Manny, McQueen, Masterclass
This was an opportunity for The Daggers to get back on track with three new great signings and some special American visitors watching along. After their FA Cup exit it was time for Dagenham to focus on the league and climb up the table, putting recent results behind them. Hosting Harrogate was always going to be a tough test but this game felt different from the rest; with new additions came new hope and a real sense of optimism. The Daggers got the highly anticipated match underway and Balanta on his debut looked to make an instant impact just seconds in but his ambitious attempt to beat Belshaw failed - sailing over the bar in fact.
Another debutant Emmanuel Onariase looked to make a difference as well early on, winning a free kick on the halfway line, only for it to result in a foul conceded by Dagenham. Jack Munns tried his luck from outside the box (maybe him not being the smallest player on the pitch got him over confident) but his effort dragged miles wide. So Dagenham had the better start to the game but that could have changed as Goodliffe mistimed his effort to control the ball with his chest, luckily for him it ran through to Justham. The ball found its way into The Daggers area again this time with a Harrogate man in control of it, however in his bid to fool the referee he dived, Mr Brook proved he wasn't that gullible.
The home side showed a good work rate in the opening fifteen minutes, this was shown when Howe in his own box was forced to kick the ball into touch after being hassled. The Town were forced into an early change just seventeen minutes in as Thewlis was replaced by Jack Muldoon. Ben Nunn showed his importance to the side, resilient he was when winning the ball back for his team but his ball across was met by a clearance. The Daggers seemed to have a new found confidence in trying to play out from the back at every opportunity and it nearly paid off but Adeloye couldn't get in front of his man and McQueen's cross was cleared. The visitors nearly found themselves in front against the run of play however they were denied by the ever-great Justham as he kept out Beck's close range header.
Balanta twice came close soon after with in- form Munns whipping in a good free kick only for the Colombian to sky a big chance. He again had an opportunity to put his side in front but this time it wasn't as clear cut with his shot being blocked. Adeloye also came close, his well directed header was beaten away by the outstretched Belshaw and as it went back in it was The Town No.1 who cleared the danger. Belshaw saved his side again as he punched a floating cross off the line as he was challenged in the air by Phipps - The Daggers chances had all come at once. They finally put one past Belshaw as McQueen was allowed to get away and he beautifully hooked a bouncing ball over Harrogate's keeper and into the net! Dagenham were leading and deservedly so, against a high-flying Harrogate side.
The Daggers continued their late surge in the first half and got their just rewards as Alexander McQueen added a second soon after. He found himself again one on one with the keeper and this time with the help of the post he slotted it past Belshaw - a composed finish. Ben Nunn made sure they didn't concede just before the break as he headed the ball behind in what was a good piece of defending. Carl Brook blew for half time and it was the first half performance every Dagger was hoping for as the home side went into the break with a two goal cushion. Town fans were left scratching their heads as they were two goals down after forty five minutes against a side battling for survival!
The visitors got the second half underway as they looked for an early goal that could kick start a comeback. They did start better the better of the two sides winning a free kick then a corner that was well cleared by Angelo Balanta. The hosts had to defend well and Manny led by example intercepting and clearing consecutive low crosses. Smith conceded a corner in the process of denying a cross, luckily for him it came to nothing. Harry Phipps sparked uproar after his potential elbow in the air saw him yellow carded, both teams began pushing and shoving as they argued their views. The Daggers nearly went three in front soon after the incident but a good move involving Balanta saw Robinson's shot blocked.
The home side were defending well as Harrogate expectedly piled the pressure on, Balanta cleared the danger from yet another corner. They were put under pressure again, this time after Manny's good challenge was seen by the referee as a bad one, he was consequently booked. It was a free kick in a dangerous position but Thompson made a hash of it as his effort went well over. The Dagenham fans were doing there bit to get their team over the line with non stop songs and chants. A good piece of defending from Goodliffe saw him get in front of his man and head clear an inviting ball.
Elliot Justham was put under pressure as he punched the ball behind for a corner with a Harrogate goal seeming imminent, the resulting set piece was dealt with very well though. Taylor wasn't settling for two as he brought off Jack Munns and introduced Lamar Reynolds as an attacking option. The next piece of action saw Leesley, who had had a good game, skip past three players before rocketing the ball into the back of the net. The next 10 minutes would prove a lot harder now as they were defending a 1 goal lead.
The Daggers keeper was refusing to be beaten after a series of good quality saves however his next stop was remarkable, he clawed the ball off the line after a corner that should never have been given. Manny Onariase was announced Man of the match on his debut but I'm sure his mind was focused on holding out for the three points as The Town continued their bombardment of the home side's box - winning corners and free kicks galore. A time-wasting technique most probably in the five minutes of additional time saw Donovan replace Phipps. Belshaw came up for a corner right at the death after a five minutes that felt more like eight! It was then cleared and Reynolds looked to make it three but he couldn't as Belshaw got back well. The final whistle was met with jubilation as well as the playing of 'Celebrate good times' as the home crowd celebrated a rare three points. The Daggers will hope to take great confidence from that win into their game on Tuesday as they face fellow relegation strugglers Dover.
Here are some in game clips from that fantastic win!