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!


  1. I thoroughly enjoyed the game today.I agree with you Nick, Woodall was my man of the match too.Although Josh, Gain or Nursey could easily have taken it too.I missed who they actually gave it too.No complaints from me really,maybe Scannell looked knackered after about 20 mins and he dosent track back enough to defend for my liking.Might even have a little travel up to the replay.Love and kisses...Arnu

  2. This is the best I've seen them play all season! I think that Ogogo is one of our most reliable players. I would love to see us get a result in Walsall. If I can get out of school, I'll be there, but probably not. A third round draw against away to a Premier League team would be great.

  3. Thanks for a simply superb blog, Nick. I wasn't at the game but felt as if I had been after reading the above. First class effort.

  4. Sadly i didn't come to watch this as to be honest i couldn't be bothered. But i hope this is the kick up the arse the team needed and let's hope the replay goes our way. Wonder who we get in the next round if we win.