Sunday, 19 February 2012

Daggers 0-5 Cheltenham Town, Pack Your Bags.

Abysmal. Gutless. Embarrassing. Horrendous. Terrible. Five words that still don't sum up what 1500 of us witnessed at Victoria Road this afternoon, as the Dagenham & Redbridge surrendered their dignity to high flying Cheltenham Town. There will be no vivid match report today, because to put it frank, Cheltenham destroyed us in every single aspect. We were thoroughly outclassed by a team far better than us. Not only were they good, but we majorly contributed to our own downfall.

Pre match and I wasn't particularly confident anyways, Cheltenham were a good team as I knew from visiting Whaddon Road in October, furthermore they had Steve Elliott available again. This, coupled with the midfield energy of Marlon Pack would ensure for a very tough afternoon against one of the top three sides in the division. I was however boosted by the fact that Brian Woodall was back in the starting eleven, as was Medy Elito following his brief, but superb cameo role against Oxford United on Tuesday night.

Dagenham & Redbridge Team: Lewington, Spillane, Doe, Arber, Femi, Elito, Ogogo, Saunders, Nurse, Scott, Woodall. Subs: Hogan, Rose, Cunnington, Green, Bingham.

Cheltenham Town Team: Brown, Elliott, Bennett, Garbutt, Jombati, Pack, Low, Penn, Summerfield, Goulding, Mohamed. Subs: Lowe, Smikle, McGlashan, Duffy, Spencer.

From the off it was pretty much atrocious. Cheltenham pressed forward quite a lot within the first ten minutes of the game, but they were not rewarded with a goal. The Daggers ventured forward once, courtesy of mazy Medy Elito. An absolutely superb 50 yard run, ended in his shot being blocked by a Cheltenham defender, which ensured we gained a corner. Somewhat positive stuff after a very droll first ten minutes of action.

However, Cheltenham continued to go forward, and Goulding was denied on twelve minutes by a superb save from Chris Lewington, the stopper palming away the fierce right foot drive for a corner kick. By the 15 minute mark, the Robins were the only team that looked like scoring, Mohamed & Summerfield each took turns to have a pop, and both failed to find the back of the net. It was just too easy for Mark Yates' men.

Cheltenham Town Celebrate going 1-0 up.
Sure enough, on the 19 minute mark Cheltenham took the lead. A corner was cleared to just outside the box where Luke Summerfield was waiting to lash in an unstoppable drive into the roof of Chris Lewington’s net. Nothing the keeper could have done about that. You can say it was a great strike, or on the flip side of things, you can say where was the closing down? He had far too much time and space, with everyone back, surely there should be a player back marking him. But no there wasn't and we were 1-0 down once again. Nonetheless a superb finish which drew applause from all four sides of Victoria Road.

Just two minutes later and Cheltenham had doubled their lead to two. Another corner from Luke Garbutt found the middle of the box, where a combination of poor defending and slack marking allowed Steve Elliott to nip in and fire home from eight yards to compound our misery. It was now 2-0 and to be perfectly honest, I'd lost all hope by now. It's difficult to come back from two down in any situation, but when you're playing one of the best teams in the division, you have next to no hope.

Dagenham then finally began to attack again, well, loosely described as attack. A half chance from Josh Scott went out for a corner and Femi's gut busting run ended in a tame strike on his weaker foot which unsurprisingly was gathered up welcomingly by Scott Brown. It says a lot for our strikers, that Medy Elito & Femi were looking like the best goal threat at the moment. Saying that, Woodall is in and out of the side like anyone’s business at the moment, so it's slightly unfair to blame him. With no game for the best part of a week, hopefully a rest for Woodall will make him 100% for next weekend’s crucial match.

Chris Lewington.
 We then had a bit of a lull in action, up until 40 minutes that is, where my heart sunk to a new depth. The ball was played forward towards Lewington’s box, the former Leatherhead 'keeper ran out to collect it. It looked to me as though he collected it inside the box, with his legs outside of the box. However, the linesman didn't see it this way. Thus, he discussed it with the referee and within seconds the game was beyond doubt & Chris Lewington was sent off for the second time this season.

The reality then hit me; our replacement goalkeeper was Dave Hogan. His only previous Football League experience was about 15 minutes away at Gillingham several years ago. He's not a very good goalkeeper, hence why we need a cover, and that's something Stilly got wrong. We needed a goalkeeper to have been brought in during January, because this was going to happen at some point and I feared we would pay the price. Hogan did infact replace Medy Elito, it's unlucky for Medy, but someone has to be withdrawn. Sorry Dave, I'm sure you're a great person, but in your heart of hearts you know you're not a particularly good 'keeper. A mixture of cheers & boo's could be heard in the Sieve as he took to the field.

Hogan faces the free kick.
 Hogan's first port of call was facing a free kick from Luke Garbutt. The power behind the free kick was astonishing, but Hogan pulled off a superb save at first glance, however he failed to palm it away to the side. This allowed Kaid Mohamed to nip in ahead of Hogan & Scott Doe to slot home Cheltenham’s third of the game. Unlucky on the big man who nearly became an instant Daggers hero.

Josh Scott then went into the referee's book, before Mark Yates made an early substitution. Jeff Goulding was replaced by on loan Huddersfield Town striker James Spencer, whether Goulding had picked up an injury or not I do not know. That was effectively the end of the first half and the teams went in to a chorus of jeers from some of the Daggers fans.

During the interval we had the pleasure of witnessing the "Take It Like A Fan" penalty shoot out. Our fan would be up against Youth team goalkeeper Cain Davis, if the supporter scores, he gets £500; if Cain saved it, he would win the £500. Find out what happened next week on the show itself.

Adam Cunnington Comes On.

I'm not going to go through the second half as it was a poor affair, Cheltenham really stepped off the gas which meant the tempo of the game was significantly slower. The Robins made it 4-0 on 61 minutes, when Femi misjudged the spin of the ball, enabling Spencer to nip in behind and smash home into the roof of the net, leaving Hogan with no chance. This also saw an exodus in the camp, not of the Geohaghan kind I may add.

It was 5-0, just five minutes later as a cross from Mohamed was deflected by Mickey Spillane into the back of the net. Game over if ever there was any doubt. The Daggers mustered up a few late chances through Cunnington, Femi & Nurse, but nothing that at all challenged the Robins 'keeper. The rain then began to come down even more so and in Dagenham fashion, the Sieve began to sing, "Call It Off", if only we were that lucky!

The Daggers players berate the referee.
 The final incident towards the end was a superb Abu Ogogo challenge. The converted central midfield slid in from behind on Alan Bennett, but got the whole of the ball. I was right in front of the incident so I assure you that he did get the ball. The referee however, who was having a shocker anyways, blew up and had the red in his hand. However, after some deliberation, he gave Abu Ogogo a booking, much to our disbelief. This was absolutely terrible inconsistency from a referee who really didn’t step up to the occasion.

That's all I have to say on the game itself, absolutely diabolical all round. The referee and his assistants were also absolutely atrocious today as well. You could tell it was the lads first ever game in the Football League, he showed no consistency and how six of our players were booked is anyone’s guess. The linesman was just as bad, if not worse. Lewington should not have been sent off in my opinion; moreover, he missed several blatant offside decisions. However, it's no excuse for the result itself.

Here we come to the bit where you either completely agree with me, or choose to ignore my opinions. John Still should not be sacked. Today, it was not John Still's fault that Lewington got sent off. Today, it was not John Still's fault that Mickey Spillane scored an own goal. Today, it was not John Still's fault that Femi misjudged a header due to the spin on the ball. What John & the team need to work on however, is marking, because that's what has really let us down this season.

Sacking John will do no good; this is for a number of reasons. For a start it's too late now. Secondly and most importantly, he is the right man for the job, I'm sure he has the players on board and he is the only man that can get us out of this. I just don't see the benefit we get out of sacking a man who cares more about the club than most of its fans on the terraces, the fact that he can get the best out of the players; he is the man for this scrap. I can promise you that.

I'm not for one second saying that the performance today was acceptable, because it wasn't, it was dreadful. I don't know where to go from here to be honest, I've already tried convincing several fans and they're having none of it, but trust me, sacking John Still would have a hugely detrimental effect. If he was to go now, it would be suicide of the highest order.

As for the players, the only ones to get any credit from me are Abu Ogogo, Femi, Adam Cunnington & Matt Saunders. They were the only ones that really gave it their all in my opinion, the only ones that performed. As for the criticism of Femi, I can only say to anyone that wants him dropped, you're talking out of your arse. He was probably our best player yesterday, bar a single mistake which everyone makes at some point, if he was taken out of the team, I guarantee you our left side would be exploited even more so.

At the end of the day though, I have to give massive credit to Cheltenham. Although we were absolutely god awful, they took advantage and played some fantastic football around the park, which ultimately tore us to shreds. They were by far and away the best team that have visited us in the league this season, further building upon their immaculate performance against us in October. If they don't go up it will be absolutely criminal.

One of the best passing sides in the division, with a superb manager at the helm and an absolutely fabulous player in Marlon Pack running the show. From all the teams I've seen this season, at this current point if I am to join up all the dots, they're the most worthy. Not only did they play it around the park, but their work rate was exceptional, furthermore their defence dealt with anything (it wasn't much), that we threw at them. Good luck to you for the rest of the season Cheltenham fans; I really do hope you make the progression into the next tier.

As for us, we have to bounce back from this. The players have apologised via Twitter, they know it wasn't good enough. They'll be hoping to rectify the performance in a vital away clash at Plymouth Argyle next week. It really is a massive game and one that I will be making the trip to once more, meaning you'll have an honest match report to read. I hope you enjoy your week and try to get over this demoralising afternoon.

Thanks for reading, whether you are neutral, Dagenham or Cheltenham. Remember to follow me on Twitter, @NickDRFCMurphy.                                            

On the bight side, we may have a signing to look forward to this week in the form of a goalkeeper. Or maybe even, the return of Tony Roberts.


  1. Hi mate,
    I'm from Portugal but have been following Dag & Red for quite a while, since their Conference times.

    Going down to the 5th tier would be a disaster. It's impressive how such a small club managed to play League One football, and I'm afraid another relegation would be a huge disappointment, and, worse than that, it's quite unpredictable how the club would go from then on.

    Nice blog here. Keep going. Are you travelling to Plymouth?

  2. Great to talk to a Portuguese Dagger! Yeah, I'll be down at Plymouth next week, hoping for a change in fortunes.

  3. This is what you get when you sycophanticly idolise somebody for something they did years ago.John Still has for ages been out of his depth,yes hes a dagenham boy,but so am I.The last 2 seasons has been a catalogue of managerial errors and mistakes.How does Mark Arber even get in the squad? Tomlin ?Arent you all sick to death of the pitifull excuses about injuries and now the players are back we are shitter than ever.Apart from Spillane and poor old Hogan yesterday there was no fight or spirit as usual.Lewy aint that great either.He made the rest of them idiots look good for a while but now hes dropped to their level.Sent off again for the same thing twice in the same season.Abu wont learn either just as well they bought him off as hed have got sent off otherwise.We are down,I was right all along and dont you know it.Sack this ridiculous manager and get someone in who actually wants the job.Just a little over 1300 daggers there yesterday,watch that figure plummet,nobody singing anymore and half the sieve now cordoned off every game,in anticipation for the empty stadium next season.Watch all our stars(are there any) all sod off elsewhere next season and leave us no doubt for another relegation battle next year too.Save your money nick,Plymouth will tear us a new arse next week for sure.The club was an embarrassment yesterday,give us our money back.....Bunck of Wank!!

  4. Ok so my post is a bit negative,but Ive not said anything that isnt being said by the majority.I had a great day out at Southend sitting next to Nick and the xmas period and the Rotherham game and I felt we'd turned a corner but then back we go with all the same problems.I watched stillys speech on the Dagplayer and was moved by his patter.But,we are going down arent we? I dont want that and neither do you and my point is that a lot of you have loyally/devotedly stuck by him and yet you get repaid with that shocking display yesterday.How did Arber get back in is an argument that Id love to have with you all again but internet cop clearly dosent like me so Im banned for saying 5hit.Nick normally deletes me regardless of how positive or negative I may be.Not really a good thing in balanced journalism, not allowing a differing view although I largely agree with him these days(he changed his views more than I ever did).Leave Femi alone he's alright by the way.I think we should get someone else in,put a rocket up the slouchers backsides and go out with a fight,unlike last season.Its hard to accept change,but change is neccesary sometimes.Dave Andrews has the same loyalty as you,his payback is relegation gates of 800 and never returning to Lg2 in his lifetime.I want Stilly to sort it,he clearly cant.Lets not get too excited about Maher and Edmans,we have maybe 5 positions that are clearly weaker than needed goalkeeper being the 1st one Im afraid.Maher Arber Tomlin(nearly gone)Josh even (excellent when fit but never fit and too injury prone,worse than my mate Antwi) should all be shipped out.Arber out Arber out etc etc etc....If we'd have got rid of Still at the start of the season we'd be doing ok.

  5. I've had 24 hrs to think on my reply about yesterday's shambolic and utter compemt, spineless performance. I think it's simple. YES John Still has worked miracles for the club over the last eight or so years, to go from lower conference to league one is amazing. And I can understand the sentiment being shown!! But facts are facts in modern day football. We got promoted to league one and on the last day of the transfer window we sold Paul Benson. FACT. We should have said NO and held him to his contract for at least the season. We got relegated by a single point when I know Benson's goals would have kept us up! FACT. Then upon relegation we had to sell Romain Vincelot and Danny Green. So our three best players sold within twelve months. FACT. And we have never replaced them with the same quality. FACT. Over the last 5 years we have sold Sam Saunders, Ben Strevens, Chris Moore, Craig Mackail-Smith, Paul Benson, Danny Green, Romain Vincelot, Scott Griffiths, and Shane Blackett. FACT. My question is this... Where has all that income gone? Where has all the income gone from the cup runs? Where has all the money gone from League 1 and promotion? It surely has not all gone on those two stands!! In modern day football any other manager who has taken a team to near two relegations on the bounce, continued to play negative, shite football, replaces quality with shite, would have been sacked long ago. FACT. Look at Neil Warnock, Sam Alladyce, Lee Clark, Chris Houghton, Martin Allen, all sacked over the last few years for less than nothing. Some of the lads I play Sunday League Football with are by far better than some of the players in that team at this present time. BIG FACT. I for one am supportive of giving managers time to lay their blueprint and if successful, given time to rectify any problems, I supported Avram Grant last season to the very end and look what happened, but I'm sorry John Still has had enough time to sort our playing staff out, and attempt something different from that of lower league football (i.e the long ball game)!!
    I agree Nick that there is no point sacking John Still now, its too late. But regardless of whether we stay up or get relegated he needs to go with his head held high, and whether he takes a post up in the boardroom or not, let us find a lower league/league two manager who is young with fresh new ideas and give him a good contract with a bit of cash (from somewhere) and say do your best and go for it!! A turnaround of new players would be a good thing too. Mark Arber is at best a squad player, John Nurse is gone as a player now, Kevin Mayer is not good enough in my opinion, but we have a young nucleus of players who given the right direction will be ones for the future! Scott Doe, Micheal Spillane, Abu Ogogo, Femi, Josh Scott, Brian Woodall, Damien McCorry, Dominic Green, Jake Reed (how he cant start a game yet). This team needs new direction and I hope its not too late, because as mentioned in previous posts, I fear for Dagenham & Redbridge FC if we get relegated back to the Blue Square.

  6. John should have been sacked back in Oct/Nov when we went on a run of 11 defeats in 12. This season has been a blur with no memorable matches apart from Southend away over christmas. I've had a season ticket for 10yrs and with a round trip of 70 miles on match day I certainly will not be renewing my season ticket if we drop out of the league. The football is woeful, constant high balls as quick as possible for forwards to chase down the flanks. This is not football - get John out now to stand any chance of survival