the daggers voice
We might have ultimately been beaten today, but I'm still incredibly proud of my team.
To play with ten men for most of the game, and even then to hold out until the very dying seconds, is difficult enough. But to do it while still going for it, even looking the better side at times, really deserves credit.
It was a scrappy start, and things were really looking bleak when Kevin Lokko received his marching orders for a reckless challenge. However, whereas many would crumble, the Daggers rose to the challenge and battled incredibly well in the second half.
Devastatingly, though, we couldn't hold on and, in the dying seconds, an own goal meant that our battling, our desire, our efforts - it all counted for nothing. It really has been a frustrating month, and that heartbreaking moment just compounds the misery.
I thought that you couldn't really tell that we had ten men, as everybody worked hard. Unfortunately, though, working hard doesn't earn you points. And, at the minute, we've got nothing to show for our work-rate and chances.
Obviously the game wasn't without controversy, and as usual the referee was at the centre of it all. The red card I thought was justified, you can have no complaints about that, but I didn't think it was any worse than the foul which the Woking player committed against us a couple of weeks ago.
It's the smugness and arrogance of the referee that annoyed me though. As the fans vented their frustrations at half time, one was shouting at the referee, and his response was to laugh and almost mock us. No wonder people ridicule refs in this league.
And, although I haven't seen a replay, I'm sure that one of our offside goals should've stood. It's all fine margins and could've changed the game, but it was all avoidable.
I'm not saying that we'd have definitely picked up something, but we'd have had a much better chance had it not been for the red card. You'd think that after five yellow cards, Lokko would be more composed and calm, but obviously not. There was no danger and it was totally needless, but I'm sure nobody regrets it as much as Kevin himself. I really don't understand why we clapped him off either.
Our main threat came from Ferrier once again. Wrexham have the best defence in the league, and for the record they performed very well in that department today, but even they struggled to handle Morgan. But, with Corey and Cheek not at full form/fitness, he doesn't have much to work with, and that perhaps explains why we haven't scored in four successive games.
Though we lost in the end, there were a lot of positives we can take into our midweek game, which suddenly seems huge. We face league leaders Macclesfield at Victoria Road in what will be a very difficult game but with the league being so tight, a win will do wonders for us.
Hopefully we can bounce back, it's long overdue. It might be a hard spell for us at the moment, but I'm sure it's only a blip and we'll regain our early-season form very soon.
One of my favourite all-time Dagenham memories came in 2016, when we - little Dagenham & Redbridge - visited Everton in a day which made me realise just how special the FA Cup is. It was an incredible experience, and I speak on behalf of all Daggers when I say that I hope we can enjoy a similar day again in the future.
But not this year. There will be no Everton away, no dream, money-spinning cup tie in the third round of the FA Cup. We won't be going to a big Premier League or Championship club. We won't even be going to Gillingham.
Now that we're a non-league club, a position which is still somewhat difficult to accept, the prospect of progressing in the FA Cup is even more important. Obviously I'm not saying that you're guaranteed a good tie in any round, but even by getting to round one and getting to Gillingham would be a good day for the club. It would give us the chance to prove our genuine promotion credentials against a proven Football League side.
Instead, we were defeated by Orient. Of all clubs, it had to be that lot. I had the feeling that after how wasteful we were in the home game that we could lose the replay. As it proved, a solitary Macauley Bonne goal dumped us out and added to our increasing frustration.
Obviously there isn't too much shame in losing to Leyton Orient, although it infuriates us supporters determined to earn bragging rights, we really should be winning the tie. When you take into account that we're the league's top scorers, playing 120 minutes against a bottom-half team, there's no excuse for not finding the net.
Of course, we missed an absolute hatful of chances, but that's not surprising. Exactly the same happened in the league games at Woking and Hartlepool. If it's just one game then you can dismiss it as a rare bad day at the office for the strikers, but this keeps happening recently, and it's a big concern. We haven't won away since the first week of the season, and the defence is really poor.
This is a defence that has still improved since the beginning of the season. And, to the team's credit, it has significantly improved in general. Sometimes, though, when the attack just isn't doing it, you can't expect the defence to bail you out.
It really is an amazing contrast to the start of the season. We were averaging three goals a game and blowing teams away, now we've scored once in four games. Now, we are scraping points against Solihull and Torquay. Is this 'a sign of Champions' - or is it an underperforming team whose previous performances were simply good form?
People will say after the Orient loss that we can now focus on the league but, for me, that's really clutching at straws. Lincoln managed to balance an incredible run in multiple cup competitions last year with the league title, and despite the jam-packed schedule, they were always consistent.
There's not a single person who would go to Gillingham and say that they'd much rather we focused on getting wins against teams like Guiseley. Although league was priority, there was nobody in the away end at Goodison Park who would've genuinely wanted us to be playing the initially scheduled fixture at home to Wycombe. It's a myth.
But no amount of moaning, which I acknowledge I done plenty of on Tuesday night, will change the outcome. The game is done, we move on, and now the focus is Saturday's home game against Wrexham, swiftly followed by a midweek visit of Macclesfield.
Two tough games, but keep the faith.
The draw for the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup took place today. Of course, of all the teams involved, we had to be drawn against Leyton Orient!
Dagenham & Redbridge v Torquay United | Vanarama National League | Saturday 30th September 2017
As another eventful month drew to a close, we faced a Torquay side who sat rock-bottom with no victories from their twelve fixtures so far. Things were looking bleak for the Gulls, who turned to Gary Owers in search of a change in fortunes. We had just slumped to a draw at Solihull Moors the week prior and so needed a confidence boost, but as we would soon discover, Torquay proved much harder than I thought.
With no midweek game, attentions had quickly turned to this Saturday afternoon encounter, which many, me included, had pinpointed as a clear home win. I have known Daggers long enough to know that we never do things the easy way, of course, but our supreme home form, coupled with the Gulls' dreadful start to the season, only indicated one thing. However, when they signed Rhys Murphy, an old foe who had scored on every game against us since leaving, I suddenly became less confident although, on the day, my excitement began to grow. This would be a chance to bounce back from a disappointing result in style and, considering how tight the league had proved to be, it was also a chance to potentially leap a number of places in the division. Gradually, time passed and soon I was leaving for another game. It had been two weeks since my last, but I'd only missed three this season. After looking through the rest of the National League fixtures, I eventually left at around 1pm, embarking on a short tube journey from Becontree to Dagenham East before a five minute walk. Soon I was at the ground and the welcome sign greeted me, though I do miss the Football League signposting. I headed straight for the clubhouse and, after handing over £3 for a programme, I sat down and read it as the Huddersfield-Spurs game went on behind me. I waited for Nan, accompanying me for her third game of the season, and she came at around half one. Half an hour later and it was time to enter the ground; feeling slightly unwell, I opted not to eat but instead guided us towards near the top of the TBS. I always vowed that I'd never leave my spot in the terrace but, after just a few experiences in the away stand, I won't look back. Warm ups followed and the stadium began to fill up with familiar faces before the countdown to kick-off duly began and, soon after, the teams were striding onto the pitch; Daggers in their red and blue home kit, Torquay sporting a white/grey Nike template kit. The mood inside the ground was good with both sets of fans creating a good noise. Torquay had brought a very reasonable number of fans which, considering the fortunes of their team, was very good support. These are the fans who follow their team week in week out and who don't deserve to suffer the way they are. The Daggers had started with captain Scott Doe back in defence at the expense of Lokko, as Bloomfield also kept his place upfront despite Romain being on the bench. Most of the games at Victoria Road have been thrilling this year, but it struggled to get going this afternoon. Dagenham were being frustrated by a surprisingly-not-terrible Torquay team. Corey Whitely was doing his best to create something but without the usual menace of Ferrier and runs of Cheek, was struggling. Torquay certainly didn't look like a side as poor as the league table suggests. In the end, they wasted the best opportunity of the half, somehow blazing over from an easily-scorable position, which perhaps indicates why they are so low. The Daggers also wasted opportunities but didn't look their usual fluent selves and, by the time the half-time whistle relieved us all of our boredom, we had only managed a couple of decent opportunities. Most of the crowd dispersed at the intervals and I discussed the underwhelming display I had just seen, hoping things would improve. The teams came out for the second half. Come on Dagenham! We really needed three points. But as the half wore on, it looked less and less likely. Time was wearing on, and Torquay infact were looking the better side. But then, just as all was lost, we were handed a lifeline. PENALTY! - it generated the biggest cheer of a miserable afternoon, and for the second week in a row we had the chance to bag a stoppage time goal. Up stepped Fejiri Okenabirhie...........I could barely look......he ran up and.............YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! It was a brilliant moment, The Daggers had won, and in the most dramatic way. We didn't play well, but again we escaped. I guess the Daggers just never give up! I looked at the Torquay fans and they looked absolutely heartbroken, it mustn't be easy for them, but that's life as a football fan. The highs and the lows. It just happened that, this week, it ended with a high. And so I went home happy, and now I look forward to my next game, away at Woking next Saturday. Come on boys!
I am Joel Page, Dagenham & Redbridge FC fan. Here I will share some of my experiences.