the daggers voice
We're pretty much at the halfway stage of the campaign and I must say I'm fairly satisfied so far. As you'd expect, there has been ups and downs, but ultimately we are around where we expect to be come the end of April. In an increasingly-tight league it's small margins that could be the difference between promotion or not, and thankfully, we have players who can change games in an instant. As a team we surely rank as one of the best, but how does that compare to the individual talent amongst our ranks?
02. BEN NUNN (6/10): Much was expected from right-back Nunn but he has slowly found himself becoming less and less favoured due to the form of Sam Ling. From what I have seen, he looks like a good signing, with a good cross and pass on him, but needs to take his chances in the team, or risk being permanently consigned to the reserves.
03. LUKE PENNELL (6/10): Just as Pennell seemed to be putting a good run together in the side, he was struck by another injury. He done very well to recover from his last injury and build up fitness, and I feel that he will improve with every game. Although he often has a tendency to drift into the middle of the pitch he's genuinely a good player, and there is hopefully more to come from him.
04. SCOTT DOE (7/10): As reliable as ever, but also prone to the occasional error. Despite injuries towards the start of the season, Doe has done well to not only come into the side, but establish himself as a mainstay. He is also very vocal and passionate on the pitch, and a threat at corners, which is exactly what you'd expect from your captain.
05. CRAIG ROBSON (8/10): If it wasn't for Doe, I'd want this guy to have the armband. Robson is commanding, powerful and solid; he has without a doubt been our best defender this season, although when required he can do a job in midfield. Another obscure John Still find and it's remarkable to think that he was playing for Bognor Regis just two seasons ago.
06. MATT ROBINSON (6/10): Matt Robinson is a hard-working midfielder who can feel hard done by this season. He hasn't really done much wrong in all fairness and seems to work well with Boucaud, but has seen game time limited, despite being a prominent figure last season. This is a testament to the quality within our side, but sooner or later Robinson deserves a chance to impress.
07. LUKE HOWELL (6.5/10): Often underrated, Howell has only begun to show his quality in recent weeks with two goals in November. Earlier in the season it was easy to forget Howell was even a Dagenham player but, to his credit, he has forced his way into the lineup - even impressing on the left recently - and with an eye for goal can certainly make an impact in the future. I'm optimistic for him.
08. CHARLEE ADAMS (6/10): Might as well copy and paste what I said about Robinson. There was much hype about Adams when he signed but, even though he hasn't been maybe as impressive as we hoped, it's hard to see what he's really done wrong. His appearances have delivered satisfactory if unspectacular performances, but he'll need to kick on in the future to establish himself as a regular.
09. CHIKE KANDI (6/10): Kandi is a player who really excites me, and I've been impressed every time I watched him. Plucked from relative obscurity, he adds even more quality to our attack, but hasn't been helped by an almost instant injury which halted his progress. With blistering pace and at the age of just 21, he is a good prospect, but needs gametime to prove himself, and it's still quite early to judge him.
10. MORGAN FERRIER (9/10): You only need to listen to the fans on a matchday to tell how adored Ferrier is at the club, and considering he's only been here since August, that's some achievement. A definite candidate for National League Signing of the Season, he can score goals, assist goals and hold the ball up brilliantly; I pray we hang onto this exciting striker, but he could definitely play at a higher level.
11. FEJIRI OKENABIRHIE (6/10): On his day, Okenabirhie can be unstoppable but, unfortunately, his 'days' are becoming less and less regular. He looks a shadow of his former self, which is so frustrating because everybody knows what he's capable of. As a result, he's found himself a regular on the substitutes' bench, when a player of his quality should be playing week in, week out. He must step up.
12. ELLIOT ROMAIN (6/10): If it was down to effort and work rate, then Romain would consistently be the first name on the teamsheet. There's no disputing that he gives his all when stepping onto the pitch, which is always excellent to see, but unfortunately 1 goal in almost nine months speaks volumes. It looks like he's slightly lost his way after a decent start, and will need to start scoring to earn a place in the team.
14. DAN SPARKES (6/10): Similar to Chike Kandi. Sparkes signed in the Summer but due to injury, only made his debut recently. To his credit, though, he has looked very good in the brief appearances he has made so far, and is surely knocking on the door for a starting place. He has worked hard to get back to full fitness and is surely giving John Still a selection headache.
15. BONDZ N'GALA (4/10): This really was a puzzling signing, and alarm bells were surely ringing when he failed to impress at Dover Athletic and Eastleigh in recent times. Most people were slightly unconvinced when we signed him and, though he was in our team at the beginning of the season, he has not appeared for us since. Infact, he is now on loan at Leyton Orient, which says it all really.
17. ANDRE BOUCAUD (8/10): I remember a time when Boucaud was hated by the fans and booed on a regular basis. Well, what a transformation. In the years he's had under John Still, he's blossomed into a fantastic midfielder and, according to Ferrier, is one of the most technically gifted players he's ever played with. He has been immense and, with five assists, is contributing in attack, too. His experience is vital.
18. KEVIN LOKKO (6/10): Despite being error-prone and at times very reckless, there is surely a reason why Stevenage took a gamble on him in the summer. I haven't seen him look capable of that standard quite yet but, despite the cards he's received, he looks like a good, very no-nonsense player. Our defence looks better with him in it, and he has done well to secure a place in the side. Maidstone also adored him.
19. SAM LING (9/10): Has matured into an excellent right-back and fans' favourite. With an eye for attack and a solid instinct in defence, he is one of our most reliable performers. Last season he looked naive and young but surprisingly has really stepped up this season. That cross for Ferrier's goal against Dover deserves a 9 all by itself.
20. MASON BLOOMFIELD (5/10): John Still clearly sees something in Bloomfield, especially as we re-signed him following earlier release. This rating seems slightly harsh on him because he is young and inexperienced, but at the time doesn't seem ready. Has the potential, but maybe needs a loan spell at a National League South side to help harvest it.
23. MICHAEL CHEEK (7/10): This signing sparked excitement throughout the club. A natural finisher, Cheek's goalscoring exploits have been clear to see but, although he's shown his quality, a frustrating injury has limited his appearances. He reminds me of Jamie Cureton in the sense that he can go missing in games, and then all of a sudden, come alive in the box.
25. COREY WHITELY (7/10): There's been two versions of Whitely this season; the August one, and the version since. In the early stages of the season he was lethal, and shone in every game. However, although he is still putting effort in, things don't seem to be coming off for him. He is undoubtedly one of our best players but desperately needs to regain his form, and I fear for opposing defenders when he does...
29. JAKE HOWELLS (6/10): An interesting signing to say the least. Many thought, and perhaps still think, that he's not good enough but it seems like he's really developed this season. An experienced player, he has done a decent job at left-back recently, and has perhaps been harshly treated in the past. I'll happily admit I was slightly wrong about Howells, and I hope he continues to improve.
30. MARK COUSINS (8/10): Last, but certainly not least. Many have disputed who is better out of him and Justham but, for me, Cousins has single-handedly settled that debate this season. He was impressive in League 2 and just needed a run of games to get going this term. He has produced some brilliant, match-winning saves at crucial times this season - the perfect way to channel your frustration from last year.
I'm definitely expecting more from Charlee Adams and Fejiri Okenabirhie next season. Both are talented players but need to prove their quality. Everybody is also praying for Whitely to recapture his form as that would give the side a huge lift, and give players like Ferrier and Cheek more support. Hopefully, our key players such as Ling, Boucaud and Ferrier push on, and we can reach our aim of promotion. With the quality amongst our squad, anything is possible, and in 2018 we can be the stand-out National League team.
I am Joel Page, Dagenham & Redbridge FC fan. Here I will share some of my experiences.