Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Southend 1-1 Daggers, The Woodall That Ends All.

Dagenham & Redbridge started 2012 with an action packed 1-1 draw at Roots Hall against Southend United. A game in which the Daggers really should have won.

The day started by getting the bus to Barking station before meeting up with the Horan's yet again. Once there, I purchased my train ticket and jumped on the C2C to Southend Central after a brief 15 minute wait at the station. The journey flew by and we arrived just after 14:00. We then endured a 10 minute walk down Southend high street before arriving at Roots Hall just after 14:10.

First impressions, a bit shabby really. I know our ground isn't paradise before someone reminds me, but from the outside, the concrete wall that is visible actually looks as though it had been pounded by waves for years on end. Not only that, but it was that dated, that algae was beginning to grow on it! This ground is a major jumble of features. It had the old floodlights that are commonly associated with the 70's, but then in contrast they have brand new laser ticket readers. This was a new experience for me and one that luckily passed without a hitch. To get to the stand we had to go up a few steps before walking through a little corridor where the food bar was, interestingly this was a genuine cafe. Something else completely new.

The Andrews Taxi Stand beginning to fill up.
First impressions of the stadium as you walk out, quite compact and it was obviously very capable of producing a good atmosphere. Pictures of all the stands of the ground are posted at the bottom of this Blog. The Daggers were housed in the Andrews Taxi Stand, at first when we arrived, there was only a quarter of the stand opened; more on that later. I'd heard that the legroom in the stand was appalling and I'd heard right. As someone that's 6ft+, I'm a good tester for leg room at stadiums and this was very poor, although I could squeeze in at a push! The stand began to fill up and when there was ten minutes to go until kick off, the stewards opened another quarter of the stand. We now had half of it!

It quickly began to fill up and the area we were allocated was completely full with only one or two spare seats available. The remaining time up until kick off was spent having a laugh at Dave Hogan; the Daggers stalwart who was "warming up" between the sticks. The teams eventually came out to a good round of applause and they were as follows.

Southend United: Daniels, Clohessy, Phillips, Prosser, Leonard, Barker, Hall, Grant, Timlin, Dickinson, Benyon. Subs: Morris, Ferdinand, Kalala, Harris, Sturrock.

The Teams Line Up.
 Paul Sturrock made one change from the side that thrashed AFC Wimbledon last weekend, with new signing Elliot Benyon replacing Neil Harris who had to be content with a spot on the bench. The bench also showed a couple of changes with Harris being on there, meaning that Alex Woodyard dropped out of the squad completely. Furthermore Jean Paul Kalala was recalled to be a sub, meaning that there was no place for Graham Coughlan. A very attacking bench.

Dagenham & Redbridge: Lewington, Femi, Doe, Spillane, Rose, Green, Maher, Bingham, Montano, Nurse, Woodall. Subs: Hogan, Geohaghan, Cunnington, Elito, DJ Green.

John Still was forced into one change, Billy Bingham replaced Peter Gain who missed out through injury; a lay off that is thought to keep the Irishman out for 4-6 weeks. The bench was exactly the same as the one that watched on as the Daggers defeated Gillingham last Friday night.

Sammy The err Shrimp!
 The match began with the Daggers attacking the Southend fans, whilst the Shrimpers would be facing us in the Andrews Taxi Stand. On that note, their mascot is by far the weirdest in the league, it definitely did not look like a shrimp! Sturrocks' men started the brighter, pinging a ball in the box from the off before having a shot from new signing Elliot Benyon blocked by Mickey Spillane. The Daggers then went straight up the other end and nearly scored when a Brian Woodall ball in should have found a head, but it was cleared. A fast paced start to the game and the Daggers were winning the "fan battle" by making far more noise than their Essex counterparts.

Southend then began to slowly drift into the game, getting the majority of their joy down the left hand side with tricky winger Ryan Hall. However it was the Daggers who came close to opening the scoring on 10 minutes when a close range shot from Billy Bingham was blocked on the line by Chris Barker. Another couple of minutes later and yet another fantastic cross from Brian Woodall found the head of Jon Nurse who could only contrive to head wide. A fantastic chance and one that Nursey should have scored, he's now without a goal since that wonder strike against Walsall exactly a month ago.

On the twenty minute mark John Still was forced into a substitution. Kevin Maher picked up a knock a couple of minutes previous and had not shaken it off, so he was replaced by Exodus "Donkey" Geohaghan. This basically meant that Bingham had to take control of the midfield as I didn't have particularly much faith in Exodus I'm afraid. I've also learnt that Kevin suffered a broken metatarsal meaning he'll be out for some time once again. A seriously big loss in my opinion.

Dagenham & Redbridge were still on top and had another fantastic chance just after the substitution. This time Jon Nurse made good ground down the right hand side, before putting in a ball to the back stick which found Montano who's header was a carbon copy of Nurseys; going wide of the near post. A positive start from us and we really should have found ourselves ahead, Southend hadn't even mustered an attempt as yet. On 28 minutes Billy Bingham tried his luck once more from outside the area, but dragged his tame shot wide of the post giving West Brom loanee Luke Daniels no concerns.

Southend then came dangerously close to opening the scoring. A well worked free kick from outside the area fooled all of the Daggers defence, but not Scott Doe. The ball was played to Michael Timlin or Ryan Leonard, whoever it was, hit across the ball. The original shot looked as though it was flying into the Daggers fans, however Doe's block diverted the ball towards goal and above Lewington. Luckily it landed on the crossbar and bounced out for a corner, much to everyone's relief. From the resulting corner defender Mark Phillips could only manage to direct the ball wide of the mark with his head.

Southend Celebrate
 It was I regret to say, Southend United who took the lead in sensational fashion. The ball came out to Michael Timlin on 37 minutes and with one sweet strike, he volleyed the ball into the bottom corner of the net from 25 yards, leaving Lewington no chance. A spectacular goal, albeit against the run of play. We seem to have terrible luck with teams scoring amazing goals against us. Connor Hourihane for Plymouth another one that springs to mind. Southend were now 1-0 up and their fans who had been quiet for the previous 40 minutes or so, suddenly woke up.

Just before half time, Sean Clohessy put in a great ball which found the head of Liam Dickinson who could only head over. A fantastic chance to double the home side's lead, but it wasn't taken. The Daggers final chance of the half was from now cult hero Brian Woodall who could only find the body of Luke Prosser who blocked with ease. That was the final action of the first 45 so the teams went in. Southend United held a somewhat undeserved lead at the interval thanks to a scorcher of a strike from Timlin who was playing the last game of his loan spell from Swindon Town.

The Teams Goes In At The Break
 Despite being a goal behind, I was satisfied with our performance. We had been by far the better team and were causing several problems for the Shrimpers defence, the crucial thing was that we lacked a cutting edge. However I was confident that a chance would come in the second half that was too good to miss. Southends main threat was obvious, Ryan Hall. By far and away their best player, he was creating numerous chances for the strikers and leaving Daggers right back Richard Rose with no chance against his pace and trickery.

As for the half time entertainment at Roots Hall, pretty decent if I'm honest. They do a thing where a fan gets a chance to hit the crossbar and win a car, decent entertainment. I'm sure that you can all guess that the fan who was from Benfleet, did not manage to hit the bar and win the car. That was it really, no music on offer at all and the half time scores were very muffled. I've learned from "@Post_Daggers" on Twitter that they do not have a license to play music which is laughable. A club such as Southend do not have a license to play music, very poor.

The teams came back out for the second half as the dark began to descend on this part of Essex. The Daggers would now be attacking us whilst Southend would somewhat obviously be facing their own supporters in the two tiered South Stand. The first decent chance of the half fell to Southend, Liam Dickinson testing Lewington with a tame effort which barely stung the 'keepers palms.

Brian Woodall.
 It was just after 50 minutes that the Daggers had the best chance of the encounter so far. Captain Chris Barker ( no relation to Ronnie ), played a very slack ball out of the back that was intercepted superbly by Woodall. Former Gresley man Woodall got away from his man and went in on Daniels, just as we all thought he was about to pull the trigger, he unbelievably tried to play it across goal to Jon Nurse. Nursey tried his best but the defender got a toe on it and that enabled Daniels in goal to collect safely. Everyone was shocked and in dismay that Woodall didn't take the shot on himself. A player in such form and thriving with confidence tried to square it, it surprised me, but this could have been a sign of Woodall's naivety. Whilst he's established himself in our first time, we have to remember that he's still relatively new to the Football League and it really showed in this incident.

Paul Sturrocks men began to look worthy of their league position just after 60 minutes when they hit the Daggers defence with a barrage of crosses, mainly from their dangerman Ryan Hall. Luckily all were cleared or dealt with by Chris Lewington. They also began to play brief spells of neat football, something that was lacking from the game. Add to that they made their first change of the afternoon, Kane Ferdinand who has been looked at by several higher clubs, replaced Ryan Leonard who had an average game at best.

Match Action from Roots Hall.
 On 72 minutes the Daggers nearly made the breakthrough they so dearly deserved. Cristian Montano playing some neat football before flashing a shot wide of the near post and out of play for a goal kick. Then came an almighty scramble in the Southend box. A Jon Nurse shot was saved by Daniels who could only parry it to the byline. Brian Woodall who was in the thick of the action got to it first, he twisted his body before chipping a ball towards the back post which nearly found Montano. The Columbian contorted his body to try and bicycle kick it in, but he missed the ball completely and it went out for another goal kick. Surely it would have been easier to throw his head at it!

Southend then made a very attacking change on 80 minutes, veteran forward Neil Harris coming on for Elliot Benyon who enjoyed a rather anonymous debut. Sorry to be a kill joy with this one, but all of the chants today were great, but it made me laugh with "Millwall reject" for Harris. I know it was only tongue in cheek, but the man is something of a Millwall legend and therefore not a reject. Sarcasm or just being a general tosser by me, you decide.

It was all looking hopeless, we'd thrown everything bar the kitchen sink at Southend, but then, a bright spark cropped up from the midfield. Billy Bingham worked some space and fashioned a beautiful pass through to Brian Woodall, who took a single touch before slamming the ball home into the far corner. If he didn't have confidence earlier, he did now! The movement for the goal was superb and the finish even sweeter. We went absolutely barmy. The best noise I've ever heard from us, my sprite went flying and a couple of people got an elbow in the head to boot, but who cares! Woodall was over the moon, Stilly was over the moon and most important of all, us, the fans; were over the moon. Three minutes left and all to play for at Roots Hall.

The impetuous had turned straight from the kick off, it was now Southend with the momentum and the Daggers on the back foot. Tricky winger Ryan Hall who had been the bane of Richard Rose all afternoon beat him once more before slinging in a ball that found Dickinson. He took it down and shot, but luckily it was eaten up by Lewington to avert danger. Anthony Grant then quickly got on the attack and forced another save from Lewington who had been a bystander for the previous 89 minutes.

Just as four minutes of added time flashed up on the fourth officials board, Brian Woodall received a caution for reasons which I forget and to be perfectly honest I don't really care about. Southend piled on more late pressure and had a header that was going goalwards expertly blocked to deny them all three points. It was then up the other end as the Daggers got a free kick, Mickey Spillane curling that wide of the mark. Before finally, yes finally, after 94 minutes of pulsating, nerve jangling and unbelievable action; the referee called time on proceedings.

The game had finished 1-1 at Roots Hall and even Paul Sturrock admitted after the match that Southend deserved nothing from it. A supreme and dominant performance from the Daggers, if we had been more clinical then we would have won it. Infact we should have won it by at least two goals or more, but I'm satisfied with a point from it, and a very well deserved point at that.

Where shall I start with my assessment. Brian Woodall perhaps? An average game up until his strike which nicked a point, not only did he score but he won various knock downs to give opportunities to other players. At the end of the day, he done his job, he scored. Montano had a lively game and probably should have scored, but I'll forgive him. Nursey had a decent one, I was more impressed with his crossing than his shooting today as I don't believe he even had a shot. One of the touching things at the end was when we were all singing Brians name. He didn't have a clue what to do until Terry Harris turned to him and effectively said "enjoy it." So he did, coming over and high fiving the fans; superb stuff all round!

In midfield, Billy Bingham was sensational. I was ranting and raving about this man in pre season and he's living up to the bar I set him, a simply superb performance. Bundles of energy, chasing the ball and making tackles, add to that he has the eye for a clinical pass and a superb shot on him. I believe it was Mr Wilson who said he'll grow to be like our version of Marlon Pack, probably the smartest thing he's ever said. Dominic Green I haven't mentioned much but he caused problems for Southend; major problems. One of our best players and he'll be imperative from now until the end of the season, fantastic work from John Still to get him back. I wasn't particularly impressed with Exodus, played several sloppy passes towards the end that nearly cost us and his throw just provides amusement rather than a chance to score. Disappointing that we'll be losing Maher for a while.

The back line performed admirably apart from Richard Rose who was torn apart by Ryan Hall. Spillane & Doe continued their strong partnership and even amended the recent problem of slack marking. Femi was as amazing as usual, playing the ball out at the right time and knowing when to smash it into oblivion as well. Lewington didn't have much to do so I'll just say his kicking was good.

As for Southend, a very below par performance from them. Lucky to escape with the draw, but what a fine goal they scored, yet another contender for goal of the season. Best player was Ryan Hall with ease, although I though Clohessy got on with his job well for the Shrimpers; defenders often go unrewarded unfortunately.

Our fans from a Southend perspective.
 Our fans were absolutely top notch, I particularly enjoyed the battle between the two groups we have to start chants. In the end everyone came together and enjoyed a wonderful Woodall goal to share the spoils and that fat so and so in the Southend corner that attempted to make noise finally shut up.

A great day beside the seaside and I hope you enjoyed reading this Blog. Next up for the Daggers is Millwall in the FA Cup 3rd Round on Saturday, remember that's a 13:00 kick off! The Daggers do actually slip to 22nd, but are now three points above the drop zone and on a run of five unbeaten in all competitions.

My challenge to you for Millwall is this, get "Brian Woodinho" being chanted from the Sieve. I'll leave you with a selection of pictures from the afternoon that I haven't yet featured!

Remember to follow me on Twitter, @NickDRFCMurphy.

Southends Floodlights.
Chris Lewington

Self Operating Turnstiles.

Roots Hall.

The South Stand at Roots Hall. My wonderfully obstructed view!

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