Sunday, 22 April 2012

Daggers 1-1 Crawley Town, Survival Assured

Dagenham & Redbridge officially confirmed their place in League Two next season thanks to a resilient performance against promotion chasing Crawley Town. A goal apiece from Charlie Wassmer and Billy Bingham saw the game end 1-1 and extend both sides' unbeaten runs to eight and thirteen respectively going into the final two games of the season.

After putting in a Messi-like performance in a training session this morning, I headed to Victoria Road where we would be given The Traditional Builders Stand for the final time this season, hopefully creating a fantastic atmosphere to spur the lads on. I arrived at around 14:20 and headed round the car park and through the turnstiles near Pondfield Park before advancing through and up the stairs where I had a brief chat with the Horans.

Whilst up the top, "Do the Twist" was played which inevitably drew a response from the Daggers fans towards the Crawley team. With just over 10 minutes until kick off I headed down and towards the centre where I stood with Chaz & Bill amongst others, whilst here the teams were read out and they were as follows,

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

The home side made a single change from the one that drew against Aldershot last weekend with Josh Scott replacing Dominic Green meaning a 4-4-2/ 4-3-3 formation would be in effect. Mathieu Baudry also extended his loan until the end of the season whilst Dave Hogan's dancing on Soccer AM saw him earn a place on the bench.

Crawley Town: Kuipers, Howell, McFadzean, Wassmer, Davis, Davies, Clarke, Simpson, Bullman, Neilson, Alexander. Subs: Shearer, Dempster, Hunt, Watt, Akinde.

Crawley fans in The Sieve
Caretaker manager Craig Brewster named an unchanged side meaning that ex Dagger Charlie Wassmer would line up against the side he was on loan against earlier in the month whilst John Akinde got a place on the bench. Midfielder David Hunt also returned to the bench following a two month absence after injuring himself in the cup tie with Stoke over two months ago.

The ground began to fill up quite rapidly with Crawley fans enjoying the majority of our Sieve! I'm sure they treated it well. The Traditional Builders Stand was packed to the rafters whilst the part of the Sieve which we occupied was pretty crammed as well; everything was set for an enthralling and particularly important encounter.

After a brief wait the teams entered the field of play just after the scheduled time, they were led out by captains Mark Arber and Dannie Bullman. After the pre match rituals etc we were all ready to finally begin in the mild conditions with the Daggers attacking the Bury Road End and the Red Devils facing us in the Traditional Builders Stand. The atmosphere was just beginning and referee Major Danny McDermid started the game off.

The game began with an opportunity in the opening five minutes from the boot of Billy Clarke, however his shot was blocked by Baudry much to the Crawley fans' frustration. The away side continued to dominate in the early stages with Mark Arber forced to clear a near post cross whilst Lewington had to rush off his line to extinguish the danger several times. With 7 minutes gone, Scott Neilson looked to be through on goal; however the orchestrator of the now infamous "Do the Twist" was ruled offside.

Despite all of the pressure from the away side it was the Daggers that nearly opened the scoring with 10 minutes on the clock. Medy Elito took a corner on the right hand side which went towards the back post where Woodall was waiting. The striker took a single touch before hitting a strike that went into the side netting, drawing several "oo's" and "ahh's" from the home support, even though it would have been impossible for him to score into that corner from the angle at which he shot.

The home side continued to look the more likely to take the lead minutes later when Mickey Spillane broke free of his marker and headed a pin point McCrory free kick over the near post. A very good opportunity for Spillane who you would have expected to hit the target following his fine goal scoring form of late.

Just before the 20 minute mark though and Crawley Town scored the opening goal, courtesy of former Dagger Charlie Wassmer. A wrongfully awarded corner was put into the box by Scott Davies where it was cleared back out to the Irish youngster. He took a touch and hit a low cross towards the front post where Wassmer, whose sole contribution whilst at Victoria Road was giving away a penalty, was on hand to poke home past the helpless Lewington. Poor defending from the Daggers who allowed Wassmer a free run on the near post; at least Crawley celebrated with another rendition of “The Twist.”

Crawley could smell blood and only smart reactions from Lewington prevented Brewsters men from doubling their lead. A neat back heel from Neilson inside the box fed in Alexander who saw his attempt smothered by Lewington not once but twice; simply superb goalkeeping from the youngster who has endured a sterling first season in The Football League. Not long afterwards and he was in the wars once again, getting an elbow in the ribs which required treatment from John Gowens.

The game was becoming increasingly end to end as the home side didn't trouble Kuipers from a succession of well earned corners; meanwhile Doe's long throws were being soaked up by the resilient Crawley defence. Poor play from Woodall up field then gave the Red Devils a chance to attack, the lackadaisical efforts of McCrory to get back enabled Alexander to fire a shot towards the near post that Lewington palmed away well as the away side looked to turn up the heat.

The Daggers buoyed on by the increasing noise from the TB Stand went about finding an equaliser once more, however a ball in from Elito and then another flick on from Woodall were dealt with well by the Broadfield outfit. Winger Elito was then given another good chance after latching onto a Lewington punt forward but he lofted his shot over the bar and into Bury Road as half time approached.

Crawleys main threat came in the guise of former Brentford forward Gary Alexander and he had another opportunity as half time ebbed even closer. Damien McCrory gave away possession once more which let Davies in, his cross found Alexander at the back post who couldn't quite divert the ball goalwards leaving a thankful Lewington to take the goal kick.

As the fourth official put up his board though, the home side equalised thanks to a simply sensational strike from midfield maestro Billy Bingham. The former Crystal Palace youngster picked up a loose ball before advancing forward and unleashing an unstoppable 30 yard left footed strike which flew across goal and into the top corner, stinging the fingertips of Kuipers as it lashed into the net. A simply amazing strike from Bingham that had the whole of Victoria Road rocking.

That was the end of the first half in which Crawley probably dominated, however you couldn't argue that with Bingham's speculative effort we deserved to be level. The teams went in to good applause and a barrage of singing from Daggers fans that were now even more jubilant considering the scoreline.

At this point I will detail to you how I rate the food in the TB Stand; it was terrible. The burger looked as though it had been run over and that's how it tasted as well. It was all priced fairly though so no complaints on that front. It was also nice being able to see Soccer Saturday whilst walking through, I can fully appreciate how nice that stand actually is now! The remainder of half time was spent reading the programme as my phone decided to not allow me access to anything.

Steino was needed to treat a Crawley Player
The teams emerged for the second half with expectations to win the game, especially the away side who were gunning for automatic promotion. Crawley were looking to catch the hosts out at the start of the second half as Howell hit a well struck volley over the bar to scare the 1880+ home supporters in the ground. Dagenham then forged a good chance with Woodall taking the ball down in the box and eventually hitting a fierce strike on the left side that didn't challenge Kuipers in the slightest.

The momentum was swinging either way making the game finely poised; Alexander fired a shot over the bar for the visitors from a good position, meanwhile Spillane adjusted himself to head the ball over the bar from a corner as the scores remained level and the crowd on tenterhooks. The main man for the Devils was Alexander and for the umpteenth time in the match he showed why as he flashed a shot wide of the post following a clever dummy from Davies, a very good opportunity squandered.

You could see from the play why Crawley were up near the top of the table, however the Daggers were matching them and nearly took the lead after an Arber ball in found Woodall whose low strike at the near post was pushed away by Kuipers once more for a corner. From the resulting corner Josh Scott got a run on his defender and met the ball first but he could only manage to glance it at Kuipers who saved comfortably.

Goalscorer Charlie Wassmer then picked up a deserved booking for a cynical foul on Elito as John Akinde prepared to make an entrance. Before that though highly rated defender Kyle McFadzean glanced a header over the bar, proving that his services could be crucial at both ends of the pitch if need be; a quality that could be highly rated by potential suitors from higher up divisions.

Former Dagger Akinde.
With just over 20 minutes on the clock John Akinde was brought on for Scott Neilson in a change which nearly heralded an instant goal for the promotion chasers. The main protagonist Alexander flicked a ball into the box where Akinde latched onto it as the Daggers defence stood still. An absolutely dreadful slow motion attempt at a lob over Lewington failed and the ball was punched clear by the 'stopper. The best chance of the game so far and it fell to the man who has fired more blanks than Boycie this season.

The Daggers then turned on the style with ten minutes left to play. A cross to the far post was retrieved by Spillane who played a defence cutting ball to McCrory inside the box, Irish then used great vision to find the unmarked Ogogo outside the box, however Abu took a rash strike and sliced the ball wide of the mark to end a very good move by John Still's men. It just shows that we can play very slick and precise football at times.

With not long left to play the Daggers were forcing the visitors into last gasp defending with several crosses being cleared for various corners as well as a Spillane header being flicked over the bar when it looked to be on target. Let's not forget the calls of Bingham to shoot every time he had the ball about 30 yards out as the crowd wanted him to emulate his immaculate strike earlier in the match.

There was only two minutes of added time and neither side could find a winner in that period meaning the points were shared between the two former Conference outfits. This now means the Daggers continue to extend their Football League record unbeaten run to eight games, whilst we haven't lost at home in over a month. The 16 points taken in our 10 game season so far have kept us up whilst Hereford, Macclesfield & Barnet have continued to languish.

At this point I probably should announce that we are officially safe from relegation, meaning we can enjoy a trip to Shrewsbury next week and have a party against Bristol Rovers on the final day. We can now also look forward to what next season has to bring, another rain soaked trip to Accrington and yet another League Cup Run that entails just one game in which we lose to higher league opposition.

You have to say though it's been a magnificent effort by everyone to keep us up after the predicament we found ourselves in following the Northampton defeat; we really have done this against the odds. It just shows how imperative it is to have an unbeaten run of games towards the end of the season.

From today’s game though, Abu & Billy were both very good, once again getting around the park; Abu in particular who put in a mindboggling challenge in the first half to win the ball. Mathieu Baudry also played very well as he continued to impress, whilst Arbs showed once again why he still has a lot left to offer furthermore Scott Doe has been impressive whilst playing out of position, a highly thought of trait at the Daggers.

As for Crawley, a very resilient performance and they look like they have plenty going forward especially with Alexander leading the line. I'll be very surprised if they don't get promoted after today’s game, whilst Rotherham have a new stadium I think Evans was a bit of a fool leaving Crawley.

My final word has to go to the Daggers fans that made a sensational atmosphere in the TB Stand, especially in the second half when the game was level. One supporter described it as the best noise they'd heard from Daggers fans in 32 years of seeing us play which speaks for itself, whether we get the stand on a full time basis though remains to be seen. 

Next up is a trip to Shrewsbury who will be looking to get the points to achieve their promotion, so let’s see if we can dent that party and continue our own unbeaten run away from home.

Thanks for reading and emember to follow me on Twitter, @NickDRFCMurphy.


  1. Great post! And a great result, incredible recovery over the last few games.

  2. Hi Nick

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