Football. Bloody Hell!
A fixture, looked upon with gloom, by many – though some expressed a unique optimism before the game got underway. A game that we weren’t expected to win, but by the same token, the fans demanded three points following a poor showing on their return to Victoria Road.
Never though, I don’t think, did supporters think it would go the way it did – the passion, determination and commitment – all things that Peter Freund demanded we see in his tweet on Monday; were things we saw.
The Take on the Match:
A 0-1 victory, with ten men, against top of the league – who had only lost a solitary game this season – THE best result of McMahon’s tenure so far. The TEAM performance was one to be admired, it wasn’t easy by any means, and for perhaps the first time this season – our defence was the best department of our team.
Although, the midfield were up there too, all two of the midfielders that remained before Adams came on midway through the second half to help those in the middle of the park hold out. A decision which seemed delayed, but one I’d praise McMahon for - as someone pointed out on Twitter, we couldn’t afford to sit back completely for 45 minutes. So, that delayed change, to take off an attacker, was necessary.
That change enforced due to a rather undisputed red card for Mitch Brundle just before the break after a half where we played some fantastic football – some angry and concerned, like myself, that could undo the great work and cost us a result – that single moment.
But, it didn’t, before I move onto how it didn’t – I’ll look at the first half. A fairly shaky start, you’ll have to admit, backs against the wall. But, we had a chance and we took it (unlike our opponents) a fantastic move and sublime Weston cross was headed in by McCallum – a headed goal which he is accustomed to scoring.
Following that goal, Torquay were misplacing passes left, right and centre – a huge contrast to the ten minutes prior – they were rattled to be behind at home. We should have, via McCallum, had a few more goals before the break (that would have saved us the tension that was to follow around an hour later)!
But, yes, after a decent first ’45, with great attacking moves – not dissimilar to the Weymouth game – the transitional play was a joy to behold. A stark contrast to the game witnessed in the flesh by supporters at Victoria Road. Though ahead, that Brundle red card did have Daggers fans on a slight down note – a classic Dagenham, self-sabotaging defeat – looked to be incoming.
However, we can now move onto the second half, which saw a magnificent shift put in by the Daggers – determined to change the fortune of a side which would so often buckle under the pressure of holding onto a 0-1 lead away to league leaders – down to ten men.
But, the resolute defending was admirable, the work-rate exceptional – as McMahon praised in his post match interview – they refused to let that ball go into the back of the net. At all costs! The Gulls goal just seemed to be a matter of when not if: the Daggers under siege. But they held on.
The full story of the second half was that. It was a magnificent display of intensity, passion and commitment. Though, a gradual change throughout the half was that Dagenham were dropping further and further back – desperate to hold on. By the five additional minutes, I could barely watch, nervous we’d see the net bulge and yellow shirts wheel off in celebration: desperate for the deserved Daggers to hold on.
Now, we saw Justham beaten at times, when he wasn’t making heroic saves, but the woodwork or dimensions of the goal were to deny Gary Johnson’s men. The Torquay United streaming service was no doubt the best one yet, but, not being used to the instant replays – I looked up and thought they’d had another chance – before remembering the replays!
That final whistle blowing was as much a relief to the players who hugged in the penalty area, to us fans at home. A fantastic victory which the effort and desire of the men in red, white and blue warranted.
A win that we desperately needed; though didn’t expect. And, we got the three points.
Some say we were lucky in an otherwise unconvincing win – but I beg to differ -
I was convinced by McMahon’s capabilities following the match – that being confirmed by this post match interview – in which his voice was hoarse to say the least. This prompted me to tweet this: which received a divisive response to say the least.
Now, like I say there, his ability to get a tune out of the side after a disappointing defeat and poor start – learning from his prior mistakes – has convinced me he has the abilities to get the best out of this side. An ability which I questioned earlier on in the season.
The divisive response included those who completely agreed to others who said I was carried away following a lucky victory which could easily have been a loss. I get that, but the truth is it was three points, the result the most important point, and even if we narrowly miss out on play-offs this season – I’m adamant we should keep him.
Confident we won’t finish in the bottom half because of the players we have and the manager’s capabilities. As if we don’t manage a top seven finish, what McMahon mentioned in the interview, is that he is doing more than managing but looking to change the culture of the club. To one that is no longer the small, underdog approach - but a winning one.
This is where he looked to urge patience, and I do too, with the knowledge it’ll take time to bring success at this club – with the makings of a successful team there – I back him.
No judgement on his future to be made until the season is concluded – providing we continue to improve; as is my projection.
Player Ratings –
Justham – 8
Eleftheriou – 8
Clark – 9
Credit where credit is due. A phrase used by so many Daggers about this man, who has come under a lot of criticism in recent weeks, didn’t put a foot wrong on Tuesday. An integral part of that back line that secured the victory – fantastic. Let’s just hope he can play like that every game!
Croll – 8
Johnson – 8
Brundle – 6
Ogogo – 10
Well, YOUR Man of The Match, and mine. His relentless work in the middle of the park, and wherever he was needed – doing Brundle’s work – he really did put in a fantastic shift. He was everywhere. Some going as far as saying it was his best 90 minutes in a Daggers shirt – I’ll let you decide that for yourselves!
Rance – 8
McQueen – 8
Impressed me since he first played for us. Tireless work ethic every game – the others showed the same levels today – leading to the win. A great player.
McCallum – 9
Weston – 8
Thanks for reading and onto the FA Trophy,