Sunday, 4 March 2012

Daggers 1-0 Bradford City, He's Better Than Sam.

Dagenham & Redbridge defeated Bradford City 1-0, in a tight encounter at Victoria Road. The result see's the Daggers move out of the relegation places for the first time since late January.

Pre match and I was mildly confident, we have a very good record against Bradford since joining the league, losing just the once in our debut season. We are in fact six games unbeaten against the Bantams, but this was sure to be a tough test, with Phil Parkinson's men coming into this off the back of a five match unbeaten run, including a 4-0 hammering of Barnet in midweek. The Daggers were on a mini run of their own, two games unbeaten, with only one conceded, picking up four points out of their last six. This was sure to be a tight affair between two teams scrapping near the bottom.

This match was billed as "Daggers Against Racism", which meant as I went through Victoria Road; the ground was filling up at a good rate, with Bury Road looking more packed than usual. As I got to my usual standing position in the Sieve, the teams were read out over the tannoy.

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

John Still opted to stick with the same team which defeated Morecambe in midweek, meaning Chris Lewington had to be content with a place on the bench following his return from a ban he picked up against Cheltenham. The only other news was that Dominic Green was also back on the bench, following an injury which he picked up two weeks ago.

Bradford City: McLaughlin, Fry, Oliver, Kozluk, Davies, Jones, Ravenhill, Bullock, Reid, Smalley, Fagan. Subs: Annerson, Mitchell, Haworth, Atkinson, Wells.

Phil Parkinson made two enforced changes as Bradford looked for their third consecutive away win for the first time in 27 years. Welsh midfielder Michael Flynn picked up a groin injury on Tuesday night, so was replaced by Lee Bullock as Bradford reverted to a 4-4-1-1 formation. The other change was Marcel Seip whose ankle problem has gradually gotten worse; he was left out for former West Ham Youth Team star, Matt Fry. Bradford also had a change in captain, following Flynn's absence, experienced Ricky Ravenhill taking the armband.
That was the teams, and just after we had a samba drum rendition from a local school, before the teams eventually came out to good applause. Everyone was in a slightly better mood due to the nice spring weather, meaning that most were up for the game, no matter what it had in store for either side.

Dagenham & Redbridge kicked the game off, shooting towards the Bradford City fans (and some Daggers), housed in the Traditional Builders Stand. The first incident of the game came about four minutes in, when some of the home support half heartedly appealed for a handball in the Bantams box, the referee saw none of it, so unsurprisingly the penalty wasn't awarded. For what it’s worth, I didn't think it was a penalty either. Minutes later and the Bantams tried to spring their first attack down the left hand side; however Kyle Reid's cross went woefully over the bar.

The five minute mark saw Matt Fry get a deserved booking for a high challenge on Scott Doe just outside the Daggers' box. After a brief scuffle involving both sets of players, ours led by Mark Arber, the referee brandished a sole yellow to Reid, when I personally thought Arber was worthy of one as well for his role in the fracar.

Ten minutes later and Bradford began to show signs of establishing a foothold in the contest. Craig Fagan's ball in from the left hand side was deflected onto the top of Jonathan Bond's net for a corner, which was also taken by Fagan. The ball from the corner was directed towards the near post and caused an almighty scramble, in which Bond, Arber & Reeves all made vital blocks to deny several Bantams players from scoring. A real let off for John Still's men, as Bradford really should have taken an early lead.

Moments later and City were on the attack again, a ball was played forward towards Bond's area with Bullock chasing it down. The defenders were left for dead, which meant the on loan Watford 'keeper was forced to dive at the feet of the on rushing Bullock to make sure the score's stayed at level pegging. We were then down the other end of the field for a Daggers attack on the right hand side, right back Scott Doe whipping in a delightful cross which just surpassed Reeves following a knock on from Josh Scott. That was the best chance of the afternoon so far for the Daggers.

Five minutes after that period of end to end attacking and the Daggers were looking to find the opening goal once more. Damien McCrory arrowed a corner in towards the back post where an unmarked Arber hooked the ball back across, unfortunately Jon Nurse could only manager to divert the ball behind for a goal kick. Yet more positive play from the home side.

Just before the half hour mark and the away side were presented with a fantastic opportunity to break the deadlock. Former Charlton Athletic man Reid, found yet more space to exploit down the left hand side, before crossing in a teasing ball which found the unmarked Bullock who rose well to meet the ball, but could only head it onto the roof of the net. Another good chance for Bradford, and one I'm sure that Bullock will think he should have done better with.

The fast paced feel of the game then suddenly began to drop off following an influx of injuries for both sides. Scott Doe & Matt Fry endured a clash of heads, whilst Ritchie Jones also needed treatment after a knock to the head. Minutes later and it was the turn of Robert Kozluk to receive some treatment, all these stoppages meant there would surely be some heavy injury time.

The final opportunity of the first half came from where the Daggers had been most effective, set pieces. Another Damien McCrory corner forced Kozluk to head over his own bar to avert the danger, whilst from the second corner; Mark Arber squandered a decent opportunity by heading a close range header over the top amongst a crowd of players.

 The final Bradford play of the half came courtesy of a dangerous looking free kick on the edge of the box. Ricky Ravenhill stood over the ball on the left side; it looked as though he was going to shoot, but at the last minute played it to the unmarked Reid just yards away from him. With one touch, Reid hammered a shot towards Bond's goal, which was eventually deflected wide several times for a corner. From the resulting set piece on the far side, no one could manage to get their head on a teasing Reid cross, meaning the ball went out of play for a goal kick.

That was the end of a very average first half of action. Dagenham had showed the most promise going forward, but weren't really worthy of leading at the break, so 0-0 was probably the fairest scoreline. I was particularly impressed with Scott Doe & Damien McCrory, who were showing good composure when defending and looked promising when attacking. No one had really stood out in the match, Kyle Reid was looking threatening with the ball at his feet, but that’s only if he managed to learn how to cross a ball into the box effectively during the half time break.

The teams came back out just after 4:00 and Bradford were all primed and ready to take kick off to start the second half. It has to be said, the second 45 started extremely slowly, with neither side making a foray into the opposition penalty area, moreover I don't think we even had a shot to talk about!

The first action came on around 60 minutes, when both managers looked to make a positive influence on the game by making a substitution apiece. Phil Parkinson withdrew Dean Smalley, which meant that Hull City loan star Will Atkinson got the chance to make an impact in the thirty minutes remaining. John Still also made a change, replacing the somewhat ineffective Ben Reeves, with fans favourite Brian Woodall; as both sides looked for that all important first goal. This also meant a change in formation with Woodall partnering Scott up front; this also saw Elito drift to the left to create a natural 4-4-2 line up.

Then came one of the best moments of the game, Jon Nurse getting one straight in the goolies, but like a true professional, the Barbadian carried on, all be it with somewhat contorted face. Craig Fagan then managed to get the first shot of the second period away, a neat run ending up with a tame effort fired straight at Bond.

Five minutes later and the home side took the lead courtesy of a spectacular free kick from Matthew Saunders. Josh Scott was fouled about 25 yards out from goal, which saw the Daggers earn a free kick. Damien McCrory & Mickey Spillane were both hanging over the ball, but it was Saunders who was eventually entrusted with the responsibility of taking it. With a couple of steps he hit the ball and curled home an exquisite finish into the top corner, leaving McLaughlin with no chance in hell of getting to it. A vital lead, and probably the first time we've seen a decent free kick go in at home since the days of Danny Green!

Unfortunately in the goal celebrations, someone trod on Saunders' ankle, meaning he had to eventually be replaced by Billy Bingham in the middle of the park. Also, when we have a stretcher leaning by the side of a dugout, why did Saunders have to be carried off using two people. If we have the equipment, use it!

Usually when we score and take the lead, we tend to sit back and invite pressure, but not today. Minutes after the opener, and the Daggers managed a superb breakaway which resulted in a Nurse attempt, however cross come shot was dealt with fairly easily by McLaughlin between the sticks. Bradford then made their second change of the match in the hope that they could find an equaliser, Bermudian forward Nahki Wells was brought on for Ritchie Jones. This also saw Bradford change formation, with Phil Parkinson opting for a 3-4-3, meaning we could possibly over run them at the back.

The Bantams did finally begin to assert some pressure, with Abu Ogogo forced to clear the ball away in his own box, whilst under pressure from several players in the black shirts of Bradford. Minutes later and from a corner, Mickey Spillane made an acrobatic clearance which not only cleared the danger, but launched a counter attack up field. The ball eventually found its way to Woodall, but the striker's shot was well saved by the legs of McLaughlin.

Bradford huffed & puffed, but they just couldn't get that all important equaliser, despite me letting out a little yelp every time they approached our penalty area. Jonathan Bond was then booked for dissent, from the resulting corner the Watford loan 'keeper could only manage to punch the ball onto his own bar, but luckily Mr Linington gave a foul meaning we escaped. Andy Haworth was then brought on for Craig Fagan as Parkinson made his final throw of the dice.

Before the game had ended, there was time for another booking for Josh Scott for "delaying play", as well as for another Brian Woodall chance. From a Bradford attack, one of our defenders made a punt up field which found a marked Woodall whose superb first touch enabled him to escape his marker, Luke Oliver. He took one more touch before unleashing a low drive towards the bottom corner which McLaughlin just tipped round the post for a corner.

That was thankfully the final action of the match. What a tense match it was as well, a massive three points was made even better upon learning that Northampton had let slip a two goal lead to draw with Cheltenham, whilst Plymouth lost & Barnet could only manage a draw.

One sour note from the day was the racist abuse directed at a group of Asian supporters towards the end of the Sieve, where the notorious idiots/ one timers of the club stand. It was terrible to hear of and it resulted in part segregation whilst the police ejected those causing the trouble. A sour note on the "Kick Racism Out" campaign, but credit to the players who went over there to applaud them first. Hopefully it made some kind of small inroad to a day which they probably didn't particularly enjoy.

My faith was somewhat restored though as I walked through the Bury Road Terrace. A group of children from ethnic minorities had joy etched on their faces after seeing the game, the players walk round the pitch & the Late Kick Off cameras. They seemingly really enjoyed their afternoon, furthermore it was an example of what football and the kick it out campaign are all about.

As for the performance, not the best in the world by any stretch of the imagination, but if I judge the whole game I think we probably just about deserved the victory. Everyone played their part today, although Elito & Reeves were slightly nonexistent, this once again comes back to the argument that Medy plays better on a bigger pitch. I thought that Josh looked quite unfit, but was still able to cause problems which is a very good sign.

Jon Nurse also surprised me I have to say, he had a pretty good game and someone that was overlooked by a lot of fans yesterday afternoon. The back line were magnificent once more, apart from that old complaint of mine regarding the lack of marking. Elsewhere, I thought we done well on the pitch and the free kick from Saunders was worthy of winning any game. One thing that is slightly worrying, is that Woodall played for 20 minutes and tested the goalkeeper more times than our other players did in the 70 minutes previous to that.

As for Bradford, I imagine that they'll be safe come the end of the season. They appear to have the individual players, but did not really play collectively as a team yesterday. Kyle Reid was probably one of their best players from an attacking perspective, he often found space down the wing, but couldn't put in a decent ball a lot of the time. If they sort that out, then I reckon they'll be safe.

This is now our seventh game unbeaten against Bradford City, our third game unbeaten in the league, furthermore in that league run; we have only conceded a single goal. Things suddenly look a lot brighter, especially when you consider that yesterday was the first time all season we have managed to name the same team for consecutive games. That just shows the extent of our injury troubles this season.

Next up for us is a trip to Swindon & The County Ground on Tuesday night which unfortunately I won't be at. So the next report from myself will be the vital clash with AFC Wimbledon next Saturday at Kingsmeadow.

Until then, I hope you all have a good week and I hope that we can pick up a point or three against Swindon in midweek!

Remember to follow me on Twitter, @NickDRFCMurphy.


  1. What is your problem? You want to be a journalist but not one that has opposing views.Not sure we disagree on much anyway.

  2. My problem is you, commenting things which are totally irrelevant about the game, your son on Twitter has nothing whatsoever to do about the game. You mentioning forum members has nothing to do with the game. If you want to post an honest opinion without aiming sly digs and commenting stuff that is completely irrelevant than I'll let your comment stay.

    If you have a problem with others, then don't use my Blog to fuel your vendetta, email them or something as that's not my business.

  3. Ok thats reasonably fair.However I have no other way of answering my critics or expressing my views.I read the forum daily and it seems they cant forget me and have little digs knowing I cant respond.How else do you stop grown men bothering a 14 year old? The grown men concerned read your blog,(I havent a clue what their email addresses are either)I was hoping you'd leave that up long enough so that they could take the advice and behave themselves.

    Happy to read your blog and comment on the games.I am a season ticket holder and travel as often as possible to home games.Quite a few didnt get me I know you really think I want a roof on the Bury road end,although my season ticket is for the sieve I normally upgrade to the Carling where possible so Id be dry whatever happened.I would think if any other fathers on here had adults bothering their children they'd try to get that stopped.

    Anyway,point made.

    I have read some quite racist points on that forum and as you mentioned it in relation to Saturdays game(in your much improved blog)I thought Id add my bit.It was a disgrace to our club that grown men would terrorise asian or other children at our anti racism day wasnt it? By all means be racist if you have to(And Im not suggesting you are) but scaring kids.Im agreeing with you Nick.The segregation was necessary but immensley embarrasing to the club.

    I think we've come a long way you and me.I largely agree with you on most things and I quite like your blog.Spillane is a favourite of mine these days along with Femi McCrory Doe Abs Josh and Woodhall.I was a bit down on Arber but I have to admit that since his return he has stepped back up to the plate if you ignore the Cheltenham disaster.I always knew Tomlin didnt suit our style and am guilty of winding you up with that.I have a pic of me Tomlin and the boy and he was a nice guy,I wish him well.He wont fit in with us unless we change our style.I promise not to wind anyone up on here from now on.I will comment on the games only.

  4. I meant in paragraph 2 I attend all home and as many away fixtures as work will permit.