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!
I am Joel Page, Dagenham & Redbridge FC fan. Here I will share some of my experiences.