The last few weeks have seen an upturn in the Daggers fortunes, with eight points garnered from the last four league games. Although it hasn’t propelled us as far up the table as we would probably have liked, it has at least given us a bit of breathing room above the teams that are still hovering around at the bottom.
Following on from last weeks nerve destroying win over Bradford, things took arguably a backwards step during the week, thanks to a 2-0 defeat at Southend in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. Having missed the game, the text updates from Dagenham Dan were brief although his considered opinion was that I hadn’t missed much. So that was alright then.
To be honest, the JPT is the most likely route that we would have had of getting to Wembley, although given the calibre of teams in the southern half of the competition it would have taken a phenomenal run to get to within sight of the arch this year. That still wouldn’t stop me using bet365 football betting though to put a couple of quid on just that event.
Still, that avenue is closed off for another year, and so all we have to look forward to now is the FA Cup, the Essex Senior Cup (which is a big trophy literally) and several months of league games. Still, it could be a whole lot worse.
Having decided (possibly against better judgement) to go to the England game last night, it is with a sense of relief that we might actually witness a proper game tonight, instead of a one way traffic kind of encounter. Today we make our first ever visit to the Proact Stadium, the just over two year old home of Chesterfield.
It’s not the stadium though that has bought Chesterfield to the attention of the press this week; more the headline signing of one time Arsenal, Fulham and West Ham player, Luis Boa Morte.
Loved at Fulham, he was viewed by some at West Ham as a panic buy by Alan Curbishley, although it couldn’t have been that much of a panic as he stayed for five years, and played under three managers. Of course, this just could display the managerial instability at the Boleyn over the last few years or so, but he must have been able to play. Referred to as “Rigor Mortis” by several Hammers fans, this is going to be an interesting sub plot to today’s game. How will he could with the marauding wing play of Medy Elito, and will he be able to get past Abu Ogogo?
It’s been a big week for League Two clubs. Not only has Boa Morte signed, but Barnet have signed Edgar Davids as an addition to their coaching staff, as well as registering him as a player. In addition, Barnet have also got Collins John, so that’s another with plenty of experience. I’m just waiting for the moment that Zico signs for the Daggers; something along the lines of “while playing in one of the finest teams never to win the World Cup, I always wanted to play for the Daggers”. More likely though is that we would end up with Ali Dia, who lasted thirty three minutes for Southampton in the mid-nineties.
Saturday 13th October 2012, Proact Stadium, Chesterfield v Dagenham & Redbridge
This is my first away game of the season, not counting a couple of pre-season friendly matches. I meet my fellow travellers in the café near to Dagenham East station, where they are in varying stages of demolishing breakfast. At a previous breakfast meeting, Liam had ordered the full English breakfast, and then added a latte to go with it, instantly earning unlimited scorn, and a reminder every time he sits down to his plateful of food.
Once it has all been paid for, we all clamber into the transport, and we are on our way north. As we get an hour into the journey, Dan pipes up about non-league day, and mentions the schedule that sees Macclesfield, Stockport and Hyde all kicking off one after each other. Then, Dan puts forward an idea; if we can, what about attending the game at Hyde? It meets with universal approval in the car, and after checking the distance between the two grounds, we decide that as long as the traffic isn’t too bad, we will go for it.
The first port of call after arriving is the pub. Our walking pub finder Graham has done his homework and located the nearest boozer to be just five minutes from the car park. The real ales on tap provide welcome lubrication for a couple of our party, and soon we are getting news of problems on the M1, which has caught the coach in its net. There are early tweets that the road could be closed until 5pm, but news filters through soon after that the traffic is moving. There are estimates that vary the coach’s arrival time at anywhere between two and four, although it eventually rumbles into the away car park a good forty-five minutes before kick off.
The game starts with the temperature dropping a little; suddenly the decision to leave the coat in the car is not looking particularly sensible. Boa Morte is having an early influence for the home team, and the first ten minutes are spent mainly in the Daggers half, with crosses causing a fair amount of concern in the Daggers back line.
There is an early chance for Trotman, but as the game edges over the ten minute mark, the Daggers start to get into the game. At last the ball is starting to stick a bit better, and the home crowd are starting to voice a bit of displeasure as the half wears on. There are half chances for Howell and Gayle, although they don’t actually test the home keeper. Although Craig Westcarr has a shot over the bar, the ball is starting to head towards the home goal more than the Daggers.
The Daggers are getting better as the half wears on, and Chesterfield are starting to look the more nervous of the teams. Boa Morte, so influential early on, is starting to drift every now and again, although every now and again, there are glimpses of a career spent at a higher level than League Two.
The Daggers score first, just a few minutes before half time. Sam Williams. The home fans are starting to get a bit restless with the display by their team, and the goal really doesn’t help. Williams is allowed time to run at the defence, and although his shot from just outside the area doesn’t appear to be hit with any particular power, it is very well placed, and the ball nestles into the far corner of the net. There is a moment’s delay before the travelling support realises that the ball has gone in, and it prompts more than a few home fans to head to the tea bar.
There is a rainbow over the east stand as the half comes to a close, amid a chorus of booing for the home team as they leave the field. A local dance troupe provide some entertainment although most of their target audience have already disappeared to the concourse areas.
The second half start with the Daggers on top again, but Chesterfield start to pressure, and it pays off with a goal from Jack Lester with the half just over ten minutes old. It rejuvenates the home support and there is some encouragement again.
This doesn’t last though, as the Daggers regain their lead within two minutes. Once again, Sam Williams provides the goal, curling home a shot following a knock down from fifteen yards.
Chesterfield still create; Lester has a chance cleared off the line and while the attack is doing ok, defensively it is not as good. This is supported by a chance on sixty-seven minutes. A cross from the right win from Westcarr is floated towards the back post. Arriving is Boa Morte, and he connects with a volley but it is beaten away by Lewington.
Lewington is a very good goalkeeper, but today is having an up and down game. While his shot stopping is at its very best, his claiming of crosses is causing a few nervous moments in the away defence, and he is rescued on more than one occasion.
The first leavers are timed at eighty minutes, and those that leave early really don’t miss a great deal. Jack Lester, the only home player to carry a real threat, has a header wide of the post following a corner from the right, and in stoppage time is flagged offside when in with a chance. It’s their last effort, and with home fans leaving in ever-increasing numbers (prompting the away fans to enquire if there is a fire drill), the final whistle is blown on a Daggers 2-1 win, which is our first away success of the season.
There is little time to celebrate though, as we all leave the stadium, head for the car and try to get to Hyde for their Conference National game against Tamworth. The traffic is kind to us, and although we have a couple of minutes delay getting onto the main road, we are soon on our way towards Snakes Pass, and then onto Greater Manchester. We arrive with about five minutes before kick off, and have enough time to grab whatever we need and stroll around to the ground. The majority want to stand in the away end (possibly because the queue to get in the shorter), and having paid our £14, we enter our second game of the day. On an increasingly cold night, we see Lee Hendrie playing for the visitors (as well as ex-Dagger, Adam Cunnington), and setting up a well worked opening goal for Marcus Kelly just after the half hour. On the home team though is another player familiar to Daggers fans; Phil Jevons, once of Morecambe, equalizes for Hyde ten minutes in the second half, and then scores a penalty with a quarter of an hour to go. The game flies past, and it’s just a shame that it ends as quickly as it does; it’s been an entertaining encounter, and fully justifies the trip across from Chesterfield, and the (much) later than anticipated arrival time home.
It’s been a very good day. Our unbeaten run in the league has been extended to five games; we’ve managed that first away win, and then managed to get to a second game as well, much to the chagrin of more than one of our fellow Daggers fans. The two games have both been entertaining, and we’ve all enjoyed ourselves. The team has started to gel, and at least one home fan was good enough to approach us after the game and say that we deserved the win, which was great to hear. Clearly there is a long way still to go, but after results like today, we are able to approach the next few weeks with a bit more confidence. The trip to York City next week will be anything but easy, but at least we will give it a go rather than watching our Champions League bets go down the drain.