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!

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