Dagenham & Redbridge succumbed to a second successive defeat to burrow themselves further into the mire of the relegation zone on Saturday afternoon, courtesy of a 2-1 defeat at Kingsmeadow to AFC Wimbledon.
It was an afternoon that promised so much in terms of performance and a perspective three point haul, but it just wasn’t to be; with a mixture of poor finishing up front and individual mistakes at the back for the Daggers. In hindsight, I wonder whether starting with a 4-4-1-1 formation was really the way to go about it, especially when three points would have really helped us. With all due respect, Brian Woodall up front as a lone striker, really isn’t optimum firepower, nor is it going to cause much trouble for the Wombles defence, especially with the towering Pim Balkenstein making his Dons debut at the back.
The opening phases of the game were very even, with both sides enjoying the run of the ball and a couple of half chances. Wombles record signing Byron Harrison didn’t have the pace needed to nip in to get a loose ball ahead of loan goalkeeper Jonathan Bond, whilst up the other end; Ben Reeves could only muster a tame shot which caused no trouble to home goalkeeper Seb Brown. Just before the 15 minute mark and Wimbledon fashioned the first good opportunity of the match, a short corner was eventually played to ex Gillingham midfielder Rashid Yussuff on the edge of the box. The tidy young lad let the ball run through his legs so it found the unmarked Knott, however the Sunderland midfielder completely fluffed his lines and ended up kicking the ground. A real let off for Daggers.
Just after the 25 minute mark and the home side spurned another good chance. After Medy Elito was dispossessed on the far side whilst attacking, the Dons broke away thanks to a fantastic cross field pass. Former Oxted & District midfielder Christian Jolley took a touch out of his feet before whipping in a delightful ball which found the head of Sammy Moore amongst a crowd of players. Sammy, who isn’t related to Demi or Roger, could only contrive to head over the bar much to the away supporters’ relief.
The Daggers then finally began to offer something whilst going forward. Ben Reeves was looking like a prominent threat; he got another shot away, but once more could only prod the ball at Seb Brown, causing no real problems. However, it was on the 40 minute mark that John Still’s men found themselves the closest to scoring in the first 45. Jon Nurse created some space for himself on the far side thanks to some neat trickery, before laying in former Gresley striker Woodall to hit the ball towards the goal first time. Unfortunately, Woodall couldn’t add towards his tally of seven league goals this season, as his shot went high over the bar and out of play for a goal kick.
It was Wimbledon that got the final shot of the half away; furthermore it was the first attempt that really forced either ‘keeper into a good save. Byron Harrison was gifted the ball after some good break away play down the left for the Dons’, the striker hadn’t scored yet for his new club, and so it remained, as Jonathan Bond palmed his shot away well for a goal kick. On the balance of play, it was probably fair to be going in at half time with a share of the spoils.
As the teams re-emerged for the second half, Terry Brown decided to make his first change, bringing on Brett Johnson for Cambridge born midfielder Mat-Mitchell King. Mitchell King had a very quiet first half, so it’s no real surprise that he was sacrificed for a player that could perhaps offer that bit more of an attacking impetuous. Straight after the restart and it was Wimbledon that nearly broke the deadlock. Jolley who was proving to be a real nuisance made good space for himself down the left, his cross in was just inches away from being met by teammate Harrison. It’s not hard to see why he hasn’t netted yet for the Wombles since joining in January.
Wimbledon then went even closer to taking the lead through a combination of former Daggers man Jack Midson and Rashid Yussuff. The ball was nodded on following a Seb Brown free kick that was launched into the box, the resulting knock on found Jack Midson who had managed to escape his marker with apparent ease. With one touch, Midson prodded a shot past Bond between the sticks, however it hit the inside of the post; it was then partially cleared to the oncoming Rashid Yussuff. In a fluster and a frenzy, Yussuff hit a sliced shot which forced a good save from the recovering Bond as the ball eventually went out for a corner. A real let off for the Daggers.
John Still then made a very positive substitution. Southampton youngster Ben Reeves who provided only a minor threat, was replaced by Dominic Green. This would ensure some more width to the forward play as Green enjoys hugging the touchline and getting the most out of the pitch. Within minutes of his introduction, he received the ball, before playing it to Jon Nurse on the near side. With a quick shimmy, Nurse escaped his marker and played the ball into the box where Billy Bingham rose highest, however the former Palace Youth star could only head over the bar for a goal kick.
The Essex side then began to look like the dominant outfit in the encounter. Just after the 60 minute mark, Brian Woodall headed the ball over the bar from a similar position to that of Bingham, as the Daggers flexed their aerial ability. However, just minutes later and Jon Nurse went on a mazy run down the left, beating a couple of players before cutting into the box and shooting from an acute angle. The shot across goal forced a good save from Brown, the first time all afternoon that any Daggers player had called him into any real action.
Kieran Dijilali was then brought on for Byron Harrison, as Terry Brown looked to add a younger threat to the attacking presence. Jonathan Bond looked extremely shaky from an early Dijilali cross, flapping at the ball before eventually gathering it unchallenged. John Still then made another promising change, taking off the tiring and somewhat ineffective Medy Elito, for 6ft’7 giant Rob Edmans who was sure to cause problems, no prizes for guessing why.
True to form, he caused a problem straight away. Jon Nurse made some space down the right once more as he played in a delightful low cross towards the head of the unmarked Edmans at the front post. The former Chelmsford City man only needed to throw his head at the ball and it would surely have gone in, but alas, he missed it by a yard meaning the ball rolled agonisingly wide and out of play for a goal kick. We were then straight up the other end as poor defending from Daggers left back Damien McCrory allowed Midson to get a shot away on the volley which flew into the back of the net to send the home fans ballistic. A well taken goal by Midson saw the Daggers plunged further into the relegation mire. That little phase of play really summed up the Daggers season, so close at one end, before being taken for the sucker punch at the other.
Dagenham & Redbridge weren’t finished yet and on 80 minutes, Rob Edmans was looking to make amends for his glaring miss previously in the game. He went on a Yaya Toure like run from the half way line, before laying the ball to an on rushing Brian Woodall on his left hand side. Woodall looked primed to shoot first time with his left, but decided to cut back onto his right allowing defenders to get back and deflect his delayed shot over the bar. From the resulting corner, a Jon Nurse headed was blocked on the line from point blank range; it was cleared out to Woodall on the penalty spot, whose fierce drive was tipped over the bar well by Brown in the goal.
The Daggers then finally managed to find that deserved equaliser on the 82 minute mark. Another corner on the near side by Dominic Green found the unmarked former Brentford man Mickey Spillane, who was on hand to head home into an empty net, despite Seb Browns best efforts. It was now 1-1 with everything to play for, both sets of fans were in good voice and the teams were raring to go from the restart.
Usually when a team scores, they have the momentum to press forward to get the win. But we have to remember, this is Dagenham & Redbridge, so instead of going forward, we ended up going back and gifting the Dons the lead once more. A cross on the left found its way towards sub Dijilali on the far side, his first time volley crept agonisingly underneath ‘keeper Jonathan Bond to send the 3800 home fans delirious for a second time. It really was a massive blow for us and one that I didn’t believe that we could come back from.
Sure enough, despite the best efforts of Rob Edmans in the dying seconds whose header was palmed wide for another corner, the Daggers couldn’t find that massively important equaliser, meaning the game ended 2-1 to Wimbledon. We now have to move on to Northampton Town on Tuesday, that game is the definition of a relegation six pointer. I fear that if we fail to beat the Cobblers on Tuesday night, we may be cut adrift at the bottom, moreover we may end up in a position that we cannot get ourselves out of.