Stockport County: Match Reaction
Un-be-lievable! What a victory against the title favourites, beating them in their own backyard on the opening day of the season - convincingly! To a man the team was simply incredible, after falling behind early on, Rooney celebrating in front of Daggers supporters clearly only fuelled McMahon's men further.
Will Wright coming up with the goods from a set-piece, followed by a dominant second-half display in which Robinson and Walker netted, oh - it was a proud day to be a dagger!
After being starved of away days for over 530 days, away supporters were served the joys of travelling the breadth of the country to back their teams once again – us Daggers were no exception. As you can see above, the fans were overjoyed to be back and it was the away section who were singing loudest as the first whistle sounded – the teams inseparable on the pitch however in the first knockings.
That was until the tenth minute where lethargic defending down the Daggers left allowed the ball to be whipped in and for Rooney to turn it home – celebrating in front of the away section – hoping he’d silenced travelling supporters.
However, immediately after going behind, McMahon’s men sought revenge and began to control possession and ultimately the game by the 15th minute. McCallum was the first to test Hinchcliffe after good interplay with Vilhete in the opposition half as the Hatters’ keeper denied him with a good save.
Although, the threat down the other end very much remained, a couple in red still not having grown into the game entirely.
But, the likes of Robinson, Wright and Balanta (to name but a few) who lead the charge, looked for that forward pass and as they brimmed with confidence – it was soon to rub off on those around them. Soon, the County crowd was to fall quiet again amid fear of losing their lead, the visitors with a real belief they were very much in the game.
For the next ten minutes leading up to the half-hour mark, the Daggers were dominant with attack after attack but the goal to pull them level remained elusive; efforts from Robinson and McCallum both just wide of the mark.
I felt around the half-hour mark, despite trailing, rather relaxed and content which I rarely have been watching this team over the last few years. This, simply because you felt it was only a matter of time before we would equalise and the attacking threat from the opposition was now nullified.
This translated to frustration for Stockport’s players on the other hand, though, unable to get near the ball with the away side knocking it around and winning nigh on every duel – prompting Collar to foul McCallum.
The corner count was mounting too, as the Daggers pushed and pushed for a breakthrough, Sam Ling having his well-struck effort deflected behind – the resultant corner then to be cleared. The blues, rocked by the Dagenham response, appeared visibly unnerved as Balanta pinched the ball back high up the pitch – Hinchcliffe off his line – the captain laid it off to McCallum whose half-way line effort just evaded the goalmouth.
There was soon to be a golden opportunity for the Daggers as we, in the away section, held our breath – set-piece specialist, Will Wright, stood over a free-kick on the edge of the box… Only for it to make the net bulge just seconds later, with the Daggers scoring at the perfect moment, five minutes before half time!
HT 1-1 | After conceding a soft goal, we were brilliant attacking with real intent. Some great moves and finally a goal as a reward - Will Wright 🙌— Digger•Dagger•Matchday (Keane Handley) (@Keanehandley1) August 21, 2021
Pick up where we left off second half and we’re in with a shout for all three points. Equally, they score and it could slip away! pic.twitter.com/crdoIU9QU3
Who was quickest out of the blocks second-half was pivotal, the three points there for the taking, Dagenham having had the better of it for most of the first ’45.
They vitally picked up from exactly where they left off and attacked with intent, but there was a scare on 52 minutes. Angelo Balanta looked through on goal, then pulled and suddenly fell flat on the floor – initially as though he’d collapsed.
Though play continued, causing uproar on the Daggers bench as Paul McCallum and the County ‘keeper summoned the physios – thankfully, it was soon made clear that Balanta had just pulled a muscle badly and was able to walk (assisted) down the tunnel.
Josh Walker was to be introduced in his place and what an introduction to the supporters on his debut as within 120 seconds of coming on – he’d found the back of the net, he’d put the Daggers in front!
The away fans sent into sheer ecstasy, the passion was radiated around that corner of Edgeley Park as the players raced over to the Dagenham supporters in celebration.
The calm and composed finish was great to see as clinical finishing was an issue at this stage last season, but now it appears to not be much of a problem.
Then, before we were able to recover celebrating the second, persistent pressure on the Stockport back-line caused it to break once again as Will Wright’s delivery was met by Matt Robinson – beating Hinchcliffe.
The deal nearly sealed with half an hour to play, it was set to be a dream start for McMahon’s men and us Daggers supporters. Simultaneously singing ‘We are staying up’ and ‘We’re gonna win the league, I think we scarcely knew just what to make of it – defeating the title favourites on the opening day in their own backyard!
There was still around 30 minutes to play, but the life had been sucked out of Simon Rusk’s side as it had the disappointed Edgeley Park – deflated, they couldn’t see a way back. Though they persisted with the dwindling belief they could get back into it somehow, but the incoherent nature of their play made that task a struggle.
Contrastingly, the Dagenham side were first for everything and backing each other up constantly – as a team – ensuring they would see this game out.
Naturally, the away side dropped back, making for a nervous ten minutes where jovial chants from a fairly assured traveling Dagenham support was punctuated with the odd heart in mouth moment – as the crosses came into the Daggers box.
Despite Hatters fans prematurely heading for the exits, us Daggers weren’t as certain of the result and I think that is the mindset this team is hoping to change. One where we aren’t looking over our shoulders – negatively, but more looking forwards with a positivity and assurance in our own capabilities.
The likes of Wright and Reynolds cleared their lines superbly, ultimately seeing the Daggers over the line. The final whistle sounding had confirmed a fantastic win which will live long in the memory of those in attendance, one of those special away days to savour.
Wasn’t long ago that @willwrightt had to fight for a contract. Proper lesson in perseverance: captain; scored a screamer; solid all day and surely one of the first names on the team sheet now….and now has a chant— Tom Bailey (@thecloseone) August 22, 2021
Fair play mate 👏👏👏
I'll leave it there, as your first match round-up of the season, there is lots to be excited about with this team but we must continue that level of performance into an action-packed bank holiday weekend where both Bromley and Barnet await!
Thanks for reading,