|York is a historic city.|
Bootham Crescent had proved to be a happy hunting ground for the Daggers before this game, with the away side being undefeated at the home of York. Unfortunately though, that streak ended yesterday afternoon as Dagenham & Redbridge slumped to a disappointing 3-2 defeat, to hand the Minstermen a first victory in four matches, and a deserved one at that.
The 2006 clash with York at Bootham Crescent is actually one of my earliest Daggers memories, listening to us turn up an hour late on the radio, only to come away with a 3-2 win, so I'd been looking forward to this game since the fixtures were released. The travelling started early as you may expect, meeting at Chadwell Heath for 8:15 before journeying to Kings Cross where our 10am train to Aberdeen (via York) was waiting.
Following a quiet two hour journey up, we arrived in York dead on 12pm. We then decided to head for the ground and more specifically the clubhouse to watch the Spurs vs Chelsea game. A good two hours or so were spent in there, and I can confirm that York probably have the cheapest clubhouse in the world, only charging 80p for a good sized sausage roll! As the clubhouse got busier and busier we headed towards the turnstiles that looked reminiscent of the outside of a prison.
|Grosvenor Road Terrace|
After heading through we were greeted with an old fashioned sort of a ground that I quite liked. With half of the stadium being seated and the other half as terracing, it had a good mix. We were allocated the Grosvenor Road end which is uncovered terracing that was quite nice considering it wasn't raining. As a result of the ground, York is one of the few clubs that I could imagine myself supporting as it's not too dissimilar to our own - although it does have a larger capacity.
As the stadium began to fill up, the teams were announced as follows...
York City: Ingham, Smith, Parslow, Fyfield, Carlisle, Kerr, Blair, Kearns, Walker, Chambers, Coulson. Subs: Musselwhite, Blanchett, McGurk, Smith, Challinor, McLaughlin, Reed.
Gary Mills opted to make two changes from the side that drew at Bradford City last weekend, with Daniel Parslow and the clubs top scorer, Michael Coulson both returning to the starting line up. They replaced Jon Challinor and Jamie Reed who were both dropped to the bench; they were joined by Danny Blanchett who made a return to the 18.
Dagenham & Redbridge: Lewington, Ogogo, Doe, Wilkinson, Femi, Howell, Saunders, Spillane, Elito, Gayle, Williams. Subs: Seabright, Currie, Reed, Hoyte, Green, Maher, Woodall.
The Daggers named an unchanged side from the one that defeated Chesterfield so impressively last weekend, whilst Billy Bingham remained sidelined. A familiar face in Darren Currie was also present on the bench for the first time in a good year and a half - something that is potentially worrying where squad depth is concerned.
The teams duly came out to a good round of applause whilst I attempted to have my second sausage roll of the day without getting the crumbs everywhere. The pre match rituals were complete and, rather annoyingly the sides swapped ends. This meant that Daggers would be attacking us in the first half, whilst York would be facing the David Longhurst terrace. The referee finally blew his whistle and we were underway.
The game began as a scrappy affair, with Luke Wilkinson's header wide of the post the closest either side came to breaking the deadlock in the opening minutes of the match. The game continued in the same fashion for the ensuing quarter of an hour, with neither side able to establish a foothold in the encounter. Ashley Chambers had the home side's first, half chance, but Lewington came out well to smother the danger.
|Lewington forced into action|
Minutes later and it was Lewington against Chambers once more, this time though the latter got the better of the former. The ball was played to Chambers on the edge of the box before he advanced inside, tricked Luke Wilkinson and curled a well placed right footed shot beyond Lewington and into the far corner. An unhappy Lewington was left berating his defence as Chambers wheeled off in celebration.
Within minutes of the York goal, Dagenham & Redbridge were back on level terms. Matt Saunders whipped in a delightful corner that found the head of Luke Wilkinson who was on hand to thunder home his second headed goal of the season. There was almost a sense of disbelief amongst the 125 Daggers fans at how quick we had broken back - after a poor opening we couldn't afford to fall behind once more following the equaliser.
|Ingham was tested.|
The game continued to frustrate both sets of supporters, with the majority of the action taking place in the middle of the park. The Daggers tested Ingham for the first time with half an hour played, Dwight Gayle's floating header saved easily by the Scotsman. York were looking threatening down the wings, as yet though they were unable to find a second goal - Daniel Kearns over hitting a poor cross.
It wasn't long though before York did restore their lead with the help of some poor Daggers defending. Jamal Fyfield was given too much space down the left and as a result was able to swing in a delightful cross where a poorly marked Chambers was on hand to glance home his second of the game. Extremely frustrating from our point of view as the goal, like a bunch of others this season, was very much avoidable.
With only five minutes to go until half time there wasn't really any more attempts that troubled either ‘keeper. Dwight Gayle tried a speculative bicycle kick, whilst the follow up was blazed wide of the post. Both sides were attempting to utilise the wings, but to little effect. Medy Elito was trying his best without any end result; meanwhile Matty Blair was looking like the creative player for the home side.
The referee blew his whistle to signal the end of the half and in truth, we couldn't really have any complaints. To put it bluntly, we had been pretty awful in the opening half. The defence were not tight enough, the midfield went missing (I'm still looking for Spillane), and the front men had little if anything to work with. All this was topped off by York's tea bar prices bordering on the ridiculous - at least it wasn't raining I suppose.
The start of the second half saw more attacking prowess from York, as Daniel Kearns headed wide of the post, had it been on target Lewington would have been struggling. The Minstermen continued in the same vain minutes later with Matty Blair testing Lewington after dispossessing Femi. The Daggers almost equalised on the 60 minute mark, however Wilkinson's glancing header from a Saunders free kick drifted agonisingly wide of the post.
We were then treated to a flurry of substitutions, with Medy Elito being hauled off unusually early for the quick feet and trickery of Dominic Green. Michael Coulson was taken off for York; he was replaced by Jonathan Smith in his second spell with the club.
Just two minutes after the double change, York extended their lead to make it 3-1. Daniel Kearns took matters into his own hands down the left hand side, showing good pace before cutting the ball back into the box. Despite no one being in a central position, the ball was allowed to drift through to Matty Blair at the back post who slammed home into the roof of the net - leaving Lewington with no chance once again.
The Daggers didn't give up though and despite putting in what John Still called, "our worst performance of the season", Scott Doe narrowly headed over from another Saunders corner. The nonexistent Mickey Spillane was then replaced by Gavin Hoyte in a tactical change for Still's men. Jason Walker should have put the game beyond doubt with 15 minutes to go after latching on to a short Dwight Gayle back pass, Lewington however was out of his blocks to deny the prolific forward – spreading himself well.
The away side continued to press in hope of a second goal, with Wilkinson going close twice more - first with another header, whilst he also blasted a speculative strike over the bar. As we approached injury time, substitute Jake Reed came menacingly close, and Dwight Gayle also had claims for a penalty waved away.
|Daggers Players Applaud the Support|
The final score however was 3-2, a reverse of that famous day 6 years ago where Craig-Mackail Smith & Glen Southam netted for the Essex side. It was Luke Wilkinson once again who netted the consolation, hammering home a tremendous half volley from 25 yards out that left Ingham frozen to his mark. Despite this, the away side couldn't quite find that elusive equaliser in the remaining two minutes, and as a result went home with nothing to show from their travels.
In truth, nothing was just about what we deserved. Whilst York were poor, we were considerably worse and never really offered anything going forward. It's funny how you can contrast in a week from the best performance of the season to the worst. As I have previously said the defence wasn't tight enough, the midfield went missing and the forwards just weren't given the service. Luke Wilkinson had a decent game, although even he should have done better for the second goal.
Mickey Spillane in particular was a ghost in the middle of the park, you could probably count the amount of touches he had on one hand. Luke Howell never really established himself, while Matt Saunders was only really present when taking the set pieces. Lewington didn't really have any chances with the goals, although he needs to be more decisive and commanding in his penalty area.
As for York, despite not being at their best, it was good enough to beat the lacklustre Daggers. Danny Kearns looked menacing, whilst you know what you're getting with Matty Blair. The York defence wasn't particularly impressive; however it was enough to deal with our blunt forward line. I look forward to reconvening with them on the final day of the season; hopefully it doesn't have too much at stake.
All in all, a poor day at the office for the Daggers who will be hoping for a considerably better display at home to Exeter City in midweek.
Remember to follow me on Twitter, @NickDRFCMurphy. Here are some images from the day...