current form, there's always something about when we play Morecambe, just something in the back of my mind that made me think we may actually get something. So in a hurried rush, I arrived at fortress Victoria Road at about 2:40pm and got the usual programme and 50/50, I've cut out getting the golden goal now as it's depressing when the other team always scores first. I went through the turnstiles and saw a quite empty ground, the Morecambe fans surprised me a lot. Considering they're top of the league, you could count the amount they had, the figure was that small, however I don't blame a lot that didn't come, at £22 a ticket I'd probably turn my nose up as well.

The Sieve was slowly filling up, I say slowly, it was filling up about as fast as Phil Ifil can run, so extremely slow! We just caught the the team as we were getting ourselves sorted with beverages and food, or liquid and grub to the common people among us, ie everyone reading this. The only downside for me going into this was that I knew Abu Ogogo was out, Richard Rose is a very good player and I have every confidence, but he's no Abu! I also expected Tomlin to come back into the side, but was unsure who for and as it came over the tannoy, Billy Bingham was the unlucky one.

Daggers Team that Started: Lewington, Femi, Doe, Arber, Rose, Nurse, Gain, Lee, Tomlin, Williams, Scannell. Subs: Hogan, Walsh, McCrory, Bingham, Woodall.

It was just nearing 3:00 and we were off at Victoria Road as it began to cloud over, how ironic! The first five minutes were as ever a midfield battle, although I was hoping we could do a Macclesfield and score after 7 seconds, mind you, scoring at all would be helpful! Morecambe had the first chance of the contest, some good work down the right hand side saw Izak Reid pull a shot away inside the box across Lewington who did, according to the ref, get a touch on it to send it out for a corner, which nothing came of. Then Mr W, you may be able to work out his name from the initial, spotted something very good, that Morecambes kit resembled something Liverpool wore in the 80's, maybe it's modelled on it? Who knows.

The Daggers first chance came just over the 10 minute mark, Damien Scannell who isn't everyones cup of tea fired a shot at Roche from range who made a fairly easy save from the former Southend man. It was then Sam Williams' turn to get a shot away, he turned and fired a half volley which cannoned off of a Morecambe players backside, good intent from the blonde front man.

Yet Another Free Kick
It was a fairly even match after that, very stop start with an endless stream of free kicks for minor and sometimes comical offences, I remember one where Nurse supposedly "handballed" it despite being wrested to the ground by a Morecambe defender who thought he was John Cena, I think that's a wrestler anyways. One bright point, or rather wet point of the afternoon was when the rain came down midway through the first period. Virtually all of the supporters in the Bury Road terrace came running for cover in the Sieve  which was surprisingly dry, cue fantastic songs, "we can see you sneaking in". If we had invested in Arnu's new roof, then this wouldn't have happened, maybe he can give the club 300K in the future to stick one on, forum joke there for any outside readers!

Then came a massive heart in mouth moment for the Daggers. A Morecambe free kick was only partially cleared inside the Daggers box and it was fired back towards the goal line, only a last gasp header off the line from Scott Doe prevented the Shrimps from taking the lead. Doe's header then hit off of Chris Lewington head who was completely unaware as the ball was eventually cleared out down the line by Femi. Five or so minutes later Damien Scannell put in a good cross from down the right, but it went over all of the players and out for a throw in.

The first half was quite drab in all honestly, fairly even, we were matching Morecambe and our corner count was far superior as usual, this is a major criticism for me. For the amount of corners we have game on game, they usually come to nothing, it's something that really annoys me. Scannell did appear to be our main threat in all honesty, Tomlin was doing ok for the amount of the ball he was getting and Williams was doing decent winning flick ons etc.

That was the half over then and we were credible in all honesty, as I said a fairly even match and an interesting one for the second half. I am sitting here with possibly the winning 50/50 ticket on my table, so if anyone does know the 50/50 number could they please be a kind soul and post it underneath, no doubt we'll just get mindless numbers posted now! Good news at half time, Crawley were losing and Pulse weren't performing, there is a god!

The teams reemerged for the second half in the drizzle and I was slyly optimistic, which is never a good sign supporting Dagenham is it? Within minutes Morecambe had broken the deadlock, a ball down the line from tormentor Kevin Ellison found hotshot Danny Carlton who calmly slotted over Chris Lewington to net the opening goal. Mark Arber was the only man with Carlton, but to Arbs' defence, he couldn't do much, a mistimes challenge sees him miss the ball and get a straight red which would have helped our cause no end!

The Daggers nearly hit back immediately, Peter Gain inside the penalty air fired a shot over the bar when he probably should have done slightly better, but that's Gainy, he only scores once every 3 years! It was straight up the other end, Carlton was through once more, only some fantastic keeping from Lewington to block the shot with his body prevented Carlton & Morecambe doubling their afternoon tally.

No need to worry though Morecambe fans, you doubled the lead just minutes later! A cross was put in from the left handside which Lewington palmed out to Drummond who just slotted home with absolute ease, stroked calmly into the bottom corner without so much as an attempt to block. Whilst Lewington probably should have gathered it or punched it better, the defence was so static afterwards that Morecambe deserved the goal so it could act as a bloody wake up call! Then, just minutes from the restart Lewington was tested again, going full stretch to pull off a smart save from a shot drilled across the wet surface.

Then came the first booking of the match, Nick Fenton went into the referee's book after a cynical foul on Jon Nurse. The free kick from the challenge went out for a corner; which was whipped in and found Scannell who fired over, the big man was the most involved for me this afternoon. Then came a flurry of changes. Lewis Alessandra came on for Jason Price, no relation to Vincent. Then a few minutes later came another two. For the Daggers Brian Woodall who had been waiting for several minutes whilst the Daggers were defending, came on for Damien Scannell who was very involved today. This brought some boo's out of the Sieve, which I was very unimpressed with. Kieran Charnock then replaced the booked Nick Fenton for Jim Bentleys side.

Then came a major talking point in the game. Kevin Ellison, no stranger to the Daggers thanks to his fantastic Wembley exploits for Rotherham got down the left hand side and roasted Richard Rose. Rose had to backtrack and caught Ellison in the box with his knees, as a result the Morecambe man went over and was looking for a penalty. The referee blew and to everyones relief gave the Daggers a free kick and booked the baldy for simulation, with a smile on his face he trotted away. I can't tell you how lucky we were as for me, this was a stone wall penalty.

Damien McCrory then came on for Gavin Tomlin at left midfield as the Daggers won a free kick on the far side, Tomlin getting a warm round of applause as he went off. Ollie Lee took the free kick and flighted it in, and to everyones surprise it went straight over Roche inbetween the sticks and into the corner! A delayed applause and cheering ensued, as I'm not quite sure any believed it had gone in, a definite, "did he mean that or what" moment, but at the end of the day, no one gave a monkeys, we were back in the game with 20 minutes still to play, anything could happen from here until the end! Oh, cue Poznan.

Straight after the kick off the Daggers won the ball back, it looked as though they had some real fire in their belly, I recommend gaviscon for that. Oliver Lee picked up the ball, done a shimmy and cut back inside before sticking a good shot just past the post, it looked as though we could actually, against the odds, get something from it! The Daggers got their umpteenth corner of the match and it was whipped in towards the back post. An unmarked Brian Woodall directed it goalwards and just as it looked as though it was going to nestle into the bottom corner, Kevin Ellison popped up to head it off the line to send groans along the Sieve.

Oliver Lee then got another shot away, which made Roche go full stretch to palm it clear, it looked as though the Daggers would get that all important equaliser with every minute that went by. It was then Woodall's turn to get a shot away which was blocked well by the Shrimps defence. It was then sub time again, Haining came on for Reid in a defensive move by Bentley, but John Still counteracted it by sticking Phil Walsh on to play the final five up front in place of Richard Rose who played very well in Abu's absence. We were going three at the back now in an attempt to salvage a point.

I want to tell you that we found that equaliser, but unfortunately we didn't and Morecambe took all three points back home along with the top spot in the league as the Daggers slipped down once again to 19th and extended the losing streak to four in the league.

However I feel there are some positives to take from the game, Femi being the main one, he got a deserved man of the match award today, he was creative and defended very well, shepherding the ball out on numerous occaisions, last season I was highly critical of him, but he's coming on leaps and bounds and I can see him being a regular starter from now on. Chris Lewington, despite his slight cock up was on the whole superb once more, I'm so glad for Lewy, he's been waiting for a few years and he's finally got his chance and boy has he taken it well.

However, it remains that we need someone that can stick the ball in the net, the problem is I like all of our strikers and their individual strengths, for example Sam Williams' hold up play and heading of the ball is very good, all of his shots seem to get blocked unfortunately. Gavin Tomlin's trickery and ability to create chances is second to none, I love Gavlar and think he's a major part of the team, however he's not going to score 20 a season unfortunately. Jon Nurse has surprised me so far this season, he hasn't been able to work himself into games and when he has, he's been quite poor, but every player has a blip, I'm sure he'll come through. Brian Woodall looks like a fantastic prospect and I can see him scoring a few from the bench this season, or perhaps when/ if he starts.

To Morecambe fans reading this, you were quite decent today and you're probably worthy of your place at the top, defence is top notch and the work rate is excellent, I wish you the best of luck for the rest of the season. Although 47 fans is rather poor, on the other hand at £22 a pop for a ticket, can I blame you?

So then, Northampton Town away next week, I'm unsure whether I'm going as yet, but don't be discouraged by our blip, please if you can and have the money, go and support the team, it's times like these our loyal support is needed more than ever.

Lastly, something I've been meaning to do for a while, "Walesdagger" posted on the forum a while ago about someone in the community we can help, Ellie Louise who's sole wish is to walk, she's 9 years old and I urge you to have a look at this link and possibly donate some money to her cause, thing's like this really put football into perspective.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Daggers 0-1 Oxford, Deck the Halls

Dagenham & Redbridge suffered a third successive defeat last night to the hands of Oxford United and it was the same old story for the Daggers of no goalscorer. We all knew our fantastic defensive record would run out at some point and in the last 2 weeks it has been well and truly forgotten.

Fond Memories!
Walking down to Victoria Road I was in an optimistic/pessimistic mood, after witnessing our poor showing against Rotherham at the weekend I was wary of this game as we were facing a good team in Oxford. Optimism because we have to score more than one goal at some point and our squad was becoming fully fit once more with Billy Bingham & Peter Gain both coming back in the last week. It was all set to be an interesting encounter against the Daggers main rivals for the Conference title all those years back, can anyone remind me how that one panned out?

After walking into the ground and finding a place to stand in a fairly packed Sieve considering it was a Tuesday night it was nearly time to kick off and Johnny Still had made a few changes. Gavin Tomlin was replaced (much to some peoples delight, not mine) by Jon Nurse and Femi came in for Damien McCrory who wasn't even on the bench, not a clue what happened there. The expected one of Mark Arber replacing Phil Walsh at centre half was also made.

Dagenham & Redbridge Starting XI: Lewington, Ogogo, Arber, Doe, Femi, Gain, Lee, Bingham, Scannell, Nurse, Williams. Subs: Shea, Rose, Woodall, Walsh, Tomlin.

It was 19:45 and the teams came out, the Daggers hoping to half a run of back to back League defeats and Oxford to prove their point after squandering a two goal lead against Burton at the weekend. The referee blew his whistle and we were off, the Daggers were attacking the Marcus James Stand where a decent number of Oxford fans were situated whilst the U's were obviously attacking the Bury Road Terrace.

The first ten minutes or so were drab as it was a midfield battle, some good challenges and misplaced passes helping both sides into going nowhere. This effectively set the tone for the game and my was it horrible to watch, with only a few balls being whipped into the box that were cleared with ease for both teams to shout about. Damien Scannell had the first opportunity, he got down the right and showed a bit of pace before cutting inside and hitting a tame shot that appeared to be scuffed past Ryan Clarke's post.

Just over a quarter of an hour in to the match came the first good chance, Owulafemi Ilesanmi, or for those who are familiar and don't want a headache, Femi; got down the left and put in a fine ball for Jon Nurse back from Internation duty who headed wide when he really should have tested the keeper. The first real good opportunity wasted. An Oxford player then went down injured for a few minutes or so, but no harm done and he got back to his feet after a bit of treatment.

It was still very much a midfield orientated encounter with the odd ball going into the box from Ollie Lee and Damien Scannell; Scannell heading wide from Ollie's cross about 20 minutes into the contest. Then Oxford gave us a scary moment. A winger went down the left and swung a ball in that nearly caught Lewington out, but thankfully it went wide of the post, a very scary moment and Oxfords first real "chance" if you can call it that. Damien Batt, a former Dagger for a small period of time then received a yellow card for being an "arsehole", if you remember rightly the term "unsporting behaviour" no longer exists in this Blog.

Then without doubt came the best chance so far, Chris Wilder's men won a free kick down the left hand side and the ball was swung in delightfully for U's favourite James Constable who missed from yards out. Then just minutes later Oxford continued their attacking play, I'd just came out of the bogs and saw Lewington make a fantastic point blank save with his gangly legs from an Oxford player, Lewington confirming once more what an asset he is to the club.

Oxford United then got their breakthrough, another free kick in a similar position to the one previous on the left was won after Scott Doe fouled their left winger. Paul McClaren, no relation to Steve swung a ball in which found West Ham loanee Robert Hall who slammed home from inside the box to leave Lewington with no hope to stick Oxford a goal up. The Sieve silenced once more as the Oxford fans made their first peep of the night to cheer the goal that looked as though it had been coming.

That was effectively the last action of the half, Nurse booked for a cynical challenge right at the death as the referee blew up. Some boo's rang out at half time which I find disgraceful, superb encouragement for the players that at half time, you're entitled to your own views on it, but I don't agree in the slightest. Question was, what would we do in the second half, it looked as though a goal wasn't coming once again and I was looking to Johnny Still to bring on Tomlin who seems to be the creator in the team.

The teams came out to the second half and I wasn't quite sure what to expect from the Daggers, maybe Stilly had given them a bollocking and they'd perk up, it was time to find out! For the first 10 minutes of the second period, it mirrored that of the first, poor play all in the middle of the park, add to that the drum absolutely pounding my head, I wasn't a happy bunny. Heslop managed to break down the right hand side and it was lucky that Scott Doe got back and got in an important block or it may well have been their second.

The first half chance for the Daggers in the second forty five then. Billy Bingham whipped in a delightful ball from the left hand side that caught everyone by surprise, excluding the skipper Mark Arber. He took on a very difficult volley and got if anything too good a connection that saw it fly past the post, a half chance, but not one you expect to be scored from a striker let alone a centre half! Oxford then made their first change of the match, Josh Payne coming on for Simon Heslop who had a very good game in my opinion. A few minutes later the Daggers then had a sub of their own, Hayley Woodall (Brian) coming on for Billy Bingham who had a decent game for me on his return from injury.

Woodall was involved straight away, Femi who was fast becoming our man of the match thanks to his excellent running swung in a fantastic ball into the danger area, one that the keeper couldn't come for. It reached Woodall at the back post amongst a crowd of defenders who prodded over the bar, a brilliant chance to equalise, but once again wasted by the former non league man. Then Scannell got in on the act, whipping another one in that just went over the heads of those in the box, it just wasn't quite happening for the Daggers at the moment.

With the Daggers on top, it was nearly Oxford who got another goal. With us going forward we were left exposed at the back and a very quick breakaway saw Hall I think it was go round two defenders and Lewington before doing slightly better than Ryan Giggs and hitting the bar with only Ogogo to beat on the goal line. That was our 9 lives used up in one. Constable who had been fairly ineffective all evening was then replaced by Deane Smalley, hoping to make a big impact.

Darren Potter then very nearly doubled the lead, another good run ended with a shot that was saved superbly once more by Lewington between the sticks, earning his money again was the big man. Then came the Daggers final sub, Damien Scannell who had a decent game replaced by Gavin Tomlin much to our delight. Within seconds he had created an opportunity. About a metre onto the pitch and he swung a ball in, Williams had to back pedal a bit but still got a fantastic header away which was saved fairly comfortably by the Oxford keeper.

Tomlin then sent over another ball on about the 90 minute mark, this one found Williams square on the head and he couldn't have caught it any better. His header looked for all the world that it was heading into the top corner but Clarke got back and pulled off a magnificent stop to leave my dreams of a Poznan in tatters and Williams in shell shock at how his nigh on perfect header had been stopped and denied him a goal and the Daggers a point. Mark Arber had a late quarter of a chance that he cannoned over, but it was tough so I'm not too disappointed about it.

That was the end of the match and as the referee blew his whistle the boo's rang out inside Victoria Road which personally I don't agree with, but others choose to do so and that's up to them. I prefer to not clap at the end if we've had a poor performance as my personal view is that booing is disrespecting the players. Anyways, that was that and that was another three points dropped where I think we should have at least picked up one.

The main plus points of the game, Femi who was magnificent for us along with Scott Doe & Chris Lewington once more, Billy Bingham also had a decent game. This also highlights the importance of Tomlin in our team as the creative spark, he came on and made things happen, something that Scannell could only do in fits and starts. Two players I haven't mentioned at all, Abu Ogogo who had a fairly quiet and solid game along with Jon Nurse who was poor last tonight by his own standards, I'm sure he'll put that one right at the weekend.

So now we face Morecambe at home on Saturday, a side who we always enjoy playing for one reason or another, I'll see you all there and then you can read my report afterwards on yet another 6-0 victory over the Shrimps. There's clutching at straws and then theres that.

There's always one bright side, well, two in this case, at least Orient & Crawley both lost.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Rotherham 3-1 Daggers, Smash & Grabban

Dagenham & Redbridge suffered a second successive league defeat of the season at the Don Valley Stadium after losing 3-1 to promotion favourites Rotherham United. I hope you enjoy this bumper edition with travelling, walking, some more walking, singing and service stops!

Getting to Victoria Road for 9am, I had just enough time for a sausage roll to warm me up as we walked down to the car park. After a little wait to sort out seating, the singular coach departed from the car park onto it's journey up North into Sheffield. After a slightly dreary start, the time flew by and at about 11am we arrived at Peterborough services for the obligatory stop on the way to the game, some Mcdonalds was consumed as I played the "what other fans can you spot game." If you're sad like me and interesting, we got Leeds, Crystal Palace & Sheffield Wednesday, not a bad return for that time in the morning. We got back onto the coach to the news that England had beaten the Argies in the Rugby World Cup, another positive for the morning!

Isn't the North wonderful.
 Another two hours or so on the coach went by fast as I was falling asleep, but we arrived in Sheffield at about 1:30 which gave us some time to mooch around. I have to say my first impressions as we drove in was "shithole" and later on you'll see why I was right. The coach stopped outside the far side of the stadium and we all got off, some heading straight for the pub, others going in, whilst we decided to have a look up the high road, what a mistake. After a 10 minute walk or so we'd seen all of the sights. Several boarded up shops, two sex shops, Razak's furniture store and Abdul's mini mart, it's always nice to feel the culture of somewhere else other than home eh.

After another brisk walk "int" the Northern air we headed for the pub where we caught some of the F1 and a tonne of people crowding round a games machine, could only be our fans! At about 2:30 we headed out of the pub and into the ground, the genius who thought of the Nurse song should be given a knighthood, unfortunately I can't remember it, so you'll have to wait for the return leg in January, unless we're involved in the FA Cup 4th Round.

We went after a half a mile walk round to our turnstiles, encountering some Rotherham fans, and of course the Yorkshire impressions were out in force by everyone, very believable as well! After going through the turnstiles we went straight round and it wasn't as bad as everyone says. The pitch was in very good condition, unfortunately it was set quite far back from the pitch, but the view was still excellent, it doesn't come close to the Sieve though! Then it was inside to get a jumbo hot dog and a coke, good quality food and at last a Northern Ground that serves more than just a pie, credit to the Millers for that! We went back outside to the news that Dave Hogan found himself on the bench and that Gain & Bingham were starting in the middle, this will perhaps be partnership alongside Lee for the next month or so.

The Daggers Team: Lewington, McCrory, Doe, Walsh, Ogogo, Lee, Bingham, Gain, Tomlin, Scannell, Williams. Subs: Hogan, Arber, Nurse, Rose, Woodall.

We were all set and with the music coming on the teams came out and lined up in front of the fairly full main stand whilst the rest of the ground remained as empty as Arsenal's trophy cabinet. With the scoreboard not working it was up to us to work out how long was left and at roughly 15:00 we were off at the Don Valley!

It's fair to say Rotherham enjoyed a much better start after changing ends, they were first on the attack, Lewis Grabban hitting a shot that was off target. Then just 7 minutes in they had taken the lead, Gareth Evans was given far too much time in the Daggers box and his half volley crept underneath Lewington who probably could have done better to send the Millers a goal up. Cue shitty goal music to which the Daggers fans joined in.

The Daggers then began to take a bit more of a foothold in the game, Ogogo & Tomlin doing well down the right hand side before whipping in some good balls, unfortunately the Rotherham defenders were equal to everything thrown at them. Just after the 15 minute mark the Daggers got a corner on the right hand side in front of us. Gavin Tomlin whipped in a purler that found the head of an unmarked Scott Doe. His header found itself past the goal line before the Rotherham defender could head it away, he just ended up heading it into the roof of the net. To everyones shock, including my own, we had equalised! This meant the return of our new celebration, the Poznan came out in full force! Jubilation that we'd managed to reply and I was especially pleased for Scott Doe, that was his first goal for the club and it's been coming for quite a while!

Rotherham and Andy Scott were unhappy at the somewhat unexpected equaliser and set about rectifying the problem, although the next five were a midfield battle. Evans, their goalscorer then dragged a shot just past Lewingtons post at agonisingly slow speed, so slow you didn't know if it was creeping in, thankfully it didn't. However they then restored their lead. Suicidal defending lead to Grabban getting the ball and firing home past a helpless Lewington, two goals now that could have been easily avoided from my point of view.

The Daggers tried to go forward with Tomlin being the main spark, but it wasn't to be as he was dispossessed in the corner several times. Then Rotherham got their third of the game, the Daggers shocking defending setting Grabban on his way to doubling his tally. Gavin Tomlins loose pass back to Ogogo in the 18 yard box was intercepted by Evans who then played a smart ball to Grabban, he turned and swivelled before unleashing a shot that Lewington had no chance with in the Daggers goal. The only other action of the first half was a Sam Williams shot that was easily saved by Logan in the Millers goal.

We went into the break 3-1 down to the in form Millers with only patches of good play and a fantastic Doe headed goal to show. A 15 minute period of talking about what was wrong and how dreadful our defending had been, we simply cannot score just one away from home and hope we keep a clean sheet. John Still rang the changes, taking Phil Walsh off for Mark Arber who couldn't have been fully fit or he'd have started. He also changed the middle with Billy Bingham who was excellent for me in the first half replaced by Jon Nurse, back from International duty with Barbados, he likes playing against Rotherham!

The second half kicked off and as per usual, it was mostly in the midfield the game was played, some good challenges being made to prevent anyone going forward. The first Daggers chance came courtesy of Jon Nurse who got into the Rotherham box and fired just over, some promising signs at last. The Daggers began to take command of the game, but couldn't quite find a way to score with Ogogo putting in some good crosses, but the Millers defensive line was sturdy and dealt with everything that was thrown at them.

It was then Rotherhams turn to attack, all Daggers players held off Marcus Marshall I think it was who trotted inside our half and hit a fantastic shot that clipped the top of the bar and went over to our relief. Abu Ogogo then got a free kick which he took and blasted straight out of play for a goal kick which summed up our afternoon really.

With about 20 minutes left, Oliver Lee done a carbon copy of a Rotherham player. He picked up the ball on the half way line, ran inside a bit and was then urged to shoot, Ollie has had the most shots for us this season which tells a story and he pulled the trigger. It flew through the air and cannoned off of the top of the bar and out of play, Conrad Logan just looked at it, if it has gone in who knows, but it didn't so we were still two goals behind with no hope of a comeback. Gavin Tomlin continued to make most of the play for the Daggers, swinging in some good crossed which no one got onto or our players were beaten to the ball, no goal looked as though it was coming.

That was effectively the last piece of action, Tomlin forced Logan into a late save from a good shot I think and then Chris Holroyd came on for Lewis Grabban in injury time, Grabban was incidentally their man of the match so received the plaudits from the fans after coming off. The referee blew his whistle and the game was over, a somewhat expected defeat had come to fruition with a below par performance. The second half was miles better than the first, but it was still poor, you could tell Rotherham took their foot off of the gas in the second 45.

As we walked back around the stadium to the coach we could just about here John Still giving the players a talking too out on the pitch, all I'll say is you wouldn't have wanted to have been a Dagenham & Redbridge player during that speech, as it sounded like they were getting a right bollocking. The main problem once more was sticking the ball in the net, all of our goals this season have been tap ins effectively or a header. We haven't had a goal come from a good strike at the ball, Nurses & Arbers don't count as even Bendtner could have finished them. The Rotherham goals were of our own making and really the game could have been a lot closer than what it was.

The journey back wasn't helped after I suffered a banging headache, but luckily after some grub at Cambridge and a meeting with the Darlington fans it went for the final stretch. The final drive home was at least made enjoyable by the singers at the back of the coach. We enjoyed "Don't Stop Me Now", the National Anthem and my personal favourite "Bohemian Rhapsody" amongst others by the choir, they know how to enjoy themselves and others! We arrived back at Victoria Road at just after 9pm and so another away day and the last ever to the Don Valley was done.

Next up is Oxford United at home on Tuesday night which promises to be a terrific or horrific night of football, maybe if someone shoots it may be the former!

Thank you for reading or glancing if it was too painful to read and I'll address you next either on Tuesday night or Wednesday evening depending on how depressing our performance is!

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Leyton Orient 1-1 Daggers, Magnificent

Magnificent. Extraordinary. Stupendous. Whatever words like these you can think of, they apply here. Dagenham & Redbridge not only actually won a cup tie, but they done it sensationally, with a 14-13 penalty victory against Leyton Orient, one of the best nights of my life, who says the Johnstones Paint Trophy is a crap competition! If you want to get to the good stuff then scroll to the bottom as this is one I'm definately going to enjoy!

The North Stand
It started off with a scramble for the train at Romford station edging towards 6pm, not very good when kick off was only an hour away. Luckily it was a fast train so bypassed the little stops and we powered on to Stratford in healthy time. After a very silly mistake of not taking the Underground to Leyton, we opted for a bus, which proved to be the worst choice I have ever made. A packed 69 bus, yes, I laughed as well awaited us for the final leg of the journey to Brisbane Road, and with about 10 minutes to spare we arrived, thanks to a St Johns Ambulance man telling us where to get off. As you can tell I don't wander aimlessly around Leytonstone very often, and for good reason. After a quick walk to the ground we arrived just in time for kick off, with about five minutes to spare.

We walked up the steps of the North Stand, somewhere where we'd never been before and found four empty seats next to drummer boy after a quick chat with a fellow Blogger who we all know (can you work it out!) The teams came out of the tunnel in front of an empty Brisbane Road, only two stands open as Orient fans didn't fancy turning up it seemed, even the stand they were in was just dotted with supporters. At this point I have to credit both John Still & Russell Slade for sticking to a relatively first choice starting eleven, both appeared to be taking the game very seriously.

The Daggers team that started: Shea, Doe, Femi, Walsh, Ogogo, Lee, Gain, Bingham, Scannell, Williams, Tomlin. Subs: Lewington, Green, Rose, Reed, Woodall.

The Daggers were attacking the empty South Stand and Orient were attacking the end with us in, it was all set, the fifth time the Daggers had met Orient in competitive action in the last year, but who would come out on top! The referee blew his whistle and we were off, the first action coming five minutes into the contest. A ball fell magnificently for Peter Gain who struck a super shot with the outside of his boot that hit Lee Butcher's post and luckily fell kindly for an Orient defender to gather and clear into the Gallery Stand. It was straight back up the other end where Mooney, formerly of Colchester struck a good shot that forced a fingertip save out of Shea, maybe I'm talking the save up a bit much there!

It was a midfield battle for the next ten or so minutes which gave us time to look around, the Daggers support was magnificent for a Johnstones Paint Game and the atmosphere was even better, yet another reason why our fans are fantastic. Charlie Daniels hit a shot from outside the box which went so high it bounced off of the underside of the roof of the Stand we were in, hitting someone nicely in the face, brilliant! From James Shea's long punt up field, Oliver Lee who recently extended his loan was given a chance which he scuffed tamely past the far post, half a chance for the lad.

It was ten straight back up the other end again as a good run by Orients best player and nemesis of the Daggers Dean Cox let in Jonathon Tehoue for a free header which he put straight at Shea who made a good point blank save none the less. Then came a period of Daggers pressure after Abu Ogogo had been booked for a poor foul on whatever O's player deserved it. The first chance came when a Daggers player was upended just outside the box, this gave Oliver Lee the chance to have another crack against Lee Butcher, the whistle blew and he stepped up and it went just past the near post, it seemed as though it was a matter of time. A rebound then fell to Billy Bingham, making his return from injury and he hit a good shot that Butcher saved once more, the Orient keeper easily the busiest of the two in the opening half an hour.

Dean Cox then cut in and took a shot which was blocked well by Abu Ogogo, what a fantastic song about him tonight as well! Then just minutes later came a slight heart in mouth moment. James Shea took out small Cox (what a pun) on the edge of the box and Cox was claiming he was the last man, luckily he wasn't and the referee only booked the Arsenal loanee. The resulting free kick cleared the bar as Orient scored a conversion. Five or so minutes later the Daggers were given their best opportunity of the half, Gavin Tomlin who had been anonymous by his own standards created some room down the left and swung in a delightful ball that found the header of centre half Phil Walsh who couldn't keeper his header down from about 6 yards away so it went out for a goal kick.

That was about the last action of the first half in which the Daggers edged in my opinion, good work at the back with Walsh partnering Doe and Femi was playing well, Ogogo making the solid challenges as per usual. So I went down stairs to get some reasonably priced (at a push) grub, a massive hot dog for £3 and a coke for however much a coke was seemed right. So I queued for five minutes or so, got my food and headed back up, not full in the knowledge that my hot dog contained onions, horrid. Having got rid of them I tucked in and tried to listen to the music on offer, but Orients PA system is atrocious to say the least, so that was a no no.

The game restarted as soon as it had ended for the first half, but a couple of changes were made. The fairly anonymous Gavin Tomlin was replaced by Dominic Green making his second debut, without a name on his shirt and Richard Rose came on in place of Abu Ogogo at right back. Orient made some subs, but as it's nearing 11:30, the effort to research it for their fans has passed me by after a look at their message board.

Leyton Orient did start the better of the two teams in the second half, Omozusi who gets better points than De Vita on a scrabble board crossed a ball in, but solid Scotty Doe headed it away well. It was a bit of a drab start with Orient controlling things for a while and the rest being a midfield battle as you would perhaps expect, a number of crosses from Orient were expertly dealt with by the Daggers, Phil Walsh & Scott Doe in particular excelled. Orient then made another sub, Omozusi came off for another local, Moses Odubajo replacing him.

The Daggers then made a deserved breakthrough you may agree. Damien Scannell who was having a very good game in my opinion got down the right hand side and swept in a deadly ball between keeper and defender and I don't have a clue what part of his body Sam Williams got to it, back, head or arse, all the same to me, but he directed it into Lee Butchers net right in front of us. Daggers delirious. Jumping up and down, dancing, chanting, singing, you name it we did it. Of course this was followed by the best thing ever, nearly the whole of the stand, done the Poznan, we will definitely be adopting that!

This of course cued some more chants and songs and at this point I have to credit our fans once more. Over 400 Daggers for a Johnstones Paint Game that sung our hearts out for 90 minutes and more, this is why we are in my opinion amongst the best fans in the country, no one could come up with the variety of songs our lot do. Classics such as, "We can see you making tea" or "Couldn't carry Evans" with a medley of "Femi" bundled in along with about 15 others, this is why our fans are amazing and this is why I love Dagenham & Redbridge.

Back to the match and the Daggers were straight on the attack again, Oliver Lee being dispossessed whilst going down the wing. The Daggers then had a bit of a scare when Jonathon Tehoue was released free after losing his marker, the big man should have done a lot better going roughly one on one with Shea, but blasted into the empty South Stand once more. That was to prove to be Tehoue's last action, Porter coming on for him on about 70 minutes. Dominic Green began to work his magic down the left wing, dazzling the Orient defenders with some neat skill and some fine crossing, we've done well to sign him back, another fantastic option we have open to us.

Then came the moment I thought we'd double our lead, Lee Butcher was given a very dodgy backpass and tried to offload to a defender, but Dominic Greens pace led him to intercept, just as he did, he stepped on the ball. Dom managed to get back up and flick it to Sam Williams who couldn't quite get a shot away before laying it to Billy Bingham who unleashed a fantastic left footed drive that Butcher palmed past the post just as Green was sniffing a loose ball. The Daggers then came close once more. A wonderfully flighted cross went over Chorley at the back post to Walsh who hit a tame left footed shot against the post, another close encounter, and with 10 minutes remaining, the game wasn't safe by any means.

Orient were pushing forward much to the delight of their fans who were by all means, this delighted the dickhead bunch located closest to us in the Gallery Stand. I then heard from behind me, "Southend next round, can't wait" with minutes left. Of course, this was a major clanger and I could just tell what was going to happen next. The ball came in from the right hand side, it wasn't dealt with and David Mooney who was debatabley offside tapped into an empty net, nothing Shea could do about it. The game was 1-1 and was inevitably heading to penalties, this was also the first time we heard the Orient had fans all night.

It did go to penalties after a late bit of drama, well I say drama, Orient had a couple of good opportunities that they wasted, Cox being the guilty culprit.

We were braced for penalties and of course, they done the toss and they ended up going up the empty end with no fans rather than in front of us, typical. What ensued was a mixture of emotions, excitement, noise, shock and whatever else you want to include.

First up for us and I won't lie I am clearly having to use the BBC to recollect who went where, was Phil Walsh. The fans favourite stepped up confidently and hammered it straight down the middle past the stranded Butcher. So it continued, Charlie Daniel equalising, Richard Rose putting us ahead, small Cox equalising, Ollie Lee putting us ahead and then yet another leveller from Ben Chorley. It got to 5-5 with some very confident penalties and now it was panic stations so to speak, whoever missed, it was a dire situation for them. Plenty of ooo's and aa's from both sets of fans as well as the obvious cheering.

It was 9-9, I have skipped a few as it was a long night and it was the turn of everyones favourite, Femi. I won't lie I had no faith in Femi and expected him to blaze it over the bar as I'm sure a few others did, but he calmly slotted it into the back of the net. It then got down to the keepers, who both scored their respective penalties to make it 11-11, tension, on a knife edge in East London. Phil Walsh went up again, and what a penalty it was, off the underside of the bar and in, everyones hearts were surely beating faster than anything! We kept going on and on, with the 12th for each scored and the 13th, both keepers getting so close to stopping one and becoming a hero.

Oliver Lee stepped up and squeezed his pen in. Ben Chorley then stepped up for Orient for the second time, and James Shea got a hand to it to keep it out.  (full penalty shoot out vid, poor quality above)

Cue mass celebration from Daggers fans, Daggers players, all Daggers and the wonderful site of 900 or so Orient fans disgruntled and leaving. The atmosphere now in the Daggers camp was up with one of the best I've ever experienced. Songs, cheering bouncing and yet another Poznan as the players came over to applaud our fantastic applause. It works both ways, they applaud us, we applaud them for equally fantastic efforts in their own fields. From those few minutes you could tell the camaraderie between the fans, staff and the players at this club.

The smiles of everyone, James Shea, Scott Doe and Phil Walsh in particular for me who were fantastic above all else on the night, the whole Daggers team clapping. The whole Daggers fans singing and jumping and going crazy. This was one of the best nights in football for me as it's just Dagenham & Redbridge, this is us, this is what we do, this is how we do it and this will never ever be changed. 

Words simply cannot describe the five minutes or so applauding the players and singing songs down Leyton high street, what a fantastic experience. I know I'm waffling on here, but at the end of the day, I'm absolutely buzzing. Say what you like about the Johnstones Paint Trophy but this game was magnificent and is up in my top three games purely for the atmosphere created and the penalty drama.

A nice walk down Leyton high street saw two Leyton Orient fans arrested, boo bloody hoo and a mass pile onto the tube. Full of the Daggers, we reached Stratford where we were once again in full voice before getting the train back to Chadwell Heath and a bus back to that place I go when we aren't playing, home.

I sit here writing this and I think how proud tonight makes me to be a Dagger, the effort the players put in, the jubilation of the fans, players and staff alike and how much every result means to everyone at the club. Words cannot describe how much this club means to me and so many others, I'm absolutely delighted with tonight's result and the atmosphere. Let's hope the Poznan can become a regular feature for us.

Post Match Celebrations Video!

Next up is Rotherham United on Saturday, luckily for you I am going so another report, but not as much waffle will be included on that one. Next up in the JPT is Southend United at h..h..ho...home! I managed to say it, a home draw against Southend United.

That's me, signing off from a fantastic evening of football, once a Dagger, always a Dagger, I'll leave you with the Leyton Orient Forum where you can laugh at their attempts to pass off the result.

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