THE dAGGERS vOICE
One of the various realisations that Daggers' relatively untested youngsters will confront this season is the intense and demanding nature of the Vanarama National League fixture list. Pep Guardiola, admittedly a name not usually synonymous with non-league, once expressed his frustration at playing four games in two weeks yet in the fifth tier, it's commonplace to contend with seven games per month and that's exactly the sort of gruelling schedule that the Daggers start the season with.
One of the advantages of this is that it gives teams a chance to build rapid momentum, but conversely it can also turn a blip into a fully-blown crisis. A quick turnover of matches is especially important when you're looking to shrug off a defeat, which is exactly the situation which will precede Dagenham's home clash with Maidstone on Tuesday evening - a contest which promises to be bright, lively and fast-paced.
The game is our first home fixture of the season, and first under the floodlights. Hopefully the team can produce a performance as courageous as Saturday's at Boreham Wood, which laid the foundations for a campaign where we will only get stronger as our players begin to develop more. Disappointingly, the display - especially the late onslaught - failed to yield a point that we can be unlucky not to have attained, but it was a satisfying curtain raiser for Peter Taylor in his first match controlling the Daggers.
Sixty miles from Hertfordshire, our next opponents Maidstone United were also getting their campaign underway with a home game against Hartlepool United, which resulted in a decent 1-1 draw. The Stones will be fairly pleased with what was a decent point and despite the expectation that they'll eventually be embroiled in a relegation battle, they boast talent such as Blair Turgott, who will cause our defence many problems.
While the search for Michael Cheek's replacement striker continues, we will once again be reliant on Chike Kandi and Elliott Romain for goals, though neither of them offered much of a presence on Saturday as we failed to truly impose ourselves on Boreham Wood. We lacked movement and fluency, only coming close to scoring when we introduced Lamar Reynolds, who will be massive for us.
Hopefully, Reynolds will be fit enough to make his full debut for the club against Maidstone. He, alongside a number of others, missed the season opener through injuries but upon their returns will bolster the strength of our side hugely. Ben Nunn and Luke Pennell will offer huge defensive solidity and bring some more much-needed experience to the side, while Blanchfield and Reynolds will inject energy to the team.
We will already be forced into one defensive change following the sending off of centre-half Ben Goodliffe at the weekend, meaning our lineup will probably look something like this: Justham, Gordon, Pennell, Wright, Hoyte, Harfield, Robinson, Blanchfield, Reynolds, Romain, Kandi. I firmly believe that if we play like we did throughout the last twenty of Saturday's game that we can earn our first points of the season.
Hopefully the team can produce another pride-inducing performance and continue our excellent home form since our return to the National League. A victory would be huge for us ahead of a winnable clash on Saturday against Maidenhead.