THE DARYL YEARS: First Edition
A month ago on Wednesday Daryl McMahon took charge of his first game at the Daggers as he took his side to Nottingham where they were ultimately defeated by a Michael Doyle wonder-goal. Fast forward four weeks and McMahon is reflecting on a last-gasp equaliser that salvaged his side a point at home to Stockport.
There have been Essex Senior Cup ties sandwiched between the all-important National League fixtures where the winless streak in the league has been ended. Off the pitch, Daryl and the owners have been busy building a squad that fits the Gaffer’s style of play – attacking and always being on the front foot.
Above is an overview of the facts and figures of McMahon’s reign so far.
11th January: First game defeat to Notts
Daryl McMahon’s first game as Daggers manager would be in the FA Trophy - away to one of THE biggest clubs in the competition - Notts County. It was decided, as aforementioned, at the death with Doyle netting from halfway but what I’m willing to focus on here is the performances and tactics.
On that note, it was an encouraging and much improved performance than what had been in the weeks and months before under Peter Taylor. He carried out his promises of how he’d ensure his Dagenham side would play on the front foot; as an attacking display was dealt a cruel blow. In the end a draw would have been a fair result but little can get in the way of a piece of individual brilliance.
13th January: Gabby Zakuani signs
As the club’s Road to Wembley was cut short attention turned to the Essex Senior Cup - in what is, it’s fair to say, a less prestigious competition. News before the game excited fans as Gabby Zakuani was welcomed to Victoria Road on a permanent basis - becoming Daryl’s first acquisition.
15th January: ESC win over Barking
It was the first win of the Daryl McMahon era, in what was dubbed ‘The Battle of the Borough’, with Barking being defeated 3-2 - again this one was decided at the death. The 33 year old played the first 45 minutes as he graced the Victoria Road turf for the first time. Bagasan Graham got the decisive goal in a weakened side as Daryl admitted he’d give fringe players a chance to prove themselves.
17th January: Alex Reid signs on loan
The squad that was constantly being assessed by Daryl in his first days as manager would soon be bolstered up top as Alex Reid signed on a 6 month loan. This was great recruitment from Daryl and his staff to get this man in as he knows where the net is. He had previously scored in both draws against Dagenham for Ebbsfleet this season and provided a fantastic work ethic - better than what we had already.
18th January: Barnet game postponed
So, Daryl was hoping to get all three points as he looked to take charge of his first league game at The Hive - for the highly anticipated fixture with rivals Barnet - but that game was postponed. Therefore, denying Alex Reid his debut but he only had to wait seven days to get in and amongst the action.
25th January: Reid Brace - win over Notts
It was finally time for National League action and for the debut of loanee Reid with the name of the game being revenge. A certain Michael Doyle and Notts County were in town as McMahon’s Daggers looked to improve on their FA Trophy result and secure a first league win of the new era.
The winless streak in the league was over and the three points were secured! They were won with the help of no other than Alex Reid who was at the double for the hosts.
Zooming in on the tactics and I recall giving Daryl a 10 rating as the way he set up the team - to win - was key to the victory. The constant running and pressure he demanded in his first league game in charge and the way he insisted on getting the ball forward was pleasing.
28th January: QF victory against Tilbury
It was back to the BBC Essex Senior Cup to conclude a hectic January at Dagenham with a new manager, new signings and a new style of play. Tilbury were the opponents as we approached the business end of the competition and Tilbury’s hopes of silverware were dashed. An eight-goal thriller, it turned into a very entertaining encounter in which a later surge from the hosts saw them come from behind to defeat Tilbury 5-3. Reece Grant got a brace with goals in the 76th and 88th minutes - a fourth for him in the Essex Senior Cup this season.
30th January: Ben House rejoins Daggers
Another man was soon recruited as the manager’s attacking arsenal continued to strengthen - Ben House had rejoined the Daggers! This was another exciting announcement as the Scot - despite only really displaying great quality on his debut with a brace - is a great talent. His inaugural spell at the Daggers was marred by injury and illness so he is hoping for better this time round.
1st February: Goalless at Wrexham
The re-signing of House on loan was announced just a day before the Daggers travelled to Wales to face Wrexham. The game ended goalless but the performance was still encouraging with a few Daggers feeling it was two points that had gone begging! All in all, the clinical finishing just wasn’t there despite House and Reid both playing.
7th February: Myles Weston signs
February 7th - the day before the Daggers were due to face Stockport - another signing was announced as Myles Weston was welcomed to Victoria Road. The winger excited supporters upon his arrival due to the wealth of football league experience he has.
It also raised questions though around the future of certain players - attackers more specifically - as three had now been signed not all current players would remain. Joan Luque seemed out of favour and despite being a fans’ favourite - in recent weeks it had become apparent to some supporters he is perhaps too inconsistent for this level.
8th February: Late Drama in Stockport draw
Transfer news aside, and it was a dramatic encounter that kept its drama RIGHT to the last with two goals cancelling each other out at the death. The noisy Stockport supporters ecstatic as McAlinden scored what they thought was the winner in the 89th minute! BUT at the very, very last Chike Kandi smashed one into the roof of the net from close range.
Stockport. Silenced. Scenes! I hadn’t celebrated a goal like that in a good while and though it was a 1-1 draw against a mid-table team it was so much more! In terms of performance, the desire and attacking intent was there, but the early opportunities the attackers had weren’t taken.
To be fair it wasn’t a great performance and if it wasn’t for Elliot Justham, who pulled off some saves out of the very top drawer, it could have been a very different story. The Kandi goal may have been perhaps nothing but a consolation!
15th February: Barrow game postponed
After Ciara had devastated parts of England in the past week and Storm Dennis was expected to batter many parts of the country over the weekend the postponement was no surprise. It was no surprise this game was postponed as the weather up there is never great as Barrow basically borders Scotland. One frustration of this is that postponed games are usually rescheduled for midweek and the away attendance - as small as it was going to be - may be even less now.
Overall, a very busy start to Daryl McMahon’s reign but an encouraging one - despite now being one point above the drop. The attacking intent is there and the new players are gradually turning this side into a force to be reckoned with. Results, I believe, will soon come alongside the performances and we’ll be okay in terms of relegation. But we can only wait and see...
Thanks for reading,