Sunday, 31 July 2011

League Two 2011/2012, The Lowdown Part 1

In this Blog, we'll take a look down all of the League Two clubs, a bit of info on each and ultimately predict where they'll finish. If you take a bet on any of my tips for this season, it's your own fault, you've been warned. The first part is the first 12 clubs, key players will not feature any goalkeepers.

Accrington Stanley Football Club
Stadium & Capacity: The Crown Ground, 5057
2010/2011 Finishing Position: 5th, lost in Play Off Semi Finals.
Manager: John Coleman
Key Players: Andrew Proctor, Sean Hessey, Craig Lindfield.
Prediction: A rather thread bare squad and not many Summer signings leaves Accy with a bit of a challenge, I reckon lower mid table, 14th.

AFC Wimbledon
Stadium & Capacity: Kingsmeadow, 5194.
2010/2011 Finishing Position: 2nd Conference National. Promoted via Play Offs.
Manager: Terry Brown
Key Players: Jack Midson, Luke Moore, Ricky Wellard.
Prediction: The Dons are going into new territory and without prolific Danny Kedwell could struggle, but you never know, 19th.

Aldershot Town Football Club

Dean Holdsworth
Stadium & Capacity: The EBB Stadium At The Recreation Ground, 7100.
2010/2011 Finishing Position: 14th
Manager: Dean Holdsworth
Key Players: Anthony Charles, Manny Panther, Danny Hilton
Prediction: They've kept largely the same squad and I think they could be find out by some at this level,12th.

Barnet Football Club
Stadium & Capacity: Underhill, 6200
2010/2011 Finishing Position: 22nd League Two.
Manager: Lawrie Sanchez
Key Players: Anwar Uddin, Mark Hughes, Izale McLoed, Ricky Holmes.
Prediction: Barnet have constantly flirted with relegation and have just survived season on season, however I think this will be the year, their attackers may save them, 23rd.

Bradford City Football Club
Stadium & Capacity: Valley Parade, 25,136
2010/2011 Finishing Position: 18th League Two.
Manager: Peter Jackson
Key Players: Guy Branston, Ritchie Jones, Ross Hannah.
Prediction: A potentially strong back line will be their strength this season, but the rest of the squad is young with unproven strikers, another unpredictable season, 20th.

Bristol Rovers Football Club
Stadium & Capacity: The Memorial Stadium, 12,100
2010/2011 Finishing Position: 22nd League One
Manager: Paul Buckle
Key Players: Byron Anthony, Joe Anyinsah, Chris Zebroski, Scott McGleish.
Prediction: Paul Buckle has brought in a few former Torquay players and their strike force looks menacing, they'd be disappointed with anything but promotion, 1st.

Burton Albion Football Club
Stadium & Capacity: The Pirelli Stadium, 6912
2010/2011 Finishing Position: 19th League Two
Manager: Paul Peschisolido
Key Players: Darren Moore, John McGrath, Calvin Zola, Jackques Maghoma.
Prediction: With one of the best young managers in the game, they have potential, but a small squad with not many standout players could be their downfall, a struggle, 16th.

Cheltenham Town Football Club
Stadium & Capacity: Whaddon Road (Abbey Business Stadium), 7066
2010/2011 Finishing Position: 17th League Two
Manager: Mark Yates
Key Players: Alan Bennett, Marlon Pack, Jeff Goulding, Daryl Duffy.
Prediction: A hard one to call, but for me they won't have enough, their main threat will be up front, but their defence looks short of players to me, 24th.

Crawley Town Football Club
Stadium & Capacity: Broadfield Stadium, 4996
2010/2011 Finishing Position: 1st Conference National.
Manager: Steve Evans
Key Players: Pablo Mills, Sergio Torres, Matt Tubbs, Wesley Thomas.
Prediction: A very strong side going forward thanks to their bag loads of money, whilst I want them to perish and fail miserably, I reckon they'll get into the play offs, 5th.

Crewe Alexandra Football Club
Stadium & Capacity: Alexandra Stadium (Gresty Road to you and I), 10,153
2010/2011 Finishing Position: 10th League Two
Manager: Dario Gradi
Key Players: David Artell, Ashley Westwood, Nick Powell, Shaun Miller.
Prediction: A club with a real emphasis on youth, with the majority of their squad home grown, a pleasure to see, but will they have the required experience, 11th.

Dagenham & Redbridge Football Club
Stadium & Capacity:Victoria Road (London Borough Of Barking & Dagenham Stadium) 6078
Jon Nurse, Scott Doe & Danny J Green
model the Daggers new kit.
2010/2011 Finishing Position: 21st League One
Manager: John Still
Key Players: Mark Arber, Peter Gain, Luke Howell, Jon Nurse, Josh Scott.
Prediction: Very hard to pick key players as the are all as important to us, losing Danny Green & Romain Vincelot was a blow to the Daggers but new players are ready to fill the gap, a number of new players look to break into the team such as Jake Reed & Danny J Green, a interesting season is in store, 7th at an optimistic push.

Gillingham Football Club
Stadium & Capacity: Preistfield Stadium, 11,582
2010/2011 Finishing Position: 8th (missed out on play off on goal difference)
Manager: Andy Hessenthaler
Key Players: Barry Fuller, Curtis Weston, Charlie Lee, Danny Kedwell.
Prediction: A very impressive squad with Kedwell spearheading the attack and a experienced midfield & back four, a team to be feared this season, 6th 

The second part with the rest of the teams will be published on Tuesday.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Daggers 0-1 West Ham: Floored

Dagenham & Redbridge put up a brave & valiant performance against West Ham United at Victoria Road, going down by the solitary Carlton Cole strike, and he probably won't score a better goal all season. The title is in reference to the fact, we're beginning to play it on the ground, shocking!

From The Daggers OS
As we walked into the ground it was packed, and this was only about 7:00, so you could tell the once a season Daggers fans were out for this one and of course the tremendous amount of West Ham fans in the Daggers part of the ground. Walking over to the Sieve and seeing a tonne of familiar faces I got my coke and went to the most uncrowded part of stand. We were greeted with an announcement over the tannoy, "Special Announcement In 15 Minutes." Everyone anxiously waited and as soon as they were up, Tony Roberts appeared in a smart attire, I think we all knew what was coming. As the bloke on the tannoy officially announced it, chants of "Robbo" rang out in the Sieve and applause from all four sides of the ground. His quite moving speech signaled the end of an era at Victoria Road and I'll have a special Robbo blog just after this one.

With that news fresh in the mind of all Daggers, the decision was made to move the game back 15 minutes due to crowd congestion outside the ground, giving people even more time to reflect on it.

The Daggers team was read out: Lewington, Femi, Doe, Swaibu, Ogogo, Scott, Howell, Bingham, Elito, Tomlin & Williams. A few changes from the weekend with Bingham captaining the squad in the absence of Arber who was on the bench. It seems as though Bingham is the vice captain as whenever Arbs is absent it appears Bingham takes the reigns.
West Ham fielded a strong team with the likes of Robert Green, Matthew Taylor, Joey O'Brien & Mark Noble all starting for the Championship side.

The game kicked off with the Daggers attacking The Bury Road end and West Ham attacking the Marcus James Stand where their fans were supposed to be situated. West Ham started the brighter gaining a corner within the opening five minutes after Welshman Jack Collison had his shot deflected wide by a Daggers defender, the resulting corner came to nothing. It was then the Daggers turn to attack with Josh Scott who appeared to be playing on the left beat a West Ham defender and whipped a ball into the box that fell straight into the hands of England International Green. Freddie Sears had the best chance so far when Cole laid the ball back to the youngster who flashed his shot wide of the goal and into someone in the MJ Stand, it should come with a health warning sitting in there!
Billy Binghams fine start to the contest was cut short, the youngster who looks set to start a lot of games this season pulled up a third of the way through the half, but managed to get back up again. Just minutes later however he pulled up again and was forced to go off and it's needless to say, our number of central midfielders is dropping faster than "Pulses" amount of members. This signalled a change for John Stills men, Damien McCrory came on in place of Bingham, this meant something new, Abu Ogogo went to play in central midfield whilst McCrory played at right back. At this point I have to say how much Luke Howell looks like Romain Vincelot, just a thought!

The Daggers then came alive, some neat passing movement in the middle of the park saw the ball go out so former Yeovil striker Sam Williams on the right hand side who cut a superb ball back to the edge of the penalty area to the unmarked Luke Howell who flashed his shot into Bury Road, a great opportunity and one that he really should have taken to give the Daggers the lead. Just minutes later Femi who was having a fairly decent game played the ball to Sam Williams on the edge of the "D" who spun and turned the West Ham defender before getting a powerful shot away that went straight down Robert Greens throat, some encouraging signs from the squads new pretty boy. Williams then got the chance to score once more, a good ball in from Josh Scott on the left went to the back post where Sam Williams came ever so close to getting his nut on it, however it was punched away well by Green in the Hammers goal.

The deadlock was broken on just over the half hour mark, a neat ball was played across the pitch to Cole in the Daggers penalty area who then turned and hammered a shot past a helpless Lewington in goal, a fantastic goal and one not to disimilair to the one he scored against Fulham in the Premier League last season. West Ham fans all around the ground erupted, ironically more in the Sieve than the Marcus James stand. Cole looked to double his and West Hams tally just minutes afterwards, he was given time to control the ball and put it on his right foot just outside the box but luckily his shot flashed over Lewingtons goal as the Irons began to establish a foothold in the contest.

That was the end of the action in the first half and as I though I'd go and get a burger & a coke, the queue persuaded me otherwise. I had a brief chat with one of the most notable terrace faces (see if you can guess) before Pulse returned to provide the half time comedy act, such a shame they didn't drop anyone this time. The teams re emerged for the second half with a number of new faces on show. As Tony Roberts hung up his gloves he had kindly arranged for Arsenal goalkeeper James Shea to come down to Victoria Road on loan for the season, a far cry from the Emirates is our quaint little ground, he replaced Chris Lewington in between the sticks. Scott Doe was replaced by Captain fantastic Mark Arber in the centre of defence so he would now partner Moses Swaibu. West Ham replaced O'Brien with Sanchez, Collison with Moncur, Mark Noble with former Dagenham loanee Oliver Lee and Frank Nouble who enjoyed a torrid time here against us with Charlton last season with Zavon Hines.

Brian Woodall

The second half started rather slowly, being contained as a midfield battle, Carlton Cole went down injured a couple of minutes after the restart after a clash of heads and that was his final bit of action, being replaced by another unknown in Lopez. A good cross by the new man saw Shea called into action for the first time, flapping at it before managing to get it out for a corner. The Daggers then fashioned their best chance of the game so far, Tomlin slid a brilliant ball through the West Ham defence that found Josh Scott running onto it, he took a single touch before smashing it just wide of Greens post, a brilliant opportunity. Once again, the Marcus James Stand should come with a health warning. Rather ironically straight after that miss, Josh was subbed, Danny J Green replacing him and it was also Gavin Tomlins last involvement, he was replaced by Brian Woodall, the new highest pitch voice contender. The Hammers made more subs, Freddie Sears & Taylor came off to be replaced by Lleget and Montano.

Montano's first involvement was from the corner where his shot was dragged wide after some brilliant pressuring from the Daggers stern defence. Magic Medy Elito then broke down the right hand side before cutting into the box and dragging his shot wide, hitting the stanction behind the goal. Just minutes later I think it was (I know it happened, cant remember when) Elito broke once more and fired a fantastic shot that everyone thought was in. The Sieve erupted as we thought we'd equalised, we continued celebrating until Green went behind the goal to get the ball, rotten git. The ball had rebounded off of the advertising boards onto the back of the net, on the bright side, it's the first goal we've cheered this season, even if it wasn't in!

Sam Williams came of
From The OS

Sam Williams was then replaced by new signing from Great Yarmouth Town, Jake Reed who had scored against St Neots a night previous. He was quickly involved, picking up the ball on the right before cutting into the box and firing a fierce right footed shot at Robert Green who palmed the shot away superbly. I maintain if it was a League Two keeper in goal, Reeds shot would have gone in, very encouraging signs from him. James Shea was then called into action for the first time, saving well from a West Ham player who ended up going one on one with the loanee. The game ended after a minute of added time I believe it was.

Very encouraging signs so far from the two home pre season games. The defence looks brilliant, very solid at the back and Moses Swaibu looks to be a good acquisition and will probably play the Antwi role, as Doe & Arber will be the normal centre half partnership that has served us so well in the past. James Shea has big boots to fill but looks promising so far, although his handling is slightly shaky, but that's to be expected. Josh Scott looks like he's getting back to form and Danny J Green will play a part this season, looking decent so far in the friendlies. I don't have bad words to say about anyone really.

The key thing, we seem to be playing it on the floor a hell of a lot more! I'll be back later with a Robbo Blog, or on Saturday with the Stevenage match report.

Official Attendance: 4016.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Daggers 0-0 Orient: New Faces

The Daggers played their first home friendly of the season today, a 0-0 draw against League One neighbours Leyton Orient. Around 930 people turned up at Victoria Road to witness the drab affair (it was expected in essence), but some new faces were on show for the Daggers.

If you aren't familiar with this Blog then I always start with my walk down to Victoria Road, which as you'd expect wasn't as congested as usual, everything came back to me at seeing our wonderful sign, what I'd missed all Summer and what we've got to look forward to for this season. Walking in I got my usual 50/50 ticket, golden goal and a cut price programme with yet another new look, but with all the usual features.

The wonder that is, The Sieve

Then a walk round to the Sieve, for those of you that aren't familiar with me, I used to be in the Carling Stand, but have been converted to a "siever." Having made the short walk across the ground I could see instantly what I'd missed, regardless if their was about 400 odd fans in there, the view, the banter and everything about it was fantastic. I walked round to my new tea bar where the usual burger and a tea was bought, they even pour in the milk for you! Always appreciate the little things in life. Me and my two companions by the name of Charlotte & Tom made our way over to resident smug git Lee Wilson & friend where we were joined by Paul Buckle (Billy Cove) and his group. A brief chat before hand about possible new players and stuff like that and we were ready to begin.

The first major part of the game happened before it had started, a game of spot the trialist, a number of new faces were on offer to us, James Shea from Arsenal, Sam Williams formerly of Yeovil Town & Luke Howell formerly of MK Dons & Lincoln City. At this point I probably should point out that Tony Roberts was not on the bench nor included in the programme squad, make of that what you will!

The teams came out dead on three, too not quite rapturous applause, but applause none the less! Orient had just returned from a pre season trip to Finland where they were unbeaten and the Daggers last game was a 2-0 defeat at Billericay Town, although that was a team made up of trialists & reserve players.

The Daggers players that started today were: Shea, Ogogo, Doe, Arber, McCrory, Elito, Howell, Bingham, Green, Williams & Tomlin. A moment of comedy for me when the bloke on the tannoy pronounced Shea's name as "Shear."

The first real action of the game was just under seven minutes in, a Daggers player was fouled outside the area which gave the first chance for a free kick, Damien McCrory stepped up and took it, flashing just wide of the goal at The Marcus James end. That was the only real goal mouth opportunity within the first twenty minutes, although I wasn't keeping a steady eye on the game, constantly having a chat all the way through as before mentioned. From what I did see, Medy Elito looked very sharp, always roastinbg his man down the right before putting in a couple of decent deliveries which Sam Williams couldn't quite get his head onto. Orient pressed forward slightly and delivered in a couple of crosses which didn't find Revell and consequently went for a goal kick. Orient nearly gained the lead half way into the first half when another cross by Cox I believe found Revell this time who could only glance his header past Shea's far post.

A few minutes later yet another cross was delivered in, once again it found Revell but Scott Doe gave him no time and shut him down extremely quickly. The king of pre season himself Gavin Tomlin played very well in the first half, his quick & nifty footwork bamboozling the Orient defenders, but unable to find a break through. On that note I feel Tomlin will be a good player for us this season, after all he played well for Torquay and if can replicate that form for us, then he will be a major player. Tomlin then had a chance, from outside the box he fired a shot that went high and wide and like himself, not so handsome, sorry Gavlar! Luke Howell was then given some freedom down the left after Elito had worked his magic once more, Howells shot dragging wide of the far post to effectively end the half. One minute of injury time went up to cries of "what have we done to deserve this" and if you cant tell by now, it was a boring game, but it was football, the reason we was all there! The Daggers ended the half on top as the half time whistle blew.

Half time was the usual, a drink and a continued chat, before listening to the music play list over half time, it really needs to be sorted out, but on the bright side, Pulse weren't there!

As the second half started, Orient had a chance, Jonathon Tehoue, nicknamed super sub by the Orient supporters cut the ball back to Revell who seemed to be involved in all attacking movements, but fired even higher than Tomlins shot into the Orient support. Orient gained a couple of corners which also came to nothing after they were headed over. All of this match information is generally pointless, so we'll get onto the players and how they played, however the mini scrap at the end between Josh Scott & an Orient defender was everyones highlight, cried of "Bottle Him" from the Sieve, don't you just love our supporters.

James Shea- Not much to say about him really, not tested at all, done well gathering the ball when called upon, however I'm sure theres more to come from him when needed.

Abu Ogogo- A solid pre season performance from Mr consistent, couldn't be faulted and got stuck in, although he had a bit of a squabble with Revell, go on Abu

Mark Arber- My man of the match today, if theres such a thing for pre season, got stuck in to every challenge and headed everything, firmly in control and once again proves why he is our captain.

Scott Doe- Like Arbs, got stuck in and headed everything, played well and just proves why I believe we have one of the best centre half pairings in the league.

Damien McCrory- Played well this afternoon, didn't get caught out and looks as though he'll be the one to take our free kicks this season, when shifted to left mid, he looked just a good with some good runs and a decent cross.

Medy Elito- He showed why John Still signed him, very lively and pacey, a brilliant player this afternoon who didn't give the Orient full back a moments rest when he had the ball.

Luke Howell- The former Lincoln City man played well, no mistakes, good passing everything you'd expect from a midfielder, doesn't mind to shoot either, someone I look forward to seeing more in friendlies and if we sign him, which I hope we do.

Billy Bingham- A good performance in the middle, the man is coming of age now for us and showed battling qualities and good determination, he will play a good part in this season.

Danny J Green- Danny didn't really get an opportunity to shine this afternoon, a couple of decent crosses, the ball wasn't delivered out to him enough, some good runs down the left.

Sam Williams- He looked sharp this afternoon, has good strength and can win headers unlike predecessors, didn't get a chance to shoot really and he is a contender for the best hair award if he signs this season. For those that didn't see him, he's also 6ft+.

Gavin Tomlin- The Pre season King, once more in his element, quick feet, "Twinkletoes Tomlin" caught the Orient defence out a couple of times with his sublime trickery and even mustered a couple of decent shots, another potentially key player this season.

Josh Scott- The biggest cheer of the day when he came on, looks as though he's lost weight, quite sharp and wasn't shy of a couple of shots, when he gets up to full fitness again, he will be a major player.

Brian Woodall- Another newbie who looked pretty decent, strong and had some good movement, I reckon he'll definitely be on the bench if not more this season.

Alex Osborn- My tip for this season, when he came on, he looked lively and up for it, he got off a couple of shots and is quite nifty because of his size, he will play a part in our season.

Femi- As you know, I'm not the biggest fan of Femi, but he played decent like the rest, a couple of good balls and some great tackles and his look when the Sieve started singing "his song" was classical.

That rounds off my first Blog of the season, I know it was a long one, but thanks for reading and we should be back after the West Ham game on Tuesday Night! Oh, and for the record, the Orient support was as dire as before.

The Sieve, what a place!