Sunday, 18 March 2012

Daggers 2-0 Macclesfield Town, Akinde Magic

Dagenham & Redbridge recorded a valuable 2-0 win at home to Macclesfield Town on Saturday afternoon to end a run of three consecutive defeats, that scoreline also means we're six games unbeaten against the Silkmen, a run stretching back to December 2008.

Macclesfield's, "Robin Hood" supporters coach.
 Before the game I was pretty relaxed and mellow about the ensuing match, perhaps as I'd been drinking the night before and the cider had managed to numb my brain a bit. Either way, I was chilled and looking forward to it at the same time. I was also expecting a decent turnout from Macclesfield as they'd give the go ahead to pay for two of the supporters coaches down off of their own backs, a good initiative from a club that surely don't have too much money to spend.

As I arrived into Victoria Road, my first port of call was the toilets, (I promise I'm telling you this for a reason), where I found some inspiration. The "Akinde Magic" sign was still written on the door of one of the bogs, perhaps it was a sign of things to come as the striker had signed back on loan along with defender Charlie Wassmer, late Friday night. This took up our total of loans at this current period to six; I only thought we were allowed four at any one time!

As I moved over to the Sieve to have a burger and stand with Lee, the teams were read out over the tannoy.

Dagenham & Redbridge: Lewington, Spillane, Arber, Baudry (Baldrick), McCrory, Elito, Ogogo, Howell, Parker, Nurse, Akinde. Subs: Bond, Bingham, Green, Woodall, Wassmer.

The big news on Friday night was the double signing of Charlie Wassmer, but more importantly former Dagger John Akinde on loan from Crawley Town. I'm sure this angered a few because of who we signed them from, but it was a fantastic move by Stilly, moreover Akinde started in place of Woodall in the only change from the midweek defeat against Northampton. Baldrick retained his place at centre half, whilst Nurse would partner Akinde up front.

Macclesfield Town: O'Donnell, Tremarco, Brown, Diagne, Connolly, Daniel, Mendy, Wedgebury, Hamshaw, Donnelly, Smith. Subs: Chalmers, Ball, Mukendi, Tomlinson, Bakare.

Gary Simpson brought in Matt Smith & Matthew Ball on loan from Oldham and Norwich respectively on Friday; however it was striker Smith that made his debut in place of Congolese front man Vinny Mukendi, whilst Ball had to be content with a place on the bench. The only other change was the return of Liverpudlian born defender Carl Tremarco for Marcus Marshall as Macc went more defensive.

It was nearing kick off and then came the rhythmic walkers, aka Pulse. The less said about their performance, the better. It lacked rhythm, consistency and cohesion; however unlike Dagenham this season, they kept all of their moves on the deck! Just after this, they went in and the teams came out onto the pitch to muted applause from all four sides. This may well have been a big game, but it didn't really have that feel about it for me.

It was Macclesfield that won the toss and they opted to change round, meaning the Daggers would be attacking the Bury Road End, whilst Macc would face their own fans in the Traditional Builders Stand. Just before kickoff Jon Nurse was given a special award from chairman Dave Andrews for clocking up 200 Dagenham & Redbridge appearances, in a stint that has also made him the longest serving Dagger still at the club.

We kicked off and the first chance of the match came courtesy of old new boy John Akinde, who hit a tame shot at O'Donnell following a neat flick forward by Jon Nurse. Within five minutes and Macclesfield made the opportunities count one apiece as former Sheffield United man Sam Wedgebury headed straight at Chris Lewington from close range following a delightful ball in from Colin Daniel. Just before the ten minute mark and the Daggers went close again, a Damien McCrory ball in found the head of Jon Nurse who could only manage to head wide of the mark.

The game was becoming increasingly open in the early stages meaning both sides had good chances. Macclesfield went close through Matt Hamshaw & Colin Daniel, but their shots were blocked by a combination of Mark Arber and Damien McCrory as the scores remained level. From one of these blocks came a neat Daggers counter attack. The ball was played to Josh Parker on the right hand side whose neat trickery saw him worm into the box before playing a good ball in that was headed away by the Macc defence.
On the 16 minute mark, the home side made that vital breakthrough via Medy Elito. He was given the ball on the right hand side and made a mazy run into the box, beating two defenders before slotting home a deflected finish to send the Daggers one up. A superb piece of play from the winger who has received his fair share of criticism this season from me and others. The scoreline was perhaps slightly harsh on Macclesfield who had looked dangerous whilst attacking.

Straight from the restart and the Daggers were looking to build on their slender advantage through the lively Josh Parker. His shot that was heading towards goal was blocked, meaning it fell beautifully for Luke Howell on the edge of the box; his strike was eventually deflected away for a corner.

We then had a bit of a lull in play as the game slowed down, enabling both teams to find their feet. Macclesfield hadn't tested Lewington once in the Daggers goal, and coming up to 32 minutes it was still the case as another Luke Howell effort was fired tamely at visiting goalkeeper O'Donnell. Minutes later and Gary Simpson’s men had their first opportunity of the match, if you could call it that. George Donnelly received the ball on the left hand side, but luckily Mark Arber asserted enough pressure to ensure the striker skewed his shot way off target to a chorus of “whey’s”, from the Sieve.

Medy Elito then came close to doubling the lead. He cut in once more and bent a shot towards the near post that struck Akinde on its way; unfortunately, the deflection took it just wide of the post much to my despair. Mickey Spillane then went close as well, Akinde's neat lay off saw the former Brentford defender hit it towards the roof of the net from 15 yards out, however O'Donnell made another good save to tip it over for a corner.

Just before the half time whistle and John Still's men had two more good opportunities to increase the scoreline. The first came from a Josh Parker throw which found the head of Jon Nurse who could only manage to head a superb opportunity onto the roof of the net when he really should have scored. The second chance came from a poor O'Donnell header from outside the box. It fell to Parker whose poor strike whilst the 'keeper was off his line fell to Akinde just outside the box. You just had that sense that Akinde wouldn't find the back of the net and so it proved as O'Donnell recovered to make another good stop.

World Famous, Pulse...........
 That was the end of the first half in which the Daggers dominated throughout, Macclesfield weren't given so much as a sniff of a chance. In truth we could have been three or four up with the opportunities we had, but our lack of finishing prowess was seemingly costing us once again. I was however impressed with every player on the pitch, in particular Parker & Akinde who were making things happen up top. Howell was also as impressive as ever, getting around the pitch whilst Jon Nurse was having a stormer on his 200th appearance.

The teams resumed for the second half just after 16:00 to decent applause, although the Macclesfield fans were slightly less unenthusiastic being 1-0 down. It was Macc who managed to get the first attempt of the second half away, however George Donnelly's shot was blocked well by McCrory and eventually Lewington. He was easily their main threat; furthermore it showed why the Daggers really needed a second goal to put the game beyond the fighting Silkmen.

Chris Lewington was then called into his first real action of the afternoon following a Matt Hamshaw corner. The ball came into the box where the unmarked Diagne was on hand to apply a firm head, directing the ball goalwards. Fortunately for Daggers, Lewy managed a superb fingertip save over the bar to deny the young French defender.

Dagenham then managed to form something that resembled a breakaway, resulting in a Mickey Spillane shot being deflected behind for a corner. From the resulting set piece, Medy Elito put in a corner to the front post where Baldrick made the Scott Doe run, unfortunately he couldn't get it on target.

Macclesfield then came dangerously close to getting a somewhat deserved equaliser. A free kick on the left hand side was directed towards debutant Matt Smith in the box. His pin point header went against the crossbar before bouncing back out to the onrushing Donnelly whose on target header was tipped over superbly by the scrambling Lewington. A real scare for Dagenham as those missed chances promised to come back and haunt them.

Akinde vs Carlisle last season.
 With 70 minutes played, John Akinde showed some good initiative inside the box, letting a Josh Parker ball in roll through his legs towards the perfectly placed Luke Howell. However, Howell was beaten to the ball by Connolly which averted the danger. Former Lincoln man Howell then had to undergo some treatment as it looked as though he'd injured himself; nonetheless he bravely carried on whilst appearing to be in some pain.

Then came a few changes for both sides. Firstly, Lewis Chalmers replaced the tiring Sam Wedgebury in a like for like swap in the midfield. Minutes later and Luke Howell couldn't continue any longer, even though he valiantly tried to defend a Macclesfield attack whilst others just strolled back. It was the end of his game, meaning Billy Bingham was introduced into the fold. Let’s just hope that his injury isn't bad, as he really has been a dynamic player in the midfield in the past two games. Macc then made their second change a few minutes later, defender Tremarco was off, meaning former Chelmsford midfielder Michael Bakare was given a chance to shine for the final 15 minutes.

With 13 minutes to go, the home sides lack of potency in front of goal was evident once again as Jon Nurse flashed a shot wide of the post from 15 yards out when he really should have tested the goalkeeper. That was thanks to some good work from "Akinde magic", he had reappeared for the second half with his name and number on the back of shirt; that’s really Akinde Magic! On a separate note, anyone else think, "Akinde Magic", sounds like a rubbish Basketball team?

Five minutes after that attempt and Josh Parker was released through once again, but his one on one effort against O'Donnell was clambered behind for a corner. The pacey Oldham loanee fluffing his lines when it mattered when it was probably easier to score. From the resulting corner, Spillane could only manage a poor volley that went over the bar.

Then came an anxious five minute period for John Still's men after Elito and Bingham conceded identical free kicks in threatening positions. Both of the dead ball situations were good opportunities, but luckily both strikes ended up being hammered against the wall; much to everyone's relief. In between the two failed strikes, Brian Woodall replaced the tiring John Akinde for Dagenham, whilst Ben Tomlinson replaced Matt Hamshaw as the Chesire side made their final change in an attempt to find that all important equaliser.

The fourth official indicated that there would be four minutes added on, just as it was announced, Macclesfield won a corner. This did of course mean that the 'keeper O'Donnell was up, causing a new vibe and a sense of anticipation all around the ground. The ball came in and it fell to Bakare who could only direct it over the bar.

Usually when Dagenham dominate a game, they drop points, but not today. With virtually the final play of the game, Medy Elito was released through on the left hand side; he escaped his marker before curling a tame shot at O'Donnell. A simple save you would think? Alas, the ball trickled over the despairing O'Donnell and into the back of the net to relieve all of the pressure we had felt in the previous 93 minutes at Victoria Road. This ensured a deserved Daggers 3 points, whilst Macclesfield would have to head home to Cheshire with nothing to show from our two encounters against them this season.

The referee called time on the match and everyone filed out of Victoria Road in a buoyant and happy mood. After a brief chat with Mike Jones after the game, I got my Barnet ticket and headed off home, safe in the knowledge that we'd kept ourselves in touch with everyone down at the bottom end of the table.

Overall, I was extremely pleased with the display. It was probably one of the most dominant performances all season from our point of view; however we had only managed to scrape the victory which tells its own story. The amount of missed opportunities we had was disastrous, I thoroughly hope we have shooting practice all day on Monday!

As for individual players, what a difference John Akinde made. He may not have been on top form and he may not have scored, but he caused the Macc defence no end of problems. His physical strength and awareness on the ball is second to none in our team at the moment, a very shrewd move from Stilly to get him back. Josh Parker was also sensational; his gut busting runs combined with his immense pace is a recipe for success. He is able to create plenty of chances and really hassle the full backs of the opposition, another good loan signing.

I can then look at the defence and think what a resolute display. Baldrick was immense throughout, making fantastic tackles and really being a force at the back positioned next to the equally solid Arber was played the real captain’s role yesterday afternoon. The midfield was probably the best it’s been all season, Howell was dynamic, Ogogo was feisty and Parker & Elito on either wing provided a superb threat. You'd imagine Macclesfield are getting sick of Elito, all three goals we've scored against Macc this season have come from him!

The man who deserves some real plaudits however, is Mr 200; Jon Nurse. He has had his fair share of criticism this season from everyone, including myself, but he really has come back with a bang in the last few games. Unfortunately amongst good team performances, he hasn't been recognised that much, but he looked like the Nurse of old. He had trickery, awareness, energy and an eye for goal (even if it was rather poor), let’s hope he can keep it up.

As for Macclesfield, a pretty poor display in all honesty, they're without a win in the whole of 2012 and you can see why. They looked blunt up front and left gaps at the back which we exploited half heartedly. It's now a real relegation battle, with upwards of five teams involved. It's anyone’s guess who will go down really, and I have a horrid feeling that it may go down to the final day of the season.

It's weird really. Four days ago I was virtually consigned to the face we would be playing Tamworth next season, now however I hold real hope of survival because of one win. This league is genuinely uncallable from now until the end of the season and I have to say, whoever goes down I will probably feel quite sorry for in a weird way.

Next up for us is our "derby of the season", against Barnet on Tuesday night, whilst Macclesfield face a trip to the wonderful Don Valley Stadium. Having been there, all I can see is... enjoy the view!

Thanks for reading and feel free to follow me on Twitter, @NickDRFCMurphy. On a final note, I wish all the best to everyone related to Fabrice Muamba, furthermore I hope he managed to pull through. 

1 comment:

  1. What a difference a win makes.Last week we were doomed,this week,and mainly because of how useless some other teams around us are,we have almost a chance of the playoffs again.I left happy that we could stay up but how many misses will others let us have? Clearly Akinde makes things happen,I doubt he'll score many himself but he provided countless chances yesterday.

    The Macc goalkeepers long kicks are a dose of what we need if we are going to carry on with our long ball game.They were almost like shots in themselves.Imagine a kick like that straight down the middle onto Josh,Woodhall or Akinde's head,that would be a bit more like it.

    Im not gonna babble on.I have 3 spaces in my car for Barnet Tuesday but have no real way of broadcasting this or other usefull stuff these days(If only there was a fans forum).But thats another story.Once again my spare season ticket didnt get used either,Im sure someones mate could have done a deal with me,a burger and a program would have done it LOL!


    Baldrick for captain COYD