the daggers voice
AFTER an agonising 2-week wait without a game, the Daggers are back in action today when they travel to the Wirral to face off with promotion contenders Tranmere Rovers infront of what will be biggest league attendance so far.
Sadly I am not there today which is disappointing considering the severity of the fixture, however I did travel to Prenton Park in 2015 which was one of the best weekends I've ever had. Me and Nan travelled up to Liverpool the day prior, took in the glorious sights and spine-tingling experiences that the city had to offer and then - on the Saturday - visited both Liverpool and Everton FC before watching Daggers triumph 3-2 in the afternoon. But two years on and things have changed, both teams have been relegated and this is now a National League fixture.
It might only be January, but this game will be a defining one in our season. We have done well against the teams around us this season in general, but beating a team like Tranmere in their own backyard having not played a fixture for 2 weeks will be a huge test of character that hopefully we pass. Tranmere have had a similar situation having not played for over a week with their game at Woking last week falling to the weather just as ours did.
In October I watched us play Tranmere in a televised BT Sport game. It ended 0-0 but wasn't short of excitement. We matched them and in the end were mightily unlucky not to win, but then again so were Tranmere. Today I'm going for a 2-2 draw, although leaving out Maguire-Drew and Doe from the starting lineup is questionable. The Daggers have made three changes.
This game really could go either way but hopefully the Daggers can get three points!
Saturday's clash with Bromley was disappointingly postponed just three hours before kick-off due to a frozen pitch. Most of the surface was considered fine but after an inspection by the referee and both sets of staff it was one section of the pitch near the Carling Stand that was deemed unplayable. A new date will be set for the fixture.
Rather than writing a match report as I expected and hoped having not produced one since our last game, which while only 2 weeks ago seems like an eternity, I had to write this. And, like many others, I was more than ready to leave for Saturday's game, before the dreadful news filtered through my Twitter feed.
This week has been gearing up to yesterday's game that never was and saw the Daggers make two signings; one permanent and one on loan.
There has also been no further information on the potential departure of key striker Oliver Hawkins as we approach the end of the Transfer Window.
On Monday the Daggers announced their annual 'Daggers against Racism Day', which this year will take place on Saturday 13th February for the fixture against Guiseley. The event is always exciting and usually generates a significantly larger-than-usual crowd with ridiculously cheap prices. Hopefully this year is no different and creates a bumper atmosphere. Last year saw a steel drum performance outside the ground but unfortunately that was as exciting as the day got....as we slumped to a worrying 1-0 defeat to fellow strugglers Yeovil Town.
The rest of the week was fairly uneventful until Friday when Daggers announced a double signing. The first addition was Jake Howells, who Daggers were rumoured to be signing around a week previously. Howells, who played under John Still under Luton, chipped in with many goals enroute to the Hatters winning the title and joins the Daggers on an 18-month contract having been released by Eastleigh. The other signing is the loan capture of Jake Sheppard from Reading until the end of the season. The Royals' defender is yet to make a first-team appearance for his parent club and bolsters a Daggers defence which has been hit with injury all season. Hopefully he can follow in the footsteps of Dom Hyam, another Reading loanee who last season flourished under Still.
There was to be more good news on the same day as Daggers issued a Consortium Update on the website. The statement explained how the Full & Life Members had 'overwhelmingly' approved Glyn Hopkin's Consortium which planned to invest 1.3 million. Glyn is a successful businessman with strong connections to the club and, while the process will take months to complete, it's fantastic that it appears to have finally reached a conclusion.
So the next day was matchday as Daggers prepared to host Bromley after a 7-week break. However, the match was disastrously postponed due to a frozen pitch which after being inspected by the referee and both sets of staff uncovered a section of the surface by the Carling Stand that was deemed unplayable. The match was called off under three hours before kick-off. No new date has been set for the fixture.
We're supposed to be away to Tranmere on Saturday in what is a huge match. And to read the latest around the club next week, read Daggers Weekly on Sunday 29th January.
Will a fresher, revitalised Daggers claim three points?
So after winning our last two games and keeping a clean sheet in both it finally seems that the Daggers have overcome their little blip and are returning to the form that saw us fly high in the opening weeks of the season.
Granted, those wins might have only been against Braintree and North Ferriby which isn't really a test of our promotion credentials, however with Fejiri Okenabirhie and Craig Robson coming back from injury our side will only get stronger.
And this weekend the Daggers are back at Viccy Road to face local rivals Bromley in a 3pm kick-off. In the return metting in September, John Still's side triumphed 3-1 to stay top of the league. But four months on, we have slipped to fourth after a terrible run that in particular saw our home form suffer.
Our visitors are managed by Neil Smith and have lost their last three games, including an FA Trophy exit to Welling United. They sit 13th and their side contains a lot of familiar faces to Daggers fans.......
Bradley Goldberg, Adam Cunnington, Blair Turgott, Louis Dennis and George Porter all used to play for the Daggers, with Turgott also training with us in pre-season. However, Bromley's captain - Rob Swaine - has left to join Billericay, leaving his old side very few in numbers. The fact that the Ravens are plagued with injury will come as a big boost to the Daggers.
And yesterday, Friday 20th January, both teams announced transfers to bolster their team options. Alan Dunne has joined after leaving Leyton Orient, and Brandon Hanlan & Aaron Hayden have also joined them on loan from Charlton and Wolves respectively.
Meanwhile, the Daggers have signed Jake Howells on a permanent transfer and Reading youth defender Jake Sheppard on loan.
Lincoln City. Tranmere Rovers. Forest Green Rovers. Dagenham & Redbridge. Barrow. Dover Athletic. And even a few more. All top teams, and all competing for the two coveted places in the Football League next season which they will all be desperate to fulfil. And just nine points separate those six teams in one of the tightest seasons you could imagine.
We've seen this season how anybody can beat anybody and there have already been so many twists and turns; the Daggers led after the first fixture and for a few weeks in September, before Forest Green managed to take control and established an incredible 13-point lead at one point. But Lincoln City and Tranmere have since began to constantly overtake eachother as both Forest Green and Daggers both seemed to slip away. Then you have Barrow who have been around the play-offs for almost the entire season as have Dover Athletic. So with around 20 games remaining, it really is all to play for...
What's been integral to these sides' supremacy is the form of some key players. Dover boast the league's top scorer in Ricky Miller and Barrow have Byron Harrison. Lincoln City and Tranmere also have a whole host of talented players. But what I really like to see is that Dover are showing real ambition by keeping Miller despite offers from multiple FL clubs trying to tempt him away. It's a real statement of intent from the aspirational Whites who know that their chances of going up depend on Miller.
So at the moment Lincoln lead the way aswell as making the 4th round of the FA Cup and last sixteen of the Trophy which puts them in pole position, ahead of Tranmere, then Forest Green, then Daggers, then Dover, who have to play the Imps at Sincil Bank on Friday night. At the moment it's so hard to call but I think that Lincoln will be the Champions, making for a play-off competition consisting of Tranmere, FGR, us and Dover. But things can change so easily in this league and Macclesfield and Aldershot could easily make the play-offs too.
Let battle commence........
There is a full fixturelist in the Vanarama National League this weekend including some great matchups. League leaders Lincoln face fellow promotion hopefuls Dover at Sincil Bank in Friday's televised BT Sport fixture. Forest Green and Tranmere both face fellow strugglers Braintree and Woking home and away respectively and the Daggers entertain mid-table Bromley at Victoria Road. Other key games include Chester v Wrexham, Sutton v Eastleigh and York v Barrow. Here, I predict the outcomes of all these matches including those not mentioned.
Lincoln City v Dover Athletic (2-1)
Chester v Wrexham AFC (2-0)
Dagenham v Bromley (3-0)
Forest Green v Braintree Town (3-1)
Gateshead v Aldershot Town (1-1)
Macclesfield Town v Guiseley (1-0)
Maidstone v Torquay United (1-2)
Southport v North Ferriby (0-0)
Sutton United v Eastleigh (0-1)
Woking v Tranmere Rovers (0-3)
York City v Barrow (0-2)
I am Joel Page, Dagenham & Redbridge FC fan. Here I will share some of my experiences.