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!

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