the daggers voice
York never wanted their National League stint to last long, but I'm sure this is not how they would've imagined it ending. They were relegated, alongside Braintree Town, and an uncertain few years await for the Minstermen.
A tense final day in non-league's top tier saw five teams battle it out to beat the dreaded drop. It was joy for Guiseley and Torquay who both secured a dramatic survival, while York and Braintree will face the heartbreak of relegation as their season ended tearfully. Aldershot Town won 2-0 to book their spot in the playoffs alongside Tranmere, Forest Green and Dagenham, who all fielded considerably weaker teams in preparation for the end-of-season lottery.
It has been a terrible season for York City and they knew that not even a victory against Forest Green Rovers may not have proved enough to save them in a match live on BT Sport. The determined Minstermen were visibly fired up and, infront of a record Bootham Crescent attendance, dominated the opening stages. However, despite agonisingly hitting the bar twice in the opening ten minutes, the clinical visitors took the lead when Bugiel curled home from the edge-of-the-box after a swift counter-attack. Deflated but not down, York continued to press and eventually they got their response when Parkin found the net. All of a sudden the ground were roaring their support louder than ever and started to believe again. For less than a minute. Because that's all it took for Forest Green to retake the lead, and Bugiel again struck a damning nail into the coffin, and hearts, of the home side. It was back to square one for the hosts and they did draw level for a second time but news of Guiseley's injury-time equaliser began to filter through and, although York tried in vain to find a winner in stoppage time, the final whistle confirmed that they will be playing National League North football in August.
It's hard not to feel sorry for York, who just a few years ago were in League One. It seemed as though they were going to survive after a huge upturn in form under Gary Mills in 2017, but in recent weeks it has seemingly deserted them. And, against Forest Green, they comfortably controlled the game but weren't sharp or clinical enough, and ultimately that is why they deserve to go down. The future, indeed, is very uncertain for the Minstermen, as one fan stated in the Dagenham away programme in late-March that their future 'hinges' on them staying up and getting their new stadium built, so there could be more dark days ahead for the troubled club. Meanwhile, Forest Green manager Mark Cooper, who rested Doidge and Woolery for the match, said that the nervy and pressurising atmosphere is perfect preparation for the playoffs, where they will travel to Dagenham on Thursday before hosting the return leg on Sunday.
From despair to delight now, as Guiseley hosted Solihull Moors at Nethermoor Park. Last year they managed to pull off an unbelievable 'Great Escape', but lightning couldn't strike twice.........could it? Well they managed to do it again, but they left it late, as Danny Lowe headed home in the dying embers of the game to spark jubilant scenes and keep the Lions up at the expense of a devastated York. It certainly looked as though they were crashing out of the division, though, as Solihull firstly missed a penalty before then taking the lead to silence the crowd. Manager Adam Lockwood said that he was very disappointed by his side's nervy display, but none of that mattered as, with time desperately running out and the fans seemingly bracing themselves for relegation, Lowe was the hero. The players celebrated in a huddle after the final whistle, and they will be playing National League football once again next campaign.
Aldershot and Braintree met at the EBB Stadium with both needing a result for very contrasting reasons; the Shots knew at least a point would secure themselves a play-off spot, while Braintree needed to win to stay up. Sadly the hosts' just had too much for the Iron, with quick-fire goals from Evans and Mensah sending them down. The Shots now face Tranmere in the play-off first leg on Wednesday while Braintree return to the National League south just a year after reaching the play-offs. It was a superb effort from Hakan Heyrettin, yet it wasn't enough.
Just a few weeks ago Torquay were many people's favourites to go down, but after some vital victories fate was very much in their hands as they hosted doomed North Ferriby at Plainmoor. And the spirited Gulls produced a determined victory to stave off the drop as Verma and Anderson found the net to save Kevin Nicholson's men.
Woking were pretty much safe yet were not leaving anything to fate at Dagenham, whose squad featured nine changes and was nearly unrecognisable. The noisy away fans backed their team throughout as they made a lighting start and took the lead in the twelfth minute through a deflected free-kick. The Daggers offered very little throughout but did manage to somehow grab an equaliser late on as Heard profited from similar luck to find the net. Garry Hill went into the crowd after the final whistle as Woking celebrated their survival, while Dagenham's attention remains firmly on Forest Green.
With both sides already confirmed to be exiting the division in very different ways come the start of next year, Southport and Lincoln could relax with the pressure off. Already-relegated Port had claimed the scalp of Forest Green in previous weeks and were looking to defeat another top club at Haig Avenue. Lincoln's promotion party, though, was in full swing and, backed by a majority of over 2000 fans, the Champions took the lead through Lee Angol. The hosts, though, were to have their final hurrah as a National League club as they found a late leveller, but they now face up to life in the NL North.
Dover might've missed the playoffs, but it has been another excellent season for them, and they travelled to Barrow, a side whose playoff hopes had been dispelled in recent weeks. And once again, Ricky Miller stole the show, taking his tally to a staggering 40 goals for the season with yet another hat-trick. Williams and Diarra bagged for the hosts, who like Dover will be looking to build on their respectable finish for next season.
Elsewhere, Boreham Wood secured a top-half finish with a 2-0 success at Chester, while Gateshead suffered a two-goal home loss to Bromley thanks to Louis Dennis, Eastleigh and Wrexham played out a one-all draw, a youthful Tranmere side impressively defeated Maidstone 1-0 and Macclesfield v Sutton ended goalless.
The team with the division's worst away record, Sutton United, are the visitors to Victoria Road on Easter Monday as Daggers' seek a third consecutive victory that, combined with results elsewhere, could confirm them a spot in the end-of-season playoffs.
Last Meeting - Sutton Utd 1 Dagenham 0
The Daggers made the short trip to Sutton United on Monday 29th August in good spirits having destroyed Wrexham infront of the TV cameras just two days earlier. Sutton, meanwhile, made made a steady start to life in the National League and started brightly on the 3G pitch. The away fans were in brilliant voice but were soon silenced by the hosts, who had made a much better start and took the lead when Hudson-Odoi turned the ball in at the far post. That would prove to be the only goal of the game but thankfully the result would not impact the Daggers, while the U's would maintain excellent home form all season.
Daggers produced an admirably confident and professional performance on Good Friday to defeat Boreham Wood, a side with decent home form who had humbled teams such as Dover, Forest Green and Lincoln already at Meadow Park. With players such as Hawkins and Okenabirhie out injured, the result was huge for us and goes a long way to securing a playoff spot.
I guess what I found most impressive with our performance is the way we showed tremendous character to come from one down, just as we did at Macclesfield. In past seasons or even months, when we went behind that would be pretty much game over, however against Wood I wasn't even worried. That was because I knew that the spirit, determination and composure in the team defies it's inexperience and youthful age and, alas, we won the game comfortably.
Also, I thought that our teamwork and passing was just superb. The players seemed to know exactly where everybody else was and knew their roles, applying them perfectly. It's a testament to how John Still has got us gelling this season; everything has gone so right, you only have to look at York City to see how relegation can practically destroy a team. But we now have a team to be proud of and since August watching them has been a pleasure, not a chore.
In terms of stand-out performers, it's hard to pinpoint any single player because, as I've said, they were all good. However, Whitely - as always - was just superb and was at the heart of everything, deservedly capping the game with the third goal which was a smart finish. Paul Benson was fantastic and is really starting to bring something new to the team. His experience yesterday was huge and showed in the way he skilfully dragged defenders out and made off-the-ball runs. The finishes were very decent goals and, if anyone deserved them, it was him. I guess Benno and a play-off-push just go hand in hand!
I could continue to go on about players like Maguire-Drew, Guttridge and Boucaud who too were excellent, but the defenders deserve extra plaudits for the way they limited Boreham Wood to virtually nothing. Wood have one of the best attacks in the league and, let's not forget, smashed five past Dover just last month. Robson cleared everything that came to him and Williams also offers an extra boost in attack with his tremendous crosses, one of which assisted the third goal.
So all in all, a very good and dominant performance from the Daggers. If we were in a play-off race and were under pressure to win yesterday - then you could've fooled me.
The Daggers are back in action today when they travel to Meadow Park where they face Boreham Wood in the first instalment of the back-to-back Easter schedule.
It seems like a very winnable game for Dagenham, however Wood are a very decent side and have humbled many top sides this season. The play-off race is heating up so with all the pressure on John Still's side - can they deliver?
Last Meeting - Daggers 0 Boreham Wood 2
Boreham Wood became the first team to triumph at Victoria Road after producing one of the best performances I have seen this season - and we couldn't even use injuries as an excuse! I was expecting nothing less of a home win however I was amazed at how good BW were especially as they were tipped for relegation at the start of the campaign. They took the lead through prolific striker Morgan Ferrier and late on Davis sealed a shock victory.
I am Joel Page, Dagenham & Redbridge FC fan. Here I will share some of my experiences.