Daggers continue to finish strong
The Daggers hosted Eastleigh on Good Friday after some good news was brought to the club by co-owner Peter Freund. He announced on his birthday his will to see the club promoted next season stating ‘We will never look back’ once that is achieved. Also, he announced the deal with Nike to produce next season’s new kit which will display the new badge (the first ever Dagenham and Redbridge badge). The Spitfires pushing for the play offs this season looked to stop the home side’s unbeaten run of three games as they also looked to finish strong. The visitors got the game underway but didn’t fashion many chances as it was a quiet start to the game, however when the first chances did come for Eastleigh they were no issue for Justham.
After a slow start the hosts began to find their feet getting on the ball and ultimately winning consecutive corners, but they couldn’t capitalise on these chances early on. A shot on target did come and it came from open play as the likes of Kandi and Wilkinson linked up well finding Angelo Balanta in the box whose headed effort was no problem for Southwood. The visitors threatened to break the deadlock up the other end as Southwood’s opposite number did well to deny Jones’ powerful effort. It was end to end stuff from there on in as Harfield looked for Wilkinson who couldn’t meet the ball in the air just moments before Eastleigh were on the offensive.
That man Jones again got a shot off in the hope of putting his side in front but lost his footing and ultimately saw his effort roll wide. Balanta like Harfield tried to create an opportunity for Wilkinson but his attempts were sussed out by The Spitfires who were alert to the danger intercepting the ball. After a lull in creative football and open play The Daggers found themselves in front to the misfortune of Eastleigh. Angelo Balanta’s low cross caught the visitors napping as the keeper failed to take control of the situation leading to Harfield’s goal from close range.
It came at the perfect time for Dagenham, just before the break, leaving the visitors with a frustrated mentality and with more to do in the second half if they wanted to keep their play off hopes alive. On the other hand, the hosts would have felt delighted with the lead and with nothing riding on the game for Dagenham they would have had the confidence to see the game out.
Despite the mental state of the players the physical state hadn’t changed as The Daggers got the second 45 underway. It was a slow start to the half much like in the first 45 with both sides losing the ball in midfield - unable to keep possession. However, what the home side did manage to do was win a corner which was taken by Ollie Harfield the goal scorer. It was whipped in perfectly to the far post where Kenny Clark was waiting to head back into the danger area and he the captain did just that with Kandi the one heading in from close range. The Daggers now found themselves with a two goal cushion thanks to goals either side of the break - this was very demoralising for Eastleigh.
The visitors’ bench reacted with Hobson being replaced by striker Ben Williamson as they looked to find a way back into the match. The Daggers didn’t take their foot off the gas as Kandi, who had been playing tremendously, saw his powerful strike beaten away by Southwood. Angelo Balanta was the next player to come close, as gaps began to appear between the Eastleigh lines, his shot rose just over. The Spitfires were backs against the wall as Wilkinson saw his shot parried by Southwood before Robinson, on his 100th appearance for the club, saw his shot blocked.
After another period of failed chances from a dominant Dagenham side the visitors finally had a chance of their own and it was in a good position. A free kick just inside the ‘D’, but Yeates couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity gifted to his side as his effort was blocked. Entering the final ten minutes of the game, time was on the winning team’s side but Eastleigh had won another set piece, they had won a corner. The corner was whipped in and saw Hare head fractionally wide, you felt they had to capitalise on that chance if they were to get anything from the game.
Substitute Zebroski had the last attempt of the match with a glancing header into Justham’s arms. The referee signalled the end of the game after Tomi Adeloye came on for a cameo appearance - The Daggers had sealed all three points. They also had a great positive performance and clean sheet to put alongside that - a great birthday present for Peter Freund!