Saturday, 24 March 2012

Daggers 2-1 Accrington Stanley, Still Got It.

There are some games and performances in football that define a particular season, games that have a massive effect on the bearing of the final league table. This is not just because of the three points they herald, it is because of a huge confidence boost they give, both to the fans and the players alike. This was one of those, this was a season defining afternoon. Not only were these three points a highlight, the atmosphere created by the Daggers in the Traditional Builders Stand was sensational, backed by Mark Arber who has recently tweeted, "The Traditional Builders Stand must be our Home end for future games. Sucked the ball in the net. What a feeling that was."
The Lads Warm Up.
Before the game I was cautiously optimistic, predicting a score draw which would have satisfied me. I arrived at Victoria Road for around 14:20 as the sun glared down upon me, the balmy temperatures continued to rise as I had my burger, I then headed into the Sieve for a quick read of the programme. This would be a brief stint in the Sieve as we were given The Traditional Builders Stand for the afternoon, so as soon as Lee, Bill, Chaz et al arrived, we would be heading there to create a good atmosphere for the lads.

They approached, and so with twenty minutes until kick off, we headed up and took our positions amongst the rest of the Daggers fans. I have to say, what a view it is from there. This was the first time I've been in the TB Stand and it's a fantastic spectacle from the lofty height, I’m afraid to admit it makes the rest of the ground look rather poor. With kick off approaching, a muffled sound came over the tannoy to announce the teams for the day’s vital encounter.

Dagenham & Redbridge: Lewington, Doe, Baudry (Baldrick), Arber, McCrory, Nurse, Ogogo, Spillane, Elito, Parker, Akinde. Subs: Hogan, Bingham, Woodall, Scott, Wassmer.

John Still opted to keep with the same side that drew 2-2 with Barnet on Tuesday night, despite the threat of Jon Nurse being dropped for Dave Hogan in a spoof video on Friday afternoon in order to encourage votes for the nPower Fans Stadium.

Accrington Stanley: Nicholls, Coid, Nsiala, Kiernan, Murphy (no relation), Barnett, Joyce, McIntyre, Devitt, Lindfield, Grant. Subs: Dunbavin, Craney, Hopper, Hatfield, Amond.

Stanley boss Paul Cook made a single change from the team that drew 1-1 with Morecambe at the Crown Ground on Tuesday, with former Liverpool prodigy Craig Lindfield introduced for Pacos De Ferreira loan player Padraig Amond. The infamous Lancashire-Pacos relation being exploited for that deal I imagine.

The View
At this point I would like to give a massive credit to the Stanley fans that had made the trip down to Essex for the game. Having done the reverse fixture in somewhat worse conditions than this afternoon’s, I have a lot of respect for the opposition that have made the long trip down. Accrington is a club similar in stature to our own so it's always good to keep relations on a good note.

Just after 15:00 and the teams emerged to the freshly cut pitch as impressive noise rang down from the TB Stand. Mark Arber won the toss and opted to swap ends meaning that the Daggers would be attacking the Bury Road End, whilst Accy would be shooting towards a combination of supporters. With that, former Premier League referee Stuart Attwell blew his whistle to initiate proceedings between the two sides.

Within two minutes of the start, an opportunity was registered. Medy Elito who has looked like our most consistent threat in recent weeks flashing a shot over the bar from a Parker throw. Accrington were then nearly handed the lead after some poor play between Scott Doe and Chris Lewington. Doe played a ball back to Lewy who had to stretch to ensure it didn't go out for a corner; however he completely fluffed his lines and prodded the ball to the static Bobby Grant. However, Scunthorpe loan star Grant couldn't quite sort his feet out in time meaning the ball bounced away, much to everyone’s relief.

The Daggers then came almightily close on eight minutes when Akinde done well to earn a corner on the right hand side. It was put into the box beautifully where it met the head of Frenchman Baudry, his goal bound header was cleared off the line in slow motion as the scores remained level. A fast tempo to the game ensured for some ferocious attacking at both ends, it was just a question of who would break the deadlock first.

Stanley were becoming increasingly menacing down the wings, especially the right hand side where McCrory was all over the shop trying to keep tabs on Jamie Devitt. Bauldry then showed why he is rated so highly by AFC Bournemouth, blocking powerful shots twice from Accrington midfielders before winning a head to head battle with aging Danny Coid. With that, Coid had to go off on a stretcher to applause all round, he was replaced by Will Hatfield on 17 minutes.

Minutes after and Chris Lewington had to be at his best to deny a shot on the turn from Bobby Grant whose volley was heading towards the top corner, smart goalkeeping from the youngster. Just as it looked as though Accrington were getting on top, Medy Elito came back with a run of his own. Going all the way from the half way line before firing a low shot which drifted just wide of Lee Nicholl's right hand post.

John Akinde hadn't really threatened the back line up until now, but his strength and close ball control ensured that he won a free kick on the edge of the box about 20 yards out. Damien McCrory and Mickey Spillane both stood over the ball, but it would inevitably be Mickey to hit it. After a dummy by Damien, Mickey ran up and fired it over the wall, but over the bar as well meaning it would be another goal kick.

With just three minutes to go until half time Accrington took the lead thanks to a fine curling shot from their prominent threat Bobby Grant. His strike nestled perfectly in the corner leaving Lewington no chance and the Accy supporters and players wheeling off in celebration. Whilst Lewington may have been at fault for a few goals in recent weeks, there was simply nothing he could have done to stop this magnificent strike.

There was action at either end before the half time whistle, Bobby Grant struck another shot from the same position, but this time it was blocked well and subsequently booted straight up the other end where John Akinde won another corner. From the resulting corner, the ball found its way through to Scott Doe who didn't infact make the front post run, however his central header was saved well from Nicholls who had managed to scramble across to the centre of the goalmouth.

That was the end of a very open and end to end first half. Accrington were ahead by the odd goal and probably deserved it, although it could be argued that going in level at half time would have been fair. Damien McCrory was having a nightmare, whilst John Akinde wasn't showing the form that had made him so difficult for defenders in the previous two games. One bright spot was the performance of Baudry who was immense, wherever the ball was, he was.

I was then informed that the famous tea bar inside the TB Stand was in superb condition and that the food wasn't too bad either. Being the lazy git that I am, I opted to not move throughout the whole duration of half time which made me rather chilly in the process. I'll say one thing for the TB Stand, even if it does have a great view, when a breeze blows through it gets rather cold!

As the teams came back out for the second half the temperature rose once more, perhaps this was a sign that we were going to turn the heat up on Accrington in the second half. Stilly made a change during the interval, Josh Parker was replaced by Billy Bingham as we switched formation to a 4-3-3. With around five minutes played in the second half, Jon Nurse had managed to get himself around the Accy defence before being brought down in the box; appeals for a penalty were waved away by Attwell.

With ten minutes gone Jon Nurse seemingly picked up an injury and was replaced by the clubs main striker Josh Scott. From a throw in on the near side, Mickey Spillane managed to work some space for himself before cutting into the box where he made the decision to shoot rather than cross. Needless to say his attempt from a tight angle only succeeded in hitting the side netting. After a lull in play, Accrington broke following a Daggers corner; however Hatfield could only manage to pull his shot wide of the goal meaning the deficit remained at one.

The infamous Woodall at Accrington
picture makes a return.
 John Still then made his third and final change unusually early in the match, on 60 minutes to be precise. Daggers' joint top league goal scorer Brian Woodall was thrust into the fray as the underperforming John Akinde was withdrawn. I remember thinking to myself at the time that it could well be a John Still master class of a substitution.

The game then became increasingly fast paced as Scott Doe produced a vital block at one end whilst Ogogo's shot from close range was blocked at the other. There was definitely another goal in this game. This was followed up by a Billy Bingham shot from around 30 yards out which cleared the bar, causing disgruntled noises from several fans who had previously urged him to hit the trigger. I'm sorry but if you call for a player to shoot and then he misses from 30 yards out, you have no right to yell abuse. Cretins.

Former Sligo manager Paul Cook then made his second change of the match, replacing the somewhat anonymous Craig Lindfield with Irishman Padraig Amond. Somewhat ironically Cook worked with Amond at Sligo Rovers in 2010, who knew they would reunite at the close knit Lancashire outfit.

The game was fast becoming an all Daggers attacking display, but as yet without reward. Josh Scott hit a first time volley off target following a deep ball into the box from McCrory as the home side pushed for that equaliser. Where we were consistently attacking, gaps were being left at the back which Accrington were more than happy to exploit, fortunately for us Jamie Devitt's shot once again went wide of the mark.

As we continued to press into the box, I found myself screaming and hollering at several players to play the ball out wide to Scott Doe who was in acres of space. The one time Mickey Spillane did this, Doey played a fantastic reverse pass to Josh Scott on the edge of the box which was blocked superbly as it looked to be going in the bottom corner. The frustration was killing us all. Minutes later and Abu Ogogo spurned a simply fantastic opportunity from eight yards out, firing his shot an inch over the bar.

Another Stanley man then lay in agony in the Daggers penalty area following a good block, after some treatment from the physio it was decided that Rob Kiernan could simply not continue any longer. Former Huddersfield midfielder Ian Craney was brought on to see out the final 15 minutes for Accy. The away side then pushed to grab a second once again, only a superb last ditch Baudry tackle denying Amond a clear run on goal to almost certainly kill the game off.

Spillane then hit a shot that was heading towards the bottom corner before it was blocked as I released yet more yelps of anguish and despair. We were throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Stanley and it wasn't yielding any rewards. Scott Doe then picked up a deserved booking for a "smart" foul on Jame Devitt on the right hand side. If Scott hadn't made the challenge, the tricky striker would have been away down the wing, so a very clever tackle to say the least.

Then on 84 minutes, Lord Brian rose highest to head in that all important equaliser. McCrory who had been poor all afternoon roasted his man before dribbling into the box; his awareness then saw him pick out Spillane just five yards away. Supporters urged Mickey to shoot, but he composed himself before curling a ball to the back post which found the onrushing Woodall who was on hand to head home into an empty net. Dagenham & Redbridge 1-1 Accrington Stanley. Mass celebration from everyone apart from Lee who was just all too glad that we'd managed to equalise.

After continued celebrations the game restarted, both sides still felt they had a chance to win this game. Billy Bingham got the first chance after the restart but his 25 yard effort was blocked behind for a corner. From the resulting set play, the ball found Baudry who attacked it at the near post, his header landed straight in the gloves of the thankful Nicholls; anywhere else and it was 2-1 Daggers.

The Daggers win a free kick.
As the board rose for six minutes of injury time, Jame Devitt conceded a free kick on the far side after bringing down Damien McCrory. Whilst the wall was being arranged and the Daggers setting up how they were going to take it, Stuart Attwell consulted with his official as to the punishment of defender Aristote Nsiala for constantly berating the referee. Eventually, much to his amazement Nsiala was sent off, he was eventually escorted through the tunnel by a Dagenham official in order to calm him down.

The free kick was eventually taken by Elito and swung in towards the back post. Everyone then looked across in unison to see Scott Doe leaping up in Baywatch slow motion to head the ball into the net. I can honestly tell you that I have not celebrated a goal like that this season. Its sheer testament to how much we celebrated that I have to thank Lee for saving my life as he grabbed on to my shoulder as I nearly went straight over the seats in front of me. As I'm sure you can tell, I'm not over exaggerating.

It was Scott Doe with the not so infamous back post run. The celebrations were manic from fans and players alike. I have never seen Mark Arber so fired up after we’ve scored. The magnitude of this goal is simply unfathomable. I'll cut to the chase here as I'm so elated just writing this, we rode out the Accy storm and won the game 2-1.

Elation. Bouncebackability. Courage. Three words that sum up everything from Saturday. The relief when the final whistle went was unparalleled. I simply cannot put it into words. Everyone in the TB Stand went on singing for at least 15 minutes after the final whistle whilst Stilly et al were interviewed for The Football League Show in the centre of the park.

I can summarise it simply like this. It was the biggest getaway since The Great Train Robbery of 1963. You can argue that we deserved all three, but from my point of view we deserved just the one. It makes a pleasant change to be on the right end of a last gasp winner doesn't it? This win lifts us up to the lofty heights of 21st; I hope you don't suffer from vertigo!

John Still has to take the majority of the plaudits for today’s victory. He has come in for so much flak this season, but I'd say this was his finest game of the season in terms of tactical ploy and substitutions. At half time he made the very smart move to change to 4-3-3 in order to match Accrington, this stopped them exploiting us in the middle of the park as Billy Bingham was able to get around the pitch more. His substitutions were also very good, the introduction of Josh Scott and Brian Woodall were mastermind decisions.

Baldrick played an absolute blinder and was the man of the match by far, solid and confident when passing the ball. How can you not love any Frenchman that plays for Dagenham & Redbridge? Mickey Spillane was immense once more, whilst Scott Doe provided a valiant overlapping threat on the right hand side, these two players combined superbly.

Elito didn't have too good a game, but essentially he still caused problems for the resolute Accy back line. With that I'd like to add what an achievement it was to break down their back line twice, even if it was with an aerial dimension. The partnership of Josh Scott & Brian Woodall really worked for us with 30 minutes left to play, but the question is do you leave out John Akinde next week in order to accommodate these two starting?

The TB Stand
One thing I'm certain of is that we need The Traditional Builders Stand for the rest of the season. We created a superb noise in there this afternoon so I'm glad that we have it for the rest of this season. Hopefully this can carry forward into next season as well; the only problem may be the ticketing situation as if we do get it full time; it may need its own ticketing bracket.

Once again I would like to thank Accrington Stanley fans for making the trip down. Each time we've met them this season has provided a different and unique view of them and the club in general. The first was at a service station on the opening day where we were invited to play football with them, the second at The Crown Ground in November and now today. I wish them the best of luck for the rest of the season, if they can score some more goals they'll have a team capable of pushing forward for the play off places next season.

Next up for us is Port Vale away next Saturday, let’s hope we can get as many Daggers there as possible! Also I would like to ask you all to vote for Dagenham in the "nPower Fans Stadium", in order to get new facilities via a £10,000 prize, this would seriously benefit the club,

Remember to follow me on Twitter, @NickDRFCMurphy.

The Sieve

The Carling Stand
The Barking College Stand
The Warm Down.

1 comment:

  1. Get a better camera LOL!!

    Thats another pic you got with me in it by the way.