Dagenham & Redbridge climbed up to the lofty heights of 19th in the League Two table following a deserved 1-0 victory in Staffordshire over Micky Adams’ lacklustre Port Vale outfit. The only goal of the game came courtesy of a Mickey Spillane header midway through the second half, however it could have been all different had Marc Richards not missed a penalty late in the second half.
The home side made three changes to the team that saw their games abandoned at Shrewsbury in midweek. Sean Rigg & auxiliary left back Doug Loft were restored to the side after overcoming a sickness bug that had besieged the Vale camp over the past week. Forward Ben Williamson also returned to the side which meant former Crewe star Tom Pope would have to settle for a place on the bench.
John Still made two changes for the trip up to Staffordshire which meant the formation reverted to 4-5-1, something we became accustomed to last season when playing away. Brian Woodall was restored to the side after scoring as a substitute last weekend, whilst Billy Bingham started in place of the absent Josh Parker to form a five man midfield.
The game started with a fast pace and within sixty seconds Vale midfielder Anthony Griffith made a rash sliding challenge on Abu Ogogo in the centre of the park to get himself booked, this also left Griffith walking a tight rope for the rest of the match. The home side then began to press forward in search of the opening goal, Chris Lewington was forced to come out of his box and head a loose ball away whilst minutes later Louis Dodds failed to capitalise on a hospital ball by Damien McCrory, much to the left back’s relief.
After this scare the Daggers had new life and went in search of the first goal themselves, some neat play on the left by Medy Elito gave Billy Bingham the chance to get a shot on goal. Young midfielder Bingham making his 26th appearance of the season saw his low, tame effort saved by Tomlinson to keep the scores level. The Daggers weren’t finished though and minutes later Brian Woodall & Mickey Spillane combined just outside the box, but both failed to get the shot away after being crowded out well by the Vale defence.
The game then became increasingly flat as both sides began to cancel each other out in the middle of the park, the only threat that was offered was down the channels, Elito exploiting the vast pitch dimensions and the Vale wingers exploiting the out of form Damien McCrory. The main form of action was coming in the centre circle where Abu Ogogo & Anthony Griffith were enjoying their own personal battle attempting to get every loose ball, all in good spirits mind.
The more vocal of the Vale fans were becoming increasingly agitated with the referee after his failure to award them a free kick on the edge of the box when Marc Richards was apparently taken down. From where I was standing, the imaginary sniper had managed to hit Richards sending him tumbling with no one around him, shoddy play from Vale’s most senior professional in my opinion. The pace of the game then began to increase once more as Mickey Spillane headed just wide from a well hit Damien McCrory corner. From the resulting goal kick Morsy & Baudry clashed in the air in an incident which saw the Frenchman have to undergo some treatment to the head from physio John Gowens.
There was a chance apiece for either side before the half time whistle blew. Ben Williamson & Marc Richards both had prodded efforts saved by Chris Lewington in a move which resulted in defender Mark Arber lumping the ball to safety to clear the danger. At the other end Medy Elito hit the post with a curling 20 yard strike, the closest either side had come to breaking the deadlock in the opening 45 minutes. This meant the sides went in level at half time, a scoreline which probably showed a fair reflection of the first half action.
The teams emerged for the second half without so much as a change to either starting eleven which meant it was as we were as the referee blew his whistle to signal the start of the second half. Both Billy Bingham & Brian Woodall got early shots away for the visitors, but neither found the target with Bingham’s being deflected wide of the post. From the resulting corner, Scott Doe made his infamous front post run which nearly resulted in a goal; however Tomlinson was equal to the defenders glancing header.
Ben Williamson then got a flick on the end of a low cross, but the ball went just wide of the mark meaning the scores remained level. This was the final action from the troublesome Williamson as he was replaced by former Crewe star Tom Pope up front. Minutes later and Micky Adams made another change, bringing off Sam Morsy for ex Manchester City youngster Ben Marshall.
Despite the changes, it was the Daggers that took the lead in the contest in the 65th minute courtesy of a Mickey Spillane bullet header straight through the arms of Tomlinson. Medy Elito hit the ball in from the right hand side where it found an unmarked Spillane who was on hand to head home and send the away side a goal up in the contest. Not only did we have the lead, it continued Mickey’s fine run of goal scoring form, with three goals in March for the former Norwich City youngster.
The game then became increasingly stretched as Mark Arber continued to form a solid partnership with Baudry at the back as Marc Richards was denied by a stern block. Once again though it was the away side that came close to scoring. A delightful cross field ball by Billy Bingham found Damien McCrory who had made a sublime run into the box, with a single touch he headed towards goal, however he opted to pull the ball back to a crowd of Vale defenders meaning the danger was cleared.
We then had another flurry of changes, Baudry could not go on after going down with apparent cramp which meant that Crawley loanee Charlie Wassmer was brought on for a debut in Staffordshire. Micky Adams made his final change, bringing off Louis Dodds for Chelmsford born defender Phil Roe which meant that Doug Loft could push forward into his more familiar midfield position.
There was then a period of pressure from the hosts as Clayton McDonald had a powerful shot tipped over the bar by the athletic Chris Lewington. From the resulting corner, Charlie Wassmer climbed over the top of Marc Richards which meant an extremely harsh penalty was awarded to the home side. After a few minutes of talking, Richards regrouped to take the spot kick. He hit it and Lewington guessed the right away meaning the spot kick was saved, furthermore Lewy made two excellent saves afterwards to deny the home side before Mark Arber eventually cleared the danger.
After John Still made his final change with the withdrawal of Brian Woodall for Josh Scott, the Daggers managed to see out the game and record only their fourth away win of the season to edge them further away from the drop zone.
Man Of The Match: Mark Arber. Arbs played a real captains role in ensuring the back line did their job and kept a clean sheet in the process. He was commanding and solid in equal measure. Whilst several others such as Spillane & Lewington were in contention, there can only be one man of the match, Captain Fantastic.
Attendance: 4,127 (114 Dagenham fans)