Daggers rose to Seasiders test
On Saturday the new look Daggers, in order to get in gear for a promotion push, tested themselves against league one opposition - Southend - at Victoria Road.Peter Taylor’s Dagenham side got the game underway and got it going in stereotypical non league style with a few launches forward early on and no rhythm to their play. Newcomer Will Wood made his mark clamping an opposition midfielder on the halfway line much to the crowd’s annoyance however, as he needlessly fouled giving an advantage to the visitors. Many may say ‘it’s just a friendly’ however Wright's solid challenge stopping the attacker from advancing
into the box disproved that mindset.
Despite liking the aggression Wood possessed it grew increasingly frustrating when he continued to foul - many deemed it laziness as we were just approaching the 10 minute mark. With eight minutes played Dagenham began to string some passes together as former Cherry Quigley played a quality ball out wide to McQueen (with the former dropping into the number 10 position to retrieve the ball) who troubled the Southend defence. Soon after in a separate attack Brundle got off a shot however it was a tame effort, therefore not troubling the visitors’ Keeper.
The opposition soon dismissed the principle of a friendly encounter also going in late on a couple of occasions prompting groans from the West Stand (as well as abuse from the terraces) - the ball was being kept in the middle of the park with neither defence looking shaky. The hosts’ defence was particularly compact and good in the air with Manny and Croll’s centre back pairing looking strong. There seemed to be a lot more structure and teamwork than last season
as the pressure was consistent and structured with a second press - a much more positive style. Quigley again was admirable displaying great determination and energy to win the ball back and compete constantly in the air - an improvement on Wilkinson. Also as the twenty minute mark was looming Brundle was spraying it around like Xavi out to the flanks to McQueen and Bagasan to run onto yet there was still little goalmouth action.
That goalmouth action soon came as Hutchinson was allowed to venture into Dagenham’s half as the defence retreated however his effort dragged wide. Though the home side were playing well they couldn’t get sight of goal as this League One outfit were unsurprisingly well organised. Dagenham’s dominance cane in the middle of the park as they had much more hunger Odametey especially battling well in the middle as he did so often for Maidenhead last campaign. Unlike the Dagenham team last season the National League side were stopping at nothing to retrieve the ball and I can only think Odametey has a part to play in that. Also new acquisitions like Croll are key as he stayed upright dispossessing the talented Hutchinson. In the attacking department though is where the action is lacking for the hosts with Graham’s low driven effort is another half hearted one.
Odametey retrieving the ball and advancing forward. Photo: @Dag_RedFC
The game soon came into full flow as after a wasted opportunity at one end Brundle found himself on the opposing byline but his cross is just too high. Unfortunately that misjudged cross proved costly as Goodship rounded Justham after being slipped through and tapped it home - scoring his first goal for The Seasiders. Also looking to get off the mark was Reece Grant but after a long ball the former Shots man couldn’t bring it down in the box as The Daggers looked to equalize. Another new philosophy being brought in is much like Pep’s in playing out from the back as Justham thought he was Ederson with the ball at his feet. Now beginning to pick up again Dagenham worked the ball well ultimately seeing McQueen's cross cleared however.
Two free kicks followed leading to a chance for the visitors as Manny fouled halfway into Dagenham’s half- it was taken short but won back by Dagenham. Consequently the hosts won a free kick themselves out on the touchline however McQueen’s effort was caught by The Blues’ Keeper. The Shrimpers were up the other end looking to build on their lead moments later but their effort was headed over! That chance proved costly, as Grant found himself through on goal after Quigley’s lovely flick on and Reece kept his cool to slot it past Bishop! After a great and deserved equaliser Dagenham continued to push for a second with Odametey winning a corner after nice play and determination but it was headed clear in the end. Southend pushed for a second also going into the break as their winger got the better of Wright.
Grant slots it past Bishop to equalise. Photo: @Dag_RedFC
It was a promising first half from The Daggers who had clearly adopted a new playing style with Quigley, Odametey and Brundle impressing - McQueen also. Introduced for the second half were faces old and new as Eleftheriou,Gordon, Dobson, Phipps, Luque, Balanta and Kandi all entered the field of play.
The Seasiders got the second ‘45 underway looking comfortable in possession early on. The home side soon got onto the ball with great switching of the play and substitute Kandi’s effort won a corner; which was cleared. Though this side were playing the ball well there wasn’t the same work rate as the first half from Dagenham. Nonetheless they managed to fashion a chance as Dobson’s free kick won a corner which was headed onto the bar by Balanta - the closest they had come to taking the lead.
Southend’s players were going down like flies working their physio hard on several occasions. Though their players were being continually injured, a chance came for the visitors as Justham gifted the ball to Robinson who completely missed the open goal he was presented with. Odametey continued showing great strength in the middle as he continued to help his side in pursuit of a winner. Another stand out performer in the second half was Academy graduate Gordon - proving why he should be first choice left back as was the case last season.
Luque won another corner as like earlier on in the half with Balanta getting on the end of it again flicking it goalwards but his effort strayed just wide. Chike Kandi went off injured after making a promising start to the half - as a precaution- Robinson entered the field of play. Joan Luque again displayed his passing quality switching the play superbly to Dobson whose cross went into the hands of Bishop. Up the other end the away side’s attack petered out with cries of handball from the away end before winning a free kick on the edge for a foul. That free kick went behind for a corner which was cleared as The Seasiders sustained their pressure. Hutchinson got a shot off moments later but Justham got down comfortably, trying to keep possession now after intense pressure. Gordon turned defence into attack driving down the left , Robertson style and crossing in to Dobson whose sliding effort came to nothing.
Frustration continued for The Daggers as Angelo Balanta looked through on goal but he couldn’t get the ball under control. Soon after Luque got past the Southend defender but as oppose to shooting at first sight he tries to get the perfect angle taking too long. The Seasiders came close to winning it late on, and in spectacular style, but Justham has other ideas diving right across outstretched to deny them from a free kick. The referee soon signalled full time after what was an entertaining friendly encounter as The Daggers stood up to the test of League One opposition - looking genuine promotion contenders. Now they look ahead to matches against West Ham U23s and Hornchurch before they begin their promotion push against Woking on August 3rd.
Thanks for reading,
Keane ;) COYD