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