Sunday, 11 March 2012

AFC Wimbledon 2-1 Daggers, Dijilali Is No Joke.

Dagenham & Redbridge succumbed to a 2-1 defeat at Kingsmeadow against AFC Wimbledon on Saturday afternoon, to all but enhance our relegation credentials. At this rate, we'll be drawing up our plans for Tamworth & Braintree pretty soon, especially if we're defeated in the vital clash with Northampton Town on Tuesday night.

The day started at 12:15 where myself, Charlie, Andy & Matt enjoyed a nice breakfast in the cafe, before going on to meet Billy at Chadwell Heath Station for 13:00. With that, we hopped on the train to Stratford, before getting the tube to Bank where we eventually transferred to Waterloo after a mad dash. At Waterloo we found the platform for the South West Train to Norbiton, the closest train to Kingsmeadow and dually got on it, meaning that we would end up at the ground earlier than previously thought.

We arrived at Norbiton for about 14:20, we then headed down a small side road which joined onto the main road that led to the ground. We went past the home fans entrance before heading to our allocated turnstiles where our tickets were checked for the correct age. All was fine so we headed through, we were later joined by Andy & Bill who had looked for a pub, but mistakenly went into a strip club. An interesting start to the afternoon you may say.

First impressions of Kingsmeadow are that it's a non league ground, which it is; as it was primarily Kingstonian's home stadium. Three sides are terracing, with the main stand being rather small and seated, I imagine if they stay in the Football League they'll need to increase their seating capacity like we did with the Traditional Builders Stand. Either end behind the goals are closed terraces, where some noise came from. The far end was the most prominent; it was also the bigger of the two.

We were housed in the "John Smith Terrace", which had both a large covered section and a small uncovered section. This was satisfactory as it was a nice day, which makes a change as when we have open terraces away from home it usually pours down, (See Accrington & Bristol Rovers). We opted to go under cover as better noise would be generated, with about 20 minutes to go I'd make the estimation that there were over 300 Daggers in the ground. A good atmosphere was being created as the sun glared down upon us.

The teams were then read out by the over excited announcer.

AFC Wimbledon: Brown, Gwillim, Mitchell-King, Balkenstein, Hatton, Jolley, Moore, Yussuff, Knott, Midson, Harrison. Subs: Turner, Johnson, Kiernan, Dijilali, Luke Moore.

Don’s boss Terry Brown opted to make four changes from the side that were defeated by relegation rivals Plymouth on Tuesday night. Former Daggers man Gareth Gwillim replaced youngster Chris Bush at left back, whilst Callum McNaughton was also withdrawn for on loan Brentford defender Pim Balkenstein, as the Wombles looked to address their worryingly leaky defence. West Ham youngster George Moncur was also taken out for Sunderland loanee Billy Knott. Up front Jason Euell was out of the team, Wimbledon's record signing Byron Harrison coming in for him up front.

Dagenham & Redbridge: Bond, Doe, Spillane, Arber, McCrory, Nurse, Bingham, Ogogo, Reeves, Elito, Woodall. Subs: Lewington, Rose, Edmans, Green, Abdulla.

Josh Scott was banned, which meant Brian Woodall started for the first time since the victory over Rotherham in late January, as he's been carrying a slight knock. Jonathan Bond retained his place in goal, whilst Rob Edmans once again found himself on the bench. New loan signing Josh Parker wasn't included as he missed the team coach to Wimbledon, what a great way to make an impact at your new club eh?

At this point I probably should congratulate Wimbledon on their superb choice of pre game music, many of which were toe tappers. Although, "Hey Jude", by the Beatles, made the mood the slightly more sombre as kickoff approached. The teams then came out of the tunnel and on to the pitch just before 15:00; this was probably the only time in the game where I was able to see all 22 players at one time, due to the blocked view from The John Smith Terrace.

After some singing from us, and some clapping from John Still, we were ready to kick the game off, the Daggers would be attacking the Tempest End, whilst Wimbledon were heading towards The Kingston Road End. It was the Daggers to kick off as the nerves began to settle in.

The pace of the game was very slow at first, with Byron Harrison trying to nip in before Bond, but to no avail. The Daggers went on the attack twice, but both Nurse & Elito were called offside, much to my frustration. The first attempt of the match came in the form of Beavis, or Ben Reeves to you and I. A ball was crossed into the middle of the box, but the Southampton youngster leant back and got underneath the ball, putting it over the bar for a goal kick. Butthead wasn't particularly pleased I can assure you.

The game then slowed down once more as the intensity of the atmosphere increased, both sets of supporters were really up for this encounter. On 13 minutes, Damien McCrory headed back a poor ball to Jonathan Bond in the goal, meaning the on loan stopper had to move fast to avert the danger. Luckily he got there before Jolley to take control of the situation, a bit of a scare nonetheless.

The home side then had the first good opportunity of the match. Some neat play from a corner saw the ball played out to Yussuff on the edge of the box, the ex Gillingham midfielder played a superb dummy allowing the ball to flow through to Knott, who got his feet in a twist as he completely missed his shot. A really good chance and one that Knott really should have done better with.

The Daggers were enjoying a good spell in the Wimbledon half; however there was no real penetration when going forward. Jon Nurse looked to get on the inside of a defender, but his first touch let him down, whilst Brian Woodall wasn't particularly having any luck being the lone striker in a 4-4-1-1 formation. We looked a bigger threat from corners which have become our fortè this season, however early set pieces saw no goals. Not even the infamous Doe to the front post routine could yield that all important first strike.
After that good spell of pressure and some teasing Elito crosses from the byline, it was the turn of the Dons to form an attack. Christian Jolley who was playing for Surrey County Intermediate League Team Oxted & District just three years ago, then crossed the ball for Sammy Moore. The midfielder rose highest amongst a crowd of players, but could only head on to the roof of the net, much to the 3800 home fans' disappointment.

It then became increasingly scrappy, with neither side giving much away. Ben Reeves managed to prod a shot towards the body of Seb Brown, but he could only force a simple save. Whilst up the other end, Jonathan Bond was forced to rush out of his area to clear an oncoming ball, smart goalkeeping by the youngster from Watford. Minutes later and Sammy Moore picked the ball up about 35 yards out before going on a short dribble. He then unleashed a shot which went just over the bar and through the gap between the roof & the wall of the home fans' stand. Immense precision

On 40 minutes, Brian Woodall was handed a superb chance to give the Daggers the lead. Jon Nurse created some space for himself down the right hand side thanks to a great through ball. The Barbadian wormed his way around two defenders before laying the ball into Woodall who snatched at the strike, putting it high over the bar. Yet another really good opportunity that we could well live to regret later on in the afternoon.

It was Wimbledon who managed the last attack of the first half. Some good breakaway play saw Byron Harrison lose his marker before cutting into the box on the left hand side. The striker hadn't scored yet for the Dons, and so it remained as his fierce shot across goal was palmed away for a corner by Bond between the sticks. With that, the referee blew his whistle to end the half, meaning there was no time for the resulting corner.

I was fairly pleased with the first half, pretty average and if we're all honest, the draw was probably the deserved outcome. I was particularly impressed with the tracking back of our forward players, Elito & Nurse in particular, who were both seemingly putting in double shifts. Spillane & Arbs looked assured as a partnership at centre half, whilst Doey was having no problems in the right back position.

Abu Ogogo was my man of the half, it's a bit of a cliché to say he was the engine room in the middle, but he really was. His conversion to a central midfielder was a superb move by Stilly; he was breaking up the play, as well as going on short busting runs to create valuable opportunities. He's a real asset to the side, another string to his bow et al. We needed a change of formation though, as Woodall up front on his own wasn't bringing dividends, Nurse would need to push up or Edmans would have to be brought on for it to work as 4-4-2.

Enough about the football, it's now time for my food appraisal. The queue was relatively short, which is always a good thing, however the staff were rather rude which I didn't particularly like. It appears they didn't know that I am the author of The Daggers Scale. Prices were adequate; moreover I opted for the £3.00 rollover hot dog. Roll over hot dogs are extremely nice and I am very fond of them, however this one was absolutely dire. Not only was it in a rubbish package, it was small and wasn't even a nice sausage. I can hear you laughing! Not impressed with either of the food or your level of comedy.

As I got back to my standing position towards the end of the terrace, we watched the substitutes have some fun keeping the ball up on the pitch. It was quite nice to see that the team still have good spirit and camaraderie, despite being where we are in the league. It then also hit me that I should have had chips, for £2 you were given a massive portion. If I have a single regret about 2012, I'm sure that will be it. Absolutely crestfallen.

Terry Brown then made his first change of the afternoon, bringing of Brett Johnson for the Cambridge born midfielder, Mat Mitchell-King. The second half began with a fluster as Wimbledon came close to breaking the deadlock. Christian Jolley made space for himself down the left hand side and swung in a delightful ball that just missed the head of Harrison, if he'd have gambled on it he probably would have scored. Minutes later and Damien McCrory won a corner on the near side, he dually whipped a ball in, but it was gathered well by Seb Brown between the sticks.

The Wombles then began to assert some pressure on the game. Former Daggers striker Jack Midson was released through thanks to a header on from a Seb Brown free kick, his prod towards goal beat Bond, but it hammered back off of the inside of the post. The rebound fell to Rashid Yussuff, his sliced strike forced a good save from Bond who recovered well to clear the danger and prevent a near certain goal. I thought it was in, but some frantic defending from Dagenham just about kept the scores at level pegging.

John Still then decided it was time to make a change; the somewhat anonymous Ben Reeves was withdrawn, in place of Dominic Green. Minutes after the change and the Daggers nearly took the lead. Green's first touch saw him play it into Nurse on the near side, with a quick shimmy, Nursey hit a ball into the box where Billy Bingham rose highest, but could only manage to head harmlessly over the crossbar.

The side from Essex then began to look like the more dominant outfit, with Brian Woodall heading a half chance over the bar in the same fashion as Bingham did previously. On 62 minutes, Jon Nurse was released down the left hand side; some clever work saw him bearing down on goal at an acute angle. He did extremely well to get a decent shot away which tested Brown to force a corner, although I think we all knew that he had next to nope hope of finding the net from that position.

The Dons then made their second change of the afternoon, bringing on Kieran Dijilali (no relation to Omid), for the lively Byron Harrison. In the same, "phase of play", Jon Nurse was booked for a foul on Billy Knott, a challenge not to dissimilar to the one which saw Josh Scott sent off on Tuesday night. Dijilali was then at the centre of play, crossing in a ball towards the centre of the box witch Bond pounced on after flapping widely at it in mid air.

Brian Woodall then managed to get a volley away from outside of the box, but it was only troubling the steward in the car park, so the scores stayed level. John Still then made his second change of the afternoon; Medy Elito was replaced by giant Rob Edmans. I was excited at this change as Edmans promised to be a real nuisance from what I witnessed at Millwall earlier in the season, furthermore he can be a real threat from crosses and corners due to his massive height.

And then came the Daggers season summed up in a frantic two minutes of action. Jon Nurse received the ball on the right and crossed in a teasing ball towards the head of Edmans at the near post, all the big man had to do was get his nut on it unchallenged, but he failed to make contact as the ball rolled out for a goal kick. The best chance of the game and one that should have seen us take the lead. We were then straight up the other end as poor defending from Damien McCrory allowed Midson to get a shot away that looped over the diving Bond to send the Dons a goal up. From what could have been jubilation at one end, to despair at the other.

The Wombles fans were now overjoyed as you may expect, moreover they had their singing voices back and were creating a raucous atmosphere. Mickey Spillane was then booked for dissent as everything threatened to go all downhill. The Wombles were looking to double their lead, but a shaky save from Bond coupled with a simple save from a Dons' free kick, ensured the deficit remained the same.

After the 80 minute mark came a sustained period of Daggers pressure. Rob Edmans went on a Yaya Youre like run, with the ball glued to his feet from the half way line onwards. He created acres of space for himself and when presented with the chance to shoot, he played in Woodall who was perfectly placed for a first time shot across goal with his left foot. However, the high pitched striker decided to cut the ball back onto his right foot, enabling the home defence to recover to eventually see his shot deflected over the bar.

From the resulting corner, Jon Nurse tried his luck with a header from point blank range, but it was blocked on the line. The ball then fell to Brian Woodall who was standing on the penalty spot. The striker's fierce drive towards the roof of the net forced a fine save from Seb Brown, who probably has a broken wrist from palming it over the bar.

On the 82 minute mark however, the Daggers found that massively important equaliser. Dominic Green centred in a corner towards the centre of the goal, where it found the unmarked Spillane who was on hand to head the ball into the corner of the net to level the scores, despite the best efforts of an athletic Brown. Cue barmy celebrations from the 381 Daggers including, a Jose Mourinho like run down the walkway by Billy. Overjoyed. However, I then had a horrid gut feeling, we have in recent years, had a habit of conceding just after we've levelled the scores; and I thought that it would be the same case at Kingsmeadow.

Sure enough with just three minutes gone since we had levelled the scores, the Wombles were back in front. A cross eluded several players from both sides in the box, before falling to the feet of Dijilali at the back post, whose tame volley squirmed between Bond and the post to leave the Daggers down in the dumps. The AFC fans were once again extremely vocal with their very catchy, "A-F-C Wimbledon" chant as they looked to close out the game and take all three points rather selfishly for themselves.

Just before the fourth official indicated a minimum of four minutes added time, Mickey Spillane went close with a header at the near post; however he could only contrive to hit the stanchion behind the goal, much to my despair. Goalscorer Dijilali was then shown a late booking for time wasting.

The Daggers final chance of the game came two minutes into the original four added on. Jon Nurse who has been a menace all day down the wings, put in a ball from the far side which found Rob Edmans who made contact from a diving header, but it was pushed behind superbly by Brown to make sure the scoreline remained the same. It was game over and Wimbledon had taken a massive three points to leave us rock bottom, with a rather sick after taste of the afternoon.

The lads came over to applaud our support, but by this time at least half had already filed out of the stadium, ready to make their way home. This was probably one of the hardest defeats to take, especially when you consider we had the best of the chances throughout the game. Credit to Wimbledon though, they took theirs, so ultimately they deserved the three points to lift them further clear of the relegation zone.

There were however a couple of positives to take out of a demoralising defeat. Rob Edmans looked fantastic when introduced, he caused big problems for the Dons defence, even though he missed a golden opportunity; furthermore he could be vital in the run in. Jon Nurse also had a very good game for me, caused a real threat down the right and left hand side, hopefully we can see more of that in the coming weeks. Abu Ogogo was also an engine room once more, not only breaking up a lot of the play, but even going on surging runs forward.

As for Wimbledon, they have a great striker in Jack Midson, add to that Dijilali looks like a very vibrant character and Seb Brown was in magnificent form. I reckon they'll have enough to stay up. I really like their policy on youth as well, with the average age of their starting eleven yesterday being a very tidy 24.8. I wish them well for the rest of the season as I no longer believe they are a threat to us in our bid for survival.

If I am to look across the board at yesterday’s results, it just looks increasingly bleak. Barnet mustered a last gasp win, Hereford won, Northampton won, Macclesfield managed a superb 2-2 draw against Crawley after being 2-0 down. The only bright spot was Plymouth losing, which means they fill the relegation spots along with us. I'm going to make a rather rash call and say that if we lose on Tuesday night, I can't see us getting out of it; I'm really that demoralised.

What's done here is done, so we now have to look forward to our next three matches that are truly vital. Northampton at home. Macclesfield at home. Barnet away. I'd be looking to yield four points from those at the very least. If not, I fear that's the end. However, we have to all get behind the lads on Tuesday night, because at this current moment in time, we still face a possible task and I believe that we can still do it.

Overall, a disappointing day in terms of the result, but an enjoyable day in terms of it was a laugh, especially the journey home.

Just a last note if you want even more good news, it looks as though Matt Saunders' injury could be long term according to, @Post_Daggers on Twitter. With that, have a happy Sunday.

Thanks for reading, remember to give me a follow on Twitter, @NickDRFCMurphy.

The Kingston Road End

The Paul Strank Stand


  1. Decent and understandably slightly negative son. Love the comparison between me and Mourinho, very flattering for the Special one, I'm sure he'll be flattered.

  2. Nice piece again Nick.I think we are doomed.I've been rather scathing of the manager in the past and though Ive never doubted his passion for the club,he should have probably gone at Christmas while we were in league 1.Will he stay another year to return us to league 2,Im not so sure.We'll lose players although arguably Spillane,Nurse,Abs and maybe my mate clumsy Doe may be the only ones anyone above us would be interested in.Lets face it they have a history synonymous with losing for 2 years now.I've predicted rough times for ages but even Im shocked at how rubbish we have been this year.Im not convinced that the loss of Maher and Gain have been instrumental either.We were losing with them for ages while they were fit.Its been excuse after excuse and yes injuries were inconvenient but look at team selection and tactics and there it is in a nutshell.I CAN wait for Tuesday where I fear a heavy home loss will all but relegate us.Maybe we could all go watch Hornchurch if we want to see winning football again.Maybe we'll be playing them sooner than you think.Im truly gutted! I'll never get my roof now will I ? Arnu.