𝙍𝙚𝙩𝙪𝙧𝙣 𝙤𝙛 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙈𝙖𝙘𝙠: 𝙳𝚘𝚖𝚒𝚗𝚊𝚗𝚝 𝙳𝚊𝚐𝚐𝚎𝚛𝚜 𝙳𝚎𝚏𝚎𝚊𝚝 𝚂𝚙𝚒𝚝𝚏𝚒𝚛𝚎𝚜


A dominant, yes, dominant victory from Dagenham was secured as the spitfires were left spiralling out of control on Tuesday night. Getting back to winning ways, an excellent performance, was testament to the determination, professionalism and quality shown by every man in red and blue at Victoria Road on Tuesday.

The State Of Play

From that summary, you’d have thought Eastleigh were fledgling at the bottom of the National League table – given the Daggers’ form of three consecutive losses. But, Strevens’ Spitfires were still very much in the play-off race going into this one.

Despite having lost their way in recent weeks, the Blues were very much still in the hunt; this game a perfect opportunity to make everyone aware they were challenging. However, it was a different outlook for the Daggers who sought to halt their losing streak after the three-game winless run they’d been on had seemingly put them out of the play-off picture.

No chance at play-offs, the general feeling, though it was very much mathematically possible – the aim was restoration of pride and finishing the season in some sort of form.

The Team News: Vilhete starting was the headline; finally, a start for the midfield maestro who had been chucked on with 20 minutes to go in the two games prior – hardly enough time to make an impact! Other changes saw Sagaf and Jones come into the Starting XI.

My Take

The game got underway and the hosts posed the greater threat, though there was almost an immediate response within two minutes from Eastleigh – both sides going toe-to-toe in an already fast-paced encounter.

With just ten minutes played, the players had time to catch their breath following the hectic first 600 seconds – an Eastleigh player having gone down to receive treatment.

McCallum was to win the first aerial duel of the match, though in the opposite box to where he’d have liked – the number nine putting Payne’s cross behind for a corner.

What was to ensue in the second ten-minute spell was very much end-to-end football, like the ten prior, but now with more excitement – there were chances to speak of.

The first being a half-chance, yet a chance nonetheless, Angelo Balanta firing his effort over the bar from the edge of the box – ‘keeper McDonell seeing it over without concern.  

However, there was concern for McDonell’s opposite number on sixteen-minutes, Tomlinson forcing Justham into a save – his first of the night.

It was all creativity but no end product, the story of the first twenty minutes, as a very well-worked move saw Saunders cut inside before seeing his effort rise over the bar.

The story of the first twenty minutes of this game; but more the story of Dagenham’s season – all good intention but no goals to show for it!

But to the Daggers’ delight, that trend was about to take be broken as the Daggers made use of their good five-minute spell and found themselves in front! The Colombian genius, Angelo Balanta, was on target; but it was a fantastic TEAM goal.

My reaction to the opener!

Lovely play around the box, a rare killer pass was found by the Daggers, slicing through the defence – Balanta clinical in slotting home in front of goal.

The next seven minutes went by without any immediate reaction from Ben Strevens’ side, but on 30 minutes Elliot Justham was called upon to keep his side ahead.

I don’t know how much he knew about it, but the Daggers ‘keeper stood strong to deny a Partington header from a corner. The biggest chance of the half for the visitors; denied from point-blank range.

Despite that scare, the hosts remained ahead and unfazed, pushing for a second before the break. Mo Sagaf looked to get on the scoresheet and score his first Daggers goal, but he dragged his effort wide.

Will Wright, who has scored some worldies in a Dagenham shirt, couldn’t quite replicate some of his Ronaldo-esque free-kicks of games gone by. This time, the defender only managed to curl wide of the goal; evading the top corner.

So, the score remained 1-0 to Dagenham at half-time; a great half of football – here were my thoughts at the break:

So, the Daggers needed a second and if they weren’t aware of that they soon were; first House, then Baggie with a half-volley – Eastleigh had their sights set on an equaliser.

Under some early pressure in defence, the already-booked Jones was to make way for Tom Smith in the middle of the park on fifty-three minutes.

However, it wasn’t the substitute who was probing, it was Mauro Vilhete making gains in the opposition half – though, on two separate occasions, he beat his man and that was the extent of the threat he posed.

Eastleigh withstood the attempts by Dagenham to double their lead; but they were still left with work to do with thirty minutes to play.

That workload was to double, the mountain getting a whole lot steeper, as five minutes later McMahon’s men did double their lead – made all the sweeter for the hosts by the man who headed it home - Paul McCallum.

My reaction to McCallum's goal and performance on the night

The striker answered his critics, topping off a great workman-like performance, with a bullet header he put it beyond McDonnell and you thought he’d put the result beyond doubt too.

There was little resistance to the Daggers advance as the Spitfires seemed to be in retreat, the next ten minutes following the goal – all Dagenham.

Such a dominant performance we hadn’t seen for a long time under McMahon; the attackers in red and blue still with the hunger and desire to build on the two-goal lead.

With Strevens not seeing his attackers match that desire; he replaced Baggie with Tom Blair in a bid for a late resurgence.

But, the team who was to come closest was, again the hosts, as Tom Smith’s volley was blocked to Sagaf outside the box – the latter firing over an ambitious effort.

Still firing away at the Spitfires, relentless, it was Balanta who looked to add insult to injury – his shot was deflected into the arms of McDonnell though.

That attacking intent was to go right up to the final whistle, signalling the end of a fantastic, dominant and relentless display from Daryl McMahon’s side. Here were my thoughts at full time:


Player Ratings:

It was a team performance to be proud of, pride restored, but now I’ll turn to individual displays (Your Average Fan Rating (AFR) is included – to see how we compare):

Elliot Justham – 7.0 (AFR 7.4)

Will Wright – 7.0 (AFR 6.8)

Kenny Clark – 8.0 (AFR 8.3)

Kenny was immense at the back, marshalling the backline and a clean sheet!

Joey Jones – 6.0 (AFR 6.5)

The lowest rating, I feel Jones just let aggression and frustrations get the better of him - therefore, hindering his performance.

Mauro Vilhete – 8.0 (AFR 7.7)

That's what he can do when he starts a game, a great performance - the attacking midfielder had a large influence on the game. 

Elliot Johnson – 7.0 (AFR 7.1)

Mo Sagaf – 8.0 (AFR 7.6)

Matt Robinson – 8.0 (AFR 8.0)

George Saunders – 8.0 (AFR 7.4)

Probably one I disagreed with your rating the most on, albeit by 0.6, I feel Saunders was a key driver in the attacking threat the Daggers posed throughout. 

Angelo Balanta – 8.0 (AFR 8.4)

Paul McCallum – 9.0 (AFR 9.1)

Now, that is the player we thought we'd bought last summer, an aerial presence up top - knocking down for players to run off him - holding the ball up. But, also that goal; THAT is what we need to see more of. Great work rate, great goal, top performance.

Tom Smith – 7.0 (AFR 6.4)

Saidou Khan – 6.0 (AFR 5.7)

So, play-offs… I won’t start that talk up again as the inconsistency we’ve shown this season – I just can’t see it! You never know, and I’ll be tuning in on Saturday to see if we can replicate Tuesday’s display on Saturday against Solihull. Let's enjoy this performance and result for now!

Until next time, thanks for reading,




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