Sunday, 29 January 2012

Daggers 3-2 Rotherham, Just Like At Wembley

Dagenham & Redbridge recorded a first ever win over Rotherham United in a regular league game by defeating the Millers 3-2, a scoreline that brings contrasting emotions for both sets of fans.

Pre match I was as pessimistic as I'd ever been. We've only ever beaten Rotherham once and we generally have an absolutely dreadful record against them. My couple of plusses for the afternoon were that Scott Griffiths would be making a return to Victoria Road, allbeit for the opposition; and that Andy Scott’s last visit to our ground as a manager ended in a 4-1 defeat. Encouraging signs or clutching at straws, it was one of the two.

I arrived into a sparsely populated Sieve at around 2:40, it was unusually empty with only 20 minutes until kick off. At one point I even questioned whether we would break four figures! Well done to the Rotherham fans that had made the trip, it's a long one and not very nice in pretty cold conditions, something I know from experience from doing the away leg of this fixture in September.

Over the tannoy the teams were then announced,

Dagenham & Redbridge: Lewington, Ogogo, Doe, Arber, Femi, Abdulla, Bingham, Spillane, Montano, Woodall, Nurse. Subs: Hogan, Cunnington, DJ Green, Rose, Scott.

The Daggers showed just a single change from the side that lost undeservedly lost at Torquay in midweek, Cunnington dropping to the bench in place of the fit again Brian Woodall. A positive sign on the bench was the inclusion of Josh Scott, who had come back from injury once more, his impact will be detailed a lot more later on.

Rotherham United: Taylor, Bradley, Raynes, Griffiths, Naylor, Harrison, Taylor, Wood, Cadogan, Revell, Grabban. Subs: Warrington, Tonge, Cresswell, Schofield, Williams.

Andy Scott made four changes from the side that lost at home to Port Vale a week previous. Richard Naylor & loan signing from Crystal Palace Kieron Cadogan came in to make their Millers debuts, whilst Welsh International Mark Bradley & former Tranmere midfielder Danny Harrison also returned to the side. Johnny Mullins was missing through injury, whilst Marcus Marshall has gone on loan to fellow League Two side Macclesfield Town. Two players that frightened me were Revell, a prolific striker & Danny Harrison who seems to have developed a habit of scoring against us.

It was approaching 15:00 and the ground finally started to "fill up" to it's usual standards. The teams then came out to a slightly subdued atmosphere, not much noise available to us before we kick off near enough on the dot. The Daggers were in their now customary 4-3-3 formation which doesn't really work with Dominic Green in my opinion. The teams swapped ends, something that appears to work for us, the last two times we've attacked the Marcus James Stand in the second half at home, I believe we've gone on to win.

Daggers Corner.
The first five minutes of this encounter were very scrappy, with several corners being split between both sides. The first real effort of the day was from former Brentford man Lewis Grabban, however his strike from Sam Woods knock down went high and wide. Shortly afterwards and Rotherham began to dominate, with Harrison & Grabban both having shots blocked by the so far resolute Daggers defence.

Rotherham really should have taken the lead just after the ten minute mark. Chris Lewington's goal kick was headed back towards the stopper which meant a "chase" between Daggers captain Mark Arber and the 24 year old Grabban. There was only going to be one winner, as they raced towards the penalty area Arber went down and seemingly pulled Grabban with him. However the striker kept on his feet much to my delight, if he would have gone down, Arber was certainly off. He trotted towards goal, one on one with Lewington, as he hit the ball there was surely only going to be one outcome. Lewington got a touch and diverted it out for a corner. Superb play from the shot stopper who had kept us in the game once more. Rotherham should have been ahead.

John Still's men then began to establish a foothold in the match. First a neat Brian Woodall venture forward was snuffed out, before Billy Bingham had a shot from some way out that went just wide of the post. Some good invention from Woodall and at least Bingham was showing that he was willing to have a pot shot, something we miss dearly at times. Minutes later and Rotherham had another good opportunity. Cadogan made some good space down the right hand side before putting in a delightful ball which no Miller could get their head too, all getting in eachothers way to get rid of the danger.

Just before the half hour mark and Andy Scott's side took a deserved lead. A Grabban cross on the right hand side was cleared to Harrison who was on the edge of the box. With one touch he flicked it up and hammered home a beauty into the far corner of the net. Lewington had no chance as Harrison celebrated his first league goal of the season. My only criticism was that our marking was shabby, the closing down was simply not quick enough.

 Minutes after the goal and Rotherham could smell blood. Alex Revell picked up the ball 20 yards out and hit a powerful shot towards the top right hand corner of the net. Lewington scrambled over frantically and palmed the shot out for a corner which came to nothing. Ahmed Abdulla then broke up the play with some neat passing in the middle of the field, probably the first thing I've noticed him do in his time here on loan from West Ham.

The Daggers then made a pivotal change. Abu Ogogo & Mickey Spillane then swapped positions. This saw Mickey revert to right back and Abu push on into midfield, where his drive and ferociousness was needed alongside Billy Bingham. On the 35 minute mark and the home side earned themselves a free kick. Spillane stepped over the ball and fired it way over the bar and into Bury Road. A free souvenir for the person whom the ball hit on the back of the head in Bury Road.

Just before the half time whistle and we had a flurry of action. Some good play down the left hand side for the Daggers saw Billy Bingham put in a lacklustre cross that failed to beat the first man. From this cross the Millers broke upfield in a move that resulted in Cadogan squaring a superb ball to Grabban who seemingly just had to tap it home. However, no one told Mickey Spillane what the script was, as he somehow managed to get back and put a superb block in to deny Grabban once more. Supreme last gasp defending from the Daggers.

The final attempt was from the boot of Billy Bingham. Much like his previous speculative effort, this one drifted wide of the far post as the referee blew up for half time. Some boo's rang around the Sieve, but only a few. I couldn't really complain at half time, a very poor performance and I sincerely hoped that Stilly would give them a boot up the backside in the interval. Rotherham's forward line had far too much time on the ball, how Lewis Grabban hadn't scored his 13th league goal of the season was beyond me. Plus points were Spillane & Bingham who were both having gutsy games, I was optimistic of a revival in the second half, but I don't think anyone could have predicted what we was in store for.

The Daggers made a change as the sides returned for the second half. Ahmed Abdulla was taken off to a rapturous cheer, his replacement was Josh Scott, returning from injury once more to another cheer. The first chance of the second half happened straight from the off, Billy Bingham who was seemingly our main threat, flashed another speculative effort wide of the post to get us all on edge.

Just before the fifty minute mark however and the Daggers found that all important equaliser. Mickey Spillane took a free kick adjacent to the Sieve wall, he hit the ball towards the back post where it was open for anyone to stick a head on it. Someone did get their nut on it, Jon Nurse. The Barbados man scoring a tremendous diving head from about 12 yards out to put us on level terms. I'm not quite sure anyone could believe it, the ball trickled into the far corner past Taylor to make it 1-1. It was now anybody’s game. I've had many doubts over Nurse, but that's exactly what I want from him. There was passion and drive in that header, we have our Nursey back!

The game became increasingly more open which allowed either side to attack in an end to end free flowing contest. Josh Scott was the first to try his luck, breaking down the right hand side into the box before hesitating upon whether to shoot with his left or right foot. The former Hayes man did try and flick it onto his left boot and his shot was blocked so the attack came to nothing. I suppose it's a measure of his current confidence that he didn't want to take the shot on with his right foot, it will come back to him though; in time.

Rotherham's chief striker Lewis Grabban then broke through once more, but was denied well by Lewington who was having another superb game. The Millers then came close yet again, but Grabbans low ball into the area was just behind all of the players which meant it went out for a throw in on the far side. The game was now frantic and even, whoever was to score next would have a major foothold in the contest.

Just after the 60 minute mark as the dark began to descend, and it was the side from Essex that took the lead for the first time in the match, courtesy of a Mark Bradley own goal. Abu Ogogo picked up the ball from 20 yards out and hit a shot that was going to be saved with ease by Taylor between the sticks. However a huge deflection from Bradley saw it creep into the centre of the net to send the Sieve wild in a surprised manner. We didn't deserve it, but hey, who cares! The first bit of luck we've had all season!

This game then began to have an essence of the Play Off Final about it. Rotherham equalised less than a minute later, that chap Scott Griffiths picking up the ball after a Millers play laid it off to him with his hand (from what I can see.) Former Dagger Griffiths then put a ball into the centre of the box where the previously anonymous Revell was on hand to head home past a helpless Lewington, into the top corner of the net. Absolutely terrible marking, although I'm sure there was a handball in the build up. No excuses for the slack marking once more though. Game on at 2-2!

You really couldn't take your eyes off this game, it was superb in terms of action and excitement. Jon Nurse narrowly headed wide of the goal before Mark Arber produced a superb headed clearance from underneath his own crossbar to keep the scores level. Rotherham then began to dominate the proceedings once more, with Grabban having his shot cleared from all of two yards to deny the Millers yet again. Andy Scott's men continually attacked, but to no avail. The Daggers were blocking shots from the South Yorkshire side left, right & centre.

However, I then thought the side in black had taken the lead. Sam Wood unleashed a shot from outside of the area which was surely flying into the top corner of the net. Chris Lewington was nowhere near it, but Mickey Spillane produced a gravity defying block to keep the scores balanced. This game was more open than Katie Price's legs. Rotherham than had a very valid appeal for a penalty turned down. Josh Scott seemingly blocking the ball with his hands just inside the box. I was genuinely surprised the referee didn't give it, I thought we'd seriously got away with one there.

Michael Raynes then got himself into the book as the first yellow card of the contest was brandished. From the resulting free kick the ball was headed out for a corner. From the resulting corner came a goal. Scott Doe had only scored once before for Dagenham & Redbridge. I had the privilege of seeing that at The Don Valley in September and he repeated the feat against the same opposition on 77 minutes. A superb run and glancing header at the near post beating all of the Rotherham defenders and the 'keeper to make it 3-2. A carbon copy of the one he scored in the game in September. Cue manic celebrations and cries of "Just Like Wembley."

Rotherham were intent on equalising as you would imagine and straight from the restart former Orient striker Alex Revell had a shot saved easily by Lewington. The Daggers then broke up the play with a substitution, Brian Woodall being replaced by Adam Cunnington with ten minutes remaining. A good decision by Still who realised the game was becoming in danger of being too end to end, a situation that could potentially lead to a Rotherham goal on the break away.

Raynes Receives His Marching Orders.

Then came an interesting point towards the end of the match. Mickey Spillane & Michael Raynes squared up in the penalty area before being dragged to one side by the referee. Former Scunthorpe man Raynes received his second yellow and his marching orders, Spillane was also shown a yellow. At this point I noticed the paramedics in the Executive area of our ground. I couldn't help but feel that Dave Andrews may be having a heart attack after seeing us lead a game! On a serious note, I hope whoever that was it ok now.

The game dragged painfully on and the fourth official flashed a four up on his board. Probably the right amount of time added on I have to say. Half way into the allocated additional time and I was certain that the Millers had equalised. A ball from the far side was floated in along the floor and took a deflection which saw it creep towards the back post. I was certain it was going in, but the net didn't ripple and it went inches wide of the post to preserve the lead. That was it. Full time. Game over.

Were the three points deserved in my opinion? No. Do I care? No. Someone summed it up beautifully on our forum. First half performance wasn't even Conference standard. Second half performance will keep us in the league.

I thought that Abu going into midfield along with the introduction of Josh changed the game today, you can see the impact they both made in there respective positions. Towards the end I remember a crunching Ogogo tackle where he got the ball, that's the kind of grit and determination we've been missing with Abu at right back in the last few matches. I also thought that Mickey Spillane was sensational once more. He made a number of superb blocks as well as some fantastic challenges to win the ball, he is easily our best signing this season for me.

Femi has a bit of a poor game today, but other than that I really can't fault anyone in terms of individual performance, we even played the ball on the deck quite a bit! Arber may not have pace, but his experience at the back is needed badly, a supreme return at home for him. Montano improved greatly following the introduction of Josh Scott, those two could have a very good rapport with eachother in the coming games. A partnership that is destined to bring us some goals I hope, along with Woodall who was seemingly not fully fit this afternoon.

All I can say to the 250 Rotherham fans that made the journey down to this corner of Essex, is, unlucky. You didn't deserve to lose, but at the end of the day that's football. A fantastic win for us and one that moves out of the relegation zone, 2 points above Northampton Town whom we play at home in two weeks time.

My final nod goes to Gavin Tomlin who scored twice more for Gillingham yesterday, yet they still lost 4-3. Life's a bitch.

Next up for us is the longest away trip of the season, Morecambe away at their new Globe Arena. I'll be there with around 52 other Daggers to see how we get on. Until then, have a good week!

Follow me on Twitter, @NickDRFCMurphy.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Crewe 4-1 Daggers, Individual Errors.

Dagenham & Redbridge went down to a third consecutive defeat within a week at the hands of Crewe Alexandra, who came out 4-1 victors at Gresty Road. Brian Woodall had put the Daggers ahead early in the second half before a collection of errors and good Crewe play saw Steve Davis' men put the game out of sight.

The Crewe Clubhouse.
 We begin this tale of despair and anguish at 8:45 in the morning at Victoria Road, the departure time for the coach. It was pretty much full, with only 4 or 5 seats not taken, I can safely say that's a lot more than what I was anticipating. We had a brief 45 minute stop at Norton Canes, possibly the worst service station in existence, before boarding the coach for the final stretch to Crewe at around 12:30. No traffic on the motorway meant we arrived along Gresty Road at a prompt 13:30, enabling me to enjoy the hospitality of the Railwaymens Clubhouse, where I found Bill & Chaz inside.

We settled in to watch the Norwich vs Chelsea game for an hour, half way through that we were approached by the Crewe tannoy bloke. He came up to us asking how to say a few of our players names, the most confusing for him was, "Owulafemi Ilesanmi", so we just told him to say Femi. A nice chap and we even received a team sheet, so with that, I'll go through the teams now.

Dagenham & Redbridge support from the main stand. Thanks
to Scott Morris for this picture, follow Scott on Twitter,
A massive well done to the 126 Daggers that travelled up. I personally think that's superb support from a team that's near the bottom, especially when you consider that Crewe is a long 'ole poke!

Crewe Alexandra: Phillips, Tootle, Davis, Artell, Dugdale, Westwood, Murphy, Moore, Powell, Lowry, Pearson. Subs: Martin, Shelley, Mellor, Leitch-Smith, Clayton.

Crewe showed just one change from the side that defeated Oxford a week previous. Burton Albion loanee Greg Pearson coming in to start in place of homegrown player Danny Shelley, this would see Crewe go for a more attacking line up I believe. My main worry was Nick Powell, touted as the next big thing to come from this production club, he tormented us in the game at Victoria Road in October and I was sure he'd do the same again.

Dagenham & Redbridge: Lewington, Ogogo, Doe, Spillane, Femi, Abdulla, Bingham, Green, Montano, Woodall, Nurse. Subs: Hogan, Arber, Cunnington, Wearen, Rose.

The Daggers made a couple of changes from the side that were beaten 5-0 in the week against Millwall in the FA Cup. Richard Rose & Danny J Green were both out of the team, which meant Daggers hero Woodall was recalled following a knock & Montano started after being unavailable in the cup in midweek. This saw the Daggers go 4-3-3 once more, with Woodall & Montano joining Nurse to complete a front three.

We then moved from the clubhouse through to the stadium itself, where our tickets were checked. Maybe they thought we had counterfeits due to the high demand in tickets for this game? We went straight through the turnstiles with no problems and it was then on to taste Crewe's cuisine. I opted for the hot dog at £2.90 and it wasn't half bad! We then finally made it through to see the stadium itself.

Gresty Road Main Stand
Each stand just doesn't fit. The main stand is massive, it accommodates 6809 spectators, that's more than the whole of Victoria Road combined. It's a fantastic stand and one that if Crewe go up in the near future, will be 3/4 full every game I would have thought. The two ends look completely out of place. They're both very small and the Wulvern House End only had about five people sitting in it. I assume that it's closed off as there's not enough demand for tickets.

We were in the Blue Bell BMW Stand. To quote Ray Wilkins, I have to say, what a marvellous view we were given. Arguably the best view of the game in the stadium and there was more than enough space for us to spread our legs, both metaphorically and physically. The only problem was the glaring sun in our eyes, which meant it was hands above eyes so we could see the game in the first half. So far, I was very impressed with Crewe, the forgotten home of football.

Enough with my ramblings, the teams came out at roughly 15:00, thanks to Crewes giant corner clock for letting me know. Good applause from three sides of the ground as the Sun glared down on us some more. Whoever won the toss (I can't remember) opted to stay the way we were. At this point, the away contingent were all here and we had a fantastic turnout. For a side that's near the bottom taking 126 away to a game where we were destined to get nothing, despite our 100% record against Steve Davis' men, I thought that was admirable.

The game started quite slow as you may expect, however it was the prodigy that got the first shot away. Nick Powell was handed the ball just outside the Daggers box, but his speculative effort went just over the bar, causing Lewington between the sticks no problems. We then had a lull in play for the next ten minutes as the game reverted to more of a midfield battle, very few chances as yet.

Crewe restart.
 However on the 16 minute mark, came a somewhat unlikely breakthrough. A poor clearance from defender David Artell meant the ball went straight to Brian Woodall. He came in from an angle before slotting it into the far corner. I have to say, that ball took an eternity to make the net ripple, but ripple it did. I couldn't believe it, jubilation amongst Daggers fans as God had scored again!

Match Action
 The game then sprung to life, becoming a lot more end to end. From the kick off Luke Murphy, no relation to myself, went for another speculative effort, but this one went wide of the post. Up the other end on 20 minutes & Jon Nurse dispossessed his opponent before going to the byline and putting a ball in towards the back post. It found Dom Green, he took a single touch and fired his shot towards the near post, forcing Phillips into a fine save which put the ball out for a corner. Green's corner was cleared with ease, meaning the danger was averted for now.

Chief tormentor Nick Powell then forced a fine save from Lewington inside the box, Lewy being made to palm it away for a corner kick to Crewe. The first half was very frantic, but the Daggers were impressing against a decent Crewe side, not only were we 1-0 up, we were holding a good shape in a fast paced encounter. However, someone then put a kiss of death on the result. An anonymous person behind me shouted, "lets hold out until half time", two things wrong with this. Number one, this obviously meant we would concede before the break. Number two, I'd rather hold out until full time.

Crewe celebrate
 Sure enough, on 42 minutes Crewe found an all important equaliser. On loan Chesterfield midfielder Jamie Lowry hit a ball into the box following a free kick on the far side. Club captain Jamie Artell managed to knock it down unmarked, which allowed Greg Pearson to steal in and fire past Lewington into the far corner to equalise. Another case of slack marking and not enough alertness in the box. Who knows what could have happened if we'd have hung on until half time.

That was effectively the last play of the half, so in a half despondent and half upbeat mood I headed for the snack bar to indulge in another hot dog. I was very pleased with the shape and the performance so far, just another piece of slack marking had let us down. I thought everyone was playing well, in particular Femi, Spillane, Montano & Woodall. Spillane in particular was looking composed on the ball in tight situations. Sometimes you can forget that he's only 22, he plays with maturity beyond his years and that's needed in such an inexperienced side.

Woodall & Montano.
 The teams came out for the second half in a game that was hanging in the balance, who would take the spoils or would it be a draw!? Neither manager made a change at half time so it was "as you were" regarding the teams. The first chance of the second half fell to Greg Pearson who's half hearted shot was blocked well by the recovering Nurse. Just after that on 54 minutes, the Daggers broke forward. Some neat skill from Woodall allowed Montano to cut inside and hit a shot that was saved well once more by Phillips.

Crewe were then beginning to get on top in the game, Pearson coming close again with a shot that went inches wide of the far post. Then came the most horrendous thing of the afternoon. A section of the Crewe support singing "Blue moon." People say the Poznan is cringey, this just takes the biscuit. They also began to sing, "we shall not be moved." This was rather pointless as no one was trying to move them. I've said it many a time, where would this Blog be without sarcasm?

The Alex then came remarkably close to taking the lead once more. Ashley Westwood put in a corner from the near side which found the head of Harry Davis who could only head it over. Straight up the other end and it was the Daggers who had their first attempt of the half. I'm pretty sure it was Dominic Green down the right hand side who drove a long ball along the floor of the box. It only needed a touch and it would have gone in, however no one stuck their foot out, meaning the excellent opportunity passed us by.

Match Action
Then came a double Daggers change. Brian Woodall who was probably still feeling his knock that he picked up in the week, was replaced by Adam Cunnington who I was excited about. His first piece of action was knocking on a ball with his head to no one which was greeted by fist shaking and "words" from some of the support. John Still then introduced Eoin Wearen to make the midfield more rigid, withdrawing Dominic Green, who has lacked consistency in the last few games.

Then disaster struck. Abu Ogogo played the ball back to Chris Lewington who was standing in the centre of the goalmouth. As he done it, I said "oh no." You can guess what happened next. The ball bobbled over Lewington's foot and rolled agonisingly into the back of the net. Lewington wanted the ground to swallow him up and so did I. This just personified our luck this season, non existent. From being so overjoyed an hour ago, we were now frustrated and in disbelief. Credit to Spillane who went over and had a word with Lewy, it's one of those things and it happens to every goalkeeper. That made it 2-1 Crewe and now we had it all to do for the umpteenth time this season. On a side note, the wind may have had an impact. It certainly did with Lewy's kicking in the first half and I wonder whether the wind gave the ball momentum.

Straight away the Daggers were trying to amend the scoreline. The ball was headed back to Phillips in the Crewe goal by a defender, but it didn't quite reach him. Jon Nurse was like his former self, roaring onto a lost cause and he managed to make contact with the ball, flicking it over the 'stopper. The ball fell just outside the box, Nursey cut in and unleashed a shot that was blocked superbly by Tootle for a corner. Cunnington was square, bemoaning Nurse for not playing it across for him to tap into an emptyish net. You can't blame Nurse there though, any player would have done the same.

Adam Cunnington then thought he'd scored, as did I. A cross came in along the floor and he produced a clever back flick, akin to the one Matt Ritchie scored with against Leicester a few years back. Steve Phillips was having none of it and produced a superb reflex save to prevent the ball trickling in, so harsh on Cunnington who so nearly opened his Daggers account.

Crewe celebrate once more.
The Alex then put the game out of sight. Resident free kick taker Jamie Lowry stuck one in beautifully towards the back post which found the head of Liverpool born Adam Dugdale who headed home into the far corner to seal the win. This one was Chris Lewingtons fault. He raced out to try and collect the ball, but ultimately failed in his attempts to do so, and ended up stranded, allowing Dugdale to finish with ease. My one criticism of Lewington other than his kicking is his decision making, it's something that needs to be improved and I'm sure that over time he will rectify it.

Steve Davis then decided to waste some time by making a substitution. Greg Pearson who has become a favourite amongst Creweites was replaced by Ajay Leitch-Smith with just minutes left to play. A welcome return to football for him after a few games out with an injury. Minutes later and the home side added a fourth to ensure their winning streak extended to three games. The ball was played to Nick Powell who chipped it over Lewington and into the back of the net. Cue an exodus from Daggers supporters and a load of Crewe fans bobbing up and down, much to my displeasure.

Nick Powell.

That was the final act of the game and the final score was, Crewe Alexandra 4-1 Dagenham & Redbridge. The scoreline flattered Crewe somewhat, but they probably deserved their win upon reflection. We retained a good shape up until their second and then it went a bit pear shaped, quite literally in some cases. We had a good period of pressure when we were 2-1 behind, but unfortunately it didn't warrant the deserved goal and all credit to Crewe, they put us to the sword for their first ever victory against us.

The players all shook hands and then our lot came over to clap the 20 or so that had stuck around after the final whistle. Many of us gave a shout to Lewy, a superb 'keeper who just wasn't at the races so to speak yesterday afternoon. With that, we headed out of the ground and departed for the depressing trip home as the darkness began to descend upon East Cheshire. What made the journey even more depressing? Discovering that Gavin Tomlin had scored twice for Gillingham. He scores 2 in 40 games for us and then gets 2 in 40 minutes for them. That just about sums everything up at the moment.

Mickey Spillane.
A few players that probably deserve a bit of a mention. Mickey Spillane, our most composed player on the ball by far, he was eager to play it on the deck and we looked positive when we did. Someone said about giving him a try in midfield as he is very composed on the ball. Not only would this mean a more experienced head in the midfield, it would enable Mark Arber to come back in to partner Scott Doe. A pairing that worked so well last season.

Adam Cunnington looked very good when brought on. His neat flick deserved a goal and he looks like he could be a good player for us in the coming weeks, either as a substitute or as a starter. Billy Bingham was getting stuck in once more, I imagine he's one of the first names on the teamsheet at the moment, very consistent and like Spillane he's playing with maturity beyond his years.

Femi was also very composed and calm on the ball yesterday. He was solid at left back and kept the Crewe wingers under wraps for the majority of the game, he's come on bundles from last season and I'm fairly sure he will be playing at a higher level in the future.

As for Crewe, Pearson, Powell & Tootle really impressed me. Powell needs no introduction, he really impressed me at our place and he carried on where he'd left off yesterday. I hope he goes on to have a fantastic career, testament once more to you're superb youth policy. Crewe Alexandra, the real home of football?

So then, yet more encouraging signs from us, but encouraging signs are no longer enough. We need to start picking up points fast or face being relegated. Something that will damage the club both in the long term and the short term.

Next up is Torquay United away on Tuesday night. I won't be there, however we may have a guest report so keep your eyes peeled! The next game I'll be doing is Rotherham United at home next Saturday, the return of Scott Griffiths to these parts of Essex. I'll leave you with a few more pictures of the day.

Remember to follow me on Twitter Daggers Fans, Crewe Fans & General Fans, @NickDRFCMurphy.

Gresty Road.

The Alexandra Stadium

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Millwall 5-0 Daggers.

Dagenham & Redbridge crashed out of the cup last night following a 5-0 defeat at The Den to an experienced Millwall side who bounced back in style following their 6-0 home defeat at the weekend. I'll just give a rough outline of the action as well as some pictures because recounting a whole thrashing isn't exactly pleasant.

The Lions first goal came from a rebound, Darius Henderson who was restored to the side after a few games out, curled the ball around a helpless Lewington into the bottom corner. First goal scored on 7 minutes and that really set the tone for the evening in terms of action.

Millwalls second game just before half time, Dominic Green giving the ball away to Henderson who played it across to Tottenham loan star Harry Kane. He took one touch out of his feet before hitting a daisycutter that flew past Lewington into the bottom corner. I think at this stage, the majority of us knew that this was not going to be our year to progress through to the fourth round.

We went in at half time two goals down, by all means it could have been worse. After the Daggers foray into the Millwall half within the opening five minutes, we'd shown little attacking promise. To be fair, our attack was blunt, Brian Woodall missing through injury and Montano cup tied left us with Jon Nurse playing seemingly as a lone striker which was not working. The extent of our injury woes were shown by Danny J Green getting a start, he hasn't even been near the fringes of the first eleven in recent weeks! We were then given our first look at Rob Edmans, coming on at half time for the anonymous Abdulla.

The Daggers had a couple of good chances to pull a goal back, Jon Nurse firing one high over the bar after a good Rob Edmans knock down; and then Edmans himself just missed out on equalising when a Millwall defender got to the ball before him in front of goal. Billy Bingham nearly caught out Forde in the Millwall goal, when his cross came close to looping under the bar and in, but the stopper punched it away for a corner. The final chance of the Daggers good spell of possession was a Danny Green shot, however his effort went horribly wide of the mark.

All this pressure of course, left us wide open at the back. This was inevitably exposed by our higher ranked opponents. Some good interchange between the impressive Kane and winger Feeney, saw Feeney bearing down on goal. However, he unselfishly squared the ball across to Henderson who was on hand to get his second of the game and the Lions' fifth, by tapping home into an empty net.

Darius Henderson then finished the game off from the spot after chief tormentor Harry Kane was brought down in the box by Femi. Henderson stepped up and dispatched the spot kick as he made it 4-0 which ensured he would get the match ball. The scoring was finally rounded off on 65 minutes, Henderson was involved once again, slinging a ball into the box which found the head of Kane to make it five and completely kill the game off. The link up play of Kane & Henderson was admirable, even if it was against a struggling league two side.

In summary, a pretty poor game in terms of performance, but it was something different. The main plus point for me was the introduction of Rob Edmans who could be the thing we need up front. A big target man for others to feed off of, at least the early signs look promising. A quick word on The Den as well. How steep was the stand we were in, because it felt shockingly high up! A very modern stadium, but one that made very good noise as the 'Wall fans showed when they scored, time, after time, after time.

Well done to the Daggers fans who made the trip to The Den yesterday as well. We took 542 supporters out of a terrible total of 3651. People just don't seem to care for the greatest cup competition in the world anymore. The 542 of us were in good voice throughout, but in particular the second half with an array of hilarious songs and a Poznan to boot. The Millwall fans enjoyed it and after a somewhat miserable performance, it cheered me and several others up. Well done to us as well, for drowning out the Hammers that were in attendance down the front. They started up the "follow over land & sea" chant, which really gave their position away and from then on in, they weren't given a say. Superb Daggers!

Infact, here are a couple of comments from Millwall fans, "They were also a good spirited bunch and made the whole of our stand laugh and clap them when they did their 'let's pretend we scored a goal' chant followed by the Man City style celebration....can't fault them, I'll be watching out for these lot now, I want them to do well. Another reads, "As a Millwall fan (a very gobby one at that) I never say this to other teams on their pages but I have to say, your fans cheered and sang through out, stayed until the end despite the score and that 'let's pretend we scored a goal' chant followed by a celebration was classic, had us in stitches. Well done. Both of those were from a Millwall fan on our unofficial facebook page by the name of Paige. Proud to be a Dagger!

We have more important things to worry about now after a good cup run, starting with a trip to Crewe at the weekend where we hope to continue our 100% record against the Railwaymen.

I will leave you with an assortment of pictures from the evening! Remember to follow me on Twitter, @NickDRFCMurphy.

The Dens welcoming turnstiles....

Hogan & Lewy warm up.

"Match Action"

My next report will be from Crewe, have a good week everyone.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Daggers 0-1 Hereford, Bulls Hit Daggers

Dagenham & Redbridge went down to a demoralising 1-0 defeat to Hereford United to put an end to a run of six games unbeaten in all competitions, which now leaves us level on points with both Northampton & Plymouth in the relegation zone. There's a few choice words to describe the performance yesterday, lacklustre, uninspiring, indifferent, however there's a subliminal message in the title of this post that could aptly describe it.

 Pre match, myself and a flock of fellow Daggers were very confident of getting a result against the Bulls, with all due respect to our opponents, this is a game we should be winning going by recent performances. I arrived at the ground unusually early to purchase tickets for the Millwall cup tie on Tuesday night at The Den, a game we have a real chance in following their 6-0 thumping at home to Birmingham City yesterday.

I heard the teams rather early and even caught a glimpse of them warming up for a change, here was how they started:

Dagenham & Redbridge: Lewington, Ogogo, Doe, Spillane, Femi, Green, Bingham, Abdulla, Nurse, Woodall, Montano. Subs: Hogan, Arber, Rose, Wearen, Reed.

The only change was the inclusion of Montano after being cup tied last weekend, this meant that fellow West Ham loan star Eoin Wearen dropped to the bench. The bench included two defenders which was quite surprising for me, but the threat of Jake Reed to call upon is very encouraging to have.

Hereford United: Bartlett, Townsend, Purdie, Stam, Evans, Pell, Featherstone, Clist, Arquin, Facey, Colbeck. Subs: Cornell, Lunt, Clucas, Barkhuizen, Elder.

Benoit Dalibard was unavailable for Jamie Pitman due to suspension, so Harry Pell came in to replace him at the back. Nicky Featherstone also came back into the side which meant that Tom Barkhuizen had to be content with a place on the bench, but he would undoubtedly be a threat if introduced. My main fear was Johan Arquis who has been touted as Hereford's next Manset, one that will go on and ply his trade in a higher division.

The Sieve Pre Match.
 The teams came out to a decent level of applause, but by no means was it near the same atmosphere that we experienced against Millwall last weekend. It's funny how you lose around 300 supporters when you're not involved in a game against a bigger club isn't it? After the toss, for the first time in god knows how long we wouldn't be swapping ends. The Daggers would be attacking the 187 Hereford fans who had made the trip to this corner of Essex, whilst the Bulls would be facing the Bury Road End first off.

The Daggers Line Up
 If you arrived in the ground after 10 minutes, you would have been thankful as the opening was as poor as they come. A very scrappy start to the contest with just a Dom Green pot shot to really talk about, made for a very subdued atmosphere in the Sieve. Just before the 15 minute mark and finally something to really talk about. Abu Ogogo worked the ball well down the right hand side before crossing it in to Montano who couldn't quite rise high enough to direct the ball goalwards. As a result it skimmed off of his head, enabling it to go out for a throw in on the far side.

Minutes later and the Daggers began to threaten once more. We gained a free kick on the right hand side which was taken by Dominic Green, who delivered a well flighted ball which found the head of Brian Woodall who had managed to lose his marker. His header from just inside the box was blocked well by a Hereford defender to avert the danger. Hereford then managed to get their first "shot" of the match away. A clearance from inside the box fell to Nicky Featherstone who could only slice his shot horribly wide of the mark. An attempt which summed up the quality of the game so far.

Scott Doe receives treatment
 The Daggers then had a chance to open the scoring. Jon Nurse was brought down outside the area about, 25 yards from goal which meant Mr Rushton gave a free kick. First over the ball was Mickey Spillane who scored a corker at Burton a month ago, this time his effort was well saved by Bartlett between the sticks. Hereford danger man Arquin then tried his luck on the 30 minute mark, wetting his appetite by shooting over the bar. Then came a moment of worry for the Daggers as Scott Doe went down seemingly clutching his knee, but after some treatment from John Gowens he got back up and ran it off.

The Daggers then began to look like the dominant team, with Woodall laying in a ball to Montano, but the loan star was tackled superbly by Clist to clear the danger once more. No real clear cut opportunities as yet, but John Still's men were probably slightly more pioneering in what they were trying to create.

So, with my analysis of the Daggers having the advantage, what do you think happened next? Corner from the far side taken by Joe Colbeck found the head of the unmarked Arquin who jumped at the chance and nodded the ball home into the bottom corner. Dagenham & Redbridge 0-1 Hereford United. I've been very critical of our marking of late and once again, one of our main frailties was highlighted. Arquin was able to head home unmarked, something that seriously needs to be worked on in training if you ask me.

That was really the final chance of the half, unless you want to include a good Dom Green ball in which couldn't find anyones head. Just before the break, the Bulls made a substitution for what must have been an injury. Simon Clist who was playing pretty well, was replaced by 21 year old Sam Clucas. The referee blew for half time and mumbles and groans rang around after a degenerate and lucklustre opening 45. It probably should have been level pegging, but the Bulls were ahead thanks to slack marking.

Half time flashed by as the dark began to descend around the ground and the teams came back out onto the pitch to restart the second half. This half started much like the first, very bland and tasteless, if you could compare it to a food, it would be porridge. Lacking in quality and everyone was beginning to turn their nose up at it. The first real opportunity came about 15 minutes into the second half, Montano dancing round a couple of players, but he was unable to get his shot away. He played the ball out wide to Green who was making an overlapping run, but his ball was gathered well by Bartlett to calm the situation.

The game then turned scrappy in the area following a decent Jon Nurse cross into the box which found the head of Woodall who directed it at Bartlett. The Hereford stopper palmed it out and it fell to Montano who looked like he was pulled down. The Daggers players and fans alike appealed for the penalty, but nothing was given and Montano went down for treatment as he had picked up a knock in the fracar. Safe to say, the referee was now a universally hated figure around the ground.

On 70 minutes we witnessed a change by both managers. The first was by Hereford, the potentially dangerous Tom Barkhuizen, coming on for Joe Colbeck who had been quite anonymous throughout the match, more so in the second half when the Bulls were stuck up their own end. Then John Stills change. Jake Reed replacing Jon Nurse who had been largely ineffective once more. Now, I've been a critic of Nursey and I do believe he should be dropped soon, not at the moment as we have a rather inexperienced bench; however the people that cheered when he was subbed should be ashamed. You don't cheer when one of your players is taken off, feel relieved by all means, but how do you expect him to improve if that's how you greet his departure?

To be perfectly honest, from there on in, not much really happened. The Daggers best chance fell to Mickey Spillane on about 85 minutes, he trapped the ball inside the box and when everyone was urging him to shoot, he decided to try and be clever and back heel it to someone. A stupid decision, when a pot shot that could have taken a deflection would have been a much better option. Eoin Wearen also replaced Billy Bingham before the game had finished, but to no avail. Not even a late Brian Woodall could find the back of the net so Hereford went home happy, whilst the Sieve groaned their way home.

It was an absolutely torrid performance. I've experienced us having no fight at Bristol Rovers and that horror show away at MK Dons in the league last season, but this really took the biscuit for me. On our own doorstep it simply wasn't good enough. We've played superb in the last month or so, and in the one game where we really needed to pick up points, we couldn't even muster a clear cut chance. Not impressed in the slightest and I thoroughly hope we improve for the trip to South London in midweek.

As for Hereford, credit to them. They rode out the least fiercest storm in history to come away with three deserved points to take home. The Bulls were poor to be honest, but if they were poor, what did that make us? Slack marking the difference in the end, but take nothing away from them.

Mickey Spillane
 Only a few players can come out of that shambles with respect. Billy Bingham, the main player now in our midfield. Mickey Spillane, I thought he worked well at the back alongside Scott Doe. Brian Woodall & Dominic Green don't deserve much criticism either, Dom wasn't given enough of the ball and Brian has the old adage in favour of him. "A striker is only as good as the service he's given."

Kevin Maher, Peter Gain & Josh Scott are three big misses for us if we're all honest, they each bring qualities to the team that are vitally needed. We're in this battle until the end of the season, so you best buckle your seat belts, because we're in for one hell of a bumpy ride.

Next up is Millwall away in the FA Cup in midweek, whilst we're away at Crewe in the league next Saturday. I'll be at both of those and hopefully I'll be able to report back with some good news.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Daggers 0-0 Millwall, Taming The Lions

Dagenham & Redbridge earned a replay at The Den after a credible 0-0 draw at home to Millwall in the FA Cup 3rd round. This also means the Daggers will be in the 4th Round draw live on ITV tomorrow for the first time in around 10 years.

Pre match and I was actually rather confident, we were unbeaten in five games, whilst Millwall had won just one in six I believe, moreover their away form had been far from spectacular. Add to that it's "The Magic Of The Cup", a potential upset was definitely on the cards! I have to admit, I've never seen so many police down Victoria Road, but such as the magnitude of the match I suppose they were needed. I got my ticket checked by a steward who made sure it wasn't a counterfeit before heading through the turnstiles at around 12:30. The Sieve was pretty much heaving as one of Dan Campbell's photo's from the day will tell you.

The teams were then announced as follows,

Dagenham & Redbridge: Lewington, Ogogo, Spillane, Doe, Femi, Wearen, Bingham, Abdulla, Nurse, Woodall, Green. Subs: Hogan, Rose, Arber, McCrory, Edmans, Reed, DJ Green.

The Daggers were without Kevin Maher after he broke his metatarsal against Southend in the last game meaning West Ham loanee Eoin Wearen came in to replace him. Cristian Montano was cup tied which enabled his fellow Hammers team mate Ahmed Abdulla to replace him after joining on loan along with Wearen this week. Abu Ogogo was back in the side at his natural position of right back meaning Richard Rose had to be content with a place on the bench. Mark Arber managed to get a place on the bench upon his return for injury, whilst Rob Edmans, Jake Reed & Damien McCrory were also amongst the seven subs after also returning from various injuries.

Millwall: Mildenhall, Dunne, Robinson, Barron, Ward, Smith, Trotter, Henry, Feeney, Marquis, Kane. Subs: Forde, Craig, Bouazza, McQuiod, Abdou, Wright, Batt.

Millwall welcomed back Scott Barron after missing out in the defeat against Bristol City in midweek, meaning that Tony Craig dropped to the bench. Defender Darren Ward also came back in to replace on loan Aston Villa player Shane Lowry who couldn't have had clearance from his parent side to play in the competition. There was also a straight swap in midfield as James Henry replaced Hamer Bouzza. The final change was the Marquis of Millwall replacing brother of Mark Wright, Josh Wright up front.

The ground began to fill up rapidly and that's when it hit me. The Millwall fans had come in fancy dress; as coppers. I can honestly say I've never seen so many of the old bill, there must have been over 50, some in riot gear "containing" the Millwall supporters. Always better to be safe than sorry eh?!

The teams did eventually come out to a rapturous round of applause, all four sides of the ground looked full to the brim, the Sieve was very lacking in space! Millwall won the toss and chose to change around, meaning the Daggers would be facing the Bury Road End in the opening 45, whilst Millwall would be attacking their own fans. A very apt statement considering Millwall's reputation. It was all geared up for a potential giant killing, the Sieve was so packed that the stewards didn't even allow people up the far end as there were too many people! How on earth our ground holds 6000 or so I will never know.

Daggers vs Millwall
 Millwall of the Championship started the brighter, Henry & Tottenham youngster Harry Kane testing Lewington, but no real problems caused. Kenny Jackett's men were enjoying the bulk of the possession as it was a case of the Daggers showing their higher ranked opponents slightly too much respect. The Lions continued their pressure by forcing a corner which was cleared well by Woodall, the Daggers in form player at the moment. At this stage the travelling fans launched into a rendition of their well known "hum", I honestly don't know what else to describe it as.

A quarter of an hour played and the Daggers launched their first attack of the contest. Millwall tried to play the ball out, but it was intercepted by Femi who has shown vast improvement from last season. He then drove at the Millwall defence who all stood off him, before launching a powerful shot from about 25 yards out which cleared Mildenhall's crossbar. A good attempt from the youngster who's yet to net his first goal for John Still's men. When it comes though, you can be sure that there will be mass celebration from the Sieve.

Millwall then came dangerously close to taking the lead. Another James Henry corner on 20 minutes, found the unmarked captain Paul Robinson who could only contrive to head wide of the mark. I for one thought it was in, but thankfully his glancing header just didn't go in the right direction. Minutes later and Liam Feeney who was getting booed every time he received the ball broke into Chris Lewingtons area. Feeney who nearly signed for the Daggers years ago, should have really got his effort on target, but he hammered it into the side netting, much to Lewingtons relief. Harry Kane then came close in another phase of play, but he could only direct his header over the bar. Thirty minutes played and Millwall were enjoying far more of the ball and the better of the chances.

Daggers Free Kick
 Dagenham & Redbridge then began to get themselves into the game and force some shots on the goal. The first was from loan player Ahmed Abdulla, who had been relatively anonymous for the previous 35 minutes. His shot from outside of the box went wide of the mark, a speculative effort, but one that got the pulses racing somewhat. The Daggers then managed to earn themselves a free kick after a poor challenge from a Millwall player about 30 yards out. Dominic Green stepped over the ball and smashed it high over the bar in Gavin Tomlinesque fashion. I can't help but feel he probably should have crossed the ball, a number of our players have good aerial ability, a good chance gone begging.

Minutes later & the Daggers got another chance from a dead ball situation. This time Brian Woodall & Mickey Spillane both hung over the ball which was in a much more central position. Former Gresley man Woodall stepped up to take it, he didn't get enough power behind the shot and it was gathered easily by Mildenhall. The final attempt of the half was just before the whistle went, Abdulla trying to curl one into the bottom corner, however it went wide of the mark meaning the sides went in 0-0 at the break.

Overall, a very mediocre first 45, but I was quite happy to go into the break at level pegging. Millwall had dominated the early stages as we'd shown them far too much respect, but after the 30 minute mark it was all Dagenham. We were attacking them just as John Still said we would, true to his word once more. The loan players gradually got into the game more and more, Abdulla getting a few half chance shots away whilst Wearen looked composed on the ball, nearly threading several passes through to the strikers, however they were just over hit. Billy Bingham was looking like the main man once more, his energy and speed of closing down in the middle was superb. Femi & Spillane were also having good games at the back, managing to keep the Millwall attackers & wingers at bay.

Millwall Kick Off
 The second half started with a very fast pace. Jon Nurse nearly nipping in, to get the ball past Mildenhall before being flagged for offside. It wouldn't have mattered as Nurse's prodded effort was saved by the chest of the former Southend stopper. Minutes later however and the Daggers had the best chance of the match so far. A ball was played back to Mildenhall between the sticks which was chased down by Woodall, the 'keeper fluffed his kick thanks to a bobble which allowed Woodall to nip in. Unfortunately the ball was right on the byline, meaning Woodall could only cross the ball into the box, but unbelievably no one was there to slot it in to an open net. A superb chance for the Daggers and one that shouldn't have really been wasted. Great work by Woodall once more.

The game was now becoming more end to end and John Marquis nearly gave the Lions a goal lead. He got down the left hand side before dribbling into the box where he let fly a fierce shot that hit Lewingtons side netting. A stupid decision to try and fit it in near post, when going for a shot towards the far post would have been a far better option. From Lewingtons goal kick Jon Nurse won a corner up the other end after smashing the ball of an opponents shin. The ball came in from the near side and found Spillane unmarked at the back post whose first time volley was blocked well by a defender. The ball came out to him for a second crack, another shot, but this time it was palmed behind by Mildenhall to avert the danger. The closest the Daggers had came so far. Brian Woodall then came close minutes later from inside the box, but his shot went just past the post.

It was then Millwall's turn to attack once more. Former Wolves defender Darren Ward putting a shot over the bar from a corner when he really should have done better. Just after that on 57 minutes, Scott Barron hit a shot that went just wide of the post to jangle the Daggers fans nerves once more as Millwall came back into the game. Kenny Jackett then made his first change of the game, Hamer Bouazza coming on for Liam Feeney. A change which surprised me a bit to say the least. Just after the sub Millwall squandered the best chance of the game so far. Some good work by Barron down the left saw him put a delightful ball in which found Liam Trotter. Like the plonker he is, the unmarked Trotter could only direct the ball over the bar when he really should have found the back of the net. We were seriously riding our luck here.

Mickey Spillane.
John Still then made his first change of the afternoon. West Ham youngster Eoin Wearen who had a slightly anonymous debut, was replaced by Jake Reed who had been out with various injuries for two or three months. Brian Woodall was then hauled down as he was heading towards goal which resulted in a yellow card for the captain of Millwall, Paul Robinson. From the resulting free kick the Daggers nearly scored, Jon Nurse knocked it down and just as Jake Reed was lurking to turn it in, a Millwall defender done well to get it away and set up a potential counter attack. 'Wall then made their second change of the match as they were seemingly going for the win. Former Bournemouth striker Josh McQuoid replaced Marquis who had been involved in a lot of the action all afternoon. (Mickey Spillane challanging for the ball, right)

On 70 minutes Jon Nurse came close once more, but could only hook his shot above the bar and onto the roof of the net, much to our disappointment. I have to admit, I wasn't impressed with Nursey at all. He seems to have lost that energy and willingness to hunt down defenders that made him a hit last season. Too many people are afraid to criticise him and I know it's a big call to make, but unless he seriously improves in the second half of the season I'm beginning to wonder if he'll be at Victoria Road next season.

Minutes later and Millwall had a very good shout for a penalty in my opinion. Liam Trotter went down when challenged in the box and my first instincts were that it was a penalty, luckily however, Mr Salisbury didn't agree with me and didn't give anything. Chris Lewington picked the ball up and smashed it up field, I personally thought we'd really got away with one there! Straight back up the other end and Billy Bingham managed to get two shots away, both of which were blocked after Jake Reed went on a great run from inside the centre circle.

Kenny Jackett then made their final sub of the encounter. Harry Kane who had been a bit of a nuisance although it may not seem like it from reading my report, was replaced by former Dagger, lanky Shaun Batt. It was infact Batt who nearly won the game as we edged closer to the final whistle. He got down the left hand side and fooled Spillane before cutting inside and running into the box. His attempt on goal was blocked by the head of Scott Doe, which saw it go out for a throw in on the far side. The final shot of the game was by Ahmed Abdulla who was down the right hand side, he shimmied before hitting a purler which went wide of the post, when playing the ball to an unmarked Woodall beside him would have been a far better decision.

The final whistle blew and a great cheer went up from the Sieve, we'd managed to hold Championship side Millwall to a very credible draw, moreover we'd reconvene at the Den in a week or so's time to do battle once more. Another ground for many of us to tick off and it should be a very interesting experience.

Today I was very impressed with a few individuals. Firstly, Femi. I gave this lad so much stick last year, but I've been made to eat my words tenfold with his superb performances this season. He made several fantastic challenges in the game and was brilliantly composed at the back and going forward, my man of the match and I have to say this lad will go far. Mickey Spillane was also superb, the centre half pairing he's forged with Scott Doe is rock solid and I have to say to Mark Arber, it's going to be very hard for you to get back into the team sir!

Another one that impressed me was Billy Bingham, you all know of my love for the midfield maestro and once again he had a top draw performance. He was the central figure in the midfield and he ran the show once more, the engineroom and he didn't stop all day, another superb individual performance from the former Crystal Palace trainee. Dominic Green was deadly on the wing, a real key player for us. His trickery bamboozled the Millwall defenders on many occasions and he's not shy of a shot, if we're to win at the Den on Tuesday week, I feel Dom will be the man that gets us the goal.

Of the rest, Abdulla got into the game as it went on and he looked very composed on the ball, when he sorts out his judgement he'll be a better player. He's young though and it was his first game with us, it's to be expected at the end of the day. Jake Reed also impressed me when he came on, troubling defenders significantly and he was unlucky to slip at the last moment when running through on goal. A good return from injury.

Also a word to the police and stewards, they done a superb job with stopping any trouble that may have occurred. I personally thought there may have been a few too many, and the police helicopter hovering overhead was a little to much, but they done very well and they should be credited so well done to them.

Next up for us is Hereford United at home once more next Saturday, a somewhat unusual 15:00 kick off after all of these different times recently. We then go to The New Den a week on Tuesday subject to TV coverage for the replay, to find out who plays, *insert name here.*

A thank you to Daniel Campbell who let us use several of his pictures to make the Blog more interesting. Follow me on Twitter, @NickDRFCMurphy. Thanks for reading and I'll address you again next week!