KANDI THE ANSWER?
It was overcast with light drizzle in Dagenham as kick off approached and it was Welsh side Wrexham who were in town. Keates’ side were struggling for form going into this one but as the rebuild had begun there was hope from the Wrexham camp - this game could have been a turning point.
The Daggers on the other hand had not long ago ended their unbeaten run but with three defeats since then - Taylor’s men looked to get back on track. After Archie Andrews, Great grandson of the late Dave Andrews, had led the teams out the game got underway.
The Daggers were the ones who started the brighter as Balanta seemed to be on top of his game - winning an early corner. The resulting corner was dealt with but that was just the beginning of an early Dagenham onslaught. Chike Kandi looked to get in on the action but his and Balanta’s volleys were both denied by Lainton.
The Wrexham Keeper was kept very busy early on and he was soon beaten yet saved by the crossbar - Luque cut inside and curled his effort onto the woodwork! Mitch Brundle was the architect of the early attacks as he spread the play -spraying diagonal balls out wide.
Fans’ favourite Kandi, whose inclusion in the Starting XI pleased many, nearly put the hosts in front but his back heel didn’t fool Lainton. Approaching the 30 minute mark, with the rain only getting heavier it wasn’t long before challenges went flying in. It was Mitch Brundle who went to ground first and a great challenge it was that he made; a crunching tackle from the midfielder received a rapturous applause.
A rare chance came for Wrexham but it was easily held by Justham; there was a break in play soon after as Onariase received treatment following a high foot from JJ Hooper. Manny was luckily back on his feet and on hand to bail out his fellow centre half Croll with a superb tackle - the number 5’s mistake gifted Wrexham a big chance.
Hooper was soon replaced after receiving treatment himself following a 50/50 with Brundle just five minutes before the break. The hosts’ dominance was not being reflected in the scoreline and they so nearly saw the visitors go one up against the run of play. They so nearly took the lead but Justham was having none of it and pulled off a magnificent save - at full stretch.
The shot was driven low and hard following a corner but - in my eyes - the best keeper in the league was as he always is refusing to be beaten. That save came just minutes before the best attacker at the club netted up the other end - Angelo Balanta!
The Colombian nodded home beautifully from an inviting delivery and the replays showcase the spectacular talent perfectly. That effort right into the side netting was the last action of the half; so it was a great time to score as Dagenham went into half time with a deserved lead.
After the break which I am sure would have been mostly positive from a Daggers perspective - the game resumed. It had resumed in a similar fashion to how it begun with Kandi being set away by Brundle but the number 9 dragged his effort wife of the mark!
What followed was disastrous from a Dagenham perspective as that missed opportunity had proved costly - Wrexham were on level terms! Luke Young had scored after awful defending which saw nobody willing to clear the ball and before you knew it Keates’ side were gifted a lifeline!
The game was so nearly turned on its head as Elliot Justham seemed to have ventured out of position but he recovered well. Dobson looked to get amongst the goals following some nice interplay but he was just too ambitious - his long range effort was fired wide.
That didn’t seem to matter though as his teammate soon saw his effort go the right side of the post - Chike Kandi had restored the Daggers’ lead! He was in the right place at the right time to poke home a good ball back across goal from Balanta.
Dagenham’s task now was simple - just hold onto the lead - but Taylor’s men never make it seem simple. Justham was called upon yet again to keep his side in it as he pulled off a save of the highest quality - tipping a bullet header onto the bar.
Humour came amidst the tension at Victoria Road as Jody Brown was struck by an airborne ball whilst discussing tactics. Those tactics were no doubt readying substitute Graham as he replaced Wood upon the 70th minute. Just five minutes later Kandi and Balanta looked to seal the game with a third as the former broke away but his ball across couldn’t find the Colombian.
The scorer of the first goal was then replaced as the home crowd prayed it was nothing too serious - he was replaced by McQueen on the 84th minute. Time was running out for the Welsh side who couldn’t find a breakthrough as the Daggers kept in the Wrexham half.
Looking to further run down the clock Taylor introduced Joe Quigley to replace Man of the Match Kandi who received great applause as he left the field. One final attack came for the home side as the match entered added time but Quigley failed to convert after Graham broke at pace.
With around two minutes to spare the crowd were on edge and the opposition captain was not helped as the ball went into the Sieve. In what proved to be the final blow to Wrexham, as they looked to take their throw at pace the terraces were having none of it - throwing the ball into the corner causing inconvenience.
So - the referee blew his whistle for full time and Taylor’s men had got back on track with a good three points. A major boost was match winner Chike Kandi who just may be the answer up top. With a game in hand The Daggers are now in a decent position in terms of the play offs.
The crucial game comes on Tuesday against Barrow, a win would be fantastic but I’d happily take a point in what will be a tough game.
Thanks for reading,