Sunday, 22 January 2012

Crewe 4-1 Daggers, Individual Errors.

Dagenham & Redbridge went down to a third consecutive defeat within a week at the hands of Crewe Alexandra, who came out 4-1 victors at Gresty Road. Brian Woodall had put the Daggers ahead early in the second half before a collection of errors and good Crewe play saw Steve Davis' men put the game out of sight.

The Crewe Clubhouse.
 We begin this tale of despair and anguish at 8:45 in the morning at Victoria Road, the departure time for the coach. It was pretty much full, with only 4 or 5 seats not taken, I can safely say that's a lot more than what I was anticipating. We had a brief 45 minute stop at Norton Canes, possibly the worst service station in existence, before boarding the coach for the final stretch to Crewe at around 12:30. No traffic on the motorway meant we arrived along Gresty Road at a prompt 13:30, enabling me to enjoy the hospitality of the Railwaymens Clubhouse, where I found Bill & Chaz inside.

We settled in to watch the Norwich vs Chelsea game for an hour, half way through that we were approached by the Crewe tannoy bloke. He came up to us asking how to say a few of our players names, the most confusing for him was, "Owulafemi Ilesanmi", so we just told him to say Femi. A nice chap and we even received a team sheet, so with that, I'll go through the teams now.

Dagenham & Redbridge support from the main stand. Thanks
to Scott Morris for this picture, follow Scott on Twitter,
A massive well done to the 126 Daggers that travelled up. I personally think that's superb support from a team that's near the bottom, especially when you consider that Crewe is a long 'ole poke!

Crewe Alexandra: Phillips, Tootle, Davis, Artell, Dugdale, Westwood, Murphy, Moore, Powell, Lowry, Pearson. Subs: Martin, Shelley, Mellor, Leitch-Smith, Clayton.

Crewe showed just one change from the side that defeated Oxford a week previous. Burton Albion loanee Greg Pearson coming in to start in place of homegrown player Danny Shelley, this would see Crewe go for a more attacking line up I believe. My main worry was Nick Powell, touted as the next big thing to come from this production club, he tormented us in the game at Victoria Road in October and I was sure he'd do the same again.

Dagenham & Redbridge: Lewington, Ogogo, Doe, Spillane, Femi, Abdulla, Bingham, Green, Montano, Woodall, Nurse. Subs: Hogan, Arber, Cunnington, Wearen, Rose.

The Daggers made a couple of changes from the side that were beaten 5-0 in the week against Millwall in the FA Cup. Richard Rose & Danny J Green were both out of the team, which meant Daggers hero Woodall was recalled following a knock & Montano started after being unavailable in the cup in midweek. This saw the Daggers go 4-3-3 once more, with Woodall & Montano joining Nurse to complete a front three.

We then moved from the clubhouse through to the stadium itself, where our tickets were checked. Maybe they thought we had counterfeits due to the high demand in tickets for this game? We went straight through the turnstiles with no problems and it was then on to taste Crewe's cuisine. I opted for the hot dog at £2.90 and it wasn't half bad! We then finally made it through to see the stadium itself.

Gresty Road Main Stand
Each stand just doesn't fit. The main stand is massive, it accommodates 6809 spectators, that's more than the whole of Victoria Road combined. It's a fantastic stand and one that if Crewe go up in the near future, will be 3/4 full every game I would have thought. The two ends look completely out of place. They're both very small and the Wulvern House End only had about five people sitting in it. I assume that it's closed off as there's not enough demand for tickets.

We were in the Blue Bell BMW Stand. To quote Ray Wilkins, I have to say, what a marvellous view we were given. Arguably the best view of the game in the stadium and there was more than enough space for us to spread our legs, both metaphorically and physically. The only problem was the glaring sun in our eyes, which meant it was hands above eyes so we could see the game in the first half. So far, I was very impressed with Crewe, the forgotten home of football.

Enough with my ramblings, the teams came out at roughly 15:00, thanks to Crewes giant corner clock for letting me know. Good applause from three sides of the ground as the Sun glared down on us some more. Whoever won the toss (I can't remember) opted to stay the way we were. At this point, the away contingent were all here and we had a fantastic turnout. For a side that's near the bottom taking 126 away to a game where we were destined to get nothing, despite our 100% record against Steve Davis' men, I thought that was admirable.

The game started quite slow as you may expect, however it was the prodigy that got the first shot away. Nick Powell was handed the ball just outside the Daggers box, but his speculative effort went just over the bar, causing Lewington between the sticks no problems. We then had a lull in play for the next ten minutes as the game reverted to more of a midfield battle, very few chances as yet.

Crewe restart.
 However on the 16 minute mark, came a somewhat unlikely breakthrough. A poor clearance from defender David Artell meant the ball went straight to Brian Woodall. He came in from an angle before slotting it into the far corner. I have to say, that ball took an eternity to make the net ripple, but ripple it did. I couldn't believe it, jubilation amongst Daggers fans as God had scored again!

Match Action
 The game then sprung to life, becoming a lot more end to end. From the kick off Luke Murphy, no relation to myself, went for another speculative effort, but this one went wide of the post. Up the other end on 20 minutes & Jon Nurse dispossessed his opponent before going to the byline and putting a ball in towards the back post. It found Dom Green, he took a single touch and fired his shot towards the near post, forcing Phillips into a fine save which put the ball out for a corner. Green's corner was cleared with ease, meaning the danger was averted for now.

Chief tormentor Nick Powell then forced a fine save from Lewington inside the box, Lewy being made to palm it away for a corner kick to Crewe. The first half was very frantic, but the Daggers were impressing against a decent Crewe side, not only were we 1-0 up, we were holding a good shape in a fast paced encounter. However, someone then put a kiss of death on the result. An anonymous person behind me shouted, "lets hold out until half time", two things wrong with this. Number one, this obviously meant we would concede before the break. Number two, I'd rather hold out until full time.

Crewe celebrate
 Sure enough, on 42 minutes Crewe found an all important equaliser. On loan Chesterfield midfielder Jamie Lowry hit a ball into the box following a free kick on the far side. Club captain Jamie Artell managed to knock it down unmarked, which allowed Greg Pearson to steal in and fire past Lewington into the far corner to equalise. Another case of slack marking and not enough alertness in the box. Who knows what could have happened if we'd have hung on until half time.

That was effectively the last play of the half, so in a half despondent and half upbeat mood I headed for the snack bar to indulge in another hot dog. I was very pleased with the shape and the performance so far, just another piece of slack marking had let us down. I thought everyone was playing well, in particular Femi, Spillane, Montano & Woodall. Spillane in particular was looking composed on the ball in tight situations. Sometimes you can forget that he's only 22, he plays with maturity beyond his years and that's needed in such an inexperienced side.

Woodall & Montano.
 The teams came out for the second half in a game that was hanging in the balance, who would take the spoils or would it be a draw!? Neither manager made a change at half time so it was "as you were" regarding the teams. The first chance of the second half fell to Greg Pearson who's half hearted shot was blocked well by the recovering Nurse. Just after that on 54 minutes, the Daggers broke forward. Some neat skill from Woodall allowed Montano to cut inside and hit a shot that was saved well once more by Phillips.

Crewe were then beginning to get on top in the game, Pearson coming close again with a shot that went inches wide of the far post. Then came the most horrendous thing of the afternoon. A section of the Crewe support singing "Blue moon." People say the Poznan is cringey, this just takes the biscuit. They also began to sing, "we shall not be moved." This was rather pointless as no one was trying to move them. I've said it many a time, where would this Blog be without sarcasm?

The Alex then came remarkably close to taking the lead once more. Ashley Westwood put in a corner from the near side which found the head of Harry Davis who could only head it over. Straight up the other end and it was the Daggers who had their first attempt of the half. I'm pretty sure it was Dominic Green down the right hand side who drove a long ball along the floor of the box. It only needed a touch and it would have gone in, however no one stuck their foot out, meaning the excellent opportunity passed us by.

Match Action
Then came a double Daggers change. Brian Woodall who was probably still feeling his knock that he picked up in the week, was replaced by Adam Cunnington who I was excited about. His first piece of action was knocking on a ball with his head to no one which was greeted by fist shaking and "words" from some of the support. John Still then introduced Eoin Wearen to make the midfield more rigid, withdrawing Dominic Green, who has lacked consistency in the last few games.

Then disaster struck. Abu Ogogo played the ball back to Chris Lewington who was standing in the centre of the goalmouth. As he done it, I said "oh no." You can guess what happened next. The ball bobbled over Lewington's foot and rolled agonisingly into the back of the net. Lewington wanted the ground to swallow him up and so did I. This just personified our luck this season, non existent. From being so overjoyed an hour ago, we were now frustrated and in disbelief. Credit to Spillane who went over and had a word with Lewy, it's one of those things and it happens to every goalkeeper. That made it 2-1 Crewe and now we had it all to do for the umpteenth time this season. On a side note, the wind may have had an impact. It certainly did with Lewy's kicking in the first half and I wonder whether the wind gave the ball momentum.

Straight away the Daggers were trying to amend the scoreline. The ball was headed back to Phillips in the Crewe goal by a defender, but it didn't quite reach him. Jon Nurse was like his former self, roaring onto a lost cause and he managed to make contact with the ball, flicking it over the 'stopper. The ball fell just outside the box, Nursey cut in and unleashed a shot that was blocked superbly by Tootle for a corner. Cunnington was square, bemoaning Nurse for not playing it across for him to tap into an emptyish net. You can't blame Nurse there though, any player would have done the same.

Adam Cunnington then thought he'd scored, as did I. A cross came in along the floor and he produced a clever back flick, akin to the one Matt Ritchie scored with against Leicester a few years back. Steve Phillips was having none of it and produced a superb reflex save to prevent the ball trickling in, so harsh on Cunnington who so nearly opened his Daggers account.

Crewe celebrate once more.
The Alex then put the game out of sight. Resident free kick taker Jamie Lowry stuck one in beautifully towards the back post which found the head of Liverpool born Adam Dugdale who headed home into the far corner to seal the win. This one was Chris Lewingtons fault. He raced out to try and collect the ball, but ultimately failed in his attempts to do so, and ended up stranded, allowing Dugdale to finish with ease. My one criticism of Lewington other than his kicking is his decision making, it's something that needs to be improved and I'm sure that over time he will rectify it.

Steve Davis then decided to waste some time by making a substitution. Greg Pearson who has become a favourite amongst Creweites was replaced by Ajay Leitch-Smith with just minutes left to play. A welcome return to football for him after a few games out with an injury. Minutes later and the home side added a fourth to ensure their winning streak extended to three games. The ball was played to Nick Powell who chipped it over Lewington and into the back of the net. Cue an exodus from Daggers supporters and a load of Crewe fans bobbing up and down, much to my displeasure.

Nick Powell.

That was the final act of the game and the final score was, Crewe Alexandra 4-1 Dagenham & Redbridge. The scoreline flattered Crewe somewhat, but they probably deserved their win upon reflection. We retained a good shape up until their second and then it went a bit pear shaped, quite literally in some cases. We had a good period of pressure when we were 2-1 behind, but unfortunately it didn't warrant the deserved goal and all credit to Crewe, they put us to the sword for their first ever victory against us.

The players all shook hands and then our lot came over to clap the 20 or so that had stuck around after the final whistle. Many of us gave a shout to Lewy, a superb 'keeper who just wasn't at the races so to speak yesterday afternoon. With that, we headed out of the ground and departed for the depressing trip home as the darkness began to descend upon East Cheshire. What made the journey even more depressing? Discovering that Gavin Tomlin had scored twice for Gillingham. He scores 2 in 40 games for us and then gets 2 in 40 minutes for them. That just about sums everything up at the moment.

Mickey Spillane.
A few players that probably deserve a bit of a mention. Mickey Spillane, our most composed player on the ball by far, he was eager to play it on the deck and we looked positive when we did. Someone said about giving him a try in midfield as he is very composed on the ball. Not only would this mean a more experienced head in the midfield, it would enable Mark Arber to come back in to partner Scott Doe. A pairing that worked so well last season.

Adam Cunnington looked very good when brought on. His neat flick deserved a goal and he looks like he could be a good player for us in the coming weeks, either as a substitute or as a starter. Billy Bingham was getting stuck in once more, I imagine he's one of the first names on the teamsheet at the moment, very consistent and like Spillane he's playing with maturity beyond his years.

Femi was also very composed and calm on the ball yesterday. He was solid at left back and kept the Crewe wingers under wraps for the majority of the game, he's come on bundles from last season and I'm fairly sure he will be playing at a higher level in the future.

As for Crewe, Pearson, Powell & Tootle really impressed me. Powell needs no introduction, he really impressed me at our place and he carried on where he'd left off yesterday. I hope he goes on to have a fantastic career, testament once more to you're superb youth policy. Crewe Alexandra, the real home of football?

So then, yet more encouraging signs from us, but encouraging signs are no longer enough. We need to start picking up points fast or face being relegated. Something that will damage the club both in the long term and the short term.

Next up is Torquay United away on Tuesday night. I won't be there, however we may have a guest report so keep your eyes peeled! The next game I'll be doing is Rotherham United at home next Saturday, the return of Scott Griffiths to these parts of Essex. I'll leave you with a few more pictures of the day.

Remember to follow me on Twitter Daggers Fans, Crewe Fans & General Fans, @NickDRFCMurphy.

Gresty Road.

The Alexandra Stadium


  1. From Wiki!
    Blue Moon is commonly recognised as the "Theme Tune" of Manchester City Football Club in British culture.
    The song is known to have been first sung by Crewe Alexandra fans in the 1980s.

  2. Blue Moon is officially Crewe Alexandra's song, it was first sung there and still is, Manchester City adopted it as theirs as well many years later.

  3. Cricket Hospitality
    Someone said about giving him a try in midfield as he is very composed on the ball. nice post thanx for sharing