Dagenham & Redbridge were defeated 2-0 at Whaddon Road against an impressive Cheltenham Town side on Saturday afternoon, with goals coming courtesy of Jermaine McGlashan & Shaun Harrad. Whilst the Daggers may have lost the opening game of the season, they will be pleased with the overall performance, with only the lack of clinical finishing from the forwards letting them down.
Cheltenham fielded a strong line up as expected with both Shaun Harrad & Sam Deering making their league debuts for the Robins, whilst their two key and most influential players Marlon Pack & Jermaine McGlashan also started. Captain Alan Bennett was ruled out through injury which meant Harry Hooman replaced him, meanwhile Kaid Mohammed picked up a late knock so the on loan Shaun Harrad started. For the Daggers, Dwight Gayle was brought into the side following a hamstring strain which meant Josh Scott was forced onto the bench. Gavin Hoyte made his league debut as the visitors lined up in a now familiar 4-3-3 formation.
The opening exchanges were fought in a high tempo, with both Brian Woodall coming close from a Luke Howell cross and Jermaine McGlashan flashing an early half volley inches wide of the post. The frantic start was being kept up as Medy Elito saw his speculative effort palmed away for an early corner by Scott Brown. The Robins weren’t without their own chances though and a neat ball in from Harrad after getting round Femi, rolled agonisingly past the far post after being edged goalwards.
It was the Daggers who were controlling the game though and good pressure from the forward line forced Harry Hooman into a premature back-pass that nearly went into the back of the net – luckily for him though it was a corner. The right hand side was proving to be a fruitful outlet for the visitors and so it proved once more when with 20 minutes played Brian Woodall cut inside before teeing up Dwight Gayle who saw his shot blocked by two heroic defensive blocks. Mark Yates’ men weren’t without their chances though as Chris Zebroski tested Lewington with a tame effort whilst Sam Deering’s deflected strike rolled against the post before being given as offside.
Dwight Gayle was looking like the main threat for Dagenham and with 35 minutes gone he nearly opened the scoring, however his shot from a tight angle was pushed away well by Brown who was being given a stern first half test. Straight from the goal kick and the home side nearly scored as Zebroski took down a ball that fell wonderfully for Deering, however his thunderous strike cannoned back off of the post once again much to the home crowd’s frustrations.
One of the Daggers’ main problems in recent years has been the timing of the goals they conceded, and so it proved once again as Shaun Harrad netted the first goal of the game with 45 minutes played. Good work from Deering on the right hand side saw him glide past Femi before putting in a low, handsome ball to Harrad who was on hand to slot home past Lewington into the empty net. A disappointing way to end the first half for Dagenham after dominating it in large parts.
The second half started the same as the first had ended – with a Cheltenham goal. This time though a route one ball from Scott Brown was knocked down before being taken on by McGlashan who unleashed a powerful shot from 25 yards that flew into the top corner. Chris Lewington was left with no chance as the Robins doubled their lead just three minutes into the second half. Following the goal, the game quietened down considerably with both Harry Hooman & Brian Woodall having headed efforts fly over the bar.
With half an hour to go the game sprung back into action as both Gavin Hoyte & Shaun Harrad wasted good chances, whilst Dwight Gayle fired over the bar with an ambitious overhead kick. With 68 minutes played John Still made his first change, bringing off the tiring Brian Woodall for Sam Williams. Within minutes of the change, Dwight Gayle was denied what looked like a stonewall penalty as he was bundled over by Elliott. The referee blew his whistle and after 51 games without a penalty…the wait continued as Gayle was inexplicably booked for diving.
The away side though continued to press for a goal, despite Billy Bingham’s best attempts from long range though they couldn’t find it. Mickey Spillane also spurned a good chance late on after having it laid on a plate by Scott Doe; Sam Williams also fired a low effort towards Brown in the closing stages. Cheltenham though were probably deserved winners on their second half performance after the Daggers seemed somewhat subdued following two strikes in quick succession either side of half time.
Man of the Match: Femi – the left back showed why he was highly talked about a couple of years ago with a dominant display of tracking back and tackling.