Sunday, 15 January 2012

Daggers 0-1 Hereford, Bulls Hit Daggers

Dagenham & Redbridge went down to a demoralising 1-0 defeat to Hereford United to put an end to a run of six games unbeaten in all competitions, which now leaves us level on points with both Northampton & Plymouth in the relegation zone. There's a few choice words to describe the performance yesterday, lacklustre, uninspiring, indifferent, however there's a subliminal message in the title of this post that could aptly describe it.

 Pre match, myself and a flock of fellow Daggers were very confident of getting a result against the Bulls, with all due respect to our opponents, this is a game we should be winning going by recent performances. I arrived at the ground unusually early to purchase tickets for the Millwall cup tie on Tuesday night at The Den, a game we have a real chance in following their 6-0 thumping at home to Birmingham City yesterday.

I heard the teams rather early and even caught a glimpse of them warming up for a change, here was how they started:

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

The only change was the inclusion of Montano after being cup tied last weekend, this meant that fellow West Ham loan star Eoin Wearen dropped to the bench. The bench included two defenders which was quite surprising for me, but the threat of Jake Reed to call upon is very encouraging to have.

Hereford United: Bartlett, Townsend, Purdie, Stam, Evans, Pell, Featherstone, Clist, Arquin, Facey, Colbeck. Subs: Cornell, Lunt, Clucas, Barkhuizen, Elder.

Benoit Dalibard was unavailable for Jamie Pitman due to suspension, so Harry Pell came in to replace him at the back. Nicky Featherstone also came back into the side which meant that Tom Barkhuizen had to be content with a place on the bench, but he would undoubtedly be a threat if introduced. My main fear was Johan Arquis who has been touted as Hereford's next Manset, one that will go on and ply his trade in a higher division.

The Sieve Pre Match.
 The teams came out to a decent level of applause, but by no means was it near the same atmosphere that we experienced against Millwall last weekend. It's funny how you lose around 300 supporters when you're not involved in a game against a bigger club isn't it? After the toss, for the first time in god knows how long we wouldn't be swapping ends. The Daggers would be attacking the 187 Hereford fans who had made the trip to this corner of Essex, whilst the Bulls would be facing the Bury Road End first off.

The Daggers Line Up
 If you arrived in the ground after 10 minutes, you would have been thankful as the opening was as poor as they come. A very scrappy start to the contest with just a Dom Green pot shot to really talk about, made for a very subdued atmosphere in the Sieve. Just before the 15 minute mark and finally something to really talk about. Abu Ogogo worked the ball well down the right hand side before crossing it in to Montano who couldn't quite rise high enough to direct the ball goalwards. As a result it skimmed off of his head, enabling it to go out for a throw in on the far side.

Minutes later and the Daggers began to threaten once more. We gained a free kick on the right hand side which was taken by Dominic Green, who delivered a well flighted ball which found the head of Brian Woodall who had managed to lose his marker. His header from just inside the box was blocked well by a Hereford defender to avert the danger. Hereford then managed to get their first "shot" of the match away. A clearance from inside the box fell to Nicky Featherstone who could only slice his shot horribly wide of the mark. An attempt which summed up the quality of the game so far.

Scott Doe receives treatment
 The Daggers then had a chance to open the scoring. Jon Nurse was brought down outside the area about, 25 yards from goal which meant Mr Rushton gave a free kick. First over the ball was Mickey Spillane who scored a corker at Burton a month ago, this time his effort was well saved by Bartlett between the sticks. Hereford danger man Arquin then tried his luck on the 30 minute mark, wetting his appetite by shooting over the bar. Then came a moment of worry for the Daggers as Scott Doe went down seemingly clutching his knee, but after some treatment from John Gowens he got back up and ran it off.

The Daggers then began to look like the dominant team, with Woodall laying in a ball to Montano, but the loan star was tackled superbly by Clist to clear the danger once more. No real clear cut opportunities as yet, but John Still's men were probably slightly more pioneering in what they were trying to create.

So, with my analysis of the Daggers having the advantage, what do you think happened next? Corner from the far side taken by Joe Colbeck found the head of the unmarked Arquin who jumped at the chance and nodded the ball home into the bottom corner. Dagenham & Redbridge 0-1 Hereford United. I've been very critical of our marking of late and once again, one of our main frailties was highlighted. Arquin was able to head home unmarked, something that seriously needs to be worked on in training if you ask me.

That was really the final chance of the half, unless you want to include a good Dom Green ball in which couldn't find anyones head. Just before the break, the Bulls made a substitution for what must have been an injury. Simon Clist who was playing pretty well, was replaced by 21 year old Sam Clucas. The referee blew for half time and mumbles and groans rang around after a degenerate and lucklustre opening 45. It probably should have been level pegging, but the Bulls were ahead thanks to slack marking.

Half time flashed by as the dark began to descend around the ground and the teams came back out onto the pitch to restart the second half. This half started much like the first, very bland and tasteless, if you could compare it to a food, it would be porridge. Lacking in quality and everyone was beginning to turn their nose up at it. The first real opportunity came about 15 minutes into the second half, Montano dancing round a couple of players, but he was unable to get his shot away. He played the ball out wide to Green who was making an overlapping run, but his ball was gathered well by Bartlett to calm the situation.

The game then turned scrappy in the area following a decent Jon Nurse cross into the box which found the head of Woodall who directed it at Bartlett. The Hereford stopper palmed it out and it fell to Montano who looked like he was pulled down. The Daggers players and fans alike appealed for the penalty, but nothing was given and Montano went down for treatment as he had picked up a knock in the fracar. Safe to say, the referee was now a universally hated figure around the ground.

On 70 minutes we witnessed a change by both managers. The first was by Hereford, the potentially dangerous Tom Barkhuizen, coming on for Joe Colbeck who had been quite anonymous throughout the match, more so in the second half when the Bulls were stuck up their own end. Then John Stills change. Jake Reed replacing Jon Nurse who had been largely ineffective once more. Now, I've been a critic of Nursey and I do believe he should be dropped soon, not at the moment as we have a rather inexperienced bench; however the people that cheered when he was subbed should be ashamed. You don't cheer when one of your players is taken off, feel relieved by all means, but how do you expect him to improve if that's how you greet his departure?

To be perfectly honest, from there on in, not much really happened. The Daggers best chance fell to Mickey Spillane on about 85 minutes, he trapped the ball inside the box and when everyone was urging him to shoot, he decided to try and be clever and back heel it to someone. A stupid decision, when a pot shot that could have taken a deflection would have been a much better option. Eoin Wearen also replaced Billy Bingham before the game had finished, but to no avail. Not even a late Brian Woodall could find the back of the net so Hereford went home happy, whilst the Sieve groaned their way home.

It was an absolutely torrid performance. I've experienced us having no fight at Bristol Rovers and that horror show away at MK Dons in the league last season, but this really took the biscuit for me. On our own doorstep it simply wasn't good enough. We've played superb in the last month or so, and in the one game where we really needed to pick up points, we couldn't even muster a clear cut chance. Not impressed in the slightest and I thoroughly hope we improve for the trip to South London in midweek.

As for Hereford, credit to them. They rode out the least fiercest storm in history to come away with three deserved points to take home. The Bulls were poor to be honest, but if they were poor, what did that make us? Slack marking the difference in the end, but take nothing away from them.

Mickey Spillane
 Only a few players can come out of that shambles with respect. Billy Bingham, the main player now in our midfield. Mickey Spillane, I thought he worked well at the back alongside Scott Doe. Brian Woodall & Dominic Green don't deserve much criticism either, Dom wasn't given enough of the ball and Brian has the old adage in favour of him. "A striker is only as good as the service he's given."

Kevin Maher, Peter Gain & Josh Scott are three big misses for us if we're all honest, they each bring qualities to the team that are vitally needed. We're in this battle until the end of the season, so you best buckle your seat belts, because we're in for one hell of a bumpy ride.

Next up is Millwall away in the FA Cup in midweek, whilst we're away at Crewe in the league next Saturday. I'll be at both of those and hopefully I'll be able to report back with some good news.

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