Sunday, 30 October 2011

Bristol Rovers 2-0 Daggers, Unacceptable

Dagenham & Redbridge succumbed to an 11th defeat in 12 games to the hands of a Bristol Rovers side who hadn't won at home on a Saturday for 8 months. Something needs to change at the Daggers, not the management, but something has to change.
Our Terrace at Bristol Rovers

It was a simply shambolic performance, there is no point in going into detail on the game as it will only depress myself and you. For the 70 Daggers who were there, it was torrid, depressing and agonising viewing. How can you fathom that performance compared to the one that gave us so much hope on Tuesday night against Crawley? It was like two different teams took to the pitch and it was unacceptable.

I'll give you a brief insight into the day and the journey before going off on a rant and some "analysis on the Daggers & Bristol Rovers' performance. We left Victoria Road at 9:30 on the supporters coach with a dreadfully poor number. Only 33 were on the single coach which isn't really good enough is it? We usually fill up a full coach at least, but the recent performances appear to have taken their toll. If you're looking for other excuses, people were unable to afford it, Redbridge was a cheaper option to take in the FA Cup and West Ham were at home as well. At the end of the day, 33 is simply poor and I can't see it improving for our next away game in the league at Accrington Stanley.

Memorial Stadium
 After a 45 minute stop at Membury services we powered on into Bristol and arrived at around 1:30 after getting through the chronic traffic. A quick look around the ground ensued before we went in at about 2:10. The drum wasn't allowed in the ground which was a bit of a let down. The first impression of Bristol Rovers' terrace where we were located is effectively one word, open. Completely open to the elements, but all the same a good old fashioned kind of stand which I liked. The rest of the stadium is a bit disjointed, which makes it quite original, another plus point.

The good news for the Daggers fans is this. During the warm up, several players who weren't in the squad came out for a mini training session. These included Dominic Green, Medy Elito and the one that I liked the most, Rob Edmans. John Still has said before he is the ultimate target man and boy he wasn't kidding; this guy his huge. I may have to refer to him as the white Bas Savage, although I'll hope is aerial ability is better than that of the moonwalker. We then ended up having a brief chat with James Shea about the Arsenal score, he was over the moon that they were 3-2 up at the time, I bet he couldn't believe it when the final score of 5-3 to the Gunners came through!

Medy, Rob Edmans, Dom Green, Femi, Jake Reed
& Danny J Green train pre match
 Then of course came trying to put the flags up. Only one was successfully applied, whilst another was half attached to the terrace and in the second half used as cover from the rain. The last flag from the Norwegian Daggers was used at a Liverpool Champions League one amongst myself and several others. Of course with only about 50 odd on the terrace, instead of passing it along to others, we just ended up walking along the terrace ruffling it. A good laugh nonetheless!

Dagenham & Redbridge lined up as follows: Lewington, Ogogo, Doe, Walsh, McCrory, Tomlin, Lee, Gain, Maher, Hewitt, Nurse. Subs: Shea, Rose, Scannell, Bingham, Woodall.
Bristol Rovers: Bevan, Sawyer, Woodards, Bolger, Brown, Stanley, Gill, Harrold, McGleish, Carayol, Anyinsah. Subs: Anthony, Hunter, Norburn, Richard, Rendell.

Scott Bevan endured some early "banter" from the goal he conceded from the corner flag against Benson all those years ago whilst playing for Kidderminster. He took it in a light hearted way and managed a wry smile.

The Teams Line Up
 The first half was effectively a dire and drab affair. The Daggers didn't look threatening in the slightest, all of the balls through to Nurse were over weighted so he had no chance of getting them. However the one positive was some neat play between Ollie Lee & Gavin Tomlin on the left hand side. Unfortunately Tomlin's ball in wasn't good enough and the clearance from a Rovers player deflected out for a goal kick to our despair. Other than that, we didn't look threatening at all.

Bristol Rovers on the other hand, looked like the obvious choice to get the first goal. They had at least two cleared off the line when everyone surely thought they were in and Chris Lewington saved us once again. He made several good saves to deny Paul Buckles men taking the lead. It was a very poor first half though and I'm sure we were the happier side and set of supporters going in level at the break.

Half time involved a quick look at the programme and me complaining about Rovers didn't serve any burger's or chips, moreover the pies looked horrid as well so I passed on them! The programme was actually a very good read, I thought they covered the Daggers very well barring two mistakes. We didn't play Crewe in the Johnstones Paint Trophy and how they got Damien McCrory & Troy Hewitt mixed up with the pictures I don't know! The teams came back out and the rain started to come down to make the day even better. This was followed by several cowering under the large flag we had; you know who you are!
Fun Fact: There were more letters on our large flag than Daggers supporters at the game yesterday, thank Jack Connor for that one!

The second half saw the first goal of the game within five minutes. Midfielder Craig Stanley who is a very good sportsman for laughing at us taking the mick out of his accent, whipped in a fine ball to the far post which was headed back towards the near post by former Dagger Matt Harrold. It was headed goalwards by a Rovers player prospered from the Dagenhams lack of marking. The ball hit Abu Ogogo on the line and came out to Joe Anyinsah who turned and dispatched the ball with power into the back of the net from 2 yards despite Chris Lewingtons valiant efforts. It was the same old sinking feeling for the Daggers and to be perfectly honest, it was no less than what Rovers deserved.

Gavin Tomlin lines up a free kick.
 I'd like to tell you that we fought to get back into the game, but did we 'eck! To be honest, the rest of the game was spent having a laugh with the subs of both sides and looking up to see if we had a remote chance of scoring. I can tell you that Damien Scanell, Billy Bingham, Richard Rose & Brian Woodall all got their slice of chants and Rosey even gave us one back in a friendly manner of course! Woodall was directed high pitch ones, Bingham got some hair related ones from us and we were just egging Scannell to get on! Although the best shout of the day came when someone said, "at least you're paid to be here!" in no uncertain terms.

Brian Woodall later replaced an unhappy Oliver Lee, that was his last appearance for us, he'll now be going back to West Ham. Then Troy Hewitt was withdrawn for Damien Scannell much to the Daggers' delight. The only real other opportunity of note for us was when Woodall latched onto a good knock on, but the Rovers defender covered sufficiently to put in a wonderful block to send the ball out for a corner.

Rovers were looking full value for the win and nearly doubled it with more fine attacking play. Craig Stanley got down the right before slinging in a wonderful ball which found the head of Matt Harrold, who's headed hit back off the post before Mark Arber managed to clear the danger. With five minutes to go, Damien McCrory produced another last gasp goal line clearance to prevent the deficit being even greater. However in the dying embers, Paul Buckles men did eventually double their lead. Abu Ogogo tugged down Marr Harrold and the referee blew up and pointed to the spot. I needn't tell you that Harrold dragged himself up and slammed home the resulting spot kick past Lewington. That is now the seventh penalty we have given away this season and the fourth in succession; it's simply not acceptable.

The referee blew shortly afterwards to send the 70 Daggers home empty handed for the fifth game on the trot whilst the 5405 Gasheads went home beaming with delight, I'm sure they felt this was the easiest win they will get all season along. The players came over to clap us and only a handful of supporters stayed to appreciate it and to be perfectly honest, I can't blame those who went straight after the whistle had been blown. A wet and horrible game had finally ended.

Bristol Rovers fans first as this will probably find its way onto you forum. I thought your number four, defender Danny Woodards had a very good game at the back, it may have been him that prevented the Daggers testing Bevan in the second half. The team played well as a unit and Matt Harrold appeared to cause us all sorts of problems. You were full value for the win and all I can say is congratulations I suppose, we'll see you again on the final day of the season!

Now to the Daggers. Where do you want me to start? Well, a positive, Phil Walsh. Walshy played very well in my opinion and was one of the only players to come out of that with any respect. I thought his clearing of the ball has improved, his aerial ability was as evident as ever and he appears to have come on bundles since his last start. Chris Lewington needs no introduction does he, superb once more and prevented another probable thrashing. Damien McCrory done pretty well, his goal line clearance keeping the score at 1-0, however he wasn't given enough license to get forward yesterday for my liking. Abu Ogogo should be given a rest for me, Richard Rose is a more than adequate replacement whilst Abu has his arm sorted out. The cast is a clear hindrance to his performance and it'll do Abu good having a rest.

In the midfield, I'm not quite sure what to make of it. Mahers passing was very sloppy, Oliver Lee wasn't really involved bar one move. Saying that Ollie is a fantastic footballer and I wish him well now as he goes back to West Ham. Peter Gain was the usual aggressive maestro, the only one at least trying to put in a good challenge, another one that can take some credit. Gavin Tomlin hardly got in the game really, so I can't make many comments, although I felt he gave the ball away a few too many times.

Jon Nurse & Troy Hewitt, well it's quite hard to blame them for anything. They can only do as well as the service they are given and frankly, chasing after balls over the top on a wet pitch is not good enough service. I'd be curious to know how many touches they had between them because as I've said, we didn't even go forward let alone look threatening.

Where do we go from here is the question. It looked so promising after the Crawley display, but it appears to have been a false dawn. Not only are these performances damaging to our league position and the confidence of the players and fans, they're damaging to the attendance. Something needs to happen, hopefully the return of these injured players will spark something, otherwise this could be a long hard relegation dogged campaign.

The management accept the poor run and they've acknowledged that if it wasn't Dagenham they were at, they'd more than likely have been gone by now. Here's a quote from Terry Harris, "The relationship between us and the club is absolutely first class, we are well supported. At any other club we may have been gone by now, but Dagenham is a special club, and they realise what we are trying to do." Whilst I realise we are all losing patience and confidence, we have to stick with the management. As many have said,  they know the club, they know the players and they know the fans. The amount of times Stilly has turned down other clubs to stay with us. We owe him an extended period to work this conundrum out and I'm fully behind him, Terry Harris, Wayne Burnett and everyone else to make the correct changes and end this sodden run of form.

Next up is Shrewsbury Town at home on Saturday, or if you're interested in a midweek fix, go and watch the Daggers Youth at home to Barnet Youth in the FA Youth Cup, 7:00 kick off. Also we have been drawn at home to Bath City in the FA Cup 1st Round, a very favourable one for us as Bath are bottom of the Conference. However, it is a potential banana skin.

I'll leave you on something that may interest you from John Still, "I have to assess whether the team is good enough and at the moment I have to admit we are not. There needs to be some tweaking with the squad in the January transfer window."

I hope you enjoyed the read whether you are a Dagger or a Gashead or anyone else for that matter.

Follow me on Twitter, @NickDRFCMurphy.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Crawley Town 3-1 Daggers

Dagenham & Redbridge went down 3-1 to top of the table Crawley Town last night in a game that had far more than the actual result at stake for Daggers fans. Not only was it the outcome that mattered, but the meeting of Steve Evans with Dagenham for the first time since his Boston days, where he cheated the Daggers out of promotion to the Football League all those years ago.

The journey to the ground took just over an hour, with the only real traffic coming over the QE2 bridge as you may expect. We arrived at the ground at around 7:00 after a palava with the parking. I went to get a programme, priced at an £3 which was quite cheeky if you ask me, it took us about 3 or 4 years to take our price up to £3! We went into the ground and I got myself some chips, which were reasonably priced at £1.70 for the good portion you get. Making your way through you're hit with the Broadfield, a very old fashioned and non league kind of ground, a quarter of the covered away terrace would be our home for the night.

Leading up to the game, the security presence began to get heavier and with five minutes to go, the Steve Evans songs inevitably started. However, what angered the stewards most was the unveiling of our brown envelopes, the security blokes dually came to take them off of us, this was because, and I quote, "they were a threat to Steve Evans safety." That you can safely say, was bullshit. This ended in a small argument with several security officers and several of our fans which were doing nothing wrong. However, one was forcefully ejected after being threatened with pepper spray. Absolutely disgraceful by their stewards, effectively bullying, he was causing no harm, but they wanted to command their authority.

After this incident, the teams came out and lined up as follows,
Dagenham & Redbridge: Lewington, Ogogo, Doe, Arber, McCrory, Tomlin, Gain, Maher, Lee, Nurse, Hewitt. Subs: Shea, Rose, Scannell, Bingham, Walsh.
Crawley Town: Shearer, Howell, McFadzean, Davis, Torres, Simpson, Bulman, Neilson, Drury, Tubbs, Akinde. Subs: Kuipers, Mills, Akpan, Doughty, Pittman.

The opening five minutes or so of the game were very scrappy as the rain descended in West Sussex, but on the 7 minute mark something that I don't think anyone would have predicted. Gavin Tomlin was fouled about 30 yards from goal by McFadzean who picked up a booking in the process and we earned a free kick. Oliver Lee & Kevin Maher both stood over the dead ball and it was left to Lee to take it. He struck it, Scott Shearer could only get finger tips to it and we could see the net bulge, the Daggers had taken the lead! Cue manic celebrations, more Evans songs and of course, The Poznan! A fantastic start, Shearer should have done better, but frankly we didn't care!

Crawley began to go on the attack and former Dagger John Akinde put a close range header just over the bar, infact it ended up sticking in the rafters that were holding up our stand. However, the evening then took a turn for the worst for the Daggers. Tubbs was let through and Scott Doe made a diving challenge inside the box which took Tubbs out and got nothing on the ball. The referee pulled out a red card to send Doey off and give Crawley the penalty. Personally I'd say it was 100% a foul and 100% a penalty, moreover I'm fairly sure the video evidence will unfortunately back me up. Matt Tubbs recovered to take the penalty and sent Lewington the wrong way, blasting it into his top right corner for the equaliser. I enjoyed the lead whilst it lasted!

As always when a defender is sent off, a forward had to be taken off as a consequence. Tonight it was Gavin Tomlin, unfortunate for him, but I'm sure he understands why he had to be withdrawn. Coming on in his place was Phil Walsh who everyone had the utmost confidence in to perform at centre half; gulp. The Daggers so nearly went ahead once more. Damien McCrory who had been brilliant with his delivered of late, put in a delightful ball from a free kick which found the head of Phil Walsh. Walshy firmly got his head onto the ball, but Shearer made up for his earlier mistake making a superb reflex save to keep the scores level.

Crawley began to assert some dominance with the extra man. Scott Neilson forced a comfortable save from Lewington after out foxing McCrory; a couple of minutes later Akinde put a shot high over the bar before then heading one into our stand. However Lewington was then made to pull out a fantastic double save from successive shots by Josh Simpson before gathering the ball and halting the danger. The Daggers then broke up the other end, a well placed ball through found Jon Nurse running onto it, his strike forced another good save from Scott Shearer in the Red Devils goal.

The fourth official indicated three minutes of added on time, if you ask me, there should have only been two, no prolonged stoppages other than the penalty. However, the three minutes were enough for the Daggers to concede and go in 2-1 down at the break. John Akinde whipped a good ball in that wasn't cleared by the Daggers and it found Sergio Torres who was more than happy to smash home and send three sides of the Broadfield into jubilation. You could argue it was Mark Arbers fault, but it was a miss kick as John Still said on Daggers Player and that could happen to anybody. The referee blew up for half time and the teams went down the tunnel.

Not only was I very impressed with our performance so far, but our support was magnificent. Non stop singing as you'd expect was creating a resounding atmosphere. A quick look at the programme, the most notable feature being Steve Evans' notes. Here's a couple of quotes for you, "John has a demonstrable track record of being a successful manager and we often spend an evening drinking coffee as we seem to be at the same football matches." I don't personally believe that, if that's his attempt at making us happier or whatever, poor show. The next quote is one that really made us all laugh, "No one can be left in any doubt now that we are most teams' cup final this season." And Evans wonders why no one likes Crawley?

The teams came out for the start of the second half. The Daggers would be attacking our end and Crawley their own fans. Crawley started the better, a corner by Andy Drury found Kyle McFadzean who forced another point blank superb stop out of Lewington. Chants of "Englands Number 1" rang around our end of the stadium. Peter Gain then got a booking, and to use one of Ray Wilkins' favourite phrases, "I have to say", it was never a booking. Gainy came round from the side and clearly got the ball, poor officiating there from Mr Steve Rushton. Crawley then made their first change of the night,  Claude Davis being replaced by their captain Pablo Mills, when was the last time he played against Dagenham; could someone remind me?
Just over the fifty minute mark, Chris Lewington once again showed why he's one of the best, if not the best shot stopper in League Two. Another fantastic double save, this time from Neilson & Drury. For the life of me I thought we'd gone 3-1 down twice, you cannot deny this boy is special! The Daggers then got a decent break away which resulted in a Ollie Lee shot being blocked well by Pablo Mills. On about 70 minutes Sergio Torres got a good shot away which was once more expertly saved by Lewington who was once again having a stormer. I can honestly not use enough superlatives to describe this man. John Akinde was then substituted to a chorus of boo's and replaced by Jon Paul Pitman who I have form recollections of scoring the only goal against us for Wycombe a few years back.

The Daggers then got away on the break once more, Troy Hewitt who had a superb game so far leading the charge. He outwitted a Crawley defender before going wide and getting a shot away which cleared the bar. Good effort from Troy who was probably having his best game for us so far in difficult circumstances. Kevin Maher then got himself into the book for reasons which I forget. On 85 minutes, Crawley got their third in bizarre fashion and effectively killed off the game. To be honest, I have no idea how it was put in, or even if it went in. Discussions between linesman & referee concluded it was a goal even after the linesman had brandished his flag for offside. Your guess is as good as mine.

A flurry of substitutions then followed. Damien Scannell who had been waiting for five minutes, but was unable to because of a string of Crawley corners, replaced Peter Gain before he was sent off. Billy Bingham also came on for Kevin Maher who had a good game, being a voice in the midfield and stringing some decent passes together. Sergio Torres was then replaced by Hope Akpan for Crawley. The fourth official indicated a minimum of four minutes added time, Crawley got a couple of shots away which came to nothing and that was the end of the contest.

Apologies for Picture Quality
 We all stayed in the ground for twenty minutes after, applauding the players who came over to the fans as usual to repay the compliment. Some unsavory scenes at the end where Jon Nurse & Ollie Lee appeared to have a scuffle, if anyone knows what happened there, please feel free to drop a comment underneath. After about 15 minutes or so post match we were cleared out by the stewards, back onto coaches or trains or cars to return to Dagenham with 0 points, but some belief back and having vented our frustrations to Evans after 10 years.

Well, what a game and what a night. To start with the support, every Dagger who was there should be proud of themselves, we gave a great account of the club once more and the non stop singing was fantastic. A good number of 295 as well which is our highest in the league so far. I'm sure Steve Evans heard us loud and clear and I for one cannot wait for the return leg in April!

Add caption
 Onto the players and tonight, they restored my faith and I'm sure yours. A thoroughly fantastic battling performance despite the defeat. If it wasn't for the red card, who knows what the score could have been, but for the first time in a while, they looked united, they looked as though they were a team and that's a great positive to take. The individual performances were superb tonight as well. Troy Hewitt had his best game, not only was he a striker threatening defences, but he worked as a makeshift right back at times and when employed just behind Nursey was very effective. Onto Nursey, he had his best game in a while tonight, he seemed to have his old fire, his hunger and passion back.

The defence was very good bar the sending off and one mistake. They worked as a unit, Abu & McCrory were solid for me and Arber had a sterling performance bar his one mistake. Not only that, but Phil Walsh had a good game when he came on, not only that, but his attacking threat from set pieces will put the frighteners into the opposition defenders. The midfield was good, Peter Gain as fierce and passionate as ever, but Ollie Lee looked composed and was seeing more of the ball. Add to that Kevin Maher who appeared vocal tonight as well, however I would personally like to see Bingham ahead of Maher as I feel he has more bite and has more energy.

As for Crawley, personally I didn't think you were anything special. Akinde seems to be a threat in the air, but unfortunately for him, he can't seem to direct anything on target. You'll probably be up there for the rest of the season, but for those of you who think you're the bee's knee's and I'm somewhat confident that's just a minority, you're not.

Where the Daggers were housed.
 That's another stadium ticked off, another match watched, another 0 points taken and another Blog, Blogged. I will be at Bristol Rovers at the weekend so you can all read again if you so wish come Saturday evening or Sunday afternoon!

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Daggers 2-5 Aldershot, Hot Shots Part Deux

Dagenham & Redbridge lost their 100th league home game to Aldershot Town this afternoon in a simply shambolic performance. The game ended 5-2 to the Shots in a game that left me physically sick after the final whistle, add to that my illness which made me sick and we have a winning combination.

I won't go into detail in this Blog, as to be honest, I don't want too, we'll briefly outline the match and then have some thoughts on the encounter and just everything in general at the moment. I begin pre match, where I was quietly optimistic of a good result, Aldershot aren't one of the "form teams" and therefore we could be expected to give them a game and perhaps even beat them. With the news that Danny J Green was starting in place of Ollie Lee, my optimism flourished some more, add to that the Shots were resting Danny Hilton for their giant Carling Cup clash with Manchester United in midweek, I was brimming with confidence, as well as mucus, a cold, and a bunged up nose.

However, the first five minutes were the most painful of the season so far. After Nursey had tested Ross Warner to start off with, Aldershot went up the other end and took the lead. Adam Smith floated a delightful ball in towards the backpost where Jermaine McGlashan was on hand to slam past a helpless Lewington with just three minutes in. The Daggers nearly equalised when a rasping Gavin Tomlin volley was saved well by Warner between the sticks, but as that promise fizzled out, Aldershot doubled their lead. Bradley Bubb had a shot parried by Lewington, however the ball fell straight into Peter Vincenti's path who got their before the defender and tapped home. Within the first five minutes, the Daggers were 2-0 down, deja vu of the previous 5-2 against Aldershot was beginning to set in.

A restbite of 30 minutes or so followed where neither team really provided any significant threat of any kind. On 36 minutes however, Mark Arber made a hash of a challenge just inside the box on Michael Rankine, Mr Drysdale pointed to the spot and handed Arber a yellow card. Rankine dispatched the fifth spot kick at Victoria Road this season with ease to send us 3-0 down. Just over five minutes later, the Daggers pulled one back. A corner from Damien McCrory was met by Jon Nurse who headed home despite the best efforts of a Aldershot defender on the line. Some kind of solace in a drab first half showing, that looked to be the final action of the first 45; or so we thought. On the eve of the half time whistle, Luke Guttridge headed in from Anthony Pulis' cross to further dampen Dagenham fans' spirits.

The half time whistle blew and the Daggers went in to a chorus of boo's, personally I don't agree with that at half time, but at the end of the day, everyone voices there frustration in different ways I suppose. Half time was taken up by me gloating over beating Jon Nurse in the programme quiz, I beat the Barbados International 9-8 if you didn't know. A fantastic victory for all fans around the world.

The teams re-emerged for the second 45, with everyone hoping for a somewhat miraculous Daggers comeback. A mediocre start to the second half saw Brian Woodall replaced by Troy Hewitt who hadn't really made any impact as yet since his loan move from QPR. Gavin Tomlin was given the best chance of the half so far, a cross from the left met his boot from yards out, the slightest of touches would have seen it go over Warner and into the back of the net. However we're Dagenham & this is Tomlin, it went high over the bar and out for a goal kick. The Daggers made their final two subs in the space of 10 minutes. Danny J Green was replaced by Damien Scannell and Gavin Tomlin was withdrawn for Ollie Lee.

Directly after Lee was introduced came the Daggers second goal of the afternoon. A foul on Scannell by Luke Guttridge saw the Daggers get a free kick on the right hand side, ideal for a left footer to shoot. Damien McCrory stepped up and slammed it home to bring the deficit down to just two goals, game on perhaps! Just minutes later, McCrory laid one in down the left, Hewitt pulled off a neat flick and it nearly crept past Warner, but the former Charlton stopper just saved it.

Just as it looked like that was the end of the scoring, Dean Holdworths men repeated the feat they managed two years previous. Jermaine McGlashan nabbed his second of the game after some neat footwork he outwitted Lewington and slotted the ball past him to send the Aldershot supporters home happy.

Dagenham & Redbridge 2-5 Aldershot Town.

What can we take from todays game? The answer is, nothing. We managed to score two goals again, but they were effectively pointless goals. The team lacks confidence severely, it's clear for all to see. It's all old ground really isn't it? Arber, confidence, conviction, we've been through it a thousand times but today is was more evident than ever.

People calling for Arber to be dropped, he's in poor form, but would you rather Phil Walsh play? I could rant & rave, but there's no point is there, the forum or the facebook page will give you all the diverse opinions you need.

As for Aldershot, decent performance by them, but we made them look better than they are in my opinion. However I still reckon they'll be around about the play offs come the end of the season, as for us, who knows! However I was very disappointed with your away following, a very poor number for a short trip if you ask me.

The players need to start being Daggers again, a good performance against Steve Evans' Crawley on Tuesday night could be the tonic we need. Whatever happens, I'm sure that Tuesday will be special, finally meeting the old adversary and hopefully getting one over on that cheating twat.

I'll speak to you again on Wednesday after the Crawley match on the Tuesday, until then, stay safe and keep the faith!

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Daggers 2-3 Plymouth, Anti Climax

Victoria Road
Dagenham & Redbridge suffered a seventh defeat in eight by losing 3-2 to Plymouth Argyle who will no doubt be dancing and singing all the way on their long ole' poke home. I would like to thank Gordon Sparks of BBC Radio Devon for allowing me to use some of his pictures he took today.

The day started in a football mood by watching Plymouth Argyles fans on Soccer AM, in the car park they went top by scoring eight which could have set the tone for the afternoon for those superstitious amongst us. The walk to Victoria Road was a somewhat optimistic one for a change, with no disrespect to Argyle, this was probably our most winnable game so far so there was reason to be upbeat. Upon reaching the ground I learned that a flock of Plymouth supporters were gathering down the Eastbrook Pub to sort out affairs with Peter Ridsdale and may I say I hope the meeting went how the fans wanted it to as I do have a soft spot for the Pilgrims!

I went into the ground after buying a programme and a 50/50 ticket where I had a quick slash and progressed along the terrace and into the Sieve. It wasn't as packed as usual which probably had something to do with an incentive from West Ham to get kids in, but oh well the usual figures were in there! I got myself a burger and a sprite before finding my place next to Lee & Bill for a quick pre game chat before hearing the teams announced over the tannoy.

Daggers vs Plymouth

The Daggers lined up like this: Lewington, Ogogo, Doe, Arber, McCrory, Maher, Lee, Scannell, Gain, Tomlin, Woodall, Nurse. Subs: Shea, Rose, Bingham, Scannell, Hewitt. Kevin Maher started his first league game for the Daggers whilst Brian Woodall replaced Troy Hewitt up top.

The Plymouth line up was as follows: Cole, Berry, Nelson, Gibson, Williams, Walton, Soukouna, Hourihane, Atkinson, Feeney, Lecointe. Subs: Larrieu, Fletcher, Young, Griffiths, Vassel. Player manager Carl Fletcher back on the bench for you Pasoti viewers after a three game ban.

The teams came out to good applause from all sides of the ground following some "dancing" or as I like to call it, rhythmic walking by everyones favourite, Pulse. I'm not sure who won the toss, but whoever it was opted to swap sides yet again so the Daggers would be attacking the newly named Traditional Builders Stand after Marcus James went bust they came in to pick up the pieces. On that note, well done once more to Plymouth Argyle who brought up a fantastic 435 I think it may have been, somewhere around that mark. I've said it time & time again, but for what their supporters have been through it's fantastic to see the numbers still at a good level, some of the best fans in the country for noise & passion.

Anyways, the game kicked off, the Daggers looked as though they were lining up 4-5-1 with Woodall up front, however my eyesight may have deceived me and we could have been 4-4-2, I've forgotten! The first ten minutes were very poor, as you may expect from two sides struggling at the wrong end, a number of offsides were given including two for Nursey who was beginning to get on my nerves and we hadn't even played a quarter of an hour yet!

Ollie Lee
The first real signs of a possible goal were about 12 or so minutes in. Gavin Tomlin laid the ball back to Oliver Lee on the left hand side, he shifted the ball into his right foot before whipping in a cross come shot that was tipped over well by Jake Cole for a corner. The resulting corner was well cleared by Plymouth ending the first real chance of the game. Minutes later Jon Nurse was then given a license to roam, the ball was fed through but unfortunately the ball touched his hand and the referee blew for a free kick to Plymouth.

Warren Feeney fashioned the away sides first real chance of the contest, some neat footwork before getting a shot away that went straight down Chris Lewingtons throat. In the next period of play came the first goal of the contest. Some clever work down Plymouths left hand side by Ladjie Soukouna bamboozled the Daggers defence. The ball was taken to the touchline before being pulled back to 16 year old Matt Lecointe who showed composure beyond his age to smash home into the roof of the net past a helpless Lewington. The green army were in raptures whilst the Sieve fell silent once more, it was a poor start, but if anyone looked like they would score it was the Daggers.

Straight from the kick off Peter Gain got the ball and fired a shot at Jake Cole which was saved with ease by the former Barnet stopper. Then after a corner was cleared well by the Plymouth backline, the ball fell to midfielder Kevin Maher. Maher ran at the bobbling ball before unleashing a shot that probably hit someone on the head coming out of the toilets, a wild & speculative effort that unsurprisingly didn't come off. The Daggers continued the good period of possession by creating another good opportunity. Damien McCrory was given the ball and swung in a wonderfully flighted ball that found the head of Scott Doe who out jumped the Argyle defender, unfortunately the header was planted over the bar. The best chance of the game so far and one that really should have been on target at the very least.

After a small lull in action, it was Robbie Williams who produced the next shot, an ambitious strike that went high over the bar and into the Plymouth support. Unfortunately, no Robbie Williams song fits in well to make a pun so you'll have to take that as it comes. The Daggers were then on the attack and produced another golden chance. A superb Damien McCrory corner, one of the best I've seen this season, found the head of an unmarked Brian Woodall. It looked like it was going in, we all begin to cheer, but it rolled agonisingly wide of the mark; yet another fantastic chance that we really should have done better with.

Warren Feeney
I'm afraid to say, that really was the last action of a remarkably poor first half. I personally felt Plymouth were slightly fortunate to go in ahead, but they took their chances and we didn't, on that basis, they full deserved to be in front. I know this will more than likely be posted on Pasoti, so I'll try and be as fair as I can. Plymouth's main threat for me, was down the wings, Warren Feeney was seeing a lot of the ball, but was unable to do anything with it. Whenever the ball was crossed in, Mark Arber, & Scott Doe usually dealt with it well, the Daggers defence looking very sturdy in the first 45.

As for the Daggers, more of the same really. I've seen the last 9 games and it's like watching a repeat over and over. We're not really playing badly, we just can't seem to put the chances away when we need to. Brian Woodall should definitely have scored and Jon Nurse was once again very lackadaisical, not chasing balls down which annoys me a lot! In the middle, the game was bypassing Ollie Lee, but Kevin Maher was keeping the ship steady and playing some very neat passes around to create opportunities.

The Daggers very own.... PULSE!
As the teams went into the break, a chorus of boo's rang out in the Sieve, I personally don't condone that at half time, but I can't stop you. Voice your frustration at the end if you ask me as doing it half way through does nothing for the players confidence. We were treated to another fantastic rhythmic walk by Pulse whilst the half times were read out, Crawley & Orient were both winning, humbug! On another note, it was FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round weekend and I've been closely following our local teams. Daniel Campbell came over and told me that Southend Manor were 2-0 up against Leighton, a team four division higher than themselves, so well done to them! I'll tell you at the end what the final outcome was.....

The sides re-emerged for the second half at roughly 4:05 as we all hoped for an improved performance and maybe a goal or two to lighten the mood. The first five minutes were very drab and largely full of Dagenham crosses that were absorbed by the Plymouth defence. However, on about the 50 minute mark came one of the best goals I have ever seen at Victoria Road. The ball fell to 20 year old Irishman Conor Hourihane. He ran up to it and hit it sweetly, with no spin on it at all, it hit off of the far post and went in. A thoroughly mesmeric strike that had myself and many other Daggers applauding it. However, the closing down could have been better; take nothing away from Hourihane though, probably the best finish of his career.

The Daggers regroup after Scott Doe's goal.
 Just over five minutes later, the Daggers responded. Damien McCrory who had been delivering the ball well all day took a corner and it found the head of Scott Doe who got his nut on the ball to head home. Scott Doe's second of the season and much like his one against Rotherham, that now puts him as our joint top league goalscorer! A much needed immediate response to keep us within touching distance with some considerable time still left to play and possibly get an equaliser.

McCrory who was having a stormer of a game then tried his luck from outside the box, not once but twice. However the luck of the Irish wasn't quite on his side as both of his powerful shots from the same position fizzed wide of Jake Cole's far post. The Daggers were now beginning to dominate the game and Jon Nurse had a shot that was charged down superbly by Plymouth defenders. Argyle defender Robbie Williams wasn't quite an angel when he got himself booked on about 65 minutes for an innocuous challenge on Brian Woodall I believe it was.

 67. The minute of solace, cheering, excitement & Nurse. The ball was ping ponging around in the Plymouth penalty area, before I believe it was put back across by Damien McCrory. The ball found Jon Nurse who headed home in powerful style, we had looked most threatening in the air today and so it proved with both our goals coming from headers. By the way, the build up is a haze to me so it may be wrong, watch the Football League show later for confirmation. Either way, jubilation returned to the Sieve, we had come from 2-0 down and were now at 2-2, cue the Poznan and nutty celebrations!

Just seconds after the restart, the Daggers won the ball again and almost netted once more. Peter Gain who was having quite a good game got down the left hand side and put in a deep ball which found Brian Woodall. The former Gresley man got the connection, but could only direct the ball into the side netting, a half chance, but one that could have been taken. John Still then made his first substitution, Oliver Lee who had been non existent being replaced by Damien Scannell. It's not Ollie's fault that game's tend to pass him by, the fact is, he's a player with an abundance of quality but we don't play the way he's suited too unfortunately. Also, with the momentum, you have to question whether we should have made a change and disrupt a team flowing with confidence and unity?

It was now becoming very end to end, Hourihane flashing one just wide of the mark for Plymouth before Scannell & Gain got a couple of shots away for the Daggers. Plymouth will feel they should have had a penalty after one of their players was pulled back by Scott Doe I believe, personally I didn't think it was. However after the match John Still came out and said it should have been, the referee didn't give it though and that's all that counts I suppose. Fletcher made a change, Warren Feeney who had became increasingly ineffective as the game wore on, was replaced by Isaac Vassell with five minutes to go. The Daggers were pushing furiously, getting the balls down the wings, but with no end product. Brian Woodall was then booked by the referee for a late sliding challenge on the Plymouth left back.

As the bloke on the tannoy (sorry I've forgotten your name again!) announced there would be a rather lengthy minimum of five minutes of added on time, the biggest talking point of the game. The substitute Isaac Vassell got ahead of my man of the match Damien McCrory, as they ran into the box and got to the by-line Vassell went down. The referee waved it away, but the linesman raised his flag furiously and put it in that dreaded place, across his chest. Penalty to Plymouth. Add to that the fact when the player made the run he was offside, it was even more gut wrenching.

From where I was, I confess it didn't look like a penalty, I thought the referee had made an awful howler of a decision and that was echoed by my compatriots who were frozen in disbelief. However after consulting various others in other parts of the ground it may have been a penalty, we'll find out for certain later tonight on the Football League Show, however John Still later came out and said he thought it was a penalty. After several minutes of debate and thinking, Damien McCrory was sent off, which means Femi will be playing for the next three games at least you would have thought. It's such a shame considering McCrory had a wonderful game today, I personally think we'll miss him a bundle in the next couple of weeks. Anyways, Plymouth captain Simon Walton stepped up and slammed home the penalty.

Dagenham & Redbridge 2-3 Plymouth Argyle. As Walton, the Plymouth players, the Plymouth bench and the Plymouth fans all celebrated, a number of Daggers fans headed for the exit's whilst the rest of us just stood there taking in the inevitible defeat. All the fightback, all the hope, all the effort for nothing; but at the end of the day that's football isn't it? Troy Hewitt was brought on in place of Brian Woodall to try and salvage something. However, on the five minute mark, the referee blew up, unbelievably he did not add any time on for the penalty which ate into a good two or three minutes of the original stoppage time.

Firstly, I'd like to commend Plymouth, their fans deserve a win to celebrate, I'm throughly disappointed it was against us and personally I feel we were good value for the draw and maybe the victory if I'm clutching at straws. Their support was fantastic as always, both vocally and numbers wise and I wish Carl Fletchers men good luck for the rest of the season providing we're not in a relegation battle with them of course! The youth looks very promising at Home Park and I hope it all goes well, although I think I heard whispers of bad news coming out of the pre match chat at the Eastbrook.

Onto the Daggers and where do you want me to start? Fact is, it was the same old, create the chances and not finish enough off. Woodall should have scored at least once today and even though Nursey scored, he shouldn't start next week in my opinion. He hasn't chased down enough balls or been a part of enough games for me, I love Nursey, I really do, but a rest for him could be benefficial. Kevin Maher was very calm and played a number of neat passes today, I think he's a very good addition to the team. Peter Gain was as ever fiery and the one who made a number of challenges, no complaints from his performance. Gavin Tomlin was somewhat non existent, but luckily for him Damien McCrory was having a blinder with his deliveries and the sending off was majorly disappointing.

At the end of the day, it's football, we're on a bad run, but the murmurs of people saying, "sack the manager" are not what we need. Keep the faith, players are coming back all the time and that can only be helpful to John and us, we'll pick up, if it wasn't for a controversial penalty, we'd be celebrating a fantastic comeback. Today surely shows you that we have spirit, we have the mentality to comeback from the dead and that's a massive positive. The good times will return, but we just have to keep believing and ride this one out, no one's arguing we're on a bad run, but this is a very average league and there's only one goal seperating us and the opposition every game.

To end this on, Southend Manor, they were 2-0 up at half time against Leighton, they won the game 5-0 to progress through to the FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round, a fantastic achievement by them. Well done to Redbridge FC who I have also been following who made it through to the 4th round after a 3-0 defeat of Dunstable Town at Oakside.

Next up for the Daggers is Aldershot Town at home next weekend, I'll leave you on this picture and a number of others from the game.

Dagenham & Redbridge Badge inside the away end

The Tunnel to the Pitch

If any Daggers or Plymouth supporters wish to follow Gordon Sparks on twitter, his Twitter name is, @SparksyOnRadio. If any of you want to follow me on Twitter, you'll need, @NickDRFCMurphy.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Cheltenham 2-1 Daggers, Default Display

Dagenham & Redbridge got back to losing ways yesterday as they stumbled to a 2-1 defeat to top half of the table side Cheltenham Town at Whaddon Road, you could say it was the same old story for the Daggers.

A single coach departed from Victoria Road at 10:25, five minutes ahead of schedule which was a shock! The coach was full and in decent spirits in hope of coming away from Gloucestershire with a point at the very least, a short slash & dash at Oxford services about an hour in and we were on our way to Whaddon Road. We reached the ground nearing 2:00, and what a posh area it is compared to Dagenham, now let's be honest that isn't hard, but still! The coach pulled upbetween our away stand and a park and we were greeted with a local trying to ride a bike backwards, to everyones disappointment he succeeded and didn't hurt himself. As the pub was about a ten minute walk away, and we had learned there was no Sky in one of them to watch the Creepy vs Northampton game, we went straight into the ground.

The away stand is situated right next to a bowls green, which makes it look even more snobbier, but there you go! As you go through the turnstiles and the tunnel you come out into the open air of the stand as you may expect and my first impression of the three surrounding stands, marvelous. It looked like a proper football ground and is up there with the grounds I've visited so far in this and previous seasons. The first thing to do, was sample the in ground cuisine, or grub as we know it, I opted for a burger as my compatriots went for hot dogs, although the burger didn't look too clever, it tasted superb, the ground & catering now had top marks from me.

As we were in the ground so early we managed to catch the tail end of a mini soccer game between two local teams, a lot of clubs seem to endorse this now, having a knockout tournament game before each match for local youth teams, it's something that I'd like to see at Victoria Road, it's a very good initiative and brings in at least twenty more fans a game.

The teams came out to warm up and I was perked up instantly, James Shea emerged from the tunnel, this meant he was once again on the bench, you have no idea how un nerving it is having Dave Hogan on the bench Cheltenham fans, Chris Lewington was obviously still our number one. The announcer read out the team as this: Lewington, Doe, Arber, McCrory, Ogogo, Scannell, Lee, Gain, Tomlin, Nurse, Hewitt. Subs: Shea, Rose, Walsh, Woodall, Bingham.
Troy Hewitt was making his first start and Abu was back wearing a cast, Richard Rose therefore dropped to the bench.
For Cheltenham fans, your team lined up like this: Brown, Elliott, Bennett, Garbutt, Jombati, Pack, Low, Penn, Summerfield, Spencer, Mohammed. Subs: Lowe, Smikle, Graham, Duffy, Goulding. It surprised me that Goulding was on the bench as I was under the impression that he was one of their best players, but oh well!

The ground began to fill up and we made our way up into the middle of the section of the away stand we were given where were joined by the group who had made their way up by train from London. The ground was filling up, what looked like a very impressive attendance, especially on the side of their main stand which stood out like a sore thumb thanks to the three relatively new other stands. Mark Arber won the toss and opted to swap ends, the Daggers would be attacking us in the first half and Cheltenham their own fans.
The opening five minutes of the contest were drab as the players got a feel for the game and the conditions, but five minutes in came the first real opportunity. Gavin Tomlin with some neat work down the wing before putting in a ball towards the centre, Jon Nurse rose above the defender but his header went high over Scott Brown's goal, Brown was playing as usual number one Jack Butland was away on International duty with the Under 21's. Cheltenham then responded with a shot of their own, Jimmy Spencer's volley deflected wide of Lewingtons post for the first corner of the afternoon. On the ten minute mark, Troy Hewitt made himself a nuisance, he made a Robins defender pull him back and got a free kick. Oliver Lee took it and put it low down towards the near post, if a Daggers player was attacking it, he would have scored, but no one gambled and Cheltenhams keeper picked it up with ease.

It was very end to end after every opportunity, Cheltenham came back at the Daggers once more, former Wimbledon player Kaid Mohamed getting a shot away inside Dagenhams's box, it was blocked superbly by Scott Doe who has been outstanding recently. It seemed to be a case of five minutes gaps between each shot, about a quarter of an hour in, Gavin Tomlin nearly broke the deadlock. Tomlin played a neat one two with Oliver Lee, the former Torquay man then took a touch into the box and unleashed a fierce right footed strike that cannoned off of the postage stamp as it's affectionately known and out of play. I for one thought it had just crept in, a very good move and a sublime strike, but it just wasn't quite enough to get the opening goal.

Just after that, Cheltenham thought they'd scored, a corner wasn't cleared and it enabled a Cheltenham player to slide home the goal to stick them into the lead, or so they'd thought. The linesman flagged and it was given offside, so we stayed at 0-0, but a goal was definitely coming for either side. The Robins continued their good play with former Dagger Marlon Pack being the architect of many of the moves, only a last ditch Damien McCrory tackle saved the away side and then just minutes later, a McCrory block once again halted the Cheltenham attack.

Troy Hewitt then got himself into the game, Jon Nurse broke down the Daggers right and put in a delightful low ball, but Hewitt couldn't quite get a telling connection, it appeared he was pulled back, but the half hearted appeals didn't faze the referee and play continued. Hewitt, on the left this time got his first shot of the afternoon away, he cut inside of their right back and hit a curler that was comfortably saved by Brown between the Robins sticks. Just a quick word on Brown, well done to him receiving the banter well pre match, a lot of players are sour with the away fans, but he raised a smile and managed to joke about it.

Cheltenham then had a good period of possession, Luke Summerfield mustered a shot from far out which was comfortably saved by Lewington, but just minutes afterwards the deadline was broken to leave the Daggers record of no 0-0's for 78 matches in tact. Peter Gain fouled Marlon Pack down the right hand side, Luke Garbutt took it and swung in a delightful ball which met the head of a diving Alan Bennett who headed home into the far corner. Cheltenham took the lead with a good header, although it could be argued that the marking was slack once more, on came the dreaded home goal music and down sunk the 135 travelling faithful for the fourth away game in succession. They really should have added a second minutes afterwards, Garbutt who assisted their first, got down the left and swung in a ball which flashed across the six yard box, any touch and it was a goal; another lucky escape for John Still's men.

Nursey in Happier Times!
 Just as it looked we'd be going in behind at the break, the lord and saviour made sure we were level. Damien Scannell produced some Tomlinesque trickery down the Daggers right hand side before hitting a tame shot that was blocked by a Robins defender. It fell to Jon Nurse who I've been highly critical of recently, but he took this opportunity and blasted it home to send us potty, somehow and somewhat undeservedly we had equalised and looked like we were going in level at the break. No Daggers goal is complete without a Poznan and over half of us dually obliged, we were level!

That was the half over and the teams went in all square, Cheltenham probably feeling hard done by, but at the end of the day, we got that bit of luck and Nursey's practice of blasting the ball in the net from five yards before the match has paid off somewhat ironically. In a jubilant mood I celebrated with another burger, although the bun on this one was a bit off and a flick of the programme. The main player focus was on Marlon Pack rather obviously, he's come on leaps and bounds since he left his loan spell here and was probably the best player on the park in the first half, he even looks a bit like Romain Vincelot now!

The teams came out of the tunnel and like the fans were raring for the second half to get underway. It done so and the Daggers had the first chance of the contest, Damien McCrory who had been one of our best players in this match so far, ran at Mark Yates' defence and unleashed a speculative shot that went high over the bar, nice to see some drive from the back though! However, the early promise was wiped out as Cheltenham took the lead from a breakaway. The Daggers were left over exposed in the middle, Marlon Pack played a ball with the outside of the boot that just wrong footed Peter Gain who couldn't intercept it in time. It fell to James Spencer who hit the mark from just inside the box, a powerful shot beating Lewington at his near post, one that the Daggers star will probably feel disappointed about. A despondent Scott Doe lay on the ground after not being able to track back in time.

Chris Lewington was then tested once more, Spencer's cross was deflected goalwards towards the near post but Lewy's reflexes were once again tip top and he pushed it behind the post. Cheltenham were beginning to take full control of the game. Lewy then made the save of the game. Spencer who was becoming the chief tormentor latched onto a ball that was hooked over by Josh Low after Pack had threaded a fantastic ball over the top. Low's cut back found Spencer who headed goalwards, but Lewington scrambled back across to tip the header over the bar and out for a corner to everyones disbelief, yet more reasons why he was the August player of the month and probably soon to be the September player of the month.

John Still then made his first change of the afternoon, Troy Hewitt who had a decent game when you consider the poor service he was given, was replaced by Hayley Woodall, or Brian Woodall to those of you that haven't listened to one of his interviews. I personally thought Woodall should have started, with no Williams in the side, we didn't really have a hold up player, Nursey has been under performing and Hewitt isn't exactly dominant in the air, forgive me, but I'm pinning a lot of hopes on Rob Edmans when he becomes fit again. Woodall made an instant impact, winning a flick on which unfortunately went to no one as Nurse was on the other side of the pitch.

Peter Gain then picked up the first booking of the afternoon and that was quickly followed by Oliver Lee who got himself into the referee's book for throwing a ball down in disgust. A silly booking really, coupled with the fact that we wouldn't be time wasting anyways, I don't understand the referee's sometimes. Peter Gain was then taken off after making another rash challenge, another one and he'd have been sent off, so common sense prevailed and Billy Bingham replaced him in the middle, Gain responded by smashing his hand against the dugout in frustration. For Cheltenham Russell Penn & James Spencer came off to be replaced by Daryl Duffy & Jeff Goulding.

After The Final Whistle
The Daggers came so close to getting that all important equaliser with just five minutes remaining. Woodall played the ball to Tomlin who's trickery outfoxed Luke Garbutt, Tomlins left foot shot looked to be creeping in, but the extended hand of Scott Brown tipped it round the post and out for a corner. Despair as we thought it had gone in, now we know the pain other teams have felt through Chris Lewington's superb goalkeeping this season! The Robins made their final change, Mohamed coming off to be replaced by Brian Smikle as the referee held up the board to indicate three minutes of stoppages. Try as me might, we couldn't find that elusive second goal to equalise, Billy Bingham's shot that went past the post the closest we came, the referee blew and it was over, another away defeat.

Chris Lewington
This image sums it up for me
 The players came over, despondent and applauded the 135 travelling faithful, Chris Lewington in despair, I feel sorry for the lad more than the rest, he's been outstanding, at the end of the day, he's kept us in so many games, he may have made a few errors, but he's young; his quality has more than outweighed his mistakes.

Cheltenham were value for their win, even if their attempt at a Poznan was cringeworthy. Marlon Pack ran the show  and has been one of the most influential players I've seen from any club so far this season, James Spencer also seems to get himself into the right places and causes havoc, Cheltenham have a good team and I personally think they'll be top half at the very least if they keep their current performances and form going, then again was it really that much of a challenge to beat us?

To the Daggers, I don't really know what to say. Jon Nurse had his best game of the season for us and was still relatively poor, the marking was poor for their goal and Cheltenham deserved the win. Troy Hewitt didn't get the service to trouble Scott Brown and I'd have to say that once more Chris Lewington was probably our man of the match, although McCrory ran him very close, just one lack serious lack of defending from him in first half where he was easily beaten sticks out in my mind. I'm getting as sick as you are of wheeling this one out, but when we get our key players back, we'll be a better side, Medy Elito is a major miss, Josh Scott needs no introduction, Sam Williams was a miss & Rob Edmans will bring something new to the fray, I've heard good reports about his hold up play and aerial prowess.

I hope we do better next weekend, but you can tell people are becoming anxious, people want money spent, others don't, there's a sharp divide. At the end of the day flashing money doesn't always solve problems, but we seriously need someone who can stick the ball in the net, hopefully we'll improve next weekend against lowly Plymouth Argyle, if we lose that one, we really are in shit street.

Thanks for reading and I'll address you again next week against Plymouth, also Daggers fans, remember that it's the Essex Senior Cup draw on Thursday night, I know a number of us like that competition and it'll be a welcome distraction in many cases! I'll leave you with some other pictures of the day, also if you could "tweet" on "share" this Blog it would be much appreciated!

Whaddon Road

The Away Terrace
The Daggers Defend

At The Final Whistle

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Daggers 1-3 Southend, Why I Love The JPT

Dagenham & Redbridge were dumped out of the Johnstones Paint Trophy with a whimper by Southend United in this Essex derby. This Blog won't be much of a match report, more of an evaluation and some thoughts!

Firstly to start off, I was very impressed with tonight's attendance, now you consider people seem to think that the Johnstones Paint Trophy is dead and in need of a facelift, tonight proves otherwise. The attendance this evening was a very good 2395, that's nearly 600 more than we received for a league game at the weekend against Crewe Alexandra. Now Southend did bring a few hundred extra fans, but that just proves the hunger fans still have for this competition, it's an evening out, a local derby, a good atmsophere, everything football is about! Not only is there the derby aspect of it, but at the end of the tunnel, there's a possible trip to Wembley, whether it's the Champions League or FA Vase Final, no one turns their nose up at a visit to the home of English football do they? Southends away support was also fantastic, 915 Shrimpers to add to the already fantastic atmosphere in the Sieve.

Next on the agenda, is the teams both sides fielded. Dagenham did swap it around a bit from the weekend, with Kevin Maher making a return from injury & Brian Woodall, Phil Walsh, Billy Bingham & Femi all coming in, but these players have been in and around the first team all season. Full credit to Southend as well who took the competition more seriously than I anticipated, Bilel Mohsni was by far my man of the match, his aerial presence and physical ability got the better of the Daggers this evening. It's just further testament to how seriously some clubs take this competition, others of course treat it farcically. I point you to Gary Megson who made several changes and then made substitutions a minute into the game in the last round against Bradford City, that's disrespecting the competition massively and is something I don't agree with.

The prices are also magnificent for this competition. You look at tonight, it cost me just £4 to get in, with adults being only £8, that's a fraction of the price for a normal league game and it was arguably a better atmosphere. The two JPT games I've been too this season have been two of the best games of this short season so far, Orient was not only cheap, but provided the experience of a lifetime in a record breaking penalty shoot out and one of the best atmospheres of the season, infact, one of the best atmospheres I've ever been involved in. People overlook these things, yes the result is very important, but football isn't as good without an atmosphere, cheap prices get more people in which creates a better atmosphere, it's simple logic.

I also think the format of it is also fantastic, giving the chance of a local derby for a number of rounds with the regionalisation of it, this also makes it cheaper to go too. For example the South East section, if you draw a London team, you can just do it by tube, it's so simple and so cheap. For the record, I don't have a clue if regionalisation is word or not, but it sounded good and appropriate!

On the match itself tonight, a bit of a drab affair, but Southend were probably worth their win in the end. Goals from former Dagger Ryan Hall either side of Damien McCrory's deflected equaliser as well as Neil Harris who rounded off the victory in added time. The performance of Chris Lewington was once again fantastic, some stunning saves, further enhancing his ever growing reputation. As I said Mohsni looked very good for Southend as did Hall who took his chances extremely well when presented with them. My one criticism of us tonight was Phil Walsh who didn't seem on the pace tonight, I love Walshy as a character, but I'm not sure if he's up to the standard, we'll find out in due course!

Basically, I'm beginning to love this competition more and more, when we don't get MK Dons away, it offers a laugh, the chance to dream of Wembley once more and even a penalty shoot out. The Johnstones Paint Trophy doesn't deserve the bad reputation it gets half the time, if you treat it with respect, it will reward you with cheap, exciting and pulsating football. It deserves to be nourished, cherished and it deserves the fans support, so whoever you support, whatever season, make sure you go down to your club and watch a Johnstones Paint Trophy game, you don't know what you're missing.

My final words go to Accrington Stanley player Tom Bender who was seriously injured in a collision with Ian Dunbavin and a Tranmere defender this evening. The injury was long enough to halt play for nearly half an hour and eventually cause the match to be abandoned it was that serious. I've heard he is making a recovery in hospital, he regained consciousness as he was leaving the stadium, I would like to wish him a speedy recovery, no footballer deserves something like that, it's just very unfortunate and one of them things. Tom has a bright future ahead of him and I'm confident that he'll push on through this injury in due course and who knows where we'll see him play in future years. On behalf of everyone at Dagenham & Redbridge Football Club, I wish you a speedy recovery!

Next up for the Daggers is Cheltenham Town away on Saturday afternoon which I am probably at so stay tuned for another report! I'll leave you with a couple of video's.

Damien McCrory Free Kick

Chris Lewington Penalty Save