Sunday, 6 May 2012

Daggers 4-0 Bristol Rovers, Woodall or Messi?

Dagenham & Redbridge completed the season in style thanks to a 4-0 rout of woeful Bristol Rovers at Victoria Road in a match that saw Brian Woodall score his first ever Football League Hat Trick; I'm sure brighter things beckon for him in the future.

Before the match I was predicting a draw even though final day form indicated that it clearly wouldn't be. Whilst we have been members of The Football League, we have alternated year on year between defeat and victory on the final day, currently the score stood at 2-2 with victories over Mansfield & Darlington and defeats against Shrewsbury & Peterborough. There was more at stake though with the Barking & Dagenham Post Prediction League Trophy destined to head towards the home of either myself or arch nemesis Lee Wilson.

I arrived at Victoria Road for the final time this season at around 14:20 where I proceeded through the turnstiles to have a chat with the Horan’s & Dawson. That chat predominantly featured the new sky blue away kit which looked simply amazing, a wonderful throwback which everyone is looking forward to getting next season. It was also confirmed that we would be holding a friendly against Brighton in August, something to look forward to even if it is slightly early.

As the time wore on I approached the Sieve where I chose to stand with Lee where the prediction league tenseness began to show. Following a brief standoff I bought my burger and listened to the team news which was as follows,

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

John Still opted to make a single change from the defeat last weekend by bringing Josh Parker into the midfield in a move which saw Ogogo drop back to his familiar right back formation as Scott Doe was missing. This also saw a change of formation as the home side would be sporting a more natural 4-4-2 line up which included a strong midfield of Billy Bingham and Luke Howell.

Bristol Rovers: Gough, Woodards, Bolger, Brown, Downes, Gill, Paterson, Dorman, Harrold, Carayol, Richard. Subs: Smith, Sawyer, Brown, Zebroski, Harding.

The final game of the season saw Mark McGhee give a debut to new 18 year old goalkeeper Conor Gough who was signed from Charlton Athletic in the week. Former Aberdeen manager McGhee made two other changes from the side that battered Accrington Stanley 5-1 last weekend bringing in Danny Woodards & Lee Brown in place of Gary Sawyer & Michael Smith. Former Dagger Matt Harrold was also given the chance to add to his season tally of 18 goals by starting up front.

As the crowd began to grow restless with anticipation, Billy, Josh & Chaz joined us in the Sieve just before kickoff. Much to my disappointment Pulse were not performing for the last time this season which meant the run up to the game was very dull and unspectacular. Eventually as the 600+ Rovers fans settled into their seats the music came over the tannoy and the teams were led out by match referee Mr Haywood.

Following all of the pre match rituals and the captain’s photographs which today included Abu Ogogo, the teams swapped ends and we were ready to start the contest. The Daggers would be attacking The Bury Road End whilst Rovers would be firing towards their own fans in The Traditional Builders Stand. The time just crept over 15:00 and the referee blew his whistle to signal the start for the final time this season.

The game started with an instant talking point when Bristol Rovers advanced goalwards early on. Mustapha Carayol made a superb run which was countered by Billy Bingham, however amongst a cluster of players the ball eventually broke to former Dagger Matt Harrold 20 yards out who hit a fierce volley that clipped the top of the bar as it went out of play for a goal kick. Early warning signs from the Gas who had scored 14 in their last three home matches but none away in their last four.

The game continued its attacking vibe minutes later when good interchange between Howell & Woodall saw the later have a shot towards goal blocked by a brave Rovers defender. Conor Gough was then tested for the first time in the chequered shirt of the Pirates as Oldham loan star Josh Parker fired a tame shot low towards the corner of the goal. With 7 minutes gone Carayol, who is prone to scoring sensational goals tested Lewington from 25 yards out, but Lewy was equal to the strike and saved it comfortably.

With 15 minutes gone the pace of the game began to decrease as both sides were continuing to be restricted to shots from outside of the box, Woodall being the latest candidate to fire wide of the mark from over 20 yards. Five minutes later and the Daggers were handed a chance to open the scoring from a dead ball situation following a foul on Josh Scott. It was free kick hero Mickey Spillane to take it, however Mickey couldn't get the ball over the wall meaning the danger was cleared once more.

Josh Scott was now working himself into the game well and flashed another shot onto the top of the net as the home side pressed home their dominance over the lacklustre Pirates. Aaron Downes then received the first booking of the game following a poor challenge in the middle of the park.

With thanks to Arnu for the picture.
Just as we approached the half way point in the opening 45 minutes Brian Woodall stepped up and opened the scoring for the Daggers. Josh Parker picked up the ball on the right hand side and dribbled forwards before crossing the ball towards the middle of the box where Woodall was on hand to volley home with impressive technique, leaving Gough with no chance on his debut. A thoroughly deserved lead for the home side who had dominated the opening stages.

Following the opening goal the game began to calm down a bit, only another Matt Harrold strike troubling the pretty comfortable Lewington between the sticks. With just under half an hour played the Victoria Road outfit came almightily close to doubling the scoreline. Some more good play from danger man Woodall saw the former Gresley front man slip in Josh Parker whose right footed strike went inches past the far post leaving the Sieve in a chorus of "Ooh's" and "Ahh's."

The final opportunity of the first half fell to the boot of Eliot Richards and much like his teammates he could only manage to fire a shot straight at the body of the thankful Lewington as the score remained 1-0 to the Daggers going into the half time break.

During the half time interlude I took it upon myself to flick through the programme once more whilst having a chat to those around me. We were then informed of the West Ham vs Spurs Legends game for the 78th time of the afternoon so far, did you know it will include Daggers legend Tony Roberts? As the clouds began to cover the sky once more, the teams returned from the dressing rooms and resumed their positions on the pitch for the start of the second half.

Just before we kicked off John Still opted to make an out of sort’s half time change, bringing on Danny J Green following his loan spell at Dover for the impressive Josh Parker. The second half started slowly with Spillane failing in his attempt to score with a speculative overhead kick and Ogogo testing the Rovers defence with an enticing cross towards the back post.

With just over 10 minutes played in the second half, Brian Woodall doubled his and the Daggers' tally for the afternoon with a lovely left footed finish through Gough's legs following a misjudged clearance from Aaron Downes. Yet more good play and good finishing from Woodall as Middlesbrough boss Tony Mowbray watched on in the Victoria Road crowd.

JS rang the changes.
In a four minute period both sides opted to make two changes apiece. Mark McGhee twisted first as he brought on Gary Sawyer and former Fulham midfielder Wayne Brown for Jim Paterson and Lee Brown. John Still then made his final two changes; Luke Howell & Josh Scott were withdrawn for the exciting Jake Reed and Peter Gain who received a warm ripple of applause upon his return from a long standing injury.

The home side then increased their lead to three following fantastic play from substitute Danny J Green. A throw in from Abu Ogogo was knocked into the path of Green by Downes once more and this time the prodigy Green made sure he got his name on the scoresheet. A deft touch with his thigh saw him dodge three Rovers defenders before cutting back onto his favoured left foot and prodding the ball underneath Gough to make it three.

That was Green's first professional goal despite being involved heavily at the back end of last season and being a common sub option at the start of this campaign. This should enable DJ to push on when the club get back in pre season and hopefully see him challenge for a starting spot next year.

Minutes after the goal and Jake Reed was tripped up in cynical fashion which saw Cian Bolger go into the referee's notebook. Eliot Richards was then replaced by Mitch Harding as Rovers made their final change of the 2011/2012 season. The Daggers then won a free kick in a good position and somewhat surprisingly, Billy Bingham was on hand to strike the ball fiercely towards goal but Gough was equal to it and dually palmed it away.

Brian Woodall was clearly now on overdrive with confidence and he came so close to making it 4-0 after some superb play on the far side. Woodall who has become renowned for his energy and willingness to chase down a lost cause slid to keep a ball in play on the by-line and flick it past his marker, after a few trots into the box the hit man fired a curling shot that was tipped away well by Gough who was enjoying a baptism of fire on his debut.

Five minutes later and Woodall who has more energy than a Duracell battery managed to make it 4-0 and clinch his totally deserved first ever league hat trick. A touch a piece from Gain & Elito including a fantastic challenge from Jake Reed saw the ball break to Woodall on the right hand side, with the confidence flowing Brian hit the ball perfectly with his right peg and it flew into the corner of the net much to everyone's delight. If this lad's here next season I'll be surprised.

Mark McGhee was clearly unimpressed with his side and following another shocking miss from Matt Harrold the Rovers fans gave up to, with the majority providing their own entertainment by starting a conga up. This not only amused them but us as well, the whole thing drew good applause from the Sieve before it was eventually completed. Well done to those who came in fancy dress as well, a particular favourite of mine being Mr Blobby.

We then had a stoppage in play following a Jake Reed challenge on Danny Woodards. Whilst Reed looked to have won the ball he may have clipped the man as well seeing as though Woodards was down for quite a few minutes. He was eventually carried off of the pitch and Reed was cautioned for his part in the affair. I'd like to wish Woodards a speedy recovery following the news that he'll be out for the next 3 months.

As the fourth official announced three minutes the realisation that the season was coming to a close hit us all as the Daggers played champagne football along the floor. Danny J Green nearly rounded the game off but his low effort was saved well by Gough which meant the final score remained at 4-0 as the referee blew his whistle to signal the end of proceedings in the game and for the season.

That was the end of the game and the players went into the dressing room before coming back out and doing their lap of honour. After five minutes or so they came back out and received good applause from all that remained to witness the player of the season results. It was Mickey Spillane who won the award much to the surprise of most of us; I'll decide my choices in a Blog to be done later in the next fortnight.

As for the game, a resounding victory to end the season and I was especially pleased for Brian Woodall who bagged a hat trick to end his first league season as top scorer with 13 goals to his name; a tremendous achievement. Everyone played well in truth; I cannot pick a single man who played poorly, a fantastic team effort. It was a far better performance than the one that graced the rain soaked pitch at The Memorial Stadium back in November I can tell you that much!

John Still then took hold of the microphone and adressed the fans for the final time this season, congratulating us on our support and explaining how today we had seen, "the real Dagenham." To be quite honest, I think he's right and I for one am looking forward to next season which will hopefully herald better things.

As for Bristol Rovers, despite it being the final match of the season with nothing to play for they were very poor. Matt Harrold offered the only relief from the constant Daggers pressure and even then he was very hard pushed to test Lewington. A final mention must go to the 680 Gasheads who made the trip, a very well done to them; they contributed very well to the afternoon.

My only concern from the afternoon is that I wonder if it’s the last time we’ll see a number of the players in action. Brian Woodall & Abu Ogogo are bound to attract interest in the Summer and I don’t personally believe that Damien McCrory’s contract will be extended. With 36 scouts present at Victoria Road yesterday including representatives from Manchester United & Celtic, who knows what the future holds.

Following the match Lee, Billy, Josh & I headed into the heaving upstairs bar in the clubhouse to watch the cup final where Sean Murphy (no relation) was on hand to provide the half time entertainment with his head being shaved. A massive well done to him as he raised £140 for Cancer Research.

(I'm the better looking one on the right)
Then came the biggest part of the day with Lee & I jointly receiving our Prediction League trophy from Joshua Richards who ended his stint covering the Daggers with the Barking & Dagenham Post yesterday, a big thank you to him for fantastic coverage over the season.

That's about it chaps, the final match report of the season has been completed so you'll have to wait until July in pre season for the next one I'm afraid! I will have several end of the season articles coming up though including a possible interview.

I hope you've enjoyed this season and enjoyed reading these match reports and I hope that you'll join me again next season!

Remember to follow me on Twitter, @NickDRFCMurphy.

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