Cool. Calm. Crabble - Conquered!

After a disappointing defeat to Woking on the opening day it was time for The Daggers to bounce back against Dover at The Crabble. On a nice yet breezy evening on the coast Taylor’s three changes were the topic of conversation in the away end as Quigley kept his place. Below is my predicted XI then the actual XI:

Predicted XI

Actual XI

There were four differences in me and Taylor’s XIs with Robinson, Graham, Croll and Quigley not featuring in mine. My thoughts on the XI were positive due to the attacking factor but with Quigley not Grant I was a little frustrated and I must admit I was unsure on Graham at LB. On the other hand, Dover lined up with four ex Daggers with Munns, Doe, Passley and Lokko all starting.

The Daggers got the match underway at the Crabble with the sun just setting on the coast only a few minutes from the white cliffs. The visitors were quick out of the blocks and Joe Quigley had the ball in the back of the net within the first minute but he was instantly flagged for offside. The away side continued to stay on top until the sixth minute where Dover had an opportunity to take the lead as Effiong was fouled on the edge. However Elliot Justham saved well from a free-kick, with the Daggers’ No.1 getting down well on his near side.

Justham gets down well to free kick 

Up the other end Luque found himself almost through on goal, but the ball was cut out for a corner - though that corner came to nothing. Despite not finding a breakthrough The Daggers were very alert and raring to go as Graham showed some good pace at left-back to cut a dangerous ball out for a throw-in. The Visitors’ attacking threat was so much greater than Saturday as Dobson's cross just evaded Quigley, before Luque rattled the post then Balanta shot inches wide with the third attempt - you thought that was the breakthrough The Daggers needed! Effiong was making a nuisance of himself up the other end, however Kenny Clark’s last ditch block and great defending from his teammates denied Dover the lead. 

Just after the hosts were denied they conceded, as Balanta scored Dagenham’s first goal of the game and season after netting from just inside the box. The goal came after outstanding from Luque saw him breeze past his man before cutting it back to Angelo Balanta rocketed The Daggers into the lead. Peter Taylor’s men were now in full flow as Dobson was fouled 25 yards out with the offender being booked. The set piece master hit it sweetly but Worgan denied him the goal as he saved the effort that looked to be curling into the top corner. Just minutes later Luque had a shot cleared off the line - The Whites couldn’t handle his skill and pace!

Dobson and Balanta celebrate! 

Photo: @Dag_RedFC

Dobson goes close! 

After a period of dominance from the visitors which saw them take the lead, Dover began to push for an equaliser which saw them dominate the final stages of the half. That equaliser came just two minutes into this period of dominance as prolific goalscorer Alfie Pavey rose highest in front of the away fans to level things. Another header conceded prompted groans from Daggers supporters with 100% of the goals conceded now being headers. With another free kick being conceded, this time by Clark, (despite the challenge being perfectly legal) and a header rising slightly over half time couldn’t come soon enough for The Daggers. Thankfully it did come with the sides still level as Dagenham needed to regroup after conceding and sustaining some intense pressure.

The home side got the second half underway with no changes from Taylor or Hessenthaler at the break but Dover were unable to continue the threat they had posed just before half time. The Daggers were again quick out of the blocks with a few early crosses testing The Whites’ back line. Despite his side not starting too well Effiong still posed a real threat as he ran off the back of Eleftheriou finding himself through on goal. But Justham refused to be beaten saving with his feet from an acute angle. As Dagenham pushed to get in front they were finally presented with a golden opportunity to take the lead as Balanta’s twisting and turning fooled Scott Doe who consequently fouled the Colombian. Was there about to be a change in fate for The Daggers from the spot? Yes there was! As Mitch Brundle stepped up and sent Worgan the wrong way slotting it home!
Brundle converts from the spot
Photo: @Dag_RedFC 

It was a nervy half hour from there on in as Dover looked to maintain their 100% record this season - or at least remain unbeaten. Dagenham’s saviour Justham was called into action to deny Reason at the last second - his athleticism at that point was key to keeping The Daggers’ lead in tact. Hessenthaler soon took matters into his own hands making three substitutes in as many minutes with Jack Munns receiving a warm applause from both sets of supporters. Dagenham’s game plan soon altered in response to these changes with Luque the main outlet on the counter impressing with his fantastic pace as The Daggers sat back. 

To aid this new tactic Taylor made a change of personnel with the talisman Luque and goalscorer Balanta making way for Will Wright and Reece Grant. Captain Clark led the way at the back as he controlled the air in his box whilst The Daggers were being bombarded. In the opposition box there was a chance to seal it for Dagenham as Dobson’s corner was headed just off target by Grant. Just prior to Taylor making his final change in the 85th minute there was a scramble in the box. This panic came as Justham looked to have two hands on the ball but had it removed from him by a dangling leg - the ball was ultimately cleared! Taylor’s change came just as the ball went out of touch with James Dobson making way for Harry Phipps with under five minutes remaining. 

Scott Jackson instructed his fourth official to indicate a minimum of four minutes additional time as Daggers players and fans alike longed for the final whistle. That longing and those nerves could have been put to rest if Mitch Brundle had netted the glorious opportunity he was given but Worgan slipped which seemed to have put him off - shooting straight at the Keeper. It was last chance saloon for Dover as they won a free kick deep in added time but even having all eleven men in the box couldn’t impact on the score line. As Jackson signalled full time the away end roared because their side had registered a first win of the season condemning Dover to a 2-0 defeat. The late journey back was made all the more special as Brundle’s penalty was the difference against his former side - Dagenham had scored a penalty! That fact alone delighted many travelling supporters as they made the downhill walk to ground level from the stadium.

The Daggers now face Halifax on Saturday who maintained their 100% record last night against Hartlepool. I feel we can come out victors if we play with the same fight and organisation as last night. 

Thanks for reading, 

Keane COYD 💙❤️⚔️


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