Friday, 6 April 2012

Daggers 1-1 Burton Albion, Brian Woodinho

Dagenham & Redbridge salvaged a late draw at home to Burton Albion thanks to a sublime strike from fans favourite Brian Woodall in a result which keeps the Daggers six points above the drop zone and extends the unbeaten run to five matches.

Before the match I was strangely and dangerously optimistic, this was mainly due to a specific fact that I hadn't shut up about for the duration of the week. Dagenham & Redbridge haven't lost to Burton Albion since 2003, a run which has contained eight Daggers victories and two draws between the former Conference outfits. I was however extremely wary as this is the game that you just knew we would throw away, no disrespect to Burton but this is the game in our run in that we had the best chance of winning.

I arrived at Victoria Road for just after 2:30 meaning I could watch the whole of the stadium slowly fill up whilst reading my programme and having a burger; oh the joys. Whilst I was waiting for my several cohorts, the teams were read out over the tannoy system and they were as follows.

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

John Still decided to make two changes from the side that defeated Port Vale in Staffordshire last week with John Akinde & Dominic Green returning to the side after an absence. They replaced Billy Bingham who was consigned to the bench and Jon Nurse who had an assumed injury, this also meant that the home side reverted to a more attacking 4-4-2 formation.

Burton Albion: Atkins, Webster, Stanton, Corbett, Austin, Phillips, Maghoma, Dyer, Bolder, Richards, Pearson. Subs: James, Ada, Ainsworth, Taylor, Zola.

Burton Albion caretaker managers Gary Rowett & Kevin Poole named an unchanged side from the one that produced a resolute defensive display a week ago against Crawley Town. Albion's biggest threat in Billy Kee is ruled out for the rest of the season so that was a definite plus point for the afternoon.

It was nearing 15:00 so Lee, Anthony & I headed up to The Traditional Builders Stand where we met Chaz & Bill, struggling to find a seat we eventually positioned ourselves on the far side next to the 123 travelling supporters. The teams eventually came out to good applause from all four sides of the ground as the home fans in the TB Stand exchanged some friendly banter with the away supporters from Burton.

It was Mark Arber that won the toss and he opted to swap ends so that we would be attacking the TB Stand in the second half, hopefully to suck the ball into the net like at home to Accrington two weeks previous. We were all ready and within seconds the referee had blown his whistle to signal the start of this extremely important match.

The first ten minutes of the contest were very slow paced with hardly any action, only a Femi like header from Baudry giving Burton a chance to attack from the resulting corner, but even then Lewington wasn't tested. The first shot of the afternoon came courtesy of Congolese midfielder Jacques Maghoma, however his poor effort went high over the bar causing no problems for the Daggers defensive contingent.

With just over 15 minutes played in the contest there came a big talking point up the other end of the field. Dominic Green was on the right hand side and whipped a ball into the box that hit the arm of Jack Dyer before bouncing clear. To all of the Daggers fans it appeared to be a stonewall penalty, however the referee was having none of it and somehow waved away the appeals to give another corner. I personally thought it was a stonewall penalty, these appeals also set the tone for the afternoon with some people shouting handball rather annoyingly every five minutes.

With just under 20 minutes gone in the contest, Burton managed to get the first shot on target away courtesy of Jimmy Phillips who could only screw his shot straight at Lewington. Why am I so funny? The away side continued to pressure the hosts when front man Greg Pearson headed narrowly wide from an enticing ball in by the ever threatening Phillips.

Towards the end of the half and Still's men looked to pressurise the Burton defence with several decent opportunities. Aaron Webster was booked as Dominic Green fired a free kick into the wall, whilst minutes later John Akinde headed onto the roof of the net following some good play down the right hand side by Medy Elito. Both sides were limited to shots from target and it was showing as Mickey Spillane fired wide from about 30 yards out following some neat play in the middle of the park between Ogogo & Green.

It was the home side who mustered the final attempt of the first half as loan star Mathieu Baudry forced visiting 'keeper Ross Atkins into a fine save from his long range effort. From the resulting corner, the ball went through a crowd of bodies to the unsuspecting Spillane who could only manage to prod an effort over the top and out for a goal kick to end the action as the teams went in level at the half way mark.

Overall I'd say that 0-0 at the break was pretty even, neither side had created any substantial opportunities with the game being quite flat in truth. One positive was that the TB Stand was heaving with supporters and the banter between the home and away fans was pretty decent, the majority of songs being ginger based which became increasingly tedious as the half wore on. As the teams headed down the tunnel, Nathan Stanton received some more abuse for his part in getting Abu Ogogo sent off in the reverse fixture at The Pirelli back in December.

The teams came back out for the second half and the home side nearly scored instantly from a well earned corner. The ball went through a crowd of players to eventually find an unmarked Akinde at the back post; Akinde continued his sluggish afternoon by firing a tame shot goalward that was blocked easily on the line by Andy Corbett, (no relation to Ronnie). The rebound fell to Baudry inside the 6 yard box but he fired over amongst a crowd of players from both sides as the scores remained level.

Jacques Maghoma
We were then straight up the other end from the goal kick as Jacques Maghoma found some space on the right before cutting inside and unleashing a spectacular left footedcurling shot which found its way into the far corner of the net, leaving Lewington to dive in despair. An absolutely sensational strike from the 24 year old that sent Burton's supporters into overdrive with joy. As downbeat as I was, I couldn't help but laugh at a minority of opposition supporters who really tried rubbing it in but only succeeded in making total arses of themselves in the process.

John Still's men tried to respond with a Damien McCrory free kick, unfortunately though his low "drive" could only cannon back off of the wall allowing torrents of abuse to come his way from all four sides. Burton then made their first change of the afternoon on 55 minutes; Jack Dyer was withdrawn for Shrewsbury loan player Lionel Ainsworth who was enjoying the seventh loan spell of his seven year career to date.

Just over five minutes later and we had a near carbon copy of John Akinde's blocked shot, except this time Scott Doe was denied by a Brewers defender as the home side pushed for an important equaliser. The away side then made their second change bringing on Calvin Zola who scored the Brewers goal in the 1-1 draw between the sides back in December. He replaced the lacklustre Justin Richards as Zola received a warm ripple of applause from the visiting supporters.

John Still's sluggish home side continued to press for a goal and they should have tested Atkins on 64 minutes but Mickey Spillane was crowded out after failing to make a decision between passing the ball to Doe on the right hand side or taking the shot on. Ultimately he done neither and the danger was cleared. Josh Scott was then brought on for the out of sorts Akinde as Jimmy Phillips went into the referee's book for petulance.

The substitution brought new life into Elito as the tricky winger cut inside and beat two men before firing over the bar and into an unsuspecting supporter below myself in the TB Stand. Some good initiative from Elito even though it didn't actually pay off. We then saw two more changes, one for either side as the woeful Dom Green was replaced by Josh Parker for Daggers, whilst the Brewers saw former Redbridge FC defender Patrick Ada come on in place of the rather anonymous Greg Pearson.

Burton then began to exploit the various holes being left in the Daggers' back line with Ryan Austin having a shot blocked by Baudry from a free kick. Ainsworth nearly scored via a cross come shot which eventually nestled on the top of Lewington’s net, whilst Maghoma unselfishly teed up Ainsworth who fired a low shot at Lewington's body which the 'keeper gathered safely; anywhere else and I have a feeling we would have been in trouble.

Burton continued to press home their apparent dominance as Zola held off the previously untouchable Baudry before playing in Bolder whose low shot was tipped round the post by an unsure Lewington. With seven minutes remaining John Still decided to make his final change of the match, bringing off Damien McCrory for Billy Bingham in a move which saw the Daggers revert to a 3-5-2 formation.

Almost instantaneously Bingham made an impact, getting around the park as well as playing some neat balls over the top for Elito to run onto. As it was beginning to look hopeless for the home side, Brian Woodall who had been anonymous all afternoon stepped up to the plate and delivered a sensational lower league version of Peter Crouch's stunner two weeks ago. He hit a glorious 25 yard strike past Atkins into the far corner of the net to send the home fans delirious. That was the former Gresley mans' 7th league goal of the season and his 9th in all competitions, I'm pretty sure it’s the best he's scored to date as well.

It was now focus time as either side could win this in the final 10 minutes that remained (including injury time.) It was Burton who went to try and nab the winner as a partially cleared corner fell to Ainsworth after good work from Zola to keep it in play. Ainsworth's shot was saved well by Lewington as it threatened to bobble up and over the 'keeper, a stop that really calmed the nerves.

That was really the final action of the game, unless you count Medy Elito not jumping high enough to get on the end of a Parker ball in, as action. I have to admit I feel it was an undeserved point and I wouldn't have begrudged Burton had they gone home with all 3 points in the bag as we really were off the pace this afternoon.

I was extremely disappointed with Nathan Stanton's actions after the final whistle as well. As he went to walk down the tunnel several Daggers fans chanted at him and he didn't take kindly to it at all, calling a section of our supporters a few derogatory terms. You may think the abuse towards him was out of order, but as a professional footballer one thing you don’t do is lash out and swear at supporters. He then continued this as he resumed to the field to warm down and was apparently taken aside by John Still and given a few words. Not something you like to see really.

Medy gets some treatment.
Back to the game anyways and it was an extremely abject and disappointing performance, however it may be the point that saves us from relegation, if it is, what a way to get it! No players really stand out for me, Abu was as consistent as ever and sometimes that unfairly goes unnoticed. Mickey Spillane put a lot of effort in even if it gave no real reward, whilst Woodall deserves plenty of praise for a simply amazing strike. I also thought that Medy had a decent enough game going on a couple of good runs that nearly opened up Albions resolute defence.

Some players weren't up to their best today like Baudry who was uncharacteristically sloppy, whilst Doe was quite poor and extremely lucky not to get a yellow card midway through the second half for a poor challenge. John Akinde was very sluggish and I have no idea how Dominic Green got in the team at all, it was a surprise inclusion considering our four match unbeaten run and I was really disappointed that he was played even if I can see why.

As for Burton, I have to say well done to the 123 fans that made the trip down to this part of Essex, even if some of you made an arse out of yourselves. If I had to pick a player that impressed me from your side it would be Phillips, he caused a fair few problems and managed to get a couple of decent shots away.  At the back though Andy Corbett was rock solid and looks generally to be a good ball player as well, an impressive attribute to have if you’re a defender.

My final word is on the idiot supporters that were situated behind me in the TB Stand this afternoon who clearly have no comprehension of appropriate behaviour and support at a football match. One of them started shouting abuse which I don't particularly want to mention about Mark Arber, whilst another continually slammed Scott Doe. I don't have words to express how thoroughly dismayed I was at this and how annoyed it made me, these are probably people that watch us six times a season and think it’s fun to criticise players when we’re losing. I was not at all impressed by their actions.

This result now leaves us six points clear of the relegation zone with fifteen points left to play for. I personally think another win will do it and two victories will almost certainly see us to safety. I’m not counting my chickens just yet though as everyone who we come up against from now until the end of the season will want to contribute to our possible downfall.

We now move on to Gillingham on Easter Monday where we can all but guarantee survival with three points and then it's Aldershot away in just over a week’s time.

Until then, have a good Bank Holiday weekend and I'll speak to you all again on Monday or Tuesday!

Remember to follow me on Twitter, @NickDRFCMurphy.

1 comment:

  1. Nick, I read all your reports each week and look forward to your views each week. I do though need to rant and say my peace this week!
    Today's performance sums up how far a backward step this club has taken since promotion to League 1. Yes we have lost our best players since promotion and relegation, but todays squad was our strongest I've seen in a while, yet from beginning to end they were inept at playing football, tactically unaware, unsure in their first touches, set plays, creativity, everything basically. We should have steamrolled Burton Albion and given them a spanking, I was hoping at least 3, even 4 as a result! John Still needs to step aside at the end of this season for me. These players are playing worse than Conference level. They have no faith in their own ability any more let alone each other, and this was evident yesterday. Long ball after long ball. Why was Bingham and Parker on the bench? Bingham changed the final ten minutes when he came on and I was screaming for him to be brought on as early as the 55th minute! Josh Scott was warming up and then for ten minutes was doing the squats on the bench (right your on, actually sit down, now your on, ohh sit down again), Parker is of a better standard than D.Green, and Akinde was worse than useless, he should have been dominating that SMALL defence!!
    I cant see this club going forward next season, hence my request for a change, what they are trained to do during the week I'd really like to know, because it isn't football! John Still has taken this club as far as he can, he is wasting the vast talent we have, and it is now becoming a joke. But it seems everyone is happy with scrapping a point against a very dire Burton, as evident in the celebrations in the Sieve, and the cheering of the players on there walk round the pitch!!