Sunday, 8 January 2012

Daggers 0-0 Millwall, Taming The Lions

Dagenham & Redbridge earned a replay at The Den after a credible 0-0 draw at home to Millwall in the FA Cup 3rd round. This also means the Daggers will be in the 4th Round draw live on ITV tomorrow for the first time in around 10 years.

Pre match and I was actually rather confident, we were unbeaten in five games, whilst Millwall had won just one in six I believe, moreover their away form had been far from spectacular. Add to that it's "The Magic Of The Cup", a potential upset was definitely on the cards! I have to admit, I've never seen so many police down Victoria Road, but such as the magnitude of the match I suppose they were needed. I got my ticket checked by a steward who made sure it wasn't a counterfeit before heading through the turnstiles at around 12:30. The Sieve was pretty much heaving as one of Dan Campbell's photo's from the day will tell you.

The teams were then announced as follows,

Dagenham & Redbridge: Lewington, Ogogo, Spillane, Doe, Femi, Wearen, Bingham, Abdulla, Nurse, Woodall, Green. Subs: Hogan, Rose, Arber, McCrory, Edmans, Reed, DJ Green.

The Daggers were without Kevin Maher after he broke his metatarsal against Southend in the last game meaning West Ham loanee Eoin Wearen came in to replace him. Cristian Montano was cup tied which enabled his fellow Hammers team mate Ahmed Abdulla to replace him after joining on loan along with Wearen this week. Abu Ogogo was back in the side at his natural position of right back meaning Richard Rose had to be content with a place on the bench. Mark Arber managed to get a place on the bench upon his return for injury, whilst Rob Edmans, Jake Reed & Damien McCrory were also amongst the seven subs after also returning from various injuries.

Millwall: Mildenhall, Dunne, Robinson, Barron, Ward, Smith, Trotter, Henry, Feeney, Marquis, Kane. Subs: Forde, Craig, Bouazza, McQuiod, Abdou, Wright, Batt.

Millwall welcomed back Scott Barron after missing out in the defeat against Bristol City in midweek, meaning that Tony Craig dropped to the bench. Defender Darren Ward also came back in to replace on loan Aston Villa player Shane Lowry who couldn't have had clearance from his parent side to play in the competition. There was also a straight swap in midfield as James Henry replaced Hamer Bouzza. The final change was the Marquis of Millwall replacing brother of Mark Wright, Josh Wright up front.

The ground began to fill up rapidly and that's when it hit me. The Millwall fans had come in fancy dress; as coppers. I can honestly say I've never seen so many of the old bill, there must have been over 50, some in riot gear "containing" the Millwall supporters. Always better to be safe than sorry eh?!

The teams did eventually come out to a rapturous round of applause, all four sides of the ground looked full to the brim, the Sieve was very lacking in space! Millwall won the toss and chose to change around, meaning the Daggers would be facing the Bury Road End in the opening 45, whilst Millwall would be attacking their own fans. A very apt statement considering Millwall's reputation. It was all geared up for a potential giant killing, the Sieve was so packed that the stewards didn't even allow people up the far end as there were too many people! How on earth our ground holds 6000 or so I will never know.

Daggers vs Millwall
 Millwall of the Championship started the brighter, Henry & Tottenham youngster Harry Kane testing Lewington, but no real problems caused. Kenny Jackett's men were enjoying the bulk of the possession as it was a case of the Daggers showing their higher ranked opponents slightly too much respect. The Lions continued their pressure by forcing a corner which was cleared well by Woodall, the Daggers in form player at the moment. At this stage the travelling fans launched into a rendition of their well known "hum", I honestly don't know what else to describe it as.

A quarter of an hour played and the Daggers launched their first attack of the contest. Millwall tried to play the ball out, but it was intercepted by Femi who has shown vast improvement from last season. He then drove at the Millwall defence who all stood off him, before launching a powerful shot from about 25 yards out which cleared Mildenhall's crossbar. A good attempt from the youngster who's yet to net his first goal for John Still's men. When it comes though, you can be sure that there will be mass celebration from the Sieve.

Millwall then came dangerously close to taking the lead. Another James Henry corner on 20 minutes, found the unmarked captain Paul Robinson who could only contrive to head wide of the mark. I for one thought it was in, but thankfully his glancing header just didn't go in the right direction. Minutes later and Liam Feeney who was getting booed every time he received the ball broke into Chris Lewingtons area. Feeney who nearly signed for the Daggers years ago, should have really got his effort on target, but he hammered it into the side netting, much to Lewingtons relief. Harry Kane then came close in another phase of play, but he could only direct his header over the bar. Thirty minutes played and Millwall were enjoying far more of the ball and the better of the chances.

Daggers Free Kick
 Dagenham & Redbridge then began to get themselves into the game and force some shots on the goal. The first was from loan player Ahmed Abdulla, who had been relatively anonymous for the previous 35 minutes. His shot from outside of the box went wide of the mark, a speculative effort, but one that got the pulses racing somewhat. The Daggers then managed to earn themselves a free kick after a poor challenge from a Millwall player about 30 yards out. Dominic Green stepped over the ball and smashed it high over the bar in Gavin Tomlinesque fashion. I can't help but feel he probably should have crossed the ball, a number of our players have good aerial ability, a good chance gone begging.

Minutes later & the Daggers got another chance from a dead ball situation. This time Brian Woodall & Mickey Spillane both hung over the ball which was in a much more central position. Former Gresley man Woodall stepped up to take it, he didn't get enough power behind the shot and it was gathered easily by Mildenhall. The final attempt of the half was just before the whistle went, Abdulla trying to curl one into the bottom corner, however it went wide of the mark meaning the sides went in 0-0 at the break.

Overall, a very mediocre first 45, but I was quite happy to go into the break at level pegging. Millwall had dominated the early stages as we'd shown them far too much respect, but after the 30 minute mark it was all Dagenham. We were attacking them just as John Still said we would, true to his word once more. The loan players gradually got into the game more and more, Abdulla getting a few half chance shots away whilst Wearen looked composed on the ball, nearly threading several passes through to the strikers, however they were just over hit. Billy Bingham was looking like the main man once more, his energy and speed of closing down in the middle was superb. Femi & Spillane were also having good games at the back, managing to keep the Millwall attackers & wingers at bay.

Millwall Kick Off
 The second half started with a very fast pace. Jon Nurse nearly nipping in, to get the ball past Mildenhall before being flagged for offside. It wouldn't have mattered as Nurse's prodded effort was saved by the chest of the former Southend stopper. Minutes later however and the Daggers had the best chance of the match so far. A ball was played back to Mildenhall between the sticks which was chased down by Woodall, the 'keeper fluffed his kick thanks to a bobble which allowed Woodall to nip in. Unfortunately the ball was right on the byline, meaning Woodall could only cross the ball into the box, but unbelievably no one was there to slot it in to an open net. A superb chance for the Daggers and one that shouldn't have really been wasted. Great work by Woodall once more.

The game was now becoming more end to end and John Marquis nearly gave the Lions a goal lead. He got down the left hand side before dribbling into the box where he let fly a fierce shot that hit Lewingtons side netting. A stupid decision to try and fit it in near post, when going for a shot towards the far post would have been a far better option. From Lewingtons goal kick Jon Nurse won a corner up the other end after smashing the ball of an opponents shin. The ball came in from the near side and found Spillane unmarked at the back post whose first time volley was blocked well by a defender. The ball came out to him for a second crack, another shot, but this time it was palmed behind by Mildenhall to avert the danger. The closest the Daggers had came so far. Brian Woodall then came close minutes later from inside the box, but his shot went just past the post.

It was then Millwall's turn to attack once more. Former Wolves defender Darren Ward putting a shot over the bar from a corner when he really should have done better. Just after that on 57 minutes, Scott Barron hit a shot that went just wide of the post to jangle the Daggers fans nerves once more as Millwall came back into the game. Kenny Jackett then made his first change of the game, Hamer Bouazza coming on for Liam Feeney. A change which surprised me a bit to say the least. Just after the sub Millwall squandered the best chance of the game so far. Some good work by Barron down the left saw him put a delightful ball in which found Liam Trotter. Like the plonker he is, the unmarked Trotter could only direct the ball over the bar when he really should have found the back of the net. We were seriously riding our luck here.

Mickey Spillane.
John Still then made his first change of the afternoon. West Ham youngster Eoin Wearen who had a slightly anonymous debut, was replaced by Jake Reed who had been out with various injuries for two or three months. Brian Woodall was then hauled down as he was heading towards goal which resulted in a yellow card for the captain of Millwall, Paul Robinson. From the resulting free kick the Daggers nearly scored, Jon Nurse knocked it down and just as Jake Reed was lurking to turn it in, a Millwall defender done well to get it away and set up a potential counter attack. 'Wall then made their second change of the match as they were seemingly going for the win. Former Bournemouth striker Josh McQuoid replaced Marquis who had been involved in a lot of the action all afternoon. (Mickey Spillane challanging for the ball, right)

On 70 minutes Jon Nurse came close once more, but could only hook his shot above the bar and onto the roof of the net, much to our disappointment. I have to admit, I wasn't impressed with Nursey at all. He seems to have lost that energy and willingness to hunt down defenders that made him a hit last season. Too many people are afraid to criticise him and I know it's a big call to make, but unless he seriously improves in the second half of the season I'm beginning to wonder if he'll be at Victoria Road next season.

Minutes later and Millwall had a very good shout for a penalty in my opinion. Liam Trotter went down when challenged in the box and my first instincts were that it was a penalty, luckily however, Mr Salisbury didn't agree with me and didn't give anything. Chris Lewington picked the ball up and smashed it up field, I personally thought we'd really got away with one there! Straight back up the other end and Billy Bingham managed to get two shots away, both of which were blocked after Jake Reed went on a great run from inside the centre circle.

Kenny Jackett then made their final sub of the encounter. Harry Kane who had been a bit of a nuisance although it may not seem like it from reading my report, was replaced by former Dagger, lanky Shaun Batt. It was infact Batt who nearly won the game as we edged closer to the final whistle. He got down the left hand side and fooled Spillane before cutting inside and running into the box. His attempt on goal was blocked by the head of Scott Doe, which saw it go out for a throw in on the far side. The final shot of the game was by Ahmed Abdulla who was down the right hand side, he shimmied before hitting a purler which went wide of the post, when playing the ball to an unmarked Woodall beside him would have been a far better decision.

The final whistle blew and a great cheer went up from the Sieve, we'd managed to hold Championship side Millwall to a very credible draw, moreover we'd reconvene at the Den in a week or so's time to do battle once more. Another ground for many of us to tick off and it should be a very interesting experience.

Today I was very impressed with a few individuals. Firstly, Femi. I gave this lad so much stick last year, but I've been made to eat my words tenfold with his superb performances this season. He made several fantastic challenges in the game and was brilliantly composed at the back and going forward, my man of the match and I have to say this lad will go far. Mickey Spillane was also superb, the centre half pairing he's forged with Scott Doe is rock solid and I have to say to Mark Arber, it's going to be very hard for you to get back into the team sir!

Another one that impressed me was Billy Bingham, you all know of my love for the midfield maestro and once again he had a top draw performance. He was the central figure in the midfield and he ran the show once more, the engineroom and he didn't stop all day, another superb individual performance from the former Crystal Palace trainee. Dominic Green was deadly on the wing, a real key player for us. His trickery bamboozled the Millwall defenders on many occasions and he's not shy of a shot, if we're to win at the Den on Tuesday week, I feel Dom will be the man that gets us the goal.

Of the rest, Abdulla got into the game as it went on and he looked very composed on the ball, when he sorts out his judgement he'll be a better player. He's young though and it was his first game with us, it's to be expected at the end of the day. Jake Reed also impressed me when he came on, troubling defenders significantly and he was unlucky to slip at the last moment when running through on goal. A good return from injury.

Also a word to the police and stewards, they done a superb job with stopping any trouble that may have occurred. I personally thought there may have been a few too many, and the police helicopter hovering overhead was a little to much, but they done very well and they should be credited so well done to them.

Next up for us is Hereford United at home once more next Saturday, a somewhat unusual 15:00 kick off after all of these different times recently. We then go to The New Den a week on Tuesday subject to TV coverage for the replay, to find out who plays, *insert name here.*

A thank you to Daniel Campbell who let us use several of his pictures to make the Blog more interesting. Follow me on Twitter, @NickDRFCMurphy. Thanks for reading and I'll address you again next week!

1 comment:

  1. Was I the only one in the sieve wearing daggers colours yesterday? They aren't indestructible robots you know.I took some pics and they had old ladies and children in the MJ stand,hardly football factory.Good game, we did well.Who's going to the den? or are you all scared ?