As the sun shone on Victoria Road Dagenham were preparing to face a Harrogate side who themselves weren’t in fine form. It was sure to be an enticing encounter with both sides in need of all three points - nothing else would satisfy either side. The game got underway as predicted, given Taylor’s unusually attacking line up, with Dagenham in the ascendancy in the early stages.
Wright, Phipps, Kandi, McQueen and Wood came in as Taylor opted for a fresh, positive, new look side. A notable absence was Quigley much to the delight of supporters as Kandi mase the starting XI.
This lineup and positive style worked a treat early on with Dagenham getting in behind in just the first minute through McQueen; despite the attack showing promise his effort strayed wide. Creative Colombian Balanta stole the ball high up the pitch minutes later feeding Chike Kandi through, he looked to have got the hosts in front but the forward's strike was cleared off the line! That missed chance proved costly as the visitors got themselves in front in their first real attempt and again it came from a set piece though this time it seemed poor fortune saw the ball land in Justham’s side netting. The ball came in and was headed towards goal but the last touch looked to come off Balanta who had been so positive going forward early on - The Daggers had found themselves behind at home again.
After that freak own goal Dagenham continued to attack as two shots from Balanta and Brundle were blocked with the Colombian looking to redeem himself. That disappointment didn’t last long for him and Dagenham as they got in behind again this time Kandi was on hand to slot it home - they had continued to mount the pressure and were finally rewarded! Now on level terms the Yorkshire side looked to withstand a Dagenham barrage as they blocked shots left, right and centre. Around five minutes after conceding Harrogate thought they had fallen behind as Alex McQueen netted but fortunately for the visitors the goal was disallowed for handball - rightly ruled out it was. The action continued with Dagenham on top but both sides seemed stronger in attack than defence and the next piece of play was evidence of that as the Town again took the lead. Brendan Kiernan cut in from the right-hand side and fired it past Justham to give the visitors the lead which was undeserved however they had been the more clinical early on, when presented with a chance they scored.
That lead only lasted the best part of five minutes however as the end to end goalmouth action continued with Brundle equalising for the hosts. Dagenham had scored as oppose to conceding from a corner for a change with The Daggers’ number 8 rising highest to head past Belshaw. As suspected neither side were happy with just a point as Phipps did well to get the ball in to the box before Balanta got the ball back to Luque. However the Spaniard clipped a Harrogate man as he pulled his leg back to shoot, he was consequently booked though unfairly I thought. Although Belshaw was the busier of the two keepers Justham had to stay focused as Harrogate still looked threatening on the break and they nearly got themselves back in front just before the break. Muldoon was in but Justham has other ideas denying the Harrogate striker with an incredible save.
The last action of the half came deep into additional time as Luque did brilliantly does brilliantly to control inside the box, but the spaniard’s effort flew just over the crossbar. The score remained 2-2 as Carl Brook signalled for half time of a very entertaining 45 minutes where much to many supporters’ surprise Taylor ball was nowhere to be seen. Fans rushed to get their chips straight on the whistle if they hadn’t already, not wanting to miss a second of this exciting match.
The game got back underway and resumed without any change in personnel or mindset with neither side content with a point. Will Wright was let loose down the right-hand side after an advantage from the referee but the defender - not renowned for his attacking abilities - put the ball past the post while off balance. The end to end action continued and Harrogate had the ball in the back of the net, yet there was no celebration as the linesman had his flag up before the ball had even crossed the line. The fine margins of this game were summed up in the 60th minute as within 60 seconds the ball was twice in the back of the net. However only one counted and that was Dagenham’s as Angelo Balanta finished beautifully past the outstretched Belshaw to give put The Daggers in front for the first time. Minutes after the Colombian had redeemed himself Taylor looked to see out the lead making two changes within six minutes:
‘61 Daggers substitution:
‘66 Daggers substitution:
◀️Will Wood ❌ injured
Joan Luque made way for Grant as Taylor moved into a defensive 4-4-2 hoping to hold out. Then Liam Gordon made his first appearance of the season as he replaced the injured Wood - his appearance was greeted by a rapturous applause. Despite the more defensive formation Dagenham went in pursuit of a fourth as Balanta forced Belshaw into a save with his feet. The Colombian was at it again as Harrogate couldn’t get a hold in the game though he couldn’t top off a great team move putting it over the bar. The visitors thought they were in behind to get a late equaliser but Elliot Justham read the ball over the top and met it alleviating the pressure.
That pressure and any existing nerves were soon demolished as that man Angelo Balanta went and made it four scoring his second of the afternoon. Like Mitch Brundle did earlier in the match Balanta headed it home. He came off to a standing ovation and a fantastic applause after a MOTM performance:
‘88 Daggers substitution:
◀️Angelo Balanta 🌟❌
That goal was the last of them as Carl Brook blew his whistle to end the thrilling encounter in which the Victoria Road crowd witnessed six goals. The Daggers wanted a win and got just that after a fantastic performance which hopefully saw Taylor realise - attacking works!
Next week The Daggers travel to Eastleigh before returning home on Monday to face Yeovil - the owners will be there for both.
Thanks for reading,
Keane COYD ❤️💙⚔️