IT’S FINALLY CLICKED!
The Daggers made the relatively short trip to York Road on a windy, yet sunny Saturday afternoon. The Magpies were going well in the league sitting in fourth position - five points ahead of their opponents. Alan Devonshire has got his side off to a flyer this season, despite losing in his words their ‘two best players’ with The Stripes unbeaten in four of their last five. The Daggers were also on an unbeaten run of their own (unbeaten in five) following a disappointing 3-0 defeat to Boreham Wood - they hadn’t looked back since.
The game got underway after the teams (and fans) switched ends; consequently delaying the start of play. Once the game did begin it was Dagenham who were in the ascendency as Balanta found Luque out on the left with a lofted ball; the Spaniard’s ball forced an early corner. After an early lull in play where The Daggers had the lion’s share of possession James Dobson concede a feee kick in a dangerous position, but Robinson was on hand to clear the danger.
After good defending Dagenham turned defence into attack as Balanta had a chance on goal from an Elliot Justham goal-kick, however the Colombian number 10 rolled the ball wide of the mark. The threat wasn’t cleared up the other end though as Justham was called into action with the Daggers shot-stopper pushing the ball past his near post - a good stop. The Daggers were inviting pressure upon themselves as Onariase fouled that man Whitehall again; fortunately for The Visitors it led to nothing.
The defence soon fixed up after Taylor vented his anger demanding more from his back line - the next ten minutes were all Dagenham. Colombian playmaker Balanta soon got on the ball and The Daggers were in full flow; the attack resulted in Dobson’s effort from range go wide of the post. It didn’t take long however to rattle the Keeper and the woodwork for that matter as Onariase hit the post after a James Dobson delivery from a corner. The Daggers No.20 was on top of his game early on leading the way in trying to find a breakthrough.
Balanta slipped as he attempted to get his fifth goal of the season, but the Daggers were very much on the front foot and the likelier of the two sides to score. However, again The Magpies threatened but again it was a shot off target from Shamir Fenelon scooped the ball over Justham's cross-bar. Cassidy broke away from Onariase and put the ball into the box - it was a let-off for the Daggers - but the way the game was going it was Maidenhead who needed to put these chances away.
The referee wasn’t escaping the limelight as bad referees never do, this scenario saw Angelo Balanta control beautifully with his thigh, but the referee somehow penalised the forward for hand-ball. Second, there was some beautiful football from the Daggers on the edge of the area, but Will Wright was eventually judged to have fouled his man - many disagreed.
Luque drove forward off the left flank and the referee blew his whistle for a late challenge on the winger. The Spaniard who looked to get his side in front before the break but he couldn’t get enough dip on his strike as it sailed over.
Josh Smile created space for himself looking to nick the lead for the home side however his curling effort rose just over. The last chance of the half came through Luque who this time did test Ashby-Hammond as he forced the save. The Magpies’ Keeper got down well with a strong hand down at his near post to keep the score level.
On level terms is how the two sides went into the break with The Daggers being no doubt the happier of the two sides. Taylor would have just asked for more of the same but maybe tighten up a little in attack. I am not sure what was going through Devonshire’s head at the break as his long ball tactic was proving rather ineffective.
Well - play resumed after what has to be said a poor penalty competition at half time; there was early danger at the back for the Daggers. However, the linesman had his flag up for offside, which relieved some of the pressure.
Moments later The Daggers were awarded with a golden opportunity to put themselves ahead James Dobson showed great composure to slot the ball past Ashby-Hammond!
The goalscorer looked to create a second for his side with a great delivery from the right, as the wide-man crossed with his weaker right foot. His great play earned him a corner and Luke Croll had a shot deflected onto the cross-bar! The keeper then had to tip over his bar as the ball came down and he found himself under pressure. This constant bombardment forced Devonshire into making a change as Akintunde replaced the rather ineffective Aaron Davies.
These changes proved effective however as Maidenhead looked to get back into the game and level the score. Justham gathered a loose cross into the box to relieve a bit of pressure after a good move from the Magpies. Another good move followed as Fenelon saw his effort cleared off the line! All of a sudden it seemed a case of The Daggers seeing out their lead as oppose to adding to it.
However, the introduction of Reece Grant saw Dagenham back on top within five minutes as Balanta set the substitute through immediately, but a good recovering tackle saw the attack peter out. The Colombian’s name was being sung by the away section as he beat two men on his way into the box, but his curling effort was tipped past the post by Ashby Hammond!
Luque attempted an acrobatic effort at the far post, but it flew over the bar and the Spaniard was at it again picking out a cut-back for Balanta. However the number 10’s strike was tipped over the bar! The Daggers hopeful were singing their new chant ‘SII SEÑOR!’ as Luque sparked attacks into life - the number 19 smiled as he returned to his wide position.
Those smiles nearly got even bigger as Reece Grant found the back of the net after a Dobson flick on, but the linesman quickly had his flag up. Many away supporters were now on edge as memories of Wednesday were still fresh in the mind of all visiting fans. As the fourth official indicated there would be a minimum of four additional minutes Luque continued to express himself; the winger executed a cheeky nutmeg whilst holding the ball in the corner.
The Daggers saw out the last couple of minutes thanks to solid defending from Croll and Clark at the back. The final whistle blew and Devonshire’s men sunk to the floor in disappointment whereas Dagenham’s players and fans were buzzing. This win saw Taylor’s side go six unbeaten whilst registering their first clean sheet of the campaign which was a huge relief for Taylor, Justham and the defenders.
So, many were delighted with that away victory some claiming it was the best performance of Taylor’s era - clean sheet and all. Jody Brown expresses his delight of managing to defeat a Magpies side who had been in fine form - crediting Alan Devonshire. With no midweek game, The Daggers return to action on Saturday to face Hartlepool back at Victoria Road. I am excited for that game and the season as the performance was a delight and I now truly believe the team is in full flow!
Thanks for reading,