Sunday, 27 November 2011

Accrington Stanley 3-0 Daggers, It's Grim Up North

Dagenham & Redbridge extended their run of league defeats to eight on the bounce after a sodden 3-0 reverse at Accrington Stanley yesterday. The result was only part of the story, with the weather adding to the atrociousness of the day.

Dagenham at 6:45am. Lovely; isn't it?
  The day started with a nice 6am wake up, before taking a couple of buses and arriving at Victoria Road at around 7:20am in the darkness. A Supporters Coach of 40 people left for Accrington at around 7:45am; with our first stop being at Norton Caines Services at around 11am. Whilst here we encountered droves of Manchester United fans, which further enforces the fact that half of their support lives down South. Upon leaving the services, came probably the highlight of the day; going past a Park Ji Sung fan coach full with Koreans on board on it's way to Old Trafford; you simply couldn't script it.

We arrived at the Crown Ground just after 13:00 and first impressions were, horrible. The rain was lashing down upon us as we departed from the coach and headed to the Accrington Stanley owned, Crown Pub which had a very friendly atmosphere. We stayed briefly in there before heading back out and meeting a Northern "chum" by the name of Joseph Gibbons; with that I bought a programme and headed through the ramshackled turnstiles into the fabulous uncovered away end. We were in fact given the choice of either standing in the uncovered terrace or the covered terrace; although I was reliably informed that the part undercover still leaked tremendously.

A brief spree of pictures occurred before we came across the task of fixing flags to the away uncovered terrace in 50mph winds; as you can imagine this didn't go well and took plenty of time. After that was done, Bill & Chas came through the turnstiles amongst a glutton of others to increase our attendance. The biggest let down of the afternoon was the PA System, who played about two songs pre match and then seemingly forgot to work his microphone; leaving us to work out the Daggers Team. (Daggers Flags Right)

Dagenham & Redbridge Team: Lewington, McCrory, Doe, Femi, Spillane, Nurse, Ogogo, Gain, Tomlin, Montano, Woodall, Cunnington. Subs: Shea, Geohaghan, Maher, Scott, Tomlin.
Dominic Green, Gavin Tomlin & Richard Rose were all out from the side who won at Bath City during the week. They were replaced by loanees Mickey Spillane, Cristian Montano & new signing from Kettering Adam Cunnington as John Still looked to be going for a more attacking formation. New signing Exodus Geohaghan was on the bench as Femi retained his central defensive place, meaning there was no place for Phil Walsh.

Accrington Stanley Team: Dunbavin, Winnard, Hessey, Long, Procter, Joyce, McIntyre, Evans, Hughes, Lindfield, Stockley. Subs: Murdoch (no relation to Rupert), Coid, Barnett, Dobie, Amond.
Jayden Stockley was given a start for Stanley after coming on in the 1-1 draw against Macclesfield a week previous as a substitute. This meant that Charlie Barnett who started the game against Macc was reduced to a position on the bench for the game yesterday. Tom Bender was not on the bench, he was replaced on there by Luke Dobie, on loan from Championship side Middlesborough.

The Teams Come Out
 The teams came out roughly on 3:00 with the rain still lashing down, around 30 of us braving it on the open terrace; whilst the more sensible 52 others headed for the cover. Accrington Stanley started the better of the two sides, Craig Lindfield & Micah Evans both getting shots away within the first 10 minutes of the game, the later coming the closest of the two.

Dagenham & Redbridge nearly took the lead with just over ten minutes played. New signing Adam Cunnington was fouled just outside the box by Kevin Long, which gave the Daggers a good opportunity to shoot. An unusual figure stepped over the ball, Brian Woodall, his thunderous strike whistled past the post in the Daggers first shot of the contest. The game was then broken up with a number of free kicks. This was inevitable with the horrendous weather, there was so much water on the pitch that when players began to slide in for a challenge they simply couldn't stop themselves because of their momentum.

 Just over twenty minutes played and Chris Lewington was forced into his first action of the afternoon, Luke Joyce testing the superb shot stopper. The Daggers were than barraged by a succession of Stanley crosses, none of which found their desired man; all were absorbed by the Daggers defence and cleared to subside the pressure. Adam Cunnington then went on a good little run before feeding in Cristian Montano who was tackled just as he was about to pull the trigger. Another case of taking too long to shoot for the Daggers. (Brian Woodall Right)

Dean Winnard then forced another good save from Lewington, his shot skidding off of the surface making it difficult for the stopper. Just after 35 minutes, Dagenham had a very good shout for a penalty in my opinion. Peter Gain put in a ball from the right hand side, as the ball was coming in, Adam Cunnington went over after being pushed in the back; but the referee waved it away. I would have flung my hands about in disgust, but as they were so cold; they stayed firmly rooted in my back pockets trying to get warm.

That was really the end of the first half, a drab, wet, cold & miserable affair; with all signs pointing towards the Daggers first 0-0 in 89 competitive matches. Accrington looked the more likely of the two sides to break the deadlock; testing Lewington on a couple of occasions as well as their ability to stick a ball into the box. The Daggers looked most threatening when chasing down long balls which says a lot, Dunbavin forced to come of his area and boot the ball away as a Daggers attacker is chasing it down. Adam Cunnington impressed me, he looked composed on the ball and willing to chase everything down; something we dearly need. Unfortunately he was working on scraps.

Behind Accringtons Five Star Terrace.
 I decided to try out the Accrington food at half time, a reasonably priced £2.50 hot dog was very good; if somewhat on the small side. I did also have a cup of tea as I was freezing; although I was so cold half of it ended up on the Accrington concrete which had already had enough to drink with the lashing of rain. My Northern friend, was of course in his element, let me tell you this; the weather up there made Dagenham look like California; it was that terrible. We emerged back onto the terrace where a number of others had migrated to the undercover part of the "stadium." I now know what away fans had to put up with at our old Pondfield Road end, although the conditions were never as bad as they were yesterday; I imagine it would have been pretty dire!

Accrington kick off the second half.

The team came back out for the second half; the Daggers would be attacking the "Stanley Ultra's" end, whilst Accrington would be facing us. The Daggers started the half the brighter as it happened. Damien McCrory getting down the left before putting a ball in which found Brian Woodall; he hit it on the half volley and it went high over the bar. Straight up the other end and Craig Lindfield, the former Liverpool striker curled a shot that went just past Lewingtons post. Before you could breath were back up the other end once more, Woodall once again the main man, but once again, he missed the target. A frantic start and one that you wouldn't have expected following the horrid first half showing.

Accrington Stanley, did however strike a fatal blow 56 minutes into the game. Micah Evans went to the bi-line before somehow putting in a low cross which found Lindfield unmarked in the 18 yard box. Lindfields strike deflected off of Mickey Spillane before hitting the underside of the bar and going in past a helpless Chris Lewington. The same old story as I say every game, 1-0 down and where do we go from here?
Tempers then began to flare with Andy Proctor & Abu Ogogo squaring up to eachother after a challenge. I'm sure I saw Proctor kick out at Abu, unfortunately none of the officials did and both of them got away with a talking to by the referee. John Still then made his first substitution of the afternoon with Brian Woodall who had looked good all afternoon, being replaced by Josh Scott on 60 minutes. The Daggers nearly equalised just minutes later. A Damien McCrory corner found the head of an unmarked Scott Doe, who's header glanced straight across the face of goal and just past the post; agonisingly close.

Then came the Daggers best double chance of the game, and about 22 hours on I'm still trying to fathom how it didn't find its way into the net. Peter Gain rounded Dunbavin and fed the ball back to Abu Ogogo who just had to roll it in by the looks of it; he hit it and just as I began to cheer, the ball came back out. Luke Joyce made a superb goal line clearance, it wasn't over though; Jon Nurse tried again and the same player got his body in the way once more. By then, I just knew it wasn't going to be our day; when you have luck like that what can you really hope for? I am assuming it was Nursey & Abu who got the shots away, it was a bit of a blur so forgive me if I'm wrong.

Just minutes later Kevin McIntyre was shown a yellow card, just after that our own Cristian Montano found himself in the book as well. Then came a couple of Accrington substitutions. Bryan Hughes was replaced by Padraig Amond who was on loan from Pacos De Ferreira, a Portuguese side. Jayden Stockley was also replaced by Charlie Barnett as John Coleman looked to sure up the scoreline. John Still then made his second change five minutes later. Adam Cunnington who had a rough introduction to Football League life was replaced by Gavin Tomlin as the Daggers looked for that creative spark that was needed.

It nearly came just minutes later, a ball was put into the box which found Mickey Spillane. Spillane is a defender and it showed; his shot blasted just over the bar for the Daggers final chance of the afternoon. If he scores that it's 1-1 and all to play for in the final 10 to 15 minutes of the game.

Accrington Stanley then doubled their lead on 82 minutes, substitute Padraig Amond heading home past Lewington after a Charlie Barnett cross found the unmarked striker who accepted the invitation and sent Stanley out of sight. You'd have thought that it couldn't get any more depressing, with the cold, the dark and the dingy weather along with the current score; but it did. A long ball forward was brought down by a Accy attacker who laid it off for Amond. Amond ran up to it and slotted it home perfectly into the corner to make it 3-0 and firmly seal the win if it wasn't already assured. This saw the Exodus of a few Dagenham supporters, no pun intended, whilst the rest of us stood out the final 10 minutes; at least the rain had stopped. We just about managed to keep hold of the 3-0 scoreline after some good work by Femi. Lewington & himself got in a mix with an Accrington striker, but Femi calmly dribbled away with superb skill to avert the danger.

That was the end of the "contest" and it consigned us to yet another defeat in the league, our eighth straight and for me the worst one overall. Not only was the performance mediocre, the day as a whole was thoroughly miserable. The worst conditions I have ever watched football in, even my Northern friend admitted it was the worst conditions he can remember at football! So  we got the flags down and headed back to a deflated and miserable coach to return to Dagenham with nothing to show but wet clothes and £30-£40 out of pocket once more.

Fine margins dictate football games and this was the case again today. If Spillane's volley had gone in, if Ogogo/ Nurse would have netted one of those simple chances. Unfortunately though, points don't work in corners. We find ourselves two points adrift of safety and nervously looking over out shoulder at Plymouth who picked up a priceless 4-1 victory yesterday. It's very worrying times to be a Dagenham fan, but unlike some I have full confidence in John Still to turn it around, he is the right man for the job. If he wasn't he would have been sacked by now.

The way I felt yesterday, it would have been fitting if John made the players sit down and let the fans give them a post match talking to. They get paid to lose, we have to pay to watch our beloved team get beat week after week. The one major plus point however, was the performance of Adam Cunnington who had a good debut, I look forward to seeing more of him in the future.

Our Superb Away End Pre Match.
Accrington performed well and deserved all three points, Craig Lindfield is an invaluable player to them and I wish them luck for the rest of the season as they were a club much like ourselves. John Coleman is a superb manager and there fans are also brilliant. Superb effort to the 86 Daggers who went yesterday as well. (Accrington Stanley Away Terrace Right)

We returned to Dagenham, still soggy, wet and damp at around 10:30pm. Our next game is against Walsall in the FA Cup next week, a good home tie and one that we have a decent chance of winning. Our next away game is Burton Albion on the 18th December, our final away game of 2011 as well. Here's hoping the weather is considerably better next time as well.

In a final note, RIP Gary Speed who died earlier this morning. A sad loss to football; he leaves behind his wife and two children.

Thanks for reading and remember to follow me on Twitter, @NickDRFCMurphy.
Also follow Gibbo on Twitter, @JoeBillGibbo is what you'll need!
Read Gibbo's Blog,

Here are some other pictures from the day.

The Crown Ground (Below)
Part of the covered terrace (right side)

The game you could watch from the Accy Away End.
The Crown Ground
The Crown Ground.

The shoddy door which Gibbo broke.

(Dagenham & Redbridge Fans)
The Three Brothers!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Daggers 2-3 Southend United

They say that there's two sides to every story; that was certainly the case at Victoria Road on Saturday afternoon. Despite the superb performance from the Daggers, it still reads as a defeat like any other in the form guide; but make no mistake, this display gives myself and I would hope other fans & the players a confidence boost in what has been a tough few months.

Pre match, my expectations were upped somewhat with the news of two loan signings. The first of which, a defender from Brentford by the name of Mickey Spillane; something that we were in desperate need of! The second signing, the most exciting was that of Cristian Montano; a striker from West Ham who had previously scored four in six during a stint on loan at Meadow Lane. Aboard the 103 I encountered some rowdy Southend fans before eventually reaching Victoria Road; which was as you may expect, dominated by Shrimpers. I waltzed through the turnstiles with a 50/50 ticket & my programme; expecting a feast of football; or a thrashing. Preferably the first.

The Daggers very own..... PULSE!
 I had a quick chat with Dawson & Horan before heading off into the Sieve with a burger & sprite anticipating the game. Then Pulse came out and treated us to some rhythmic walking; I refuse to call it dancing; they don't even throw each other up in the air anymore! I owe the sponsors of our stand an apology, our away stand is the Traditional Builders & Contracters Stand; last week I referred to it by its previous sponsor. Anyways, Southend had brought a fantastic following with them, selling out the TB Stand as well as 300 or so in the Sieve; not to mention the obvious bucket loads they had dotted around the ground.

The Dagenham & Redbridge Team Lined Up As Follows: Lewington, McCrory, Walsh, Femi, Spillane, Rose, Ogogo, Gain, Woodall, Nurse, Montano. Subs: Shea, Scannell, Okus, Dom Green, Scott. The Daggers were playing a 4-1-2-3 formation or something of that ilk. Spillane at right back with Richard Rose as a sort of defensive midfielder.

Southend United Team: Daniels, Clohessy, Gilbert, Mohsni, Ferdinand, Phillips, Barker, Hall, Timlin, Kalala, Dickinson. Subs: Morris, Prosser, Sawyer, Johnson, Harris.
Ryan Leonard was out of the side from last weeks 0-0 draw with Preston in the FA Cup and replaced by the official man mountain Bilel Mohsni; more on him later!

The teams came out to good applause from all sides of the ground; they came out with several mascots; one Daggers, two Southend and one only god knows! Southend United won the toss and opted to switch ends. This meant that the Daggers would be firing towards the Traditional Builders stand in the first half; and Southend attacking the Bury Road End.

The first few minutes of the game were very much a midfield battle, however the first break went Southends way. Some good work down the left hand side by Ryan Hall saw him drill a ball in which surpassed all of the Daggers defenders until it found Kane Ferdinand at the back post who obliged in putting it in the back of the net. 1500 Shrimpers went crazy whilst the Daggers fans fell silent once again; it appeared to be the start of the same old story. One good thing that came out of it was the booking of Bilel Mohsni; for a reason unbeknown to everyone but the referee. After he was booked, he threw a wonderful tantrum that had us all smiling and in all honesty, it was a bit embarrassing for both the ref & the player. No one knew why Mohsni had been booked, his retaliations just said it all really; no matter how bloody hilarious they were.

The BBC is good sometimes.
 We then had a five minute lull in the action before the Daggers equalised. A ball was threaded through to Jon Nurse who flicked the ball superbly to Cristian Montano. Montano's silky footwork eventually saw him fashion a chance and with a prod at the ball inside the six yard box, it went through Southend keeper Luke Daniels' legs to level the scores. It's the craziest I've seen the Sieve so far this season, not to mention Montano who must have been delighted with a debut goal! However, I'm sure Luke Daniels will be wondering quite how that ball got past him, a very tame shot that he should have done a lot better with.

Southend then looked to restore their lead. Bilel Mohsni getting a shot away that missed to the left hand side of the goal, before Ryan Hall had a superb effort from all of 25 yards that just cleared Chris Lewingtons post. The Shrimpers then very nearly re-took the lead. A Ryan Hall corner fell for Michael Timlin just yards from goal, everyone in the ground thought it was in, however Lewington scrambled back across to deny the Swindon Town loanee. Another magnificent stop from the former Leatherhead man.

Up until the thirty minute the mark, the game returned to more of a midfield battle. Damien McCrorys free kick tested the shrewd Southend defence. It resulted in 'keeper Luke Daniels taking a blow, the physio who was rather chunky came on and treated him, within two of three minutes he was back on his feet and raring to go once more. Then however, Southend took the lead once more; a ball was played into Bilel Mohsni who took a touch before rolling it into Liam Dickinson who applied the finished through a Daggers defenders legs and into the bottom corner. A well worked goal and one that Chris Lewington had no chance with.

Just before the half time whistle there came a final flurry of action at both ends. Kane Ferdinand slid a delightful ball across the Daggers area that was begging to be put into the back of the net, however it rolled across Dickinsons body and we survived. Dagenham then went straight up the other end and nearly found an equaliser in the second minute of added on time. The ball was fed in to Jon Nurse who took a sublime touch to turn the Shrimpers defender before his powerful shot was just tipped round the post by Daniels between the sticks. That's something we haven't seen of Nursey this season, chancing his arm outside of the box by taking some shots on; good to see him finally firing.

The Teams Go In At The Break.
 That was the final action of the first half and Southend United went in 2-1 to the good. Half time flashed by thanks to a chat with a Paul Buckle lookalike and a quick glimpse at Pulse. I assure you I wasn't watching their dancing. My main concern from the first half however was our defence whenever Southend won a free kick near our box. Bilel Mohsno who is a demon in the air was unmarked at the back post every time, this left Femi trying to make three men by himself; really not a good idea!

The teams emerged for the second half just past 4:00, the Daggers would be attacking the Southend fans housed in the Traditional Builders Stand whilst the Shrimpers would be going towards the rather packed Bury Road End. I wonder why it was packed eh?

Take Abu Son!
Just after the restart Dagenham & Redbridge equalised in superb fashion. Abu Ogogo was given the ball on the half way line before advancing towards the Southend defence who administered no pressure whatsoever. He then unleashed a rasper of a strike with his left foot which flew straight past Daniels in the Southend goal to send the Sieve wild. A simply superb strike from Abu who is really finding his feet in the centre of the park now. More importantly however; we had comeback again, it was now 2-2 with all to play for and the Daggers on top.
Some good work from Brian Woodall down the right hand side then saw the Daggers win a corner; for the umpteenth game in a row; Phil Walsh won the ball, however his shot was blocked and the pressure overted; for now. Just minutes later the debutant Montano; who had been slightly anonymous since his goal picked up the ball and hit a shot that just went wide of the post, the pressure ever increasing on Paul Sturrock's men.

Then however, Southend took a somewhat undeserved lead. Liam Dickinson sent through a defence splitting pass which found its way to Kane Ferdinand who rounded Chris Lewington and slotted home into and empty net. That my readers; is the mark of league leaders. Being able to ride out pressure and then go up the other end against the run of play and retake the lead. Good play leading up to the goal; some may say Lewington shouldn't have come out of his goal in the way that he did, but that's out of instinct and to be perfectly frank, I doubt he would have stood a chance one on one. So Southend regained a 3-2 lead on the 60 minute mark.

The game slowed down a bit for the next quarter of an hour. Cristian Montano was fouled down the left hand side which gave McCrory a chance to whip a ball into the box which he done so perfectly. It found the head of Spillane who was making a brilliant debut; his header just went wide of the mark. Virtually straight from Daniels' long punt down field, Ryan Hall found the ball at his feet, a quick change of direction saw him fashion a shot which he put harmlessly over the crossbar. John Still then made his first change of the match. Richard Rose who was effectively our insure package, came off to be replaced by Dominic Green, meaning we were reverting to our more traditional 4-4-2 formation.

Just a minute after Dom came on, we nearly equalised for the third time in the contest. Another Damien McCrory free kick down the left hand side was put into the box and it found the head of Phil Walsh who rose above the rest to get his nut on the ball. It went in a very slow motion sort of way and nearly caught Daniels out in the goal, but he got his fingertips onto it to send it over the bar and out for a corner. We then made our second change of the match, the one change that was most obvious to us all. Brian Woodall coming off for the messiah; Josh Scott getting a nice ten minute stint.

The last five minutes of the encounter were riveting to say the least. The first bit of action came from a Southend perspective, a Liam Dickinson shot inside of the area that hit the side netting, if he'd have squared the ball, he would have played in one of his unmarked team mates to more than likely wrap up the victory. Then came the Daggers final foray into the Southend half. The ball was laid back to Mickey Spillane who put in a superb ball that found the head of Josh Scott. His header was straight at Daniels who palmed it out; I can't help but feel that if Josh had any direction on that header we would have found the equaliser. Scott got to the rebound first and played in Damien McCrory whose powerful strike was saved superbly once more and the danger was cleared.

That was it, all over and Southend had one a truly fantastic Essex derby 3-2 at Victoria Road. At the end of the day; it will go down as another defeat on the results card, but there was so much heart and pride to take from this result. For starters it was the first time I had left a Dagenham game happy in quite a while. We played the top of the league side and we were good value for the draw in my eyes; we tested their keeper a number of times and on the whole, it was probably one of the best if not the best performance of the season. Although Mohsni was a bit of an idiot trying and successful getting retaliation from the Daggers supporters for being a glorified arsehole.

Mickey Spillane

The two debutant's performed admirably. Montano clearly has sublime skill and is a magnificent individual talent, getting a goal on his debut will have done wonders for the lad. Micky Spillane who in my eyes was the man of the match performed superbly at right back. Not only was he admirable at the back, but he also got forward and delivered some fantastic balls into the box; a superb acquisition. Phil Walsh & Femi were largely solid at the back; although one of them will be replaced when Scott Doe returns on Wednesday night against Bath City. Even Jon Nurse looked back to his old self, Lewington as solid as ever, even more impressive for me was Abu Ogogo who is really finding his feet in the centre alongside Peter Gain who was as passionate as ever.

The biggest thing for me yesterday however, we were like the Dagenham & Redbridge of old. We played with belief, with passion, with hunger and most importantly of all; with the fans behind the team. The Sieve was rawkus yesterday and everyone just seemed in general a lot happier. The one thing that concerns me however; is this a false dawn. We played like this at Crawley and we all thought it was a turning point; this time I hope it's the real deal.

Part of the Traditional Builders Stand at the start of the day.
 As for any Southend United readers, I can see why you are top of the league. You have everything a team needs really, you can counter attack, have the height, the pace and a great manager although he isn't quite to my taste. The sheer fact you sold nearly 1600 tickets + had numbers dotted elsewhere around the stadium shows your fantastic support, although I didn't hear much noise from you! Kane Ferdinand is a superb player as is Ryan Hall, Mohsni didn't really shine although that's probably due to his booking at the start. Does anyone even know why he was booked? I wish you good luck in your quest for promotion and I look forward to visiting Roots Hall in the new year!

As for the Daggers, we have Bath City on Wednesday night in the FA Cup Replay 1st Round. For those who have the chance to go, I urge you to, free coach travel isn't something we have very often and it is superb of the Supporters Club to lay it on for supporters. If you can't make it; watch it live on ESPN, 7:15pm kick off! Unfortunately for you avid readers, I won't be there; which means no matchday report for the first time since Hereford United at the beginning of September.

Our next league game is away at Accrington Stanley next week, a game that I will be at, so lets try and bring a respectable amount of supporters there to get behind the lads.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this whether you're a Dagger, a Shrimp or a neutral!

Remember to follow me on Twitter, @NickDRFCMurphy

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Daggers 1-1 Bath City, Not Quite An Early Bath.

For the first time in quite a few years, we got ourselves a very winnable tie with all due respect to Bath City, but being Dagenham & Redbridge and being in this current rut; it was never going to end happily was it. The answer to that is no as we drew 1-1 against the Romans, not the worst result in the world but by no means the best.

Pre match I was quite confident, we needed to stop our poor run and playing a side bottom of the Conference should really be the way to do that. I'm very sure Bath saw it as a game they could win after looking at our form so it was finely poised. I arrived in the ground just five minutes before kick off and went to join my compatriots in the Sieve before we had the minutes silence and a superb march by several veterans accompanied by a trumpet solo. A truly fitting way to start the game and a well observed minutes silence with no interruptions.

The teams lined up as follows:
Dagenham & Redbridge Team: Lewington, Rose, Femi, Walsh, McCrory, Scannell, Gain, Ogogo, DJ Green, Nurse, Woodall. Subs: Shea, Bingham, Green, Scott, Okus, Scott. The big news for Dagenham that Scott was on the bench, with our current injury crisis we were only able to field a bench of 6 rather than 7.

Bath City Team: Garner, Simpson, Rollo, Jones, Cook, Gallinagh, Connolly, Watkins, Burnell, Russell, Canham. Subs: Matthews, Preece, Clough, Stonehouse, Murray, Phillips, Carvalho-Landell. Bath had Hogg & the other Canham brother both unavailable due to a suspension they picked up in the 2-2 draw against Grimsby a week previous. Replacing the two suspended players were Jamie Cook & Alex Russell.

Phil Walsh received a good round of applause from the 130 odd Bath City supporters housed in the Barking College Stand, Walshy had a spell at Twerton Park where he played 87 games scoring 15 goals in the process. On that note, well done to the Bath supporters, I know we weren't the tie you was looking for, but you made a decent amount of noise and looked like you were enjoying it throughout!

Bath City kicked the game off, attacking the Bury Road Terrace whilst the Daggers would be firing towards the eerily empty Traditional Builders Stand. The first shot of the game was from DJ Green who managed to just drag it wide without really drawing in a Bath City defender. We did actually have a couple of stoppages within the opening ten minutes, both for head injuries. Abu Ogogo went in low and got a boot for his troubles, whilst Alex Russell also ended up getting a knock to the head from a collision.

The first real chance of the game came from a Damien McCrory corner which was swung in towards the back post. Phil Walsh got his head to it and forced a Bath player to partially clear it off the line before Richard Rose hit a tame volley that was just about gathered by Glyn Garner between the sticks.

Sean Canham.
 Then however, came Bath Citys goal. A ball through looked easy enough to deal with for Femi, before he slipped and allowed Canham to race through and slot past Lewington with ease to give the Romans a goal lead on 11 minutes. Of course their support went loopy and rightfully so, whilst the Daggers were left with an all to familiar story of conceding first thanks to a defending mistake, although a slip is just one of those things at the end of the day.

The Daggers then went on the attack once more looking to find an instant response, firstly Nurse fired over from a Woodall cross, before Woodall himself headed just wide of the target. Another corner followed just minutes later, once again the chance created by a head back from Walsh was saved well on the line before being blocked and eventually finding it's way back into Garner's hands.. Bath were under severe pressure, but their defence was managing to hold firm. Damien Scannell then created a fantastic chance; some good work down the right enabled him to beat a defender and put in a superb low ball across the area, which was gambled upon by no one.

Bath City then went forward themselves, looking most threatening down the right, but luckily for the Daggers; no real clear cut opportunity to tell you about. Straight back up the other end and Danny J Green weaved in and out of several players before fashioning himself a chance that was blocked once more by a Bath defender. Then a set up from Ogogo gave Scannell a chance to take a shot, unfortunately he blasted it high into the Traditional Builders Stand when he really should have done better.

 On 40 minutes, the Daggers did find the deserved equaliser. Jon Nurse got down the left and flighted a good ball in which found the head of the somewhat anonymous Woodall who gleefully glanced it home past Garner to net his first Dagenham & Redbridge goal. Cue celebrations in the Sieve, not only had we responded, but it was the first time in about three matches that we had found the back of the net. Well done to the Bath supporters though, they stayed in good voice.

That was the end of the half effectively, the four minutes of injury time had no incident other than a free kick which came to nothing. During the break I had a read of Josh Scotts interview as well as doing the idiotic thing of booking the coach to Accrington Stanley for 2 weeks time. Some of you may call me mad...... you are right! The fog began to descend upon Victoria Road, along with that came the cold; so like a softy I decided it was time to wear my jacket! The teams came out for the second half and the fans looked as though they had a renewed sense of optimism. The Daggers kicked off the second half attacking the Bury Road Terrace, with Bath kicking towards the Traditional Builders Stand. One change before we kicked off though, Jim Rollo was replaced by Charlie Clough for Bath City.

The first real incident of the second half came about 10 minutes in. Marley Watkins was sent racing through by Jamie Cook whilst the Daggers defence were asleep. Chris Lewington who hadn't had anything to do previous to this rushed out and as Watkins was going round him; Lewy's out stretched leg caught him and the referee blew for a free kick. Luckily, there were two defenders covering and it was outside the box, which meant a free kick for Bath rather than a penalty and a yellow card rather than a red for Lewington; much to the Romans' fans dismay. The free kick was blocked well by the Daggers wall, moreover the danger was averted.

A few minutes later and Peter Gain was in the referee's book for a rash challenge. From that free kick that came to nothing, the Daggers managed to form a superb break away. The ball was played between DJ Green & Nurse I believe, eventually going out for a corner. It was whipped in towards the back post where Gain & Walsh both tried to meet it, whoever did meet it sent it just over the top and out for a goal kick. Bath did actually go forward considerably more, but never really threatened Lewington or the Daggers goal. One of their most speculative attempts was by a midfielder who tried to lob Lewington from 60 yards or so, a very valiant attempt that just went over the bar; Lewington was in trouble if it was on target!

Josh Scott comes on.
 The Bath right midfielder (apologies I don't know his name) broke down the right hand side and forced a punch over the bar from Lewington after a good driving run into the box. The corner was eventually cleared away and the pressure was gone from the Daggers goalmouth. Then came the introduction of two subs on about 75 minutes. Damien Scannell was replaced by Dominic Green, but then the big one. Brian Woodall was taken off for Josh Scott, when his name and number was read out, it produced the biggest cheer of the afternoon, hopefully he could salvage the victory for us.

Sean Canham then forced Lewington into another save at his near post which went out for a corner. From the corner, the Daggers broke, Peter Gain down the right hand side, however when he handed the possession over to Danny J Green; he lost the ball; cue groans from the Sieve. Bath City then made a sub of their own, their most influential player in Sean Canham being replaced by Lee Phillips. The Daggers then broke after Bath City were attacking once again. Jon Nurse going on a solo run down the left hand side before winning a corner for his troubles. The corner was once again put in by McCrory, but the header from Josh Scott just found its way onto the roof of the net.

The Romans then came so close to booking their place in the second round of the cup. A corner was punched poorly by Lewington straight to Alex Russell who also had a good game. His shot was going in before Lewington dived back across to keep it out and preserve the 1-1 scoreline going into 3 minutes of injury time. The last action of the game was a free kick to the Daggers which went into the box but came to nothing whatsoever. The referee finally blew up and it was confirmed that we would meet Bath again in a week and a bit at Twerton Park.

I'm not really sure if either club wanted the replay, especially as it's more than likely not going to be a TV game, meaning not much income will be generated. Bath have a fantastic chance of going through now, as our away form has been poor and we may well be there for the taking, however maybe we'll play how we know we can and produce the victory that will be "expected" of us by neutrals. One thing I will say to Bath is this, don't expect an abundance of Daggers supporters, a Tuesday night coupled with our poor form will mean a poor turnout from us.

One thing I will say from today is this, it was the same old wasn't it. The first half we looked quite menacing, whilst in the second half we were very poor. One thing that I do believe John Still should be doing, is making subs with about 20 minutes to go if we want to change the game. I don't think that shouting mindless abuse at him will make him do it though, it only succeeds in you wasting your breath and disheartening the players on the pitch.

Bath City packing out the Barking College Stand.

Bath City, I thought you played admirably for your fans. There may have only been 130 odd of you, but you made good noise and supported your team well. Without doubt Sean Canham was the best player, although I thought your resilient defence was also credible.

Next up for us is Southend United next Saturday, a very tough encounter with a side that sit top of the league. That's followed by Bath City away in the Cup Replay on the 22nd, dependant on TV coverage and then a nice long away trip to The Crown Ground to face Accrington Stanley.

Oh to be a Dagger......

Remember to follow me on Twitter, @NickDRFCMurphy

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Daggers 0-2 Shrewsbury, Same Again

At least we're still above Barnet. That's the only positive I can really take from todays game as Dagenham & Redbridge lost 2-0 against ten man Shrewsbury Town. That extends several unwanted runs that we now have, and these are:
  • We're on a run of 7 straight defeats.
  • We've lost 11 out of the last 12 in the league.
  • We've conceded a penalty in the last 5 matches; 7 given away overall in the league.
  • Scott Doe has been sent off for the second game in succession.
I simply don't know where we go from here. The team news was puzzling, on the basis that I didn't quite know how to take it. On one hand we weren't helped by the absence of Mark Arber, Gavin Tomlin & Phil Walsh through injury. Whilst on the other, Femi, Dom Green, Medy Elito & Jake Reed were all back fit. We were helped by the news that our old flame Marvin Morgan was unavailable due to suspension. Both frustrating and promising in equal length; we couldn't abuse him from the Sieve, but he couldn't score against us. One that evened itself out slightly in our favour. James Wallace, an England Under 20 player came in for the Shrews on loan from Everton.

Dagenham & Redbridge team: Lewington, McCrory, Doe, Femi, Rose, Elito, Ogogo, Gain, DJ Green, Nurse, Woodall. Subs: Shea, Scannell, Bingham, Green, Reed.
The Daggers started with Richard Rose at right back with Abu Ogogo pushed on to partner Peter Gain in central midfield. This meant Femi would partner Scott Doe in the absence of Mark Arber, whilst DJ Green came in for Gavin Tomlin.

Shrewsbury Town Team: Neal, Grandison, Jacobson, Sharps, Cansdell-Sherriff, McAllister, Wright, Richards, Ainsworth, Wallace, Gornell. Subs: Smith, Goldson, Taylor, Collins, Bradshaw.
Nicky Wroe picked up an injury against Wimbledon last week and was replaced by debutant James Wallace signed from Everton on loan in midweek. With Marvin Morgan unavailable, local boy from Harlow, Matthew Richards started up front.

Shrewsbury were out of the blocks first, a ball was lumped up field by one of their back line which found the head of Richard Rose. Rosey thought he'd head it back towards Lewington which was a massive mistake, it didn't have enough power on it and before Lewy could make contact with the ball, Terry Gornell stole in to give the Shrews a 7th minute lead. Another individual error and one that Richard Rose I'm sure will hold his hand up to.

About ten minutes in came one of the talking points of the game. A poor backpass to Chris Neal saw Brian Woodall close down with superb effort. He did manage to get the ball off of the keeper before either slipping or being tugged down by Neal. The referee gave a corner so I'll assume that Mr Deadman saw that man between the sticks made a good recovery to retrieve the ball and prevent a near certain goal.

Jon Nurse was receiving a very rough ride from the Shrews players and on 25 minutes, Mr Deadman said no more! James Wallace, the debutant flew in on Nursey who went down in agony. Personally I thought it was a yellow card, but the referee saw it different and sent off the Everton loanee to somewhat boost Daggers spirits. For the first time in several weeks, I felt like we had a chance, a golden opportunity to really get something from the game.

And this is where me reporting on the game stops. Other than a couple of half chances we didn't threaten at all and it was effectively a horror show. That's now two weeks on the bounce, where we've had 4 shots overall and it's just not on. The only real chance I can remember for us was in the second half when Elito put a ball in from the right hand side and Nursey & Woodall got in a muddle; the opportunity passing them by to severe groans from three sides of Victoria Road.

Shrewsbury on the other hand, looked much more up for it; more spirited. I'd like to say their defence was resolute with our pressure, but at the end of the day, they didn't really have to deal with anything. In the second half they were the more dominant team really which says massive amounts about the game and our performance. Words fail to describe how I feel about it and that's probably the most telling phrase of all.

The final piece of action was at the death when Scott Doe "pushed" James Collins who went down somewhat theatrically and the referee gave a penalty. Collins picked himself up, brushed himself off and slotted home the resulting spot kick; doubling Graham Turners mens' lead and sending the Salop support home happy. Scott Doe also picked up a second booking for his troubles and was sent off; this means he'll miss the next two games; furthermore we've already got ourselves a defensive crisis and we're basically in shit street.

I really don't know where we go from here. Next week we have Bath City, it could be the most telling game of our season so far. Bath will come into it with no fear and no pressure being the lower ranked team, moreover we're under a bucket load of pressure and if we were to lose, then John Still is really under pressure. Whatever your thoughts on him at the moment, we all know if we don't get a result next week; John's going to be under severe scrutiny and pressure. There's already a divide in fans on the matter, some calling for his head and some (like myself) saying he deserves the chance to put it right.

Some are coming to the end of their tether, but he is one of the greatest managers in England if you ask me; and the people that want him out should look at the phrase; "you don't know what you've got until it's gone." Because I fear this will be the case if he jumps or is sacked. This is a very tough time for us all, but it has to improve somewhere doesn't it. As tough as it is, I urge you to keep going; for all the times the boys have impressed us and rewarded us, we need to reward them now with our encouragement and support.

The good news though, is that Femi played very well at centre half yesterday, as did Abu Ogogo in the central midfield role. However I can't help that feel Billy Bingham would have been more suited to it being a natural centre mid, John knows better than me though at the end of the day. Losing Scott Doe for another two games; along with the fact that Arber & Walsh may be unavailable for a while is a big blow. The sheer fact that we've picked up more injuries than points so far this season tells it's own story.

Shrewsbury looked very average yesterday, but I suppose that shows a good team. Being very average and still being able to win a game quite comfortably, so well done to them and I hope they have a good rest of the season.. I look forward (or not) to travelling to their ground for the penultimate game of the season, hopefully safe in the knowledge that we've secured our place in the Football League for another season.

At the end of the day readers who support Dagenham, you can make your own choice. My waffling has probably done nothing to influence you at all, but I hope that you don't stop supporting the team because of this run. They need us now more than ever and I'm certainly here for the long run and I hope you are too.

Next up is Bath City at home in the cup next Saturday or Bowers & Pitsea in the Essex Senior Cup on Tuesday night at Victoria Road.