Sunday, 18 November 2012

Burton Albion 3-2 Daggers, Billy The Kee

Dagenham & Redbridge suffered their first ever defeat at the Pirelli Stadium on Saturday afternoon as they were downed 3-2 by an impressive Burton Albion side. Goals from Dwight Gayle & Sam Williams were not enough for the Daggers, as Damien McCrory, Matt Paterson and Billy Kee sealed an impressive victory for the Brewers. After such an impressive performance against Rotherham United last weekend, John Still's men can't really have any complaints over this result.

Taking into account our impressive record over the Brewers, a run which includes only three defeats I was pretty optimistic over the game ahead. When you factor in that we've never lost at the Pirelli coupled with the fact we'd only lost three away games prior to this, we had good cause to be optimistic! Burton were also dealt a tough hand considering they were only in action on Thursday night against Altrincham, a game that they won comfortably 2-0.

The journey up wasn't particularly action packed, with two changes at Rugby and Tamworth before we finally arrived at Burton-On-Trent station. A gloomy and overcast sky awaited us as we were forced to make the 25 minute walk to the ground along a straight and extremely long road. After passing several annoying roundabouts we arrived at the ground just before 14:20.

The exterior is pretty modern which is rather obvious as the ground was only built in 2005, making it one of the newest in English football. We were given the corner part of the main stand such was our low number of travelling fans. We shared this with the Burton supporters, although the majority were from a local football club so the stewards didn't bother with any barriers to separate the clubs.

The stadium itself is quite nice; whilst it may be modern it retains a sort of charm that makes it feel more traditional. It's probably helped by the fact that it has three sides that are composed of terracing which allow for a good atmosphere. Otherwise the seating option is available to supporters who want it. The majority of the noise comes from the Rotala Stand, whilst the majority choose to congregate along the nPower Family Stand.

With not long until kick off the muffled PA system finally announced the teams as follows...

Burton Albion: Lyness, Stanton, Diamond, O'Connor, Weir, Palmer, McCrory, Maghoma, Bell, Kee, Zola. Subs: Atkins, Holness, McGrath, Taylor, Dyer, Richards, Paterson.

Burton opted to make several changes from their 2-0 cup victory on Thursday night, with Dean Lyness making his full football league debut in place of the injured Mark Oxley. Daggers hate figure Nathan Stanton also returned, as did forward Billy Kee. This meant Marcus Holness, and Cleveland Taylor dropped to the bench, whilst Damien McCrory started at left back against his former employers.

Dagenham & Redbridge: Lewington, Ogogo, Doe, Wilkinson, Femi, Spillane, Saunders, Howell, Elito, Gayle, Reed. Subs: Seabright, Caprice, Woodall, Williams, Bingham, Hoyte, Maher.

John Still kept with the same side that defeated Rotherham 5-0 in convincing fashion last week; this meant loan signing Jake Caprice had to settle with a place on the bench. Mickey Spillane who netted in this fixture last season lined up in midfield alongside Saunders and Luke Howell, who after some confusion last weekend was available to play in this match. 

The ground continued to fill up as the referee led the teams out onto the pitch under the guise of the floodlights. With the pre match rituals completed and a despairing "Thriller" dance routine waded through, the game began in earnest. The opening five minutes or so were scrappy as you may expect. The Daggers were edging the corner count whilst Burton were looking dangerous out wide, in particular Chris Palmer.

As the game wore on Burton looked the far more likely to open the scoring. A poor header back to Lewington from Femi gifted Kee the chance to open the scoring, however his attempt rebounded back off of the post. Minutes later and the Daggers defence were under pressure once more as Lewington made a superb double stop from Calvin Zola and Robbie Weir to somehow keep the Brewers at bay. 

The visitors had somehow managed to ride the storm without conceding and went on an attack of their own soon after with Abu Ogogo firing wide of Lyness' post. The Daggers were given a boost on 20 minutes as the dazed Calvin Zola had no other choice but to be substituted, he was replaced by Matt Paterson. Lewington was forced into action once more directly after the change, pushing Chris Palmer's curling free kick wide of the post to preserve the 0-0 scoreline.

As we reached the half hour mark, all attention turned to Albion debutant Dean Lyness. The 'keeper made a good stop from Medy Elito's rasping effort, however it all went horribly wrong for the 'stopper just minutes later. A superb through ball released Jake Reed who was in turn brought down by Lyness for a clear penalty as he raced towards the ball. The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot, giving Lyness a lenient yellow card in the process.

Mickey Spillane who had been hit and miss from the spot so far this season stepped up in confident fashion to take the spot kick. Initially it looked as though Lyness had made amends, pushing Spillane's spot kick onto the post. However, inn somewhat cruel fashion the rebound fell to a delighted Gayle who tapped home for a 1-0 lead and his seventh goal of the season. Cue a sense of disbelief amongst Daggers fans as to how an earth we were leading this contest.

The away side were now looking more confident and nearly doubled the lead minutes later. A shot from the left hand side was parried well by Lyness and the follow up header from Saunders was clutched admirably by the 'keeper who was being given a stern workout on his debut. Abu Ogogo then went into the referee's book for a poor challenge as the Stanton/Ogogo rivalry amongst the supporters reignited once again.

Without a doubt it was John Still's men who ended the first half in the ascendancy as Matt Saunders twice went close to doubling the lead. Jake Reed was then released thanks to some clever play from Gayle, but the inexperienced forward got overexcited and overran his touch. Burton had one last attempt before the end of the half with a tricky looking ball running across the six yard box begging to be put into the back of the net - but alas there was no one to steer it in.

Almost inconceivably given how the opening half an hour had gone, the Daggers went in 1-0 up at the break. The standout player of the half was Chris Lewington without a doubt, without him inbetween the sticks we could have been 3 or 4-0 down going into the break. No one had really impressed for the Daggers as yet, although Elito was looking somewhat sprightly on the left hand side.

With the half time break, I took the chance to sample some of Burton's cuisine, aka the burger bar. Annoyingly they ran out of sausage rolls at half time, much to dissatisfaction of one supporter who took the chance to vent his spleen at the catering staff...who proceeded to have a good bitch about him after the customer left. In the end I settled for a tea which was pretty horrible. 

Upon returning to the stand everyone was optimistic of an improved second half where the Daggers would hopefully push on and extend the lead. The teams emerged from the main stand back onto the pitch, ready for what promised to be a pulsating second 45. 

With six minutes of the second half gone, Burton Albion found a deserved equaliser. As fate would have it, former Dagger Damien McCrory was the man who scored it. Jake Reed foolishly tried to keep the ball in play when a better option would have been to boot it into row Z. This allowed McCrory to interchange with Maghoma before firing a deflected strike over a helpless Lewington to compound the misery. Of all of the times to net your first goal for your new club eh?
Lewy left with no chance

Just as we recovered from that setback, we were sent reeling once more as a defensive mix up allowed Burton to take a 2-1 lead. Luke Wilkinson didn't get enough on his header back to Lewington which allowed substitute Paterson to nick in before anyone else and slide home to give the Brewers the lead. Cue the 10 year olds sitting next to us celebrating like 10 year olds do - getting a rise out of some of our supporters in the process.

The visitors now went in search of an equaliser, with Medy Elito & Femi both coming close on the left hand side. Dwight Gayle should have done better when allowed space in the box, however the forward decided to open a box of tricks rather than attempting to get a shot away when the time was right. John Still then made his first change; Billy Bingham was brought on for Matt Saunders in the midfield.

Almost immediately a Bingham corner nearly led to a goal, Dwight Gayle rose highest but his header went high over the bar. A good opportunity that really should have tested the 'keeper. Sam Williams was also introduced for the tiring Jake Reed; his first attempt was easily gathered by Lyness who was enjoying a quieter second period.

Within minutes of that attempt, the Daggers drew level in spectacular fashion. The ball was played forward to Luke Wilkinson who nodded it down for Sam Williams to finish emphatically into the top corner of the net. Cue delirium amongst the travelling support and songs of, "Sam Williams, he scores when he wants." Now I don't mean to ruin this moment...but I told you so!

Burton kicked off the game once more and within seconds the Daggers were brought back down to earth with a bump. A ball was lumped towards Kee who chested it down, took a touch and advanced forward before unleashing an unstoppable shot that rifled past Lewington and into the corner of the net. With a strike like that, there's nothing that you can do but applaud it really. The defending from Scott Doe could have been better perhaps, but there's no denying the sheer quality of the goal.

You may have expected the Daggers to put Burton under relentless pressure from this stage, but in reality it wasn't the case. The brewers held onto the ball admirably and restricted the Essex side to speculative efforts, none of which challenged Lyness in the slightest. In fact it was Burton who looked the more likely to extent their lead with Billy Kee firing just wide during the five minutes of injury time.

The referee blew his whistle to signal the end of the match, the end of our unbeaten run and the end of our unbeaten streak at the Pirelli. All good things come to end I suppose. All credit to Burton though, they deserve the win and Billy Kee's strike deserved to win any game - utterly superb. The best way to describe our performance is ordinary really, as John Still said after the game it was naivety that cost us.

As some have alluded to it's going to be a long season as it's unlikely the squad will be consistent for long periods. But that's to be expected. You have to remember we have a young squad who will both impress us and irritate us in equal measure this season. The important thing is that we have the basis of a good squad of players who will continually improve both performance and results wise. I said before the start of the season I'd be happy with a mid table finish and that's where we are at the moment. 

Chris Lewington deserves a lot of praise for his first half performance and realistically there's not a lot he could have done regarding all of the Burton strikes. The left side didn't impress me yesterday either, with Femi being caught out far too many times for my liking. This left Medy in a lot of trouble trying to cover when Femi galloped forward which ultimately didn't work. Here's hoping Luke Wilkinson enjoys a quick recovery as well as he clearly wasn't at the races with his heading yesterday due to the amount of staples in his head.

As for Burton, as I say I can't really begrudge you over the three points. Chris Palmer tormented us all afternoon and Billy Kee's strike was superb and deserved to win the points. Considering it was his League debut, Lyness also put in a decent display. I have no qualms with Burton so wish you and Damien McCrory good luck for the season ahead. Unless it comes down to us two for a final Play Off spot, in which case here's hoping we get it!

That's it for another week and another 3-2 away defeat as well. My next game is Fleetwood at home next week, before we take on Torquay & Bristol Rovers - both of which I won't be attending. 

Remember to follow me on Twitter, @NickDRFCMurphy is what you need...thanks for reading!

Here's a little gallery of other pictures from the day as well...

North Stand (nPower Family Stand)

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