Sunday, 26 August 2012

Daggers 1-2 Gillingham, A Stormy Start

Despite another decent enough performance that may well have warranted a draw, Dagenham & Redbridge's wait for a win in the 2012/2013 season goes on as they were defeated 2-1 at home by promotion chasing Gillingham. It was the same story for the Daggers as they were denied through a lack of luck, Gills' good defending and poor officiating.

I was perhaps overly optimistic of a win against the Gills given our recent record against them; however I felt that we had goals in our team that could overpower the away side. In reality though, all of Martin Allen's sides are hard to beat, and today would be no different. They've started the season well; with a 100% record in fact so we all knew it would be a tough task to earn so much as a draw yesterday afternoon.

Following a brief chat with Horan et Dawson, I resumed back to the usual Sieve standing position where the rain began to come down - wearing shorts did not look like a good idea anymore. Following a brief pause, the teams were read out as follows...

Dagenham & Redbridge: Lewington, Hoyte, Doe, Spillane, Femi, Bingham, Howell, Ogogo, Elito, Williams, Gayle. Subs: Seabright, Wilkinson, Green, DJ Green, Scott, Reed, Woodall.

John Still opted to make a single change from the side that started the last two consecutive games. Brian Woodall was dropped to the bench as Sam Williams who impressed on Tuesday night came in. Dominic Green was restored to the bench after overcoming an injury which meant there was no place for youngster Louis Dennis. The home side would once again be lining up in that familiar 4-3-3 formation.

Gillingham: Nelson, Fish, Martin, Frampton, Davies, Whelpdale, Lee, Allen, Montrose, Weston, Burton. Subs: Forecast, Essam, Jackman, Payne, Dack, Kedwell, Strevens.

Martin Allen made no less than five changes to his side, with Andy Frampton, Charlie Allen, Lewis Montrose, Callum Davies & journeyman striker Dean Burton all returning to the starting XI. They replaced Danny Kedwell, Jack Payne & Bradley Dack who all dropped to the bench, whilst Tom Flanagan was suspended and Adam Barrett not even named in the squad. Former Daggers striker Ben Strevens who would come on later in the day, had to be content with a place on the bench.

After all of that, yet more rain came down as the sides came out for the pre match rituals. The 900+ Gills fans were creating a good atmosphere; meanwhile the home supporters were trying their best to liven the mood. There was no change in sides which meant the home side would be attacking the Traditional Builders Stand in the first half, whilst the Gills would be facing the rather sparse Bury Road Terrace.

The visitors were out of the blocks the fastest with Dean Burton having a goalbound effort denied by Chris Lewington who rushed off his line to thwart the danger well. The Gills continued to attack in the opening 5 minutes with both Charlie Lee & Myles Weston registering opportunities.

With just under 10 minutes played, the home side began to come back into the game. First Billy Bingham had a testing shot saved by Stuart Nelson, whilst minutes later Medy Elito drove a powerful strike over the crossbar. The Gills though came back once more, and if it were not for a Scott Doe block diverting Myles Weston's shot into the side netting, they could have taken the lead.

Martin Allen's men were continuing to dominate going forward, causing the home defence another hairy moment with 15 minutes played. Weston was proving to be the thorn in the defensive backside as Lewington forced him wide after the front-man raced clear. His pull back fell to Charlie Allen (full relation to Martin), at the backpost who knocked it down for Whelpdale, his deflected shot went for a corner amidst cries of handball from the travelling support.

Following an encouraging start, the game began to die down a bit as we entered the middle of the half. The awful weather became even more torrential, making conditions more difficult for both sides. Opportunities were becoming increasingly hard to come by, however Sam Williams should have done better from six yards out when provided with a good ball in from Luke Howell. Up the other end and Mickey Spillane was being given a torrid time in the air by the opposition forward line.

With 25 minutes played in the soggy conditions, the home side nearly took the lead. Dwight Gayle was fouled just outside the box which gave the Daggers a chance to test Nelson from a set piece situation. Billy Bingham stepped up to the plate and hammered a strike directly at Stuart Nelson that was palmed into a central position where Abu Ogogo couldn't sort his feet out in time to test the 'keeper once more.

With just under half-hour played at Victoria Road, Gillingham took a somewhat deserved lead. Matt Fish picked up the ball on the right hand side before curling in a perfectly plaiced ball in that found the head of Dean Burton whose header glanced into the bottom corner, giving Lewy no chance - (spot the pun in the sentence). Mickey Spillane could have done better to mark Burton who was plying his trade out in Azerbaijan last year, whilst Billy Bingham could have been quicker to close Fish down.

Not long after the opening goal, four minutes in fact, the Daggers were given the chance to make amends from the spot. Luke Howell sent through Dwight Gayle who was brought tumbling in the box by an outstretched Stuart Nelson. It was your classic penalty giveaway from the striker and Nelson fell for it. Despite calls for his sending off, the 'keeper was only booked and Gayle left with spot kick duties after fighting off Spillane. Within minutes the former BSN 42 goal marksman was off and running for the home side as he smashed his spot kick down the middle to level the scores.

The Daggers now had the advantage as first Gayle and then Williams both tested Nelson shortly after the penalty. Minutes before the half time whistle went and the home side came inches away from taking the lead. Billy Bingham's pin point cross was headed goalwards before being blocked on the line - cue goalmouth scramble. Try as we might, the Daggers just couldn't find a way through, having several efforts blocked by the resolute Gills backline.

Straight into the second half we went and Mad Dog's men nearly took the lead for the second time. A neat move between Lee, Whelpdale & Weston, saw the latter fire into the side netting for the second time in the contest. Chris Whelpdale was continuing to be Gillingham's architect and so it proved five minutes later when his back post cross was stabbed over by Weston.

As the game approached a crucial period, the weather overhead became even more intense with fork lightening clearly visible from the Sieve. The rain continued to lash down causing the game to be almost unwatchable at times. The referee though saw no reason to halt the game, a la Wycombe vs Bristol Rovers, so the action continued.

The home side were also pushing forward in search of that elusive second goal and it nearly came eight minutes into the second half. Gavin Hoyte got down the right hand side before firing in a low ball across goal that bypassed all in the vicinity - much like on Tuesday night vs Plymouth. Great work from Hoyte once again who looks to be a very good acquisition at right back.

The home side continued to look the more likely to score minutes later as Billy Bingham saw a thunderous effort cannon back off of Callum Davies' thigh. Martin Allen then made a double change as Danny Kedwell & Jack Payne were introduced for the labouring Dean Burton & Chris Whelpdale as the away side went in search of the lead.
Within minutes of the double change, Gillingham were back in front. Myles Weston beat Spillane to a header in the centre of the park before skipping past a Scott Doe challenge and slotting the ball between the legs of Chris Lewington. An exquisite goal from the former Brentford man, although being aided by lacklustre defending is always a great help.

Just minutes after the goal was scored, the home side were looking for a way back into the game once again. It nearly came on 64 minutes when Luke Howell was felled in the box, however, influenced by the previous penalty decision the referee waived away the appeals. We were then treated to another double change as Howell was replaced by DJ Green, whilst Strevens made his return to Victoria Road in place of Charlie Allen.

The action was becoming increasingly end to end, with Dwight Gayle flashing a shot over the bar in one minute & Myles Weston forcing a block out of Mickey Spillane the next. Sam Williams almost equalised five minutes later, but he didn't get a telling connection and his attempt grazed the post.

It was an onslaught now from the home side who were throwing everything at their counterparts from Kent. First Billy Bingham saw a strike go wide of the post, and then Femi was denied by Stuart Nelson. Abu Ogogo then saw two of his efforts thwarted by a courageous Nelson who was in the thick of the action. In between the dominance of the home side, Dwight Gayle was withdrawn for a rather skinny looking Josh Scott to try and draw us level.

Medy Elito was the latest player to fire an effort over the bar as the fourth official raised four minutes on his luminous board. The best chance of the lot came on 93 minutes. Elito's low corner was met by Abu Ogogo whose diving header was directed straight at Nelson who made yet another comfortable save - a yard either side and we were level.

That was the end of the game though and Gillingham had somehow held on to retain their 100% record in league & cup this season. Whilst I won't begrudge the Gills their win, I will say that we were dreadfully unlucky not to find a perhaps deserved equaliser, or be awarded another penalty at 2-1 down.

Once again though we showed that we are capable of creating the desired opportunities, we just lack the cutting edge to put them away. One bright spark is that Dwight Gayle got off the mark, albeit with a penalty - however that should lead to a streak of goals from him. Sam Williams also had a very good game and done what was asked of him, being a superb hold up player.

Couple of things I feel that I need to mention though as a fan or maybe just as a supporter who wants to moan. Please Billy Bingham, work on using your right foot. There were too many incidents yesterday where it was given away through fear of using the weaker foot. Lastly, I and some others feel that Mickey Spillane was being beaten far too much in the air - hopefully though that will rectify itself in the coming few games.

My final moan though isn’t directed at the players, it’s directed to the officials. Some of the decisions yesterday really were barbaric. The amount of pushing and shirt grabbing committed on Williams without a free kick truly was ridiculous. The standard of officiating at this level really isn’t up to the standard required and something needs to be done.

As for Gillingham, I was very impressed with their organisation and closing down, not to mention the energy and creativity of Myles Weston who was also their main threat in front of goal. The back line looked largely solid and bar one mistake, Stuart Nelson was faultless between the sticks.

Next up for us is AFC Wimbledon away next Saturday who have shipped an astonishing 11 goals in their last 2 games.

Remember to follow me on Twitter, @NickDRFCMurphy.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Daggers 0-0 Plymouth Argyle, Howell Did We Not Score?|

Dagenham & Redbridge's wait for three points and indeed a goal continued on Tuesday night as they were held to a frustrating 0-0 draw at home to Plymouth Argyle. Despite the result, the home side were easily the better side and but for a lack of composure in front of goal, would have come away with all three points.

Before the game I was pessimistic as per usual, I thought this was fair enough as our record against Plymouth in the league was poor at best. There was some positives to take with the fact that the pilgrims lost by a larger margin than us at the weekend, and I felt as though we would have the better team. After meeting Chaz & Bill, I headed into the ground with my plush new season ticket at the ready.

Just as I got in the team's were announced as follows...

Dagenham & Redbridge: Lewington, Hoyte, Doe, Spillane, Femi, Howell, Bingham, Ogogo, Elito, Woodall, Gayle. Subs: Seabright, Wilkinson, DJ Green, Williams, Scott, Reed, Dennis.

John Still opted to keep the exact same squad of 18 that lost 2-0 at Cheltenham on the weekend which also meant the 4-3-3 formation would be unchanged as well.

Plymouth Argyle: Cole, Blanchard, Purse, Bhasera, Nelson, Hourihane, Young, Wotton, Gurrieri, Chadwick, Lecointe. Subs: Chenoweth, Williams, Soukouna, Lennox, Gorman, Cowan-Hall, Feeney.

Carl Feltcher brought Luke Young into the side following the defeat at the weekend, a change which meant Johnny Gorman was forced onto the bench. Young would be starting on the right hand side whilst Gurrieri switched to the left to accomodate the decision. Conor Hourihane, who scored one of the best goals I've ever seen at Victoria Road last season would also be starting once more.

With kick off fast approaching an impressive number of Plymouth fans began to enter the stadium, whilst the Sieve was filling up nicely too. The time approached 19:45 and the teams were led out by Mr Graham Scott, who prior to this encounter had been in charge of five Daggers games, none of which the Daggers had been defeated in - a good omen perhaps?

After all of the pleasantries, the referee finally blew his whistle and we were off. Despite a slow start within the opening five minutes, the home side began to get on top slightly as both Billy Bingham & Medy Elito delivered good looking crosses into the box that were dealt with well by the Plymouth defence. Soon after and the away side probably had their best spell of the match, in which Gurrieri & Chadwick's efforts both cleared the crossbar harmlessly.

From the first set piece of the game, the home side were given the chance to test Jake Cole between the sticks. Billy Bingham whipped in a delightful ball that fell nicely for Abu Ogogo, however the converted midfielder could only contrive to fire over the bar. Bingham was continuing to look like a threat as yet another good ball into the box went to waste, with no player from the home side able to latch on to it.

With just over 20 minutes gone though, a superb move from the Daggers nearly saw the opening goal of the game. Mickey Spillane picked up the ball in his own half before completing a terrific piece of skill that allowed him to chip a ball forward to the onrushing Gayle. The forward took a wonderful diagonal touch on his chest to fool the defence before lashing it towards the roof of the net - unfortunately though Jake Cole was equal to it with his left palm and made a fantastic save to prevent Gayle scoring his first Daggers goal.

Minutes later and the 22 year old almost scored once more, this time though Cole was equal to his header from another pin-point Billy Bingham ball in. With 28 minutes played, Curtis Nelson sythed straight through the back of Abu Ogogo in an attempt to stop the ball going out for a throw in. The challenge probably looked worse than it was considering it looked as though Ogogo slipped on the ball as well - both players were dually booked, Abu could consider himself a little hard done by there I would have thought.

The two sides traded shots once more after the exchange between Ogogo & Nelson, as both Wotton and the aforementioned Ogogo had opportunities saved at either end. Just as we approached half time Luke Howell spurned a wonderful chance to give the home side the lead going into the break. Gavin Hoyte got down the right hand side before flashing a ball across the six yard box that was begging to be turned home, Howell though got his angles all wrong and sailed past the delivery to everyone's frustration.

The final chance of the half though went to Plymouth and in particular 17 year old Matt Lecointe whose low shot went agonisingly wide of the post - that was to be his last involvement in the game as he was taken off for former Woking striker Paris Cowan-Hall at half time.

Going into half time though and I was extremely pleased given that we were dominating the game in all areas. The only thing stopping us from taking the lead was a lack of clinical finishing combined with a gold medal performance from goalkeeper Jake Cole, who was doing his hardest to impress Team GB rower Greg Searle who was in the crowd. With the amount of attempts we'd had, surely it would only be a matter of time...

As the second half begun, Luke Young was quickly booked for a poor challenge that had pulses, and in particular Mickey Spillane racing over to the referee. That was followed by Mickey firing a tame free kick towards Jake Cole who saved with ease, whilst Sam Williams was soon introduced for Brian Woodall once more - a substitution that is becoming increasingly common early on in the second half.

After that change the onslaught began once more as Luke Howell fired a shot just wide of the right hand post to unsettle Jake Cole. With half an hour to go though the Daggers cranked up the pressure even more as the influential Sam Williams cut inside the box and fired a powerful ball across the face of goal that no one was able to get on the end of. Yet more frustration in the Sieve as the home side failed to convert another good opportunity.

Carl Feltcher then opted to make his second change, bringing off waining striker Nick Chadwick for Warren Feeney. The substitution though did nothing to relieve the pressure as the home side continued to attack, this time dangerman Gayle floated a header just wide of the far post to leave heads in hands once more. Scott Doe & Luke Howell were the next two to try their luck, the former saw his shot go wide of the post whilst Blanchard blocked the latter's attempt.

With 70 minutes played the Daggers made an attacking change with Luke Howell withdrawn for the energetic Danny J Green who could use his pace to both support the attack and backtrack to help out the defence in the closing stages.

Lewington Tested
Try as the home side might, they simply just couldn't find the breakthrough. Danny J Green was thwarted once more by Cole late on, whilst several crosses into the Plymouth box were dealt with admirably. The away side came on stronger in the final five minutes though as they tested Lewington from a free kick, and with Cowan-Hall's late attempt that was quite time.

Despite the best efforts and a performance that saw the Daggers dominate throughout, the referee blew his whistle to signal the end to a frustrating encounter. Whilst I would have taken a point before the match, it now seems like two points dropped rather than one gained. Plymouth fans on the other hand will be delighted with the point and disappointed with the performance as their side never really turned up.

Positives to take from the game are that Dwight Gayle looks immense and it's surely only a matter of time before he finds the back of the net. Billy Bingham had an exceptional game, whilst Femi, despite his poor crossing continues to look assured at left back. Mickey Spillane continues to prove to us why he's one of the best defenders in the division, meanwhile Sam Williams is clearly pushing for a start at the weekend against Gillingham.

As for Plymouth, I don't want to sound patronising, but I seriously worry for them after that display. We'll be mid table come the end of the season I think and we gave them a hammering, as I've said, Jake Cole had a sensational game. I think they'll be safe be the end of the season, but they need to drastically improve.

Plymouth fans at Home Park
My last word, as always when we play Plymouth goes to the Green Army. To bring 545 supporters away on a Tuesday evening to a ground 253 miles away really is something special, whilst there are a number of London based supporters it is still fantastic. As always I wish Plymouth the best of luck for the rest of the season and I hope they do us some favours along the way!

As for Dagenham, next up for us is Gillingham at home on Saturday, where not only will we be hoping for our first win...we'll be hoping for our first goal of the new season!

Remember to follow me on Twitter, @NickDRFCMurphy is what you'll need.


Sunday, 19 August 2012

Cheltenham Town 2-0 Daggers, Slow Starters

Dagenham & Redbridge opened their League Two campaign with a disappointing 2-0 reverse at Whaddon Road against their bogey side - Cheltenham Town on Saturday. Whilst you may or may not begrudge the Robins the win, there were certainly a lot of positives and some negatives to take out of the opening encounter in the intense August heat.

I have to admit when the fixture list came out, seeing Cheltenham away on the opening day was not particularly inspiring considering our recent record against them. However as the morning wore on, and I began my trip from Chadwell Heath to Stratford and then onto West Ham via the Jubilee Line, I began to get more excited. At West Ham I met Lee & Mike, our journey then continued to Baker Street and eventually Paddington where our train would be departing from.

Following a brief wait, our train departed towards Swindon with a heavy Daggers contingent on board. With just over an hour gone we arrived at a not so picturesque Swindon where we were forced to change onto what was effectively a toy train for the final leg of the journey to Cheltenham Spa. Despite some worries when the train went backwards at Gloucester Station, we arrived at our destination for around 13:30 as expected.

After a cheap taxi ride to the stadium, we went straight into the Robin's Nest clubhouse, (I may have just made that name up), where we met Cheltenham supporter Maxi Hobbs (@MaxiHobbs) for a few drinks. A good 45 minutes was spent in his and other Cheltenham supporters' company, we were made to feel very welcome and I look forward to welcoming you into our clubhouse in early February.

We then made our way into the Hazlewood's end of the ground; this was my second visit to Whaddon Road so it was all very familiar! As previously said Cheltenham is one of my favourite away days, and grounds purely because of the stadium. It has a very encompassing feel to it; it lets the supporters connect with the players more than any other ground in the division. Not only that but a very good noise can be created, plus it incorporates standing with seating in a unique main stand.

As we arrived and found our standing positions in the seated area, the teams were announced...

Cheltenham Town: Brown, Jones, Hooman, Elliott, Jombati, Pack, Deering, McGlashan, Penn, Harrad, Zebroski. Subs: Roberts, Lowe, Andrew, Graham, Hanks, Duffy, Goulding.

I was under no illusions; this was an extremely good and creative Cheltenham line up. The combined trickery of Deering & McGlashan would cause serious problems, whilst on loan Shaun Harrad who had previously scored twice in his career against the Daggers, came in for the injured Kaid Mohammed. Alan Bennett was also ruled out with injury which meant that Harry Hooman filled the void, whilst Sido Jombati & Marlon Pack are two exceptional players the Daggers would have to be wary of.

Dagenham & Redbridge: Lewington, Hoyte, Doe, Spillane, Femi, Bingham, Howell, Ogogo, Elito, Woodall, Gayle. Subs: Seabright, Wilkinson, DJ Green, Williams, Scott, Reed, Dennis.

Seven of the Daggers' starting XI on the final day against Bristol Rovers last season started, whilst new signing Gavin Hoyte was given his league debut. Dwight Gayle was also making his Dagenham debut following an exceptional 42 goal season in the BSN last year with Bishops Stortford. An attacking bench was named with no less than four strikers available for John Still to call on if needed, meanwhile new goalkeeper Jordan Seabright replaced the ever-present Dave Hogan as a sub. The Daggers would be lining up in their preferred 4-3-3 formation.

The clock reached 15:00 and the team's came out and lined up for the first game of the new league campaign - a mixture of tension, excitement and anticipation greeted all of the 2655 people in the ground. The European Championships & the Olympics may have been good filler during the summer, but this is what everyone was waiting for once again.

We were off and despite the humid temperatures the game started with quite a high tempo, both sides looking to attack from the off. It was the Daggers who looked the more threatening first off with some neat wing play on the right hand side resulting in Luke Howell firing a good cross into the box that was just a touch above Woodall's head. Despite this attempt, the Robins came even closer just six minutes in when danger man McGlashan flashed a half volley wide of Lewington's post - it looked for the world that it was heading in.

After a brief lull in forward action, the home side once again looked threatening as Harrad got around Femi on the right before playing a low ball across the face of goal that was prodded dangerously wide of the far post. John Still's men weren't without their own chances though, as Medy Elito fired a shot towards goal from some way out that was palmed away well for a corner by Scott Brown.

The visitors were enjoying a good spell of pressure and it showed when good closing down from the Daggers' forwards forced Harry Hooman into a wayward back-pass towards goal that nearly went in, luckily for him though it went out for a corner. The front line continued to look threatening as Brian Woodall teed up Dwight Gayle - with his second touch he hammered the ball goalwards, unfortunately though it was blocked by two heroic Cheltenham defenders to clear the danger.

Following that good spell from the away side, they were soon on the back foot once again as Mark Yeates' side came forward with a vengeance. First Chris Zebroski had a tame effort saved by Lewington, whilst minutes later Sam Deering's deflected effort rolled agonisingly against the post, only for the flag to go up for offside.

The Daggers though were looking good on the right hand side and some neat play between Howell & Hoyte released Dwight Gayle into the box at a tight angle, where he unleashed a powerful strike directly at Brown's midriff which was pushed away once more. The tempo increased further as the Robins went straight down the other end and nearly took the lead. A clever head on from Zebroski released Deering whose thunderous strike cannoned back off of the post for Lewington to gather.

Shaun Harrad "taunts".
 Just as I uttered those fateful words, "I think this may be our day", as we approached half time, Cheltenham, and in particular Shaun Harrad, opened the scoring. Sam Deering broke down the right hand side after escaping his marker before putting in an inviting cross along the deck which was dually converted by Harrad who continued his celebrations by angering the away support - many swear words were directed at him I assure you.

That was half time and bar a lapse in defending at the end of the half, something that has been present before - we had matched our opponents. This level has become better over the years though and you have to take your chances when presented with them like Harrad did to give the Robins the lead. Dwight Gayle was looking threatening for us as expected, having tested the goalkeeper a number of times.

I headed down to the burger bar at half time to buy what the name suggests...a burger. I have to say it was of a good standard, far better than the hot dog that I had last year! One consolation was that whilst we may have been losing, so were both Barnet & Orient, something that always makes me happy.

After something of a prolonged wait, the teams were back out for the second half just after 16:00. The Daggers would be attacking the Hazlewood's Stand, whilst the home side would be facing their own supporters in the 2100 capacity, Speedy Skips Stand. Neither manager made a change at half time.

The game restarted with the tempo of the previous half, and it showed as Zebroski attempted an early effort that was saved comfortably by Lewy. Cheltenham did bag their second though in the 49th minute, in sensational fashion as well. Jermaine McGlashan is one of the best players in the division if you ask me and it showed, he took two touches before firing an unstoppable effort into the top corner of Lewington's net from 25 yards out.

I was right behind the strike and I have to say what a strike it was, with the amount of sheer power on the shot, Chris Lewington had absolutely no chance. One thing that could have been improved though was the closing down, it was extremely slow and we ultimately paid for it in the worst possible way.

Both sides were still looking for goals, predominantly in the air as both Brian Woodall & Harry Hooman headed efforts from close range over the bar. The game then became rather scrappy with both sides reverting into a midfield battle - Cheltenham though did have two claims for penalties rightfully turned down, something that cranked up the atmosphere slightly. Femi then received a booking for bringing down McGlashan, the winger's searing pace evidently causing problems.

The Daggers continued to look for a way back into the game and it nearly came with 25 minutes left as Gavin Hoyte spurned a good chance, whilst Gayle later fired over the bar from an ambitious overhead kick just inside the box. Minutes later and goalscorer Harrad was looking to add to his tally, however his low strike went just wide of the far post.

John Still made his first change on 68 minutes as the tiring Woodall was brought off in place of Sam Williams up front. Within minutes of the change the Daggers were denied what looked at the time, a stonewall penalty. Gayle broke into the box and was seemingly bundled over by Elliott. The referee blew his whistle for a penalty...surely? Alas no, the referee pulled a yellow out of his pocket and almost unbelievably booked Gayle for diving. Everyone looked around in disbelief as our 51 game wait without a penalty continued.

Pack failed to make an impact
Mark Yeates then decided to make his first change of the afternoon as Jeff Goulding replaced former Barnet winger Sam Deering, who enjoyed a successful debut. The away side continued to press after the change as Billy Bingham's speculative goalbound effort was deflected wide for a corner. From the resultant corner, Scott Doe knocked it down wonderfully for Mickey Spillane who could only find the advertising hoardings beside the goal - the best chance of the match for us.

We were then treated to a double change as Daryl Duffy, who was Cheltenham's top scorer last season with 15, was brought on for Shaun Harrad. John Still made what could be described as an attacking substitution as Danny J Green made a cameo appearance, replacing midfield battler Luke Howell.

The final opportunity of the game fell to Sam Williams who fired directly at Scott Brown after a neat lay off from Medy Elito. Just before the referee's whistle rang out around Whaddon Road to signal the end of the encounter, there was just enough time for Sido Jombati to find his way into the book after a poor challenge on Danny Green.

That was it then, we opened the new season with a defeat, albeit not particularly surprising given the quality of Cheltenham's squad and our recent record against them. Following a good first half we really failed to get out of the traps in the second and as a result we paid the price. Our lack of potency in front of goal was once again a worry, saying that though Dwight Gayle equipped himself well in his league debut and I'm sure Brian Woodall will have many better days.

I can't really fault the performance of any players, although Luke Howell's touch was a bit off in the second half. Personally, I'd give the man of the match award to Femi - his tireless running and last ditch tackles really stood out for me, although his tracking back was poor at times.

As for Cheltenham, it's what I expected really. Both Jermaine McGlashan & Sam Deering had good games which was key to their success, whilst Sido Jombati's long legs (something we were told about pre match by Maxi), saved the home side on a number of occasions. Scott Brown also looks like a top 'keeper, meanwhile Marlon Pack vanished a bit in the middle of the park.

As we walked out of the ground and waited for our taxi we were greeted with several words and signs from Cheltenham cars, who would have thought it? Nothing like being gracious in victory eh? I realise this is the minority though and I wish Cheltenham the best for the rest of the season as they're a very likeable club, furthermore the majority of their fans are a good bunch as well!

We now move onto Plymouth Argyle at home on Tuesday night, another side that we’re yet to beat in the League. Best to get these bogey sides out of the way early I suppose!

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

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Daggers 0-1 Coventry City, Cursed.

Another League Cup first round tie and another defeat - you have to admit six defeats in six attempts is quite an impressive record by anyone’s standard. This season though the defeat came courtesy of Coventry City and in particular, Kevin Kilbane who slotted home a dubious 90th minute penalty to give Andy Thorn's men a perhaps undeserved victory.

Before the match and I was cautiously optimistic considering our record in the competition and the side we were facing. Coventry wouldn't be easy opposition by any means, but facing a club that was relegated the previous season will always mean you have a chance as they may still be a little low on confidence. I have to admit as well, there's nothing better than pulling on your clubs shirt and walking through the turnstiles after a three month break - it just feels right!

After going into the ground where I found the programmes had not been delivered yet, I went to stand with my fellow Daggers ready for the game to start. Just previous to that though and the teams were read out as follows...

Dagenham & Redbridge: Lewington, Hoyte, Doe, Spillane, Femi, Howell, Bingham, Ogogo, Elito, Woodall, Scott. Subs: Davies, Wilkinson, DJ Green, Green, Reed, Williams, Dennis.

Gavin Hoyte came in to make his first Daggers appearance, whilst Cain Davies & Louis Dennis appeared on the team-sheet for the first time as substitutes. John Still would be employing a now customary 4-3-3 formation with Elito joining Josh Scott & Brian Woodall up top.

Coventry City: Murphy, Clarke, Hussey, Wood, Brown, Baker, Kilbane, McDonald, McSheffrey, Ball, Daniels. Subs: Dunn, Malaga, Edjenguele, Garner, Elliot, Jeffers, O'Donovan.

Despite playing at a World Cup, Kevin Kilbane came in to make his second appearance at Victoria Road whilst former Birmingham City striker Gary McSheffrey would be leading the line alongside Callum Ball. Midfield playmaker John Fleck was missing through injury for the visitors.

The fans continued to pour through the turnstiles like a slow dripping tap as the teams took to the field for the first time this season. The songs started, the toss took place and soon enough we were ready to begin another fruitless League Cup campaign against higher league opposition.

Despite a low key opening ten minutes, the tempo was good and both sides were challenging well for the ball with one incident between Kilbane & Howell sticking in my mind. With ten minutes gone in the contest though, Coventry were presented with their first chance of the evening. Cody McDonald latched on to a neat cross field ball before advancing into the penalty area and firing his shot directly at Chris Lewington who palmed it away well for a corner.

Despite good Coventry pressure, the Daggers continued to look for pathways into the game - in particular with Femi who was looking menacing down the left. Minutes later and Josh Scott whipped in a good looking ball that was claimed well by Murphy (my less talented footballing brother), before Brian Woodall could get his head to it. Josh Scott continued to look like a threat when he glanced a header goalwards without testing Murphy.

Coventry though were getting the better of the play as you may expect, furthermore they should really have gone ahead with just over twenty minutes played. A wonderful ball in from the right hand side fell perfectly for Cody McDonald who spurned his chance by glancing his header wide of the near post - much to my relief.

Following that attack it was the Daggers' turn to bomb forward - on the breakaway to be specific. Some fantastic midfield work from Luke Howell saw the ball end up with Brian Woodall who was unable to pick out an unmarked Medy Elito on the far side much to my disappointment. Ten minutes later and the closest either side had came as Gavin Hoyte's deep cross found Scott Doe who took it down on his chest before volleying onto the top of the bar, an attempt which drew "OOO's" from the Sieve.

The final chance of the opening 45 minutes came the way of Josh Scott, who with a full pre season behind him was looking sharp. He cut in from the right hand side on his left foot before curling an effort just wide of Murphy's post which drew anxious gasps from all four sides of the ground.

Going into half time then and the game was pretty even as the score suggested - whilst the Daggers may have had the better of the chances, Coventry had the better of the play. The one thing we needed to improve on in the second half was the crosses from our full backs finding a man in the box.

The teams re-emerged for the second half rather quickly which meant we were able to get the somewhat drab contest back underway, almost straightaway. Coventry came out of the blocks the quicker as on loan Callum Ball saw two shots blocked well, by Gavin Hoyte to prevent Lewington having to be called into action. With little goal mouth action to talk about, John Still soon made his first substitution with Brian Woodall making way for Sam Williams to make his first appearance since the 1st October 2011.

The Daggers continued to look to press forward whilst playing some impressive football along the floor. Medy Elito was given the chance to test the Coventry defence as he won two free kicks, unfortunately though both were cleared well by the defensive unit. Jake Reed was then brought on for Josh Scott whilst Gary McSheffrey was booed off from the Sieve as he was replaced by Stephen Elliot.

Despite only being on the pitch for a matter of minutes, Stephen Elliot (no relation to Fred), was booked for a poor challenge on a Daggers midfielder. Both sides were continuing to threaten down the wings, however the final ball wasn't up to scratch and as a result it was looking as though we were heading to a stalemate and as a result, extra time that nobody wanted.

Just as it looked as though we would be going to another 30 minutes of "action", Mickey Spillane apparently "dragged down" Stephen Elliot and the referee awarded a penalty. From my position I didn't get a clear view, but from what I’m told it did seem rather soft. Captain Kevin Kilbane dually stepped up and hammered it down the middle, much to the 580 travelling Coventry fans' delight.

With a remarkably low three minutes of added time still to be played, there was still a chance of a late equaliser. It wasn't to be though and Coventry went through to the second round where they would draw local rivals Birmingham City, whilst the Daggers League Cup hoodoo continued as they were dumped out at the first hurdle for the sixth consecutive year.

Some positives to take from it though are that Billy Bingham, Scott Doe & Mickey Spillane in particular had impressive games, whilst the whole team performed well as a unit which is encouraging. We knocked it around well at times, however the only concern was the standard of crossing from the full backs and the lack of width in our game when it comes to wingers - Medy Elito wasn’t involved nearly enough.

As for Coventry, a far from convincing performance as I'm sure their fans would agree. If they're to mount a significant challenge for promotion this season they'll need to vastly improve and I'm sure they will. A couple of plus points for them is that their defence coped admirably, in particular Chris Hussey at left back, whilst Derby loanee Callum Ball looks to be a very good acquisition up front. I wish good luck to Cov for the remainder of their season.

Next up for us though is the first league game of the season against one of our bogey teams - Cheltenham Town. Let's hope we can come away from that with an impressive point or three!

Remember to follow me on Twitter, @NickDRFCMurphy.

Friday, 10 August 2012

2012/2013 League Two Preview
As with every campaign, respected pundits often attempt to forecast their predictions upon the upcoming season - often despite knowing nothing about the division. These predictions often entail Bradford finishing in the top seven and the likes of Accrington, Dagenham & Redbridge or Morecambe ending up in the Conference. They're usually wrong and end up with egg on their faces - but this season, could some of those stereotypical forecasts prove to be correct. Here on The Daggers Scale, I'll attempt to guide you through, club by club, key signing by key signing on the upcoming 2012-2013 season.

Accrington Stanley
Players In: Karl Sheppard, Aiden Chippendale, Michael Liddle, Luke Clark, Lewis Hatch, Aristote Nsiala, Bohan Dixon, Tom Eckersley, George Miller, James Gray, Marcus Carver, Ryan Hopper, Adam Stockdale, Ryan Watson (Loan.)

Players Out: Kevin McIntyre, Kurtis Guthrie, Danny Coid, Sean Murdoch, Alan Burton, Liam Willis, Sean Hessey, Ian Craney, Bryan Hughes.

I like Accrington as they're a club not too dissimilar to ours, however with the departure of long serving manager John Coleman to Rochdale at the back end of last season - I fear for them. They ended the last campaign with 14 points from 54 available and that's surely a poor sign, especially when you consider they've brought in largely youthful signings such as Lewis Hatch from Liverpool. Without a familiar manager and a youthful looking squad, I really see Stanley struggling towards the bottom of the table. If they want to stand a chance they need to make the Crown Ground into a fortress again and hope that Craig Lindfield has a successful season in front of goal. I'm afraid they're going to be in and around the relegation places for me.

AFC Wimbledon
Players In: Angus McDonald (Loan), Pim Balkenstein, Warren Cummings, Stacy Long, Curtis Osano, Louis Harris, Huw Johnson, Franie Merrifield, Jim Fenlon.

Players Out: Brett Johnson, Kieran Dijilali, Chris Bush, Gareth Gwillim, Reece Jones, Jack Turner, Jamie Stuart, Fraser Franks, Ricky Wellard, Sam Hatton, Ryan Jackson.

I can't say I'm particularly knowledgeable about Wimbledon, but what I do know is that they relied heavily on Jack Midson last season to score the goals. A shaky defence has been bolstered by the acquisition of giant Pim Balkenstein from Brentford & Warren Cummings from Bournemouth. I'm unsure as to where they'll finish the campaign, however I'll wager that it's near the bottom half. They're 5/1 to be relegated with Coral and if you ask me, that's worth a quid of anyone's money.

Aldershot Town
Players In: Craig Reid, Craig Stanley, Oliver Lancashire, Guy Branston, Anthony Tonkin, Troy Brown, Jordan Roberts, Harry Cooksey.

Players Out: Bradley Bubb (Loan), Max Worsfold, Anthony Straker, Manny Panther, Darren Jones, Wilko Risser.

Compared to other clubs Aldershot have been rather quiet in the transfer window, however with the signings of Troy Brown & Craig Reid in particular, combined with Guy Madjo & Danny Hylton who are already at the EBB, they could be in for an interesting season. The attacking options have been added to and the defence has been bolstered following the losses of Straker & Jones. Dean Holdworth turned down an approach by Crawley in the summer which suggests he must have some faith in his side. If they can keep their previously notoriously tough home record up, I think you may see the Shots mixing it near the Play off Area this season. Look out for Adam Mekki as well.

Players In: Jake Hyde, Jonathan Fortune, Jon Nurse, Freddie Warren, Oliver Lee, Ahmed Abdulla, Jordan Brown, Sam Cowler, Luke Gambin, Elliot Johnson.

Players Out: Sam Deering, Izale McLeod, Darren Dennehy, Alassane N'Diaye, Mark Hughes, Dean Brill, Sam Cox, Jordan Parkes.

Nou Underhill
New gaffer. New players. New philosophy. That's the main message Barnet are sending out to me for the coming campaign. Mark Robson wants to try and play "proper football" at Nou Underhill this season as the signings of ball players Ollie Lee & Ahmed Abdulla show. The danger they have is if it fails, these two midfielders may start to become anonymous in the game. A lack of defensive cover and the loss of McLeod & Deering mean they've gone from sharp to blunt up front - Ricky Holmes may relish the prospect of leading the line though. Barnet have rolled the dice and gambled, unfortunately though I think they may have finally lucked out. If it all does cave in, not even Martin Allen will be able to save them; and that really is saying something.

Bradford City
Players In: Nathan Doyle, Alan Connell, Stephen Darby, Garry Thompson, Will Atkinson, Gary Jones, Andrew Davies, Rory McArdle, James Meredith, Forrayah Bass, Adam Baker.

Players Out: Mark Stewart, Michael Flynn, Luke Dean, Marcel Seip, Andrew Burns, Scott Brown, Rob Kozluk, Lee Bullock, Chris Mitchell, Dave Syers, Guy Branston, Matt Fry, Craig Fagan, Simon Ramsden, Steve Williams.

If clubs are based on size, they wouldn't be in this division - however they're not and Bradford look odds on to remain here for another campaign. A massive turnover of players has seen 16 leave Valley Parade, including Seip, Fry & Craig Fagan. Alan Connell though has signed which is perhaps a sign of Phil Parkinson's intent - they also now have a midfield anchor in Gary Jones. I don't know what to expect, a Play Off push isn't out of the question if they can maintain good form throughout the season, but I just don't see it being their year...again.

Bristol Rovers
Players In: Garry Kenneth, David Clarkson, Rogvi Baldvinsson, Matthew Lund (loan), Seanan Clucas, Oliver Norburn, Conor Gough, Mitch Harding, Matt Macey, Jordan Goddard, Ross Staley, Shaquille Hunter, Ellis Harrison.

Players Out: Chris Zebroski, Mustapha Carayol, Charlie Reece, Craig Stanley, Lance Cronin, Darren Jefferies, Gary Sawyer, Scott McGleish, Charlie Clough, Lamar Powell, Kayne McLaggon, Byron Anthony, Michael Boateng.

Three weeks ago I would have guaranteed that Bristol Rovers would get a Play off spot come the end of April, now though I'm not so sure. They've lost a significant threat in Carayol to Middlesbrough and whilst McGhee has worked with David Clarkson at Motherwell, he doesn't look like the man to guide them to glory. They have significant strength in depth in all areas though and I reckon that might just be enough to clinch them a Play Off spot.

Burton Albion
Players In: Marcus Holness, Ross Atkins (Loan), Zander Diamond, Damien McCrory, Lee Bell, Dean Lyness, Robbie Weir, Evan Garnett.

Players Out: Andres Gurrieri, Adam Bolder, James Wren, Patrick Ada, Greg Pearson, Danny Blanchet, Ryan Austin, Bradley Munn, Tony James, Kevin Poole.

Billy Kee
Gary Rowett wants to base his side around a team effort rather than individuals and at the moment they're looking ok for a lower mid table finish. They have the necessary firepower in Zola, Pearson, Maghoma & Kee, whilst the threadbare defence has been added to with the acquisition of McCrory, Holness and most notably former Oldham centre half Zander Diamond. If they can all gel quickly I think they'll be pretty safe in mid table - don't rule out a possible relegation battle though.

Cheltenham Town
Players In: Shaun Harrad (Loan), Chris Zebroski, Billy Jones, Sam Deering.

Players Out: Andy Gallinagha, Theo Lewis, Luke Summerfield, Brian Smikle, Josh Low, Steve Book.

They've been quiet in the transfer window; however they've probably done some of the best pieces of business in the division. They've added fire power in Harrad and some much needed wing flair in Deering from Barnet & Zebroski from Bristol Rovers who should thrive in a creative team. With key players such as McGlashan & Marlon Pack remaining at the club, they should still have the drive of last season to go one better and get promoted. If they don't end up in the Play Offs by the end of this season at the very least, I think that Mark Yates will view it as a failed season.

Players In: Sam Togwell, Sam Hird, Marc Richards, Richard O'Donnell, Terrell Forbes, Jacob Hazel.

Players Out: Simon Ford, Greg Fleming, Aaron Downes, Derek Niven, Jamie Lowry, Gregor Robertson, Jimmy Juan, Noel Mendy, Matt Needham, Dan Gray, Dean Morgan.

Chesterfield are the first of the relegated clubs to be featured and I imagine they'll be fancying their chances for an immediate return to the third tier. A major problem for them last season was conceding soft goals; John Sheridan will hope to address that having added Sam Hird & Sam Togwell to his defensive unit. The experience of forward Jack Lester will be imperative and will provide a good alias for the main man, Jordan Bowery who is expected to lead the line this year alongside Marc Richards who recently signed from Port Vale. They may not win the league like they did in the 2010/2011 season, but they should linger in and around the Play Off's for the majority of the season.

Dagenham & Redbridge
Players In: Gavin Hoyte, Louis Dennis, Tommy Davie, Andrew Burns.

Players Out: Jon Nurse, Adam Cunnington, Gavin Tomlin, Mark Arber, Peter Gain, Phil Walsh, Jon-Jo Bates, Damien McCrory, Ahmed Abdulla, Richard Rose, Alex Osborn (Loan.)

The Daggers will be looking to kick on from a disappointing last campaign that was riddled with injuries into a more mid table finish or a possible Play Off push. Despite losing some experience down the spine, the Daggers still have good strength in depth in all areas thanks to the signings of Gavin Hoyte & Andrew Burns. The main men will undoubtedly be Abu Ogogo, Mickey Spillane, Luke Howell & Brian Woodall, whilst 42 goal BSN striker Dwight Gayle will be pushing for a starting place. It's not implausible that the Daggers will be in a relegation scrap, however I'm more inclined to think we're in for a comfortable mid table season under the continued stewardship of John Still.

Exeter City
Players In: Jamie Cureton, Matt Oakley, Craig Woodman, Tommy Doherty, Aaron Davies, Kevin Amankwaah, Rhys Evans, Pat Baldwin, Alan Gow.

Players Out: Jonathan Fortune, David Noble, Billy Jones, Richard Duffy, Richard Logan, Daniel Nardiello, Luke O'Brien, Chris Shephard, Callum McNish, Lenny Pidgeley, Jake Gosling, Troy Archibald-Henville, James Dunne.

Exeter have lost a lot of notable players over the summer and unfortunately haven't strengthened as much as they'd probably have liked to have done. In a sense they've replaced a lot of good players with average ones, however Jamie Cureton is very capable of smashing a few goals in whilst Matt Oakley has good experience having spent the previous four years at Leicester City. In my eyes they have an average side and that will probably be reflected in the league - mid table finish for me.

Fleetwood Town
Players In: Youl Mawene, David Ball, Conor McLaughlin, Barry Nicholson, Damien Johnson, Chris Maxwell, Jon Parkin, Gerard Kinsella, Dean Howell, Kieran Charnock, Alex Titchiner, Steven Gillespie, Jamie Allen.

Players Out: Keith Briggs, Peter Till, Gareth Seddon, Jamie Vardy, Magno Viera, Paul Linwood, Matt Flynn, Stefan Cox, Sean Clancy, Joe Camozzi, Matty Hughes, Paul Edwards, Peter Cavanagh, Jack Duggan.

This seasons moneybag outfit and realistically should go straight up into League One. They have one of the strongest forward lines in the division having signed Jon Parkin & Keith Gillespie who are both League One standard. The defence has also been strengthened whilst the midfield has plenty of flair and attacking presence thanks to David Ball. Despite the loss of top scorer Jamie Vardy to Leicester, they should still manage to get a Play Off spot at the very least - a failure to do so would be a failed season in my book.

Players In: Tom Flanagan (Loan), Ben Strevens, Charlie Allen (Insert laugh here), Stuart Nelson, Tommy Forecast (Loan), Nathan Nyafli, Joe Carter.

Players Out: Simon King, Paulo Gazzaniga, Dennis Oli, Danny Spiller, Dean Rance, Curtis Weston, Jo Kuffour, Garry Richards, Matt Lawrence.

Martin Allen Circa 2004.
*Captions welcome*
Gillingham will be looking to break away from their traditional 8th place finish this season, but they may find it hard with several previously key players being shipped out. One of the biggest blows is undoubtedly Gazzaniga who was recently bought by Southampton. They may not challenge for automatic promotion, but the Play Offs is a definite possibility providing they tighten up the defence. One thing is for sure though, with Martin Allen in charge, Gillingham are definitely the club to watch.

Players In: Richard Brodie (Loan), Andrew Wright, Jamie Short, Robbie Threlfall, Chris Doyle, Andreas Arestidou.

Players Out: Garry Hunter, Sean Breen, Kieran Charnock, Laurence Wilson, Niall Cowperthwaite, Joe Culshaw, Phil Jevons.

Morecambe are notorious for starting poorly and then going on a magnificent run that surprises everyone but themselves, I get the feeling that's what they'll need to do to stay in League Two again this year. Richard Brodie will be looking to prove himself alongside Kevin Ellison & Danny Carlton - whilst they've added some midfield creativity in Andrew Wright. If they stop gifting team’s points and make The Globe tougher to visit, something they've failed to do in the previous two seasons, Jim Bentley's men may surprise a few people.

Northampton Town
Players In: Joe Widdowson, Chris Hackett, Ishmel Demontagnac, Alex Nicholls, Clive Platt, Lee Nicholls (Loan), Henoc Mukendi (Loan.)

Players Out: Neal Kitson, Ryan Gilligan, Freddy Hall, Aaron Davies, Byron Webster, Lewis Young, Michael Jacobs, Nathaniel Wedderburn, Jason Crowe, Andy Holt, Tadgh Purcell, Michael Built.

With the squad that Aidy Boothroyd has at his disposal, I'd be expecting them to mount a push for the play offs after a disappointing last campaign. Despite losing key figures such as Michael Jacobs, Clark Carlisle & Toni Silva, they've added well with Demontagnac & Alex Nicholls who should complement Akinfenwa well up front. Part of their problem, like a lot of teams was their home defence, ranking 24th for the amount of goals conceded in the league at Sixfields - so they'll be hoping to stem that with some defensive signings.

Oxford United
Players In: Lee Cox (Loan), Sean McGinty (Loan), Jake Forster-Casey (Loan), Michael Raynes, Sean Rigg, Max Crocombe, Tyrone Marsh.

Players Out: Mark Wilson, Aaron Woodley, Paul McLaren, Matthew Fletcher, Oli Johnson, Anthony Tonkin, Asa Hall.

Every season Oxford are expected to challenge and this year will be no different - with the majority of last season’s impressive performers such as Peter Leven & Michael Duberry being added to by the likes of Sean Rigg & Michael Raynes who can add something extra. If they can score more goals away from home and continue to look solid at the back, I see no problems with a 7th placed finish or higher for Chris Wilder's men.

Plymouth Argyle
Players In: Andres Gurrieri, Jamie Lowry, Rene Gilmartin, Paris Cowan-Hall, Jed Harper-Penman.

Players Out: Simon Walton, Carl Fletcher, Luke Daley, Damien Johnson, Jordan Pearce, Roman Larrieu.

After years of turmoil and toiling at the bottom end of several different leagues, a nice steady season should do Plymouth and the Home Park faithful the world of good. With little activity in the transfer market and Simon Walton heading to Hartlepool, the best the Green Army can hope for is an outside chance of a Play Off spot if you ask me. Look out for Maxime Blanchard though who has turned a few heads and don't be surprised if a flurry of loan signings come through the door before the end of August.

Port Vale
Players In: Dave Artell, Chris Neal, Richard Duffy, Jennison Myrie-Williams, Ashley Vincent, Darren Murphy, Ben Williamson, Ryan Lloyd.

Players Out: Chris Martin, Paul Marshall, Marc Richards, Anthony Griffith, Phil Roe, Sean Rigg, Lee Collins, Stuart Tomlinson.

Vale have suffered in the transfer window with the loss of three key individuals, however with the key signings of Dave Artell, Myrie-Williams & Ashley Vincent, all may not be lost. They have a solid enough defence and a decent midfield, but without Marc Richards leading the line you wonder if they could be short of goals at vital times in the season. Expect an upper mid table finish from Vale with a long shot chance to reach the Play Off's.

Players In: Matthew Pearson, Joe Rafferty, Ryan Edwards (Loan), Kevin McIntyre, Josh Lillis, Peter Cavangh, Rhys Bennett, George Donnelly, Sam Minihan, Luke Watson, Dele Adebola.

Players Out: Stephen Jordan, Joe Thompson, Jordan Fagbola, Marcus Holness, Dean Holden, David Lucas, Joe Widdowson, Kevin Amankwaah, Marc Twaddle, Gary Jones, Danny Taberner, Jean Louis-Akpa Akpro, Simon Hackney, Nicky Adams.

No more Gary Jones at Spotland
With some key players having left the club such as record appearance holder Gary Jones, this season looks likely to be a rebuilding job for John Coleman who will complete his first full season in charge. The signing of Dele Adebola is sure to impress fans as to the clubs intent, but experienced players already at the club such as Jason Kennedy are sure to be vital in helping the mass of new boys settle in. Expect a comfortable mid table finishing position as Coleman gets to grips with his squad.

Rotherham United
Players In: Kieran Agard, David Noble, Michael O'Connor, Kayode Odejayi, Ian Sharps, Scott Shearer, Laurence Wilson, Daniel Nardiello, Nicky Hunt, Kari Arnason, Lionel Ainsworth, Mitchell Rose, Alec Denton.

Players Out: Jamie Annerson, Michael Raynes, Marcus Marshall, Ryan Cresswell, Ollie Banks, Danny Harrison, Luke Foster, Troy Brown, Tom Newey, Lewis Grabban, Paul Warne, Richard Naylor.

They've signed the players and now it's just a question of whether they can deliver the automatic promotion that looks like a certainty. The defence has been shored up by Ian Sharps, the midfield by David Noble & Lionel Ainsworth and the forward line by Agard & Nardiello. The only question that remains is that, can the crook Evans get them to perform as a team throughout the season. They're favourites to win the division for a reason you know...lump on!

Southend United
Players In: Freddy Eastwood, Ryan Cresswell, Anthony Straker, Gavin Tomlin, Kevan Hurst, Rhys Taylor, Elliot Benyon.

Players Out: Merrick James-Lewis, Lee Sawyer, Blair Sturrock, Anthony Flood, Teddy Nesbitt, Anthony Grant, Jean-Pail Kalala, Glenn Morris, Harry Crawford, Kyle Asante, George Smith, James Stevens, Pat Baldwin, Matt Peaterson, Christian Dailly, Liam Dickinson.

On paper, Paul Sturrock's men are one of the strongest sides in the division. They possess all of the attributes that are needed to get out of the league and then some. With one of the strongest and probably the most creative midfields in the league they're not short of suppliers for the forwards. If they don't manage to get automatic promotion I'll be very surprised, especially with a possible trio of Freddy Eastwood, Neil Harris & Elliot Benyon leading the line.

Torquay United
Players In: Aaron Downes, Billy Bodin, Michael Poke, Ryan Jarvis, Thomas Cruise, Niall Thompson, Craig Easton, Kyrtis MacKenzie.

Players Out: Eunan O'Kane, Chris McPhee, Lathaniel Rowe-Turner, Bobby Olejnik, Ray Spear, Taiwo Atieno, Mark Ellis.

Despite the signing of Tom Cruise, don't expect Martin Ling's boys to be the "Top Guns" in the division this year. With a mid table finish looking likely following the exit of star players Olejnik & O'Kane - new blood in Cruise, Easton & Billy Bodin will do well to get the Gulls into Play Off contention for the third consecutive season. One thing that they excelled at last season was grinding out 1-0 wins, if they can do that again this year, who knows. It may be a tough ask, but it's certainly not mission impossible just yet.

Wycombe Wanderers
Players In: Sam Wood, Richard Logan, Matthew Spring, Lee Angol, Dennis Oli, Gary Doherty, Georges Ehui, Emmanuel Ighorae, Olly Taylor, Max Kretzschmar, Junior Morias, Kortney Hause.

Players Out: Ben Strevens, Steve Arnold, Anthony McNamee, James Tunnicliffe, John Halls, Scott Rendell.

Despite having a notable transfer embargo in place for a short period, Wycombe still look as though they'll be Play Off contenders at the least for the coming campaign. The traditional yo-yo club have held on to top scorer Stuart Beavon who notched 21 last season, which is imperative if they want to make a swift return to the third tier. Expect plenty of creativity mixed with grit and determination as Sam Wood returns to a London club, whilst you always know what you're getting with Gareth Ainsworth.

York City
Players In: Jonathan Smith, Danny Blanchett, Michael Coulson, Oli Johnson, John McReady, Lee Bullock, Reece Kelly, Ben White, Tom Platt.

Players Out: Adriano Moke, Moses Ashikodi, Scott Brown, Eugen Bopp, Matthew Blinkhorn, Ben Swallow, James Meredith, Danny Pilkington.
The Minstermen make a return to the Football League after an absence of eight years and I reckon they'll be here to stay for a little longer than a season. I imagine they'll finish the season in mid table after an early season battle with the relegation zone as they get back to grips with the Football League. Players like Matty Blair, Jason Walker & Jon Challinor will need to step up to the plate if they want to secure safety and, make a possible push for the Play Offs as so many newly promoted teams do.

That's my 2012/2013 preview - packed full of awful puns and analysis that you probably don't agree with, and why should you, you know your club better than I do! Whatever happens it promises to be another enthralling, pulsating and exciting season, with more clubs vying for promotion than ever before.

Hopefully you'll check back onto my Blog and look for your match report whenever the Daggers face you! Also a little note, "players in" included youth team players that have been awarded contracts with the first team.

Remember to follow me on Twitter, @NickDRFCMurphy.