Dagenham & Redbridge picked up a valuable three points in a 2-0 win over Macclesfield Town on Saturday afternoon in a game which ultimately saw Town boss Gary Simpson be asked to step down by the board. The result leaves the Daggers within touching distance of the above pack, whilst Macclesfield slip perilously close to the relegation zone, with only goal difference keeping them afloat.
The game opened with a frantic pace as new loan signing John Akinde – in his second spell with the home side – hitting a tame shot along the floor towards O’Donnell after some neat play from Jon Nurse to provide the chance. Just after that, Nurse – making his 200th appearance – was given the chance to open the scoring, but his close range header from a Damien McCrory ball unfortunately went wide of the mark. Macclesfield then went close with a couple of chances from Matt Hamshaw and former Crewe midfielder Colin Daniel, but their shots were blocked well by both Mark Arber & former Argyle left back Damien McCrory.
It was however the Essex side that made the all-important breakthrough on the 17th minute mark. Medy Elito received the ball on the right-hand side, before jinking in and dropping several shoulders to fool the Silkmens’ defence before curling a shot towards the far post. It took a deflection and ended up going in via the near post for a Daggers goal. It was rather lucky and could probably be considered a bit harsh on Macclesfield, but it was vital and because of that, no one in the ground could care – bar the Macclesfield supporters, of course.
Straight from the restart, John Still’s men were looking to build on the lead through the lively Josh Parker. His neat build-up play and shot was blocked in the box by a defender, the ball fell for Luke Howell outside of the area and his strike along the floor picked up a telling deflection to be diverted wide for a corner. Ten minutes later and in a similar situation, Howell had another shot blocked away for a corner as the Daggers dominance began to show. Macclesfield weren’t really showing any threat when going forward and that continued to be the case on 34 minutes when George Donnelly worked some space for himself, but pressure from Daggers’ captain Arber forced Donnelly to skew his shot nearer to the corner flag than the goal.
After that brief attack from Macclesfield, the home side went on the offensive once more through goal-scorer Medy Elito. He cut in from a similar position to that of his goal but this time his shot struck Akinde at the front post and, unfortunately, the strong striker couldn’t quite direct it past O’Donnell. That wasn’t the end of the first-half action in Macclesfield territory as Jon Nurse headed a guilt edge opportunity over from a superb Josh Parker cross on the left. Minutes later, neither Parker nor Akinde could find the back of the net following a mistake from on-loan goalkeeper Richard O’Donnell.
That was the end of a Daggers-dominated first half of action, however the potency, or rather lack of it, in front of goal was there for all to see, with several fantastic opportunities being squandered. Macclesfield were very poor in front of goal and didn’t really offer a threat at all bar a half chance from Donnelly. The next goal would clearly be vital – if Macclesfield were to get it, heads would drop in the Daggers’ camp, allowing their opponents to be able to push on for a winner. If Dagenham managed to get the vital second then the already low on confidence away side would be there for the taking. However, with poor finishing in front of goal, you wouldn’t have banked on either side scoring another goal in the match.
The teams came back out for the second half and, within five minutes of the restart, Chris Lewington was tested for the first time when he superbly tipped over Tony Diagne’s header from close range following a pin-point Matt Hamshaw corner. Gary Simpson’s strugglers continued to look the more threatening side as the half wore on. A free kick from inside the Macclesfield half was directed into the box where it found the head of the on-loan Matt Smith; his header beat Lewington but not the crossbar. The ball came back out to Donnelly after hitting the woodwork, but unfortunately for the forward, Lewington managed to scramble back across goal to get a firm fist to the ball. forcing it away for a corner.
Then came a scare for Dagenham. Luke Howell’s shot following a neat Akinde dummy was blocked by Connolly, during which Howell accidentally kicked the back of Connolly. This caused the former Lincoln man to go down, seemingly clutching his ankle. After some treatment from the physio, Howell valiantly carried on for a couple of minutes with a hobble, managing to defend a Macclesfield counter attack on one leg. Eventually, Billy Bingham was brought on in his place as the pain forced Howell to be withdrawn. The Daggers will hope this isn’t a bad injury as Howell has single-handedly been driving the defence since his return from injury, losing him again could just about finish them off this season.
Macclesfield then decided to make a couple of changes in an attempt to regain the advantage. Lewis Chalmers replaced the tiring Sam Wedgebury, before former Chelmsford man Michael Bakare was introduced after defender Carl Tremarco was taken off. Directly after this change, Dagenham nearly doubled their lead through Barbadian striker Jon Nurse, but his shot from 15 yards out only troubled the side netting and the scores remained level. Minutes later and the Daggers reaffirmed their dominance thanks to a superb run by Oldham loan star Josh Parker. He went through one-on-one with O’Donnell, but could only manage to fire his shot straight at the ‘keeper who spread himself to cover the goal.
John Still then made a change as Akinde Magic was withdrawn for Brian Woodall who could possibly add that potency up front that was needed in the final five minutes. Before that however, the Daggers had conceded two dangerous free kicks in quick succession, both of which were hammered at the wall, much to Chris Lewington’s relief. Gary Simpson then went all out to save his job, bringing on Ben Tomlinson for the impressive Matt Hamshaw with just minutes left to play.
It was Dagenham & Redbridge however that had the final say in the game, wrapping up the points thanks to a late Medy Elito strike that trickled past O’Donnell in injury time after splitting the defence wide open. A massive three points for Dagenham but moreover they were deserved which is something I’ve said a lot this season, however usually I’m not backed up with the evidence. John Akinde, Josh Parker, Jon Nurse & Mathieu Baudry were all superb on Saturday afternoon, each adding their own unique element to really define the game and give the Daggers a new dimension both at the back and going forward. If they can continue to play like that and stick the ball in the back of the net, then maybe they’ll manage to stay up.
That wasn’t just full-time on the game, it was full-time on Gary Simpson’s tenure as Macclesfield Town boss. The sheer fact they haven’t managed a league win in 2012 is probably the sole reason why he was eventually sacked. I now look amongst the bottom clutch of clubs and realise that every team bar one has sacked their manager this season, and guess who that is? That’s right, Dagenham & Redbridge. I wonder whether that could be a very shrewd move come the end of the season.