Sunday, 26 February 2012

Plymouth Argyle 0-0 Daggers, One Point Gained

Dagenham & Redbridge came away from Home Park with a somewhat undeserved point, as the battle for survival in League Two continued yesterday. A thoroughly enjoyable day culminated in a share of the spoils in a game which the Pilgrims dominated throughout.
The journey began at 8am at Chadwell Heath Station, where I met Chaz & Bill, ready for the journey to Paddington to catch our Great Western service to Plymouth. After an over ground train to Liverpool Street & several tube trains, we eventually arrived at Paddington in good time, at 9:20, which gave us enough of a cushion to enjoy a McDonalds breakfast. A thoroughly good way to start a day of travelling. Our train to Plymouth took in a number of stops; furthermore it was an enjoyable journey and a good laugh. The best view was easily going past Exeter St David’s, where you're greeted with a wonderful view of the coast, just yards from the train line.

Chaz, Bill & Myself. Excuse the dodgy barnet, poxy wind!
 We eventually arrived at Plymouth station at around 1:20, where we went through the barriers and out onto the main road. The journey to Home Park was meant to take around twenty minutes; if you know the way that is. However with Billy, aka, Ray Mears at the helm, we endured a walk around the town, several back streets and through the infamous Central Park, before arriving outside the home turnstiles at around 2:00. After we took a couple of pictures of the turnstiles and were then snapped ourselves by a "Greens On Screen" photographer, we headed round to the back, where our entrance to the stadium was located.

We had a brief chat with a few chirpy stewards who were all in good spirits, before heading through after getting my bag checked. We encountered a cold concourse which to our disappointment, did not contain a TV to watch the lunchtime kick off between West Ham & Crystal Palace, meaning we would have to while away the hour until kick off with pictures and talking.

We walked out through the tunnel and were greeted with Home Park, and upon first impressions, I can safely say it was one of the favourite stadiums I've visited. It had a magnificent combination of modern & old which really goes well in a stadium for me. It has character, which so many grounds lack in this day and age, just look at Oxford & the Kassam, they may as well be playing in a park, it just lacks everything a football ground should have in my opinion.

Three sides of the ground, including the stand we were housed in, is all joined up, enabling a fantastic atmosphere to be created. Furthermore, it just looks stylish and slick. You then look at the Plymouth Argyle Main Stand and it oozes character, it may not be to everyone's liking, but it just gives a feel of "proper football."It doesn't fit in with the rest of the stadium, which gives it a unique & quirky feel, in fact, it looked like a grandstand from a racecourse, further enhancing its credentials to me.

That’s enough of me using superlatives to describe my love for the ground though. Up until the kick off, the stadium started to fill up at a good pace, the attendance would be improved by the "fan fest" which was going on outside. With just over half an hour we were introduced to the teams via the tannoy man, who finally made himself heard.

Plymouth Argyle: Cole, Purse, Blanchard, Bignot, Williams, Young, Wotton, Hourihane, MacDonald, Chadwick, Hemmings. Subs: Larrieu, Berry, Daley, Walton, Tsoumou.

Carl Fletcher made two changes to the side that defeated Accrington Stanley 4-0 in Lancashire last weekend, Zimbabwean defender Onismor Bhasera was away on African Nations Cup Qualifying duty. This meant he was replaced by the Rock DJ himself, Robbie Williams. Jake Cole was also available once more, meaning that veteran stopper Romain Larrieu dropped back to the bench.

Dagenham & Redbridge: Bond, McCrory, Arber, Spillane, Doe, Reeves, Ogogo, Saunders, Nurse, Woodall, Scott. Subs: Hogan, Rose, Edmans, Bimgham, Elito.

John Still made three changes to the side that lost heavily against Cheltenham last weekend, two of which were forced. Chris Lewington was serving the first of his two match suspension, meaning the real Bond; Jonathan Bond that is, would make his first appearance on loan from Watford. Femi missed out with a rumoured thigh strain, meaning that Damien McCrory would make his first league start since the dire 3-0 reverse at Accrington Stanley in November. The final change was that of new boy Ben Reeves on loan from Southampton, starting in place of Medy Elito on the right hand side.

From my contact back in Dagenham, Lee, I also learned that we were playing a 4-4-2 formation. But this was a 4-4-2 formation like no other. It would include Scott Doe playing at right back, which didn't fill me with joy, whilst Jon Nurse would play left midfield which was ok in my opinion.

After learning this, myself and several others proceeded to put up a couple of our flags, as you may know from our exploits at Accrington, these flags are sods to put up. And so it proved again. Taking us a grand total of 20 minutes to fix our two up rather shoddily, whilst a Plymouth fan stuck there's up in 5 minutes flat. If you ask me, that's just showing off.

Kick off was now approaching and the ground was now filled up nicely, a couple of tunes belted out over the PA system. In fact, I wager that even if you were deaf, you may have heard these songs, they were that loud. The Plymouth fans then unleashed their massive "Forza Verdi" flag which spanned about 15 rows, I won't lie, I stood in a degree of awe. What a fantastic effort from the club and fans, it was a sensational flag; furthermore it was accompanied well by their supporters in good voice.

The teams then came out and the Daggers supporters launched into song, although it was drowned out by the PA system once more. Kick off was nigh in one of the most important games of the season to date, it was the Daggersto kick off, and they would be attacking us in the first 45 minutes. We were off at Home Park.

The first action of the afternoon came in the form of a speculative free kick from Matthew Saunders, which Jake Cole was equal too, the former Barnet stopper getting down well to deny Saunders his first Daggers goal. We were then up the other end where we had a brief stoppage because of an injury to Mark Arber, the Daggers inspirational captain took a few minutes of treatment to the shoulder before carrying on.

Plymouth then really should have opened the scoring on the ten minute mark. Alex MacDonald dispossessed the ball from Ben Reeves on the left, before playing it through to Paul Bignot, who skipped gleefully past Damien McCrory and played it to an unmarked Nick Chadwick in the box. The former Everton youngster flashed his curling shot over the bar and down the tunnel, when he really should have hit the target. A real let off for the Daggers defence & Ben Reeves in particular.

We had a lull in play for ten minutes or so, before Alex MacDonald caused trouble again, this time getting the ball from Mark Arber, before hitting a shot past the left hand post. Another scare for the Daggers, as Plymouth threatened to over run our defence. On the half hour mark however, the Essex side threatened to take the lead. Damien McCrory made a good run down the left hand side, which ultimately saw him, put in a delightful ball to the middle of the box, which found Jon Nurse. The Barbadian couldn't get a firm connection on the ball, meaning his header went out of play for a goal kick.

Ben Reeves also began to show flashes of the quality that Southampton sees in him, with a couple of daring runs that caused the Pilgrims back line problems. However, we weren't getting the ball to him enough, for him to cause any real problems. The referee Dean Whitestone was also somewhat whistle happy, breaking up the game to give a lot of meaningless free kicks to both sides.

Plymouth were on top.
Plymouth spurned two more good opportunities just before the half time break. Firstly, Arber was once again in the thick of things, as his poor touch allowed a Plymouth midfielder to nip in. However, Arbs showed what a player he is, by recovering superbly to make a last ditch tackle from behind which cleared the danger. Plymouth were also looking to exploit Scott Doe at right back, however Doey showed good credentials and stood up to them, not allowing midfielder Luke Young to get past him at any stage.

Once again on 40 minutes, the Daggers defence was split open by some good Pilgrims play. MacDonald made another good diagonal run, which allowed him to tee up young Irishman Connor Hourihane, who scored against us in the previous fixture at Victoria Road. He was about 15 yards from goal and wasted a superb opportunity to give the Pilgrims the lead, missing another guilt edge chance, by putting it over the bar when Bond had no chance if it was on target.

The Daggers then pushed forward once more, with many of the opportunities coming from Damien McCrory who was providing the main threat. However, just before the break, it was Brian Woodall who went on a run down the right hand side, bringing the ball to the by line. The former Gresley lad then put in an immaculate ball which split the Plymouth defence, unfortunately Josh Scott or Jon Nurse could not get to it, meaning it was hoofed away to safety.

That was half time and Plymouth could and perhaps should have been 3-0 up. Three fantastic chances had been spurned, whilst the Daggers had produced next to nothing in an attacking sense. Saying that, neither goalkeeper was really called into any action, bar an early Bond scare where he nearly repeated Lewington's actions last week by handballing the ball outside the box. Thankfully though, the referee didn’t see it that way and Bond got away with it.

As for the atmosphere, it was extremely good, far better than the majority of grounds I've witnessed this season. Plymouth fans were in good voice, whilst the Daggers fans also decided to partake at times. Thing is, you can't really outnumber over 7,000 with 93 can you?

As with most grounds, I then decided to try some of the cuisine, once again as it was a "footlong", I went for a hot dog, priced at the season average £4.10. As usual it was very nice and of good quality, however the sauce was in sachets rather than bottle's, which once again annoyed me. After this I went for a chat with the Horan's for 10 minutes, before resuming to my standing position for the start of the second half.

Plymouth started the second half the better, with Hourihane cracking a shot towards the centre of the goal, which on loan Bond palmed away shakily for a corner. The Daggers then broke away, a move which resulted in Brian Woodall hitting a shot against the side netting of Jake Cole's goal. Plymouth were once again beginning to dominate, Williams hitting a shot over the bar from about 20 yards, their latest failed attempt at taking the lead.

On the 60 minute mark, the Daggers had their best chance of the match to date. A Damien McCrory corner on the left hand side was directed towards Scott Doe at the back post, the ball fell wonderfully for him on the deck. He was primed to shoot, when at the last moment he passed to Mickey Spillane who bottled it when going 50/50 with an Argyle defender. A moment which infuriated me in more than one way, he should have took on the shot; get the ball on target and he had a fantastic chance of scoring with all of the bodies in the way.

Then came the best part of the match, and funnily enough it didn't come on the pitch. Scott Doe cleared a ball into the old main stand and a supporter went to head the ball. It was one of those comical moments, he went for the header, got it, and then fell arse over tit over the barriers, before ending up dangling upside down. Fantastic comedy that had everyone on and off the pitch laughing, he dually received a deserved round of applause from all four sides of Home Park.

Plymouth then added another nationality to the field, bringing on Germany under 18 International Juvhel Tsoumou in place of Luke Young up front. On the 70 minute mark, Carl Fletcher made his second change, this time Luke Daley replaced the20 year old Ashely Hemmings who played a solid game.

Then came the biggest heart in mouth moment of the afternoon. Luke Daley got the ball just inside the right of the box and hit a wonderful shot which cannoned back off the post, enabling a Daggers defender to clear it. I genuinely thought it was in, so much so, that I turned away after it crashed against the post as I thought it hit the inside of the net. Much to my amazement there was no cheer, I turned back round again and it was a corner. Danger over? Not by a long shot.

From the resulting corner, Bond made a point blank save from a tame shot that was on target, before the ball was cleared to Robbie Williams who unleashed a corker of a strike that smashed back off the far post and out for a throw. How we were not behind was anyone's guess. Home Park was once more alive with atmosphere at the Pilgrims support got behind their team more than any other time in the afternoon. Relief.

I have even managed to find a clip of this online this morning, thank you to the Argyle fan that uploaded it.

It was then time for John Still to make a change. Brian Woodall was withdrawn on 73 minutes and replaced by Medy Elito. Brian didn't really get into the game yesterday, furthermore he didn't really have a clear cut chance to take; Medy on the other hand, could exploit the wide pitch dimensions and hopefully create an opportunity or two. Just minutes later and he did just that, playing a ball through to Abu Ogogo, who’s left foot scuffed shot caused Jake Cole no problems.

We then had around a 3 minute pause in play due to an argument on the touchline between Romain Larrieu, Carl Fletcher & the referee. The debate ended in goalkeeper Larrieu getting a booking for his troubles, whilst Fletcher was warned that any more and he'd be sent to the stands. That's a daunting prospect, especially when you considering how far a walk it is to the stands at Home Park from the dugout. The Daggers then made their second change, with Ben Reeves coming off for Rob Edmans to make his Football League debut.

With 82 minutes played, Jon Bond produced a heroic save to keep the scores level at 0-0. Alex MacDonald hit a curling shot towards the far post, but Bond made a superb dive and was equal to it, pushing the ball round the post for a corner, which came to nothing.

That was the last real action of the game, with more of the play broken up in the final 10 minutes through free kicks. Plymouth dominated largely and if I'm honest, deserved the three points, but their lack of finishing prowess and the right hand post done them up. I can't help but feel that if we actually attacked, we may have been able to get all three points as it was a very open game, but no. We defended resolutely in the second half and it was more of one point gained than two points lost from our perspective.

The players then came over and clapped the 93 of us hardy Daggers that made the trip, before doing their huddle, and going back to the dressing room and getting changed for the train back to London. Of the game, I was particularly impressed by McCrory & Doe. McCrory because he hasn't played for so long, he done very well against his old club, it will be interesting to see whether he keeps his place against Morecambe. Scott Doe performed extremely well in a somewhat unnatural position for him, another one where we'll have to wait until Tuesday to see what happens.

The whole team really performed pretty well, especially when put under pressure. Jonathan Bond did look a little bit shaky, often punching the ball away, rather than catching it though, something which I'm not particularly fond of. An average performance, but more importantly, a first clean sheet away from home in the league since August, furthermore it was against our relegation rivals. Also, it was our first 0-0 draw in the league since Torquay over two years ago.

As for Plymouth, credit to their fans who were superb throughout, probably the best home fans in the league that I've encountered. As for their team, if they can be more potent in front of goal, then I imagine they'll be fine. Their defence looked pretty resilient and their midfield has the ability to knock the ball around well at times. I wish them all the best, however if we stay up at the expense of them, then I won't complain.

Plymouth's own Wembley Way.
 We then made the journey back to the station, going through the Plymouth version of Wembley Way (Central Park), before getting to the station 40 minutes ahead of when our train was due to arrive. A 20 minute wait ensued before we ended up meeting the players who were incidentally on the same train back as us.

At this point I have to say thank you to Wayne Burnett & Terry Harris who took time to have a quick chat with us, along with Simmo who many of you know. I find it really makes a difference when the team do things like that, as it shows that you're support appreciated. Some of the players even took some time out for a couple of pictures which was a nice touch. One thing that disappointed me slightly was that John Still didn't acknowledge any of us. It would have been quite nice for the manager to give us some accreditation after all the backing he's received from us. But that's football I suppose.

The journey back took around 3 hours and it was filled with some songs and viewing what players of ours were on the drink. Adam Cunnington & Abu Ogogo being the main culprits. Arrival at Paddington was about 9:30, where all the players went separate ways. One of the best moments was when Medy Elito didn't have enough money on his card to get through the barriers. We ended up getting on a tube with Bingham, Medy & Dom, before arriving back at Stratford for 10:15. That's basically it for the day I’m afraid.

I would like to thank you for reading this Blog, whether you are a Plymouth, Dagenham or neutral supporter. I would also like to give a massive thank you"Greens on Screen", for letting me use some of their pictures from the day. It really is a great help to have the assistance of someone with a better camera than myself.

Next up for us is the mammoth Tuesday night trip to Morecambe, which I cannot get too. The next Saturday game is crucial, against Bradford City next week, let's hope we get a bumper attendance thanks to the ticket initiative.

I will leave you with an assortment of pictures of the day and remind you to follow me on Twitter, @NickDRFCMurphy.

Forza Verdi Flag.

The 93 Daggers.

The Daggers Warm Up.
Home Park Fills Up.

A smaller selection of the Daggers Fans.
Spot me standing in the red & blue top on the left hand side.

Plymouth Argyles famous turnstiles.

The Mayflower Grandstand.

Pilgrim Pete makes an appearance.

If you wish to visit, "Greens On Screen", the link is,


  1. Wayne Burnett? What's his role? Is he the ex Plymouth and Grimsby player?
    I loved watching him with Argyle in the 90s. Is he a coach with D&R?

  2. Yes, that would be the same Wayne Burnett. He's currently assistant manager at the Daggers.

  3. Great blog, best of luck for the season :)
    PAFC fan.

  4. Quality blog, glad you liked the ground.

    Cant wait till the grandstands done up though!

  5. Great blog, i have a soft spot for the Daggers. I hope we both stay up. Sadly, i think one of us is going down. PAFC fan.

  6. Tomlins stopped scoring for Gillingham then.

  7. Good, well written report. I hope you get to be a proper reporter.
    I don't wish relegation on anyone but if yours allows us to stay up - that's football....

  8. Really well written for one so young. I think you have a future in journalism. Enjoyed reading it very much.

  9. Well done lad, thanks for the great mention and best of luck for the future.

  10. Good write up - well done. Good luck to D&R too, a proper club; I feel it will be very difficult for you to stay up though.

  11. DIGGER DAGGER DIGGER DAGGER OI OI OI!!!!!!! are you going wimbeldon away this saturday