the daggers voice
The season is rapidly heading towards it's business end and the race is on, with two sides competing for very different things - Dagenham and Maidstone - facing off under the floodlights at Victoria Road. The match is Daggers' third in a row at home having hosted Guiseley and Bromley in the last week-and-a-half.
The Season So Far
The campaign has gone very differently for these two sides. While the Daggers have been in the upper bracket of the division since August, Maidstone have been slowly falling towards the relegation zone; not through lack of talent, but through lack of a cutting edge that was no more on show when we beat them 1-0 away in November. A decent striker, and they could be much higher in the league. They sit 21st in the table, with just 9 wins and 7 losses, and a goal difference of -23.
Thirty points and nineteen places above sit Dagenham & Redbridge. Since relegation last season, manager John Still has overseen a summer overhaul and players like Okenabirhie, Hawkins and Whitely have made the difference. They have 20 wins already which is considerably more than they managed in 2015/16, including impressive hauls against Lincoln, Tranmere and Dover (twice) to name a few. However, at times they have proved to be fragile with a dreadful collapse in form towards the back end of 2016 which saw two 1-0 losses to lowly Torquay and a 5-0 thrashing by this Saturday's opponents Gateshead.
Six wins from seven in 2017 have propelled Dagenham back into the upper regions of the play-offs with wins over Braintree, North Ferriby, Tranmere, Chester, Southport and Bromley, and a solitary loss against Guiseley. During this time they have scored 19 goals to 6, putting them second in the form table.
2017 hasn't been overly great for Jay Saunders' side, although they are unbeaten in two matches. Their wins came against Torquay (2-1) and Chester (4-2) - both at home. They also managed draws away at relegation rivals York and Southport, but haven't won away since September! They have managed nine goals this year, five fewer than they have conceded, and have only kept one clean sheet.
The Reverse Fixture
Back in November, me and my uncle Spencer actually made the trip to Kent for a Tuesday night game which Daggers won 1-0. The match was very entertaining and closely-fought, with both sides spurning chances, and the Stones were a much tougher preposition than I had expected as they missed many openings. The game was settled by Guttridge's strike in the first half, with the highlights from Maidstone's youtube channel below:
There are still multiple absentees for the hosts as Whitely (suspension), Guttridge, Robinson, Pennell, Howell and Williams are all set to miss out.
This is a tough one and it all depends which Dagenham shows up. In the last few weeks we've played Southport and Guiseley, both struggling sides probably equivalent in ability. However, while Daggers were ruthless in smashing Southport, we were woeful against Guiseley and ended up losing. Maidstone are a team very similar to these two and we're not playing particularly well at the moment so, as pessimistic as it sounds, I'd probably take a draw although one would argue that clubs with Football League aspirations should be gliding past teams like Maidstone. I'm going to say, though, that Daggers will win 2-0 because we found a way to win against Bromley so can do it again!
With no game today, I thought it would be a perfect time to look back on our last two matches in the last week, at home to Guiseley and Bromley, which saw Daggers pick up three points from six.
DAGENHAM & REDBRIDGE V GUISELEY
Saturday 18th February 2017 - 3pm
Vanarama National League
Back in August, the Daggers' outclassed Guiseley in a match which got our season properly underway. Now in February, the return fixture takes place and also marks the annual 'Anti-Racism' festival as we look to go level on points with leaders' Lincoln City.
Guiseley sit 20th and the match will seem like a comprehensive home victory however it is imperative that we keep our focus and remain professional. We will be without Luke Guttridge although have made a loan signing which will hopefully bolster our side.
It is now five wins in a row for us and we seem to be getting better each week. With this game being followed by further home clashes with Bromley and Maidstone in the next two Tuesday's - there is a massive chance for us to be top by the end of the month.
Since 2017 has came our form has been scintillating. We have beaten Braintree, North Ferriby, Tranmere, Chester and Southport, and have only conceded three goals in the process. Guiseley are most similar to Southport and hopefully we defeat them. If we are to get promoted, then only a win is good enough.
Of course, this weekend marks the annual Daggers against Racism Day, which is a fantastic initiative and involves lots of exciting events around the club aswell as slashed prices. Last year, however, we lost to Yeovil but hopefully we do better this time as we tend to do well in this fixture.
PREDICTION: 4-0 Daggers with Hawkins x2, Whitely and JMD scoring.
SATURDAY 16TH FEBRUARY 2013, NPOWER LEAGUE TWO, MEMS PRIESTFIELD STADIUM
On 16th February 2013, me and Dad made our second visit to the MEMS Priestfield Stadium, home of Gillingham. I remember the day itself very well; on the journey we listened to non-league Luton toppling then-Premier-League side Norwich at Carrow Road then drove down the peaceful Kent roads.
It was a fantastic awayday, although probably not as good as our first visit because we lost, even though I did see Femi score for the first and only time in his Dagenham career. It was a game marred with controversy and to think it was four whole years ago - time really does fly!
So obviously I can't remember everything as I was 11. I remember the Daggers fans being in buoyant mood and Gillingham taking the lead dubiously. Like all fans, we hold grudges and for the rest of the game taunted the referee about his shocking decision. Then, after Femi had levelled, he managed to outdo himself by awarding a penalty that ultimately won the game for Gillingham.
So that was it, Daggers lost and the Gills went top, but it was still a fantastic day and the sight of Femi scoring was one I will never forget!
Thanks to Dad for taking me, 4 years ago!
THIS is becoming the type of season that you just have to drink up and soak in before it's all over. Another win, another load of goals and another three points in our favour for what seems like the millionth time this season. It might have only been Southport, but I could swear that we're getting better and better with every passing week.
This latest victory is the fifth is a row, the first time we have done that for over five years and also our longest winning run of the season. And, though it might have seemed straight-forward, we had to come from behind away from home to beat a side playing their first game under a new manager who they would be keen to impress, and also overcoming the 'Manager of the Month curse' - it was never going to be an easy task.
But we've been overcoming obstacles all season; our team play with no fear, wear their hearts on their sleeves and have the drive and determination to win games. It would have been easy to drop our heads against the Port, and Chester for that matter, but no. We are Daggers, and we plug away at teams until they cannot take it anymore. It's that commitment that is the key to winning promotion.
The scorers on Saturday were Okenabirhie, Whitely and Maguire-Drew alongside an own goal. I was not there on Saturday but the form of those three, not to mention Ollie Hawkins, has been instrumental to our season and I can picture it in my head.
This of course meant that I had to wait to see the goals n the highlights show but it was worth the wait. The equaliser was an excellent free-kick from JMD that curled into the top-corner before the own goal which wouldn't have gone in had it not been for Okenabirhie's teasing cross and our pressure infront of goal. By the time Whitely had bagged our fourth I had a beaming smile, as I knew it would've been a proper 'Daggers' performance.
And so we are next in action on Saturday with the visit of lowly Guiseley before Bromley visit on Tuesday. Lincoln are in FA Cup action so this means we have two chances to take advantages and potentially be top of the table by the time the Imps next play a league fixture.
Okenabirhie then scored a fantastic goal as he swerved an effort from an improbable angle right into the opposite top corner; an outstanding finish. By the time W
I am Joel Page, Dagenham & Redbridge FC fan. Here I will share some of my experiences.