With the release of the fixtures for the upcoming League Two campaign out tomorrow, The Daggers Scale looks back on some of the fondest matches from this season.
Dagenham & Redbridge 5-0 Rotherham United
Perhaps the most poignant result since the club joined the Football League, November’s 5-0 demolition of promotion chasing Rotherham United was a significant one. With Bostongate hate figure Steve Evans in charge, the victory meant so much more than just the three points. First half goals from Dwight Gayle and Luke Howell set the scene before Howell added a third early in the second half. Medy Elito then made it four before Dwight Gayle capped a superb display in injury time by slotting home the fifth to jubilant cries from the Sieve. It was a result beyond all belief, all comprehension and most of all, it felt like a degree of closure to the Bostongate events just over 10 years previous.
Accrington Stanley 0-2 Dagenham & Redbridge
Spectacular it wasn’t, but consistent it was. That’s the verdict following Daggers’ first win of 2013 away at the Crown Ground, Accrington. In front of the lowest crowd of the Football League Season, Daggers turned in the perfect away performance to take the three points. The visitors dominated throughout and went ahead mid-way through the first half when Matt Saunders glanced home Medy Elito’s pin-point cross. The second half provided more of the same with Daggers sealing the win on 52 minutes when Luke Howell’s precision drive flew past Cameron Belford to send the 37 travelling Daggers fans home happy into the cold Lancastrian night.
Dagenham & Redbridge 4-3 Bradford City
An important win, but an entertaining one as well. For too many seasons now Daggers had become something of a stick in the mud at home, no exciting performances like the Daggers of old. But within 30 minutes here the hosts raced into a two goal lead through Billy Bingham and Mickey Spillane. The majority thought the game was over when Luke Wilkinson headed home early in the second half. But a sterling second half fightback from Bradford reduced the deficit to 3-2, with abject defending from the Victoria Road outfit to blame. The two goal parity was soon restored though, when Dwight Gayle broke free from a Bradford corner before beating his man and executing a superb finish past the opposition ‘keeper to make it 4-2. Alan Connell jangled nerves by making it 4-3, but ultimately Daggers hung on for the win to continue their impressive run of form against Bradford City.
Rotherham United 1-2 Dagenham & Redbridge
Nobody was expecting three points in the reverse fixture against Rotherham United at the gleaming New York Stadium. Daggers had not won in their last four whilst the Millers were six unbeaten and sat 4th in the league table following a 4-0 dismantling of Oxford. With little expectation, Daggers looked confident in their defending and restricted Rotherham to any clear cut opportunities in the first half. The second half introduction of Billy Bingham swung the game in the visitors favour, and with 60 minutes played Daggers were handed a significant advantage. Medy Elito was brought down when through on goal which meant Kari Arnason saw red as Elito dispatched the resulting spot kick. Despite Claude Davis’ quickfire equaliser, a well worked free kick late on allowed Luke Wilkinson a strike on goal which he dually converted to give Daggers an unexpected 2-1 victory. With the Evans factor again a major cause for enjoyment for Daggers fans, it was a significant and perhaps even better victory than the one which had come at Victoria Road 4 months earlier.
Port Vale 1-1 Dagenham & Redbridge
This one won’t go down as a classic, but at the start of the season this was an intensely valuable point. Daggers had one just the once whilst Port Vale sat 2nd in the league, yet it was the Essex club who looked the more confident throughout. Medy Elito had earlier hit the post before Luke Howell opened the scoring with the aid of a mistake from Vale goalkeeper Chris Neal. Unfortunately it didn’t last long as Myrie-Williams equalised three minutes later, but nonetheless in the context of things it was a big point and one the Daggers fans can look back fondly over.
Exeter City 0-1 Dagenham & Redbridge
When you look back at the final day, the context of this victory could not be more important. Without these thoroughly unexpected three points, Daggers would have been relegated at the expense of Barnet. But that didn’t happen, which means we can enjoy this match even more. In a sun coated day down in Devon, it was the visitors who were beaming after another perfect away performance under Wayne Burnett. An early headed goal from Luke Wilkinson put the Daggers 1-0 up and from there, we never looked back. We looked solid at the back against what little pressure Exeter exerted, whilst Kevin Maher marshalled the midfield the superbly. The final 85 minutes were both nervous and relaxing at the same time, in the sense we knew what it meant but we were never really troubled. The 3 points went back to Essex as Daggers won at St James Park for only the second time in their history.
Dagenham & Redbridge 1-1 Burton Albion
Despite Burton’s lofty position in the table at the time of the match, I haven’t picked this match for the point we gained. I picked it for the second half performance and in particular the performance of one Josh Scott. The first half was uninspiring, lackadaisical and almost what we had come to expect from Daggers at Victoria Road, with the visitors taking the lead midway through the first half. But with the introduction of Louis Dennis for the intolerable Medy Elito, things soon changed. It was almost as if a new lease of life had been unleashed. Daggers looked fresh with intent and calmer on the ball. And it showed straight away as Josh Scott picked up the ball, rounded several players and executed an unstoppable shot past Stuart Tomlinson to gift Daggers an equaliser. From that moment on the hosts were the better side and can be considered unlucky not to have gone on to win the game. The performance in the second half provided such a contrast to that of the first that it was almost embarrassing. And that’s something we have to amend if we are to improve next season.
Chesterfield 1-2 Dagenham & Redbridge
Daggers generally have a decent record against the Spireites and so it proved again here, with the visitors dominating proceedings and recording a deserved first away win of the season. With no defeats at Saltergate, we were looking to continue our unbeaten record at Chesterfield’s new home, The B2Net stadium. After a positive start, it took Daggers 42 minutes to take the lead, with Sam Williams firing home a superb opener for his second goal of the season. The frontman was upstaging newly signed Chesterfield star Luis Boa Morte who was suffering with a miserable day at the office. Even with Jack Lester’s equaliser after the break, Daggers and in particular Sam Williams could not to be outdone. The perma-tanned forward was given the ball on the edge of the box before turning and unleashing an unstoppable strike beyond Richard O’Donnell and into the roof of the net. From then on in, the visitors controlled the match and deservedly went home with their first away win of the season.
Dagenham & Redbridge 1-0 Cheltenham Town
This game wasn’t particularly enthralling or entertaining, but it was solid and perhaps more importantly the final 3 points John Still ever received as Dagenham & Redbridge manager. In the build up, the visitors were considered the favourites. Being in good form and having never lost against the Daggers, there was good evidence to suggest they were worthy favourites. But from the off they were second best. Daggers looked hungrier, more determined and more resilient, grinding out an important win in the process. Luke Howell’s second half strike proved to be decisive, not even former Dagger Paul Benson could find a breakthrough for the visitors as the home defence stood firm. Cheltenham were defeated for the first time and John Still recorded his last ever victory.
Oxford United 2-3 Dagenham & Redbridge
Like a lot of the teams in League Two, Daggers never seem to do well against Oxford. With no wins in our previous five meetings with the U’s, we had good reason to be doubtful. But on this particular Tuesday night at the Kassam, something clicked and the visitors rode to an impressive victory. The wheels were set in motion late in the first half, with Sam Williams heading the visitors in front from close range. Luke Howell then doubled the lead on 50 minutes before Tom Craddock pulled one back 10 minutes later. With Premier League scouts in the crowd, Daggers Luke Wilkinson was out to impress. And he could not have done any better by turning in an immaculate defensive performance, capped off with a powerful header on 62 minutes to restore the two goal lead and make it 3-1 to the visitors. It didn’t end there though, with Tom Craddock pouncing on Femi’s poor backpass to make it 3-2 before Kevin Maher was sent off to swing the tide further into Oxford’s favour. Despite the man disadvantage, Daggers held on to the lead to break their winless run against the U’s.
From these 10 games I have picked out, a clear pattern has emerged. Only four of the ten fixtures took place at Victoria Road, with Daggers seemingly more confident away from home than at home during this campaign. There was no such thing as, “Home Comforts”, with Daggers picking up just seven home wins compared to an impressive six away from home. The message for next season is clear; we have to improve on our home form whilst maintaining our consistent if unspectacular away form. If we can do that, we’ll be fine.