the daggers voice
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.
As we enter the final two months of the season, the promotion race is really heating up and today 7th plays 3rd with the league's most in-form team facing the side with the best away record in the division in the North East.
Gateshead have won four of their last six games while drawing the other two and scoring 13 in the process. The Daggers, meanwhile, have won six of their eight games in 2017 and sit fourth in the table, but this disguises their poor recent form as they suffered home losses to lowly Guiseley and Maidstone.
The Daggers suffered their heaviest defeat in five years in November as the Heed ran riot with three goals in five second half minutes. The Daggers had multiple first-team players injured and this would begin a horrible end to 2016, with the hosts only conceding three goals at home all season prior to this mauling.
The Daggers make two changes from the side that got defeated by Maidstone on Tuesday. Mark Cousins is replaced by Justham who sits behind a defensive unit consisting of Widdowson, Doe, Robson and Donnellan. In midfield Guttridge returns from injury and plays alongside wingers Sheppard and Okenabirhie, and Boucaud and Raymond in the centre, while Hawkins is the lone striker. Surprisingly, Jordan Maguire-Drew starts on the bench.
The Gateshead XI is this: Montgomery, Bolton, G Smith, M Smith, Hogan, Fyfield, York, Johnson, Burrow, Mafuta and McLoughlin.
MATCH PREDICTION - Sadly, my head says 3-1 Gateshead however we have to stay positive so I am going with my heart and saying Daggers will win 2-0 with Guttridge and Hawkins scoring.
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.
NOT many teams have got one over on Daggers this season, but when Chester smashed us on the second matchday of the season, it hit hard. For we had just started our first campaign back in non-league in just under a decade very well, topping the table until the Blues sent us crashing back down to earth with a hefty blow.
Fast forward six months and, while the result hasn't had any impact on where we find ourselves at the current moment, it was one that could've hampered our season badly had we not a spirited, committed bunch of players, something which we longed for when it mattered last year. And this Saturday, when Chester come to Victoria Road, John Still's side will be looking to gain revenge.
The return of some key players has contributed to a dramatic upturn in form for Dagenham who are now back fighting for promotion after a disastrous spell at the end of 2016 almost saw those hopes swiftly banished. By many, the Daggers were written off, their resolute, free-flowing style replaced with the image of us conceding five v Gateshead, 4 v Barrow, 4 v Solihull and losing twice to lowly Torquay, and being well and truly humiliated by Worthing.
But now, it's all to play for again as the beginning of a big month starts with the visit of Chester. Managed by Jon McCarthy, the Northern outfit's season has been that of midtable obscurity. They sit 10th though, only nine points away from the playoffs and - having already smashed the Daggers and Dover already - will be very hard to break down.
It will be a case of happy homecoming for us, as we haven't had a home game since 2nd January as our game with Bromley a fortnight ago was postponed. The wait has been agonising, but it will be all the more glorious when we play, or IF we play, on Saturday.
Last Saturday was an amazing result for us as we became only the third team to win at Prenton Park since the beginning of the season. It continued our fantastic record against the teams around us, which is why I'm confident if we make the playoffs, but unfortunately our record against mid-table teams doesn't match. And who do we play this weekend? A mid-table team, which makes it all the harder to call.
But, with players like Maguire-Drew, Okenabirhie, Hawkins and Whitely all in our side, I'm never too worried about us losing. As long as we FEED THE HAWK!
COME ON YOU DAGGERS!!!!!!
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.
The Daggers moved back into the play-off places on Monday and have a chance to take further advantage today when they travel to the EON Visual Media Stadium to face second-bottom North Ferriby United.
I'd expect Daggers to gain the three points today as Ferriby, managed by Steve Housham, have only scored 14 goals all season - the same as Daggers striker Ollie Hawkins!
That said though, North Ferriby aren't that bad a team. When we played them in September, we won comfortably 2-0 to move into 1st place in the table, but the Villagers had their moments and if we go there with a complaicent attitude we will be beaten.
With Lincoln and Barrow not in league action, today is the prefect chance to capitalise and move into 3rd, providing Forest Green drop points against Bromley.
The Daggers will be without Andre Boucaud, who is on international duty, meaning Scott Heard could fill in. I think that Daggers will just have too much for the Villagers and am going for a 3-0 win, even though Ferriby are quite good defensively.
Finally, good luck to Sutton United, Barrow, Eastleigh and Lincoln City in the FA Cup third round today. It's almost a year to the day since we played Everton at Goodison Park in the same competition, now we're playing in a tiny village in Hull!
There's two weeks until our next game after this so hopefully John Still's boys can put ourselves in good stead for that home game against Bromley.
COME ON YOU DAGGERS!
I am Joel Page, Dagenham & Redbridge FC fan. Here I will share some of my experiences.