Saturday, 31 December 2011

Daggers 2-1 Gillingham, B & B.

Dagenham & Redbridge ended a somewhat indifferent year with an impressive 2-1 victory over promotion chasing Gillingham at Victoria Road. The Gills opened the scoring before Billy Bingham equalised and then Brian Woodall netted in the second half to seal victory for the Daggers.

Pre match I can't say I was confident, Gillingham were on an impressive unbeaten run and would be coming into this clash off of a fantastic win over Crawley; cheers for that chaps! The Daggers were showing signs of vast improvement, none more so than in the 3-0 victory over Barnet on Boxing Day where only slack marking soured the victory slightly.However I predicted a 2-2 goalfest for this one which would mean a good point for us!

I got into the ground at around 7:20 and went straight through to meet the Horans & Dawson. A brief chat ensued before I went into the Sieve with my cohorts as usual to read the programme. One of the highlights of the programme was undoubtedly Simmo's write up of one of our favourite Bloggers Anthony Hodgson, where he was taking part in the quiz against Exodus Geohaghan. Simmo says, " Anthony started coming over here in 2008 as a birthday present from his wife. He'd wanted to take my boys to football, but the premier league was too expensive." I must admit, it did make me chuckle! Just after the teams were read out; they are as follows:

Dagenham & Redbridge: Lewington, Rose, Doe, Spillane, Femi, Bingham, Maher, Green, Montano, Nurse, Woodall. Subs: Hogan, Geohaghan, Cunnington, DJ Green, Elito.

Billy Bingham came in as expected for the Daggers replacing the injured Peter Gain. The other change was Josh Scott not in the squad after seemingly picking up a knock against Barnet, meaning Jon Nurse was recalled from the bench to start. This also meant there were places on the bench for Medy Elito & Danny J Green.

Gillingham: Flitney, Frampton, Richards, Martin, Lawrence, Whelpdale, Payne, Weston, Jackman, Kedwell, Kuffour. Subs: Gazzaniga, Montrose, Rance, Oli, Payne.

Gillingham are going through an injury crisis like we were only recently meaning they had a far from full strength line up. Andy Frampton returned to the side after missing out against Crawley, he came in for Matt Fish; nothing to trout about really. Luke Rooney was also banned after being sent off at The Broadfield on Boxing Day.

The teams came out of the Traditional Builders Stand where the Gillingham fans were housed and it began to lash down with rain. Fantastic support by the Gills, 1300 of them making the trip (in their caravans) from Kent to create a good atmosphere and boost the attendance up to over 3000. What would this Blog be without sarcasm and stereotypes eh!? We were ready to kick off slightly earlier than planned; with a massive three points at stake who would come out on top?

It was the Daggers who started the match attacking the Bury Road end after the Gills had won the toss and chose to swap ends. Immediately songs about Whelpdale scarred scrotum rang out from the Sieve to set the tone for the evening. The Daggers started the bright, with Femi forced a corner in the opening minutes of the match which came to nothing. Dominic Green also sent in a cross from the left hand side which was well dealt with by a Gills defence that had conceded 27 times so far this season.

It was however Andy Hessenthalers men that opened the scoring in slightly fortuitous circumstances. A cross came in which Lewington looked to have gathered safely in his arms as you'd expect. We blinked and then it was out of his hands again. And then back in them. And then back out of them. The ball was then headed goalwards and blocked by Scott Doe before the ball rebounded to Danny Kedwell who took a single touch before slamming it into the back of an empty net. An absolute clanger by Lewington, but I'll forgive him when I consider the amount of points he's saved this season. A rawkus noise went up from the Gillingham fans who had seen their team score at Victoria Road for the very first time.

Gillingham now had the momentum and just minutes after the restart looked to double the lead. Danny Kedwell took on another two shots, both of which were thwarted by Lewington and palmed away for corners. The second of the corners fell to Kuffour who had troubled the Crawley defence days ago, but he could only succeed in skying his shot high into Traditional Builders Stand. Curtis Weston then got a shot away which cleared the crossbar, leaving the deficit at just the one for the time being. Gillingham then came close to adding another once more; when a corner bounced directly off of the post to leave the defence scrambling before lumping the ball clear.

Lewington Restarts Play.
Just after the 15 minute mark, a rather bizarre incident. Brian Woodall & Ross Flitney were in a foot race against eachother for the ball. Woodall got their before the opposing Flitney and attempted to dribble the ball around the keeper before seemingly being taken out by the former Barnet stopper. Myself and many others in the Sieve were expecting a penalty or a free kick at the least, however the referee stunned us all by giving a free kick to Gillingham much to Woodall's amazement. Not only did it shock Brian, but he got a yellow card for his troubles as the ref thought he'd dived. The ref was a hated man from their on in.

Just after that incident the scores were levelled. Cristian Montano got down the left hand side before whipping in a poor cross that was booted away by the Gills defender, however it only found Billy Bingham. The ball rebounded off of the midfielders chest before sitting nicely for him to hit it, and hit it he did. A powerful deflected shot found its way into the far corner of Ross Flitneys net to make it 1-1. That was Billy's first goal for the club on his first league start this season. 

Shortly afterwards the ball as put into the box and cleared, before falling to former Gillingham player Kevin Maher. In the few times I've seen the man shoot, they've been horrid shots and this was more of the same, slicing his effort just wide of the mark when passing the ball may have been the better option. It was then straight back up the other end as Danny Jackman crossed a good ball in which Garry Richards could only head over the top. The game was becoming increasingly open which enabled Jo Kuffour to get another shot away, but it was pushed behind by Lewington once more.

With just over 35 minutes played and Gillingham came close to restoring their advantage. A corner on the left from Jackman found the head of Kedwell who nodded it towards goal and it looked for the life of me that it was going in. However, Dom Green was on the post to head it away and clear the danger, something that was lacking vs Burton two weeks previous. The Daggers then began to pressure Gillinghams back line; with Femi & Montano both putting tricky crossed into the box which tested their resilience.

With just over 40 minutes played, Cristan Montano was ruled offside when he was going through on goal, but it was the challenge that ensued afterwards that caused uproar amongst Daggers fans. Garry Richards scythed through the on loan Hammers attacker after the whistle had gone to enrage the Sieve and leave Montano crumpled on the ground. Unbelievably the referee just gave Richards a talking to when surely a yellow card would have been the correct option.

Half Time.
 That was the end of the first half action and what a first half it was. Plenty of action at both ends of the pitch and the referee in the centre of controversy, we were certainly getting our moneys worth. One thing I forgot to mention is a well done to the club, who played part of John Still's tremendous Daggers Player interview pre match and I personally believe it really stirred the crowd. A fantastic touch by letting all of the fans inside the ground hear that as it really was a fantastic speech.

The Daggers started the second half the brighter, Jon Nurse & Greeny swinging a couple of balls in which were gathered well by Flitney. Sortly afterwards Michael Spillane registered his first shot of the evening which stung the gloves of the 'keeper at best. John Stills men then won another corner after some good work down the right by Jon Nurse. Dominic Green took it once more and it found the head of Montano who's header was cleared off the line, Richard Rose's follow up was then tipped over by Flitney for another corner. This time the ball was cleared, but only to Kevin Maher who lined up another one of his speculative efforts that went high into the Traditional Builders Stand.

The rain began to lash down even more now at Victoria Road to create a mist in the air as Montano hit a tame shot towards the stomach of Flitney who gathered easily once more. Danny Kedwell was then given a free header from a cross in, but could only contrive to head wide of the mark; yet more slack marking. Then came a heart in mouth moment for all Daggers fans. The ball was running back towards Lewington's goal and Scott Doe assumed that Lewy would come out and gather it up. A mix up in communication saw Curtis Weston nip in round former Weymouth man Doe and draw a good stop from Lewington. The corner came to nothing.

The Daggers Celebrate
Just after the 60 minute mark in the encounter, the Daggers finally took a somewhat deserved lead. The ball fell to Dominic Green on the edge of the box who was urged to shoot by everyone, myself included. However, he used his vision to spot Brian Woodall just to the left of him and inside the box unmarked. With a neat prod of the foot, Green played in Woodall who stroked the ball home into the far corner at the first time of asking to make it 2-1 and send the Daggers delirious. Another fantastic finish by Woodall to further increase his ever growing fan club. However, Dominic Green has been a fantastic addition in recent weeks and we can see just what a difference he's making with that superb assist.

Gillingham were clearly rattled and Matt Lawrence was quickly booked after bringing down Jon Nurse. The Gills got a corner which was taken by Joe Martin, however the just booked Lawrence could only head the ball over the bar and out of play for a goal kick. By this time the Sieve was bouncing up and down with songs and not even a yellow card to Montano after a show of petulance could sour it. We hadn't had a card for over 60 minutes and then came a spate of them, not only the two I've just mentioned, but Andy Frampton also got his name in Mr Millers book.

Gillingham then made their first change of the evening with Lewis Montrose coming on for the somewhat anonymous Joe Martin as Andy Hessenthaler went three at the back to try and conjure up an equaliser. Just after that the Daggers tried to add a third to seal the game, but Femi's effort was saved with ease, much to my disappointment. The lad is coming closer and closer to scoring by the week, I feel it's only a matter of time before he etches his name on the scoresheet. It's worth noting that his last few games have infact kept McCrory out of the team without a sniff which is no mean feat. I can firmly say that Femi is our first choice left back now I feel.

Andy Hessenthaler then made his final two subs in an attempt to salvage something from the Gills' lacklustre second half performance. Stefan Payne came on for Curtis Weston, whilst Dennis Oli replaced Danny Kedwell, much to mine and several others delight. The final action of the game was in injury time, when Femi tracked back and made a really "arbeit" to deny Oli a chance on goal. A superb tackle from the defender to keep the 2-1 lead.

The Final Whistle
Minutes later and the referee blew up, a superb three points against tough opposition. John Still shook hands with Andy Hessenthaler, a player he signed in 1991 for Redbridge Forest as they won the Ismithian League title. The cheers rang out from Victoria Road as the Daggers celebrated a much deserved win against a poor Gills side. My man of the match would probably be Brian Woodall. As I've said he's come on leaps and bounds in the past month or so and he is a real asset to this club.

The all round ream performance and work ethic was brilliant, I was especially impressed with Billy Bingham. He never stopped working and trying to win the ball and got a goal to his name as well. Femi also had a blinding game at left back, whilst Richard Rose got on with his job quietly on the right side, no major problems there. Into midfield and I thought Dom Green had a good game and is turning into a really good player, hustling defenders with his pace and trickery before getting a very neat assist for the second goal. Kevin Maher brings a degree of calm and experience to the side as well as playing some good passes to set up chances. Cristian Montano didn't have the best of games, but it was good enough!

The Gills fans + some blokes head.
 As for Gillingham, not particularly impressed with the second half performance, although the first half was somewhat mediocre. Jo Kuffour caused some problems, whilst the right winger who may have been Curtis Weston or Danny Jackman were a decent threat when given time with the ball. Hard to tell where Gillingham will finish, for now I'll say in the play off mix.

It's also worth noting that we ended Gillingham's run of 9 games unbeaten, furthermore we're the first time to come from behind and defeat them this season.

That just about rounds off another Blog, luckily BT sorted out the Broadband so I was able to do this one! I'll leave you with highlights of the game, which were recorded on Sky Sports News this morning. They own the rights to the footage and all that.

Next up is Southend United at Roots Hall on 2nd January, good luck to everyone getting there including myself! Before we entertain Millwall at Victoria Road in the 3rd round of the FA Cup. Happy new year to all Daggers and every other fan that reads this!

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Daggers 3-0 Barnet, Festive Delights

Dagenham & Redbridge ended their losing hoodoo with a spectacular 3-0 victory over rivals Barnet on Boxing Day with emphatic goals coming courtesy of Cristian Montano twice and a superb Brian Woodall diving header. I'm afraid there are no pictures in this Blog due to them not being able to upload from my Blackberry camera to Blogger.

Ahead of the game I was quietly confident once more, the win in these encounters with Barnet always tends to go with the home side; especially when you take into account we've never lost at home to the Bees. Add to that we apparently looked a much better outfit against Burton last weekend; a game that I was unable to attend due to being struck by a last minute illness. I should apologise in advance for any grammatical errors in this Blog as I'm forced to write it on my Blackberry. You see some wonderful sod decided to hack through the BT cables in my area
 and those even nicer chaps at BT said they'll repair the service on the 5th January. Anyways; enough about that and onto the game!

I arrived at Victoria Road at around 12:40 as it was a festive 13:00 kick off. I performed the usual ritual of getting a programme and a 50/50 ticket before heading through the turnstiles and into the ground. I went straight up to the Sieve to get a burger and find my cohorts before getting in the mood for this Boxing Day encounter. The main threat was basically Izale McLeod if you asked me, if we stopped him they didn't score in my eyes. That leads us nicely onto the teams!

Dagenham & Redbridge: Lewington, Rose, Doe, Spillane, Femi, Green, Gain, Maher, Woodall, Montano, Scott. Subs: Hogan, Geohaghan, Cunnington, Bingham, Nurse.
Abu Ogogo was banned which meant that Dom Green replaced him in midfield whilst the rest of the team remained the same from the one that drew at Burton Albion last weekend.

Barnet Team: Brill, Senda, Borrowdale, Hector, Downing, Hughes, Byrne, Deering, Marshall, N'Diaye, McLeod. Subs: O'Brien, Saville, McCallum, Holmes, Taylor.

Just after the teams were announced they came out to a very good atmosphere and we were all set to go. Just after 13:00 Mr Stroud blew his whistle and we were off. The game started rather scrappilly if truth be told, with Barnet having an abundance of offsides go against them; mainly for McLeod. On 10 minutes however came the first corner of the game for Daggers, Maher's delivery was met with firm hands by 'keeper Brill to avert any danger.

On 13 minutes the Daggers took the lead in spectacular fashion. Josh Scott interchanged  passes with Montano before Montano shifted the ball onto his left foot. He unleashed magnificent 25 yard strike with his left foot which flew into the back of the net leaving Brill with no chance. A superb strike in this pivotal game to make it 1-0 Daggers.

The next few minutes I was very wary as in the previous home game with Port Vale we conceded directly after scoring. However it was Dominic Green who nearly  doubled the lead, his speculative effort going wide of the mark. However Barnet should have equalised on 20 minutes. A superb ball was crossed in by N'Diaye which found the head of league two top scorer Izale McLeod. I for one thought it was 1-1, but the former Charlton man contrived to put the ball wide of the mark to mine and several others shock. A real let off and a wake up call for the slack marking.

Barnet were beginning to come into the game a bit more and came close to levelling once more. A scramble in Lewingtons box meant the ball fell to tricky winger Sam Deering, luckily his shot didn't get any bend on it; meaning it flew harmlessly wide of the post. Just after that McLeod and Marshall both got shots away, the first was comfortably saved by Lewington whilst the second was blocked well by everyones favourite player, Femi.

During the 30-40 minute period of the game, the tempo settled down again with a variety of free kicks and corners to both sides, most of which were dealt with by defenders or claimed well by either Lewington or Brill. Then John Still was forced into a substitution on 37 minutes. Peter Gain who must have been carrying a slight knock was taken off as a precaution. his replacement was a player I'm particularly excited about, Billy Bingham. A like for like change.

Just before half time the Daggers doubled the lead thanks to another superb strike by Montano. Brian Woodall flicked the ball through to the Columbian before he unleashed an unstoppable strike into the far corner of the net leaving Brill with no chance. The Sieve went mental for a second time as the Daggers went into the break two magnificent goals to the good.

During the half time period I took the chance to have a read of the programme which featured a brilliant interview with John Still answering some questions. I hope this intervview will have convinced some doubters that Stilly is the man for this club.

The second half started with the Daggers attacking the Bury Road End and Lawrie Sanchez's Barnet side firing towards their own 500 odd fans in the Traditional Builders Stand. A decent turnout by the Bees supporters who had the rail strike to contend with. The second half started much like the first; several offsides and another corner going down Brill's throat to my annoyance. Barnet then made their first sub just over 10 minutes in, former Chelmsford striker Ricky Holmes replacing Mark Byrne.

One of the highlights of the game was undoubtedly when Sam Deering who reminds me of Orients Cox; unleashed a yelp when being tackled by a Daggers man. This meant everytime he got the ball for the rest of the match, everyone in the Sieve immitated his noise; great entertainment. The Daggers nearly added another goal on 60 minutes. Dom Green picked up the ball before running a few yards towards the Barnet goal. He then unleashed a powerful shot that left Brill with no chance, unfortunately it cannoned off of the bar and into the 'keepers hands.

On 62 minutes Brian Woodall etched his name onto the scoresheet to make it 3-0 and effectively seal victory. Cristian Montano crossed the ball from the right hand side and Woodall got down for a diving header which planted the ball into the far corner of the net. Another goal for Woodall who is now oozing with confidence; a superb header from a player who was plying his trade five leagues below the Conference last season we shouldn't forget.

Then came a flurry of changes for both sides. Charlie Taylor replaced tricky winger Mark Marshall for Barnet, whilst Josh Scott came off for Jon Nurse who has been confined to the bench in recent games. Minutes later Chris Lewington who was having a nice quiet game was called into action; palming away a McLeod shot to further increase the strikers frustration and 'keepers reputation. Charlie Taylor then missed a superb chance for Barnet. Much like in the first half a cross was floated into the box and the marking left a lot to be desired. However former Sutton United man Taylor couldn't keep his header down and it went over the bar and into the Bees fans.

Cristian Montano was then given a rapturous round of applause as he left the field to be replaced by Adam Cunnington who got the chance to make another cameo. His energy was evident from the off, chasing down loose balls and pressuring the Bees back line; which is what I want to see from a forward. The final chance of the game came nearing the 90 minute mark when another cross found McLeod. This time the former England Under 21 International got a firm collection and forced a great save from Lewington.

That was the end of the action and it meant that the Daggers had picked up a first league win since October, the first league clean sheet since August ad the first time we'd scored three since Carlisle at home the back end of last season. A decent performance made the victory even sweeter; although the marking needs to be tightened considerably.

Mark Arber may find it very difficult to get back into the side following the solid defensive partnership of Scott Doe and Mickey Spillane that has been formed. If Peter Gain is injured for Gillingham on Friday night; I would like to see Billy Bingham given a start. He's the perfect replacement and one that I've touted as a great midfielder for the future, such a shame injuries prevented him being a regular so far this season. I thought Richard Rose coped well with the pace of Deering and Kevin Maher ensures we play the ball on the floor which is a great influence to have.

A word for the crowd today as well, simply superb. The Sieve felt like its old self, plenty of songs and plenty of people getting behind the team which was great. Long may it continue!

Next up at home is Gillingham on Friday night, 19:45 kick off. I hope you have a enjoyable week and I'll speak to you again on New Years Eve oron the 6th when I get the Internet back!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Daggers 1-2 Port Vale, Sinking Ship.

Nine straight league defeats and now bottom of the entire football league; it can't really get much worse can it? Guess what, it can; next week we face Burton Albion who have the leagues second top scorer in Billy Kee and then a massive clash at home to rivals Barnet on Boxing Day.

Going into the game I was strangely confident considering our most recent performance against Walsall the week previous and Port Vales recent form which has been woeful; much like our own. I predicted a 1-1 as that had been the score the two times Vale had visited this part of London/ Essex before and I'd have taken that result today to be honest. I got into the ground at around 2:30 and went straight to book the coach for Burton Albion next week; another ground to be ticked off! About five minutes later I got myself a burger and a tea and settled in the Sieve to watch the extravaganza of football that would shortly be on offer.

Dagenham & Redbridge Team: Lewington, Femi, Doe, Geohaghan, Spillane, Tomlin, Gain, Ogogo, Nurse, Scott, Woodall. Subs: Hogan, Rose, Elito, Bingham, Cunnington.

One of the biggest shocks for us all was that Stilly had chosen to change the back line. Exodus came in to partner Doe; even though Doey & Spillane looked a very assured partnership last weekend. This meant that Richard Rose dropped to the bench as Spillane took up the right back position. Damien Scannell & James Shea had left the club in midweek, this move saw Gavin Tomlin get a start and "reserve" goalkeeper Dave Hogan get a place on the bench. Adam Cunnington was also back after being cup tied last weekend, he managed to nab a place on the bench, whilst Montano was out with a groin strain.

Port Vale Team: Tomlinson, Yates, McCombe, Collins, Chilvers, Taylor, Griffith, Loft, Myrie-Williams, Pope, Madjo. Subs: McDonald, Roberts, Rigg, Richards, Williamson.

Doug Loft returned to Dagenham for the first time, Lofty had a loan spell here from Brighton a couple of seasons ago. Vale were unchanged from their 0-0 draw against Torquay two weeks previous, however a couple of players were replaced on the bench. Rob Kozluk & Louis Dodds (no relation to Ken) made way for Marc Richards who had been missing for some time through injury. Ben Williamson was also back from injury and replaced Dodds on Micky Adams' substitutes bench.

The teams came out at roughly 3:00 with the sun shining down on Victoria Road. Someone told me there was meant to be protests by the Vale fans regarding their board. If they were intended to be done during the game, I can only assume they were giving out the silent treatment. After the teams swapped, meaning the Daggers would be attacking the Bury Road end and Vale their own fans; we kicked off.

Micky Adams' side had the first chance of the encounter, Guy Madjo firing over from inside Chris Lewingtons six yard box. Dagenham & Redbridge's first shot came just before ten minutes, the ball was crossed in from the left hand side before falling to Tomlin at the back post. He took a touch and had time, before blazing it over the bar much to everyones frustration. Anyone in favour of a new rule for Tomlin? Whenever he shoots John Still should dock £100 from his wages.

The Daggers then began to establish something of a foothold in the encounter just after the ten minute mark. The second chance was for Josh Scott, but a wild swing saw the ball go tamely off for a goal kick. Swiftly afterwards a cross came into the box which found the head of Brian Woodall. Brian got a good connection, but the header went just wide of the mark and out for a goal kick once more. Very positive stuff though. Just minutes later and 'keeper Stuart Tomlinson was called into action for the first time. Josh Scott unleashed a fierce shot from outside the box which he palmed away, but only to Jon Nurse. The Barbados International fired a shot low and hard on the volley at the man between the sticks, but he saved it again before Nurse was given a third go. This time it was pushed out for a corner to the Daggers.

Following Port Vale's quick equaliser.
 A minute or so later however and the Daggers did gain the lead of the game. A throw in down the right was knocked forward into the box and it found Brian Woodall.  He controlled it well before getting the shot away; a deflection saw the ball go past Tomlinson to hit the back of the net. The Sieve became very jubilant as did Woodall who netted his third goal of the season. Just as we were settling back down from the celebrations; straight from kick off the ball was given to Jennison Myrie-Williams, he took a couple of touches before unleashing a purler of a shot. From when it left his boot you could tell where it was going; sure enough it flew between Lewington & the post to make it 1-1 about 20 seconds after we took the lead. It was nice while it lasted! A superb goal from Vale nonetheless and one that Lewy could do nothing about.

Port Vale then asserted a degree of pressure on the home side; forcing several corners all of which were cleared away for corner after corner. On about 35 minutes, Lewington produced a truly world class save. Tom Pope got the ball and dribbled forward a few yards before unleashing a belter of a strike on the Daggers goal. Lewington looked as though he didn't have a hope or a prayer, but he got his fingertips on it to send the ball onto the bar and out for a corner. Brilliant play from both the striker and the goalkeeper.

The Valiants then had another flurry of corners before the Daggers went on a mini break upfield; it resulted in Peter Gain been brought over for the umpteenth time by Myrie Williams, this time we got a free kick for it. The free kick was taken be everyones favourite player Gavin Tomlin. He took it and it hit the scoreboard to everyone's dismay as everyone expected. That was effectively the last thing of note in the first half. There were more Vale corners and several more fouls to end the first forty five. A very even game so far and probably a deserved 1-1.

We go in for half time.
My assessment of the first half? Woodall looked like our best player once again although Gainy & Abu were giving him a run for his money in the middle of the park. No matter what anyone says about Gainy being finished, I assure you he is not. Not only is he the engine room of the midfield, he can also string a good pass along to create a move. Tomlin & Exodus were very poor in my opinion, Gav we all know and I'm disappointed for him because if he could actually shoot then he'd probably be a good player to have. Exodus looked sluggish and this would inevitably cause problems at the back if Vale managed to get a break.

The teams came back out for the second half as the sun was descending and the floodlights were being switched on, giving Victoria Road a feeling of dusk. The first opportunity of the second half came from Brian Woodall, just seconds after the restart. I didn't see the build up, but he unleashed one from about 25 yards which was just turned over from Tomlinson between the sticks to give Dagenham a corner. The recent goals have really given Woodall a welcome boost of confidence and he now looks like one of our best players.

Peter Gain was next to get a shot off on goal, but his strike was sliced and ended up going into the far corner of the Traditional Builders Stand. Only causing harm to the Youth Teamers who were sitting there. Up the other end Gavin Tomlin received the first booking of the game for a poor challenge on Myrie-Williams which was quite ironic really. Williams had made several failed attempts to gain control of the ball from a Daggers player in the first half and wasn't cautioned for any of them. I hate referee's. The free kick though was pushed clear of the far post by a Daggers defender to set up another barrage of corners which were all defended aqequately.

Then came a flurry of action at both ends of the pitch. From one of the Vale corners Brian Woodall who suddenly had a spring in his step broke away. He carried the ball the whole length of the pitch in a gutbusting run, but his final ball was intercepted and forced out for a corner kick. From the resulting corner, Vale managed to break away and their best player, Madjo fired over from just inside the 18 yard box to snuff out the danger. The game was now beginning to come alive all of a sudden, however Vale still looked like the side in the ascendency.

Vale celebrate their second.
 Sure enough, on 64 minutes Vale took the lead for the first time in the afternoon. Madjo played the ball back to Robert Taylor who was in his own half. Taylor, formerly of Nuneaton went on a superb run down the left, skipping past a helpless Spillane and donkey like Geohaghan before clipping in a low ball into the box which bypassed the first defender and attacker. However in the middle of the goal, Cameroonian Madjo got to the ball before Scott Doe and proceeded to hit the ball on the half volley into the centre of the goal and past Lewington who couldn't scramble across fast enough. Same old story for Dagenham as Vale who hadn't scored in their previous 500 minutes of football, had netted two in forty-one minutes.

This was the cue for a substitution, Medy Elito coming on for Gavin Tomlin and the general census from the fans is that if any player will be leaving in January, it will be Gav. Just five minutes later and Micky Adams made his first change of the game, swapping Guy Madjo who had been causing the Daggers defence problems all afternoon for Marc Richards which delighted Vale fans. A long awaited return for the striker. Just after this substitution, Tom Pope hit another shot at Lewington, but the stopper saved it well to keep the deficit at 2-1.

Then came perhaps the most bewildering substitution of the game. Brian Woodall (right)was replaced by Adam Cunnington to make his home debut. I have no problems with Cunnington coming on, but the fact Stilly chose to take off Woodall is something that I don't find particularly encouraging. Woodall was probably our biggest threat in the game, our best player and he's been taken off, what kind of message must that send to the lad who's worked his bollocks off all of the game?

The Daggers didn't look threatening at all for the final ten minutes, infact Marc Richards got a shot away on 85 minutes to try and further increase the away side's lead. Vale made tow more substitutions before full time, Sean Rigg replacing another thorn in Myrie-Williams whilst towards the end Clayton McDonald came on for Rob Taylor who had set up their second goal.

For the final ten minutes or so we could only really force corner after corner and these came to nothing as usual. The first ball was headed away, only for the second ball to fall to a Vale player as their was no Dagenham challenge whatsoever. This is how a lot of clubs score goals, through second balls, yet we seem scared to go in for them; another thing that needs working on. The final play of the game was on 93 minutes, the Daggers earned a corner, we were all urging Lewington to go up; after all, what did we have to lose? Yet John Still said no. I'm sorry, but our goal difference is so bad what will it matter if we concede another through trying to equalise. The wrong decision that angered the supporters and Lewington alike.

Full time, 2-1 to Port Vale. The only league club that's name isn't actually a place ended their league losing run to stretch the Daggers to a very unhealthy 9 straight league defeats. I have nothing to say, I mean what is there to say?

Vale Fans.
 Next up is Walsall on Tuesday night for the chance to get to the FA Cup 3rd Round and a lucrative tie against Millwall. In the league, we have our final away game of 2011 next weekend, away at Burton Albion, before we return to Victoria Road for a vital London derby against Barnet on Boxing Day.

I'll speak to you again next Sunday as I won't be able to attend the game in Poland in midweek.

Oh and the general consensus amongst the majority of fans when asked if Stilly should stay or go. Is stay. Here Here!

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Daggers 1-1 Walsall, Buried Under A Big "W".

Dagenham & Redbridge held Walsall 1-1 at Victoria Road to take the cup tie back to the Banks' Stadium as one team may progress through to the first round and pick up a money spinning tie. As for the title reference; if you haven't see "It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World" or a Simpsons parody; then you won't understand it!

Pre match there was something that made me quietly optimistic; I don't know what it was, but I thought we could beat Walsall if we played to our potential. Saying that if we were to play like we had been of late, they'd be laughing all the way home. I rocked up to the esteemed home of football at around 2:30 and went straight in; programme & 50/50 ticket in hand of course. I met up with Wilson & Hodgson in the Sieve before getting myself a burger and having a flick of the programme. One pleasant change from the week before was the weather, it was dry! The ground wasn't even filling up quickly and by 2:50 it looked more than half empty; even the announcer didn't turn up until five minutes before the match!

The teams were then announced with a couple of surprises in store...
Dagenham & Redbridge Team: Shea, Rose, Doe, Spillane, Femi, Nurse, Scannell, Ogogo, Gain, Scott, Woodall.         Subs: Hogan, McCrory, Elito, Maher, Bingham, Tomlin, Walsh.
James Shea replaced Chris Lewington in goal, who was apparently ill, whilst Femi shifted to left back as Spillane took a centre half partnership with Scott Doe; meaning Damien McCrory was on the bench. Damien Scannell replaced Cristian Montano who was cup tied; whilst Adam Cunnington was also cup tied, was replaced by Josh Scott who was making start since Southampton away in November 2010.

Walsall Team: Walker, Sadler, Lancashire, Smith, Beevers, Chambers, Taundry, Nicholls, Halliday, Grigg, Macken.       Subs: Grof, Butler, Gnakpa, Peterlin, Jarvis, Peterson, Bowerman.
The Saddlers made only one change from their 0-0 draw at Stevenage a week previous, Andrew Halliday replaced Mark Wilson who was recalled by parent club Doncaster Rovers during the week.

The teams came out roughly bang on three and we all participated in a minutes applause in honour of club groundsman George Tucker, club stalwarts Stan Cope & Jim Lewis as well as Gary Speed, who died last Sunday. All four will be missed and I send out my condolences to their families and friends.

For the first time in god knows how many weeks, we didn't swap ends! So the Daggers would be attacking the Traditional Builders Stand and Walsall the Bury Road End. Most of the early action revolved around Damien Scanell putting balls into the box and 88 year old Jimmy Walker coming to collect them with the minimum of trouble. Good signs nonetheless. Just after the ten minute mark, the Daggers continued with their dominance, Damien Scannell & Josh Scott both hitting against the side netting in quick succession to further raise hopes around three sides of the ground.

The Daggers then came close with two headers; the first was after Damien Scannell stuck in a free kick. It found the head of Brian Woodall who has scored twice with his nut already in this competition; his "diving" header could only find the grateful hands of Jimmy Walker. Then minutes later a thrown in found the head of Scannell who seemed to be at the centre of the action; his header was palmed out for a corner by Walker. A few minutes later, Walsall got their first shot of the game. Mat Sadler was given the ball for the Saddlers (oh the irony), but his speculative shot with the outside of the boot drifted harmlessly wide of Shea's far post. I nearly forgot Shea was playing he was that busy!

You can kind of see the Walsall fans.
 Brian Woodall & Will Grigg then traded shots from 35 yards, both of which were speculative, the difference was that Woodall's forced Walker into a save. From the corner, the ball was cleared to Ogogo who's header from 20 yards nearly found its way over the former West Ham stopper; but he just about got finger tips too it. The corner found the head of Josh Scott who could only manage to send his effort high over the bar and into the 259 Warsaw supporters who made a superb effort travelling from Poland. Oh come on, I had to get that joke in somewhere! Before this little attack, I should mention that the Daggers were playing it around on the floor and it just showed how effective we are when we play good football.

Towards the end of the half Dean Smiths men began to slowly edge into the contest, with Will Grigg's shot being blocked by Femi. Just before the half time whistle James Shea was called into action, Jon Macken played Lee Beevers through; his shot was fisted over the bar by the on loan Arsenal stopper. "Damn" said Beevers. I'll get my coat...

That was the last action of the first half and the sides went in level. You'd imagine that Walsall were the happier having not conceded under the Daggers pressure, but at the same time I was overjoyed at the half we'd had. We looked confident, composed and up for it and at the end of the day, we were unlucky to not be ahead; Jimmy Walker was having a good game inbetween the sticks for them. What a difference Josh Scott was making for us though; it probably wasn't all down to him, but the team seemed more of a team with him there. Just shows what we've been missing.

The team came back out for the second half and the dark of night began to descend over Victoria Road; meaning it was time for the floodlights to come on. Dagenham & Redbridge would be attacking the Bury Road End whilst Walsall would be facing their own fans in the Traditional Builders Stand. The first action of the second half was once again concerning Scannell, who prodded a poor shot towards goal which I don't need to tell you went harmlessly wide of the mark.

Walsall were beginning to get into the game a bit more after a Will Grigg cross bypassed everyone and went out for a James Shea goal kick. Andrew Halliday then got a shot away which was saved well by Shea, just after Walsall attacked again and former Manchester City striker Jon Macken hit a shot wide of the mark when under pressure from around six yards out. Dean Smith then made his first change of the afternoon, Claude Gnakpa coming on for Andrew Halliday on the 60 minute mark.

Nurse receiving treatment.
 Just a minute after Halliday was taken off, the Daggers went on the attack. Jon Nurse who had scored twice in the replay against Bath City in the previous round got a shot away that didn't really trouble Walker. It was then straight up the other end as a Manny Smith header was cleared off the line by Richard Rose to keep the scoreline at 0-0. The game was now becoming more end to end and Scannell kept it at a fast pace by coming onto a neat lay off from Woodall before firing the ball straight down Walker's throat.

Dean Smith then made his second change of the afternoon. Will Grigg who was a thorn in the Daggers side the last time these two met, was replaced by George Bowerman, making his first appearance since he had come back from his loan at Conference North club Redditch United. This substitution was made during the time that Scott Doe was receiving treatment by John Gowens, after being involved in a 50/50 collision. After play restarted, Damien Scannell was involved once more; some good work down the left by Jon Nurse saw him swing a ball in which found, "Scanz" head. His header went wide of the target as the game remained at 0-0 going into the final 20 minutes of the match.

Then of course, came the obligatory undeserved away goal for Walsall. Mat Sadler made the running down the right before crossing in to an unmarked Claude Gnakpa who somehow managed to head between James Shea and the post. On my current view, I'd say that Shea probably should have done better, but I'll have to watch it back to say that 100%. A slightly undeserved goal really, but a goal nonetheless; it sent the Sieve quiet and the TB Stand delirious. Dagenham & Redbridge 0-1 Walsall with 15 minutes still to play.

Just before Nurse's goal.
 On 80 minutes, John Stills side equalised in sensational fashion. The ball fell to Jon Nurse on the left hand side, he cut in and turned his marker before running into the box. Just inside the box he pulled the trigger and curled an absolute beauty into the far corner of the net, leaving Jimmy Walker helpless and the Daggers fans legless. Billy described it as "Sam Saundersesque", that's how good it was. The Sieve went potty as we all had a stupendous view of it, right behind Nursey, we saw that screamer go in from right behind it. Sensational. Superlatives & adjectives escape me! Oh and it was now 1-1 with ten minutes left to play.

Straight from the kick off the Daggers won the ball and began to attack again with the crowd egging them on. From a cross the ball broke to Peter Gain who famously only scores every leap year, he hit a strike that was hitting the target before a Walsall defender got a block away and the ball went out for a throw in. This was the cue for a flurry of substitutions. Gavin Tomlin replaced the tiring Scannell who had a fairly good game, whilst Brian Woodall came off to be replaced by Phil Walsh who was stuck up front for the final five! Walsall also made their third and final change, Ryan Jarvis coming on for Jon Macken as they pushed for a winner as well.

Jarvis was sent off.
 The fourth official indicated a minimum of four minutes of added on time as Scott Doe got an imperative block from a George Bowerman shot. Half way into the added on time and Ryan Jarvis was dismissed for an apparent elbow on Mickey Spillane. I'm not sure whether it was an elbow, but Spillane was on the floor which suggests it was a bad one; the referee had no hesitation in brandishing the red card to send Jarvis packing just ten or so minutes since coming on. He received a fair bucket of abuse from his own fans as he walked back down the tunnel.

The final action of the game was a Gavin Tomlin free kick that was cleared by the Walsall defenders. The final score was 1-1 meaning we will travel to the Banks Stadium in mid December to find out who faces whatever team we draw in the 3rd round.

To sum it up, a pulsating game and probably one of the better performances of the season so far against a side that we have to remember are infact a league above ourselves. Walsall were very poor on the day and I'm sure they know that, George Bowerman looks like a great prospect for them, that's probably the one thing I'd give them from the encounter.

For us though, it was great seeing Josh Scott last a whole 90 minutes and the effect he had was clear, winning flick on's and getting various shots away; I can't wait to see him play against Port Vale next week! Nursey scored a terrific goal, but other than that was somewhat anonymous once more. Abu Ogogo was superb in the midfield, making several trademark crunching tackles and winning the ball in the process; whilst the partnership of Spillane & Doe at centre half looks a very safe one at the moment.

My man of the match however, is Brian Woodall. He may not have scored, but the confidence and belief he showed today is worthy of an accolade; you can see from his two goals that he has new found life. Do I believe he should be in the team week in and week out at the moment? No I do not. He needs experience at a lower level like the Conference first, but the job he's done for such a young and inexperienced lad is superb and he should be credited for that.

We will reconvene at Walsall on either the 13th or 14th of December subject to TV Coverage once more and as spooky as it may sound, this game has a massive chance of being on the box. Only four replays so far and one of those is an all non league clash. Whether it's on TV or not, expect another interesting game, probably rounded off with a Will Grigg goal in a 1-0 Walsall win on 83 minutes after Damien Scannell misses a sitter. The draw for round three takes place after the conclusion of the AFC Totton vs Bristol Rovers match tomorrow on ITV1. I won't tell you our number to leave an element of surprise.

Next up at home for us is Port Vale on Saturday or Stanway Rovers in the Essex Senior Cup depending on how highly you rate the County Cup.

Follow me on Twitter, @NickDRFCMurphy. Other than that, have a good week before I speak to you next Saturday!