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.


  1. Hi.
    Thank you for your blog. I'm a Crawley fan who was at the game and I appreciated what you wrote. Daggers gave us a tough test - particularly in the first half - and I agree with you that you may well have taken something from the game if you had kept eleven players on the pitch.
    As for the first half injury time, you seem to have forgotten that Matt Tubbs was down injured and getting treatment for quite a while, which may easily have accounted for most of three minutes. The Crawley goal that was scored during that time is still a bit mysterious to me and I will be interested to see how it happened on the Player software. From the far end where I was standing it looked like the ball was rolling out harmlessly for a goal kick. Suddenly the ball was at Torres' feet and he scored - it just wasn't clear how it got there from that distance. Your goal was a pretty decent free kick - though like you, I felt our keeper could have done better. It looked like the wet ball had a say in it.
    There was a period where I thought Daggers were going to get something from the game even with ten men. Your lone striker looked really useful, though he seemed to start running out of steam a bit around 70 minutes.
    As for that late goal, the linesman had flagged before it went in. The flag was across his chest indicating a penalty. However, Crawley scored before the ref could award it. I probably had a clearer view than you of the linesman because I was on the uncovered terrace by then (facing the linesman across the pitch) near the Crawley attacking end (the rain had stopped :-) ) .
    Crawley were far from their best last night and we can play a lot better - especially in the first half when some defenders were making schoolboy errors.
    We are not the bees knees and we certainly weren't last night.
    We can give any team in League Two a hard game though if we have a fullish squad available and they are playing as well as I know they can.
    To me, Daggers league position looks false. I'm sure they will climb the table - especially with such a superb keeper. He played a blinder.
    Sorry to hear that the stewards got on your case. A brown envelope protest seems perfectly reasonable to me in view of what happened a few years ago - especially as it was your first opportunity to make that protest in person.

  2. Crawley supporter again...

    Really well written blog, might even follow more of them. Perfectly understandable about the brown envelopes and how so many of your players at the time were denied the chance to play League 2 football.
    Your fans were great, staying on so long after the game, most we see here are off within minutes so there's something pretty special going on with yours.
    Evans went out of his way to compliment your Goalie on our website, even noting he's a youngster which currently fits our recruiting criteria.
    Anyway, you're a far better team than your league position suggests and I hope you pick up from here and do well for the rest of the season with perhaps a little hiccup in April!!

  3. a daggers supporter

    thought pepper spray was illegal, my partner is a steward at dagenham and he said that it's not allowed 2 b used ??