Victoria Road | Att: 1509 | Vanarama National League | 10/2/18
30. Mark COUSINS 02. Ben NUNN 03. Luke PENNELL 05. Craig ROBSON 06. Matt ROBINSON 07. Luke HOWELL 11. Fejiri OKENABIRHIE 14. Daniel SPARKES 17. Andre BOUCAUD 23. Michael CHEEK 29. Jake HOWELLS
34. Lewis WARD 03. Cheye ALEXANDER 05. Will EVANS 08. Manny OYELEKE 09. Scott RENDELL 15. Josh McQUOID 17. Jim KELLERMANN 18. James ROWE 19. Adam McDONNELL 20. Lewis KINSELLA 21. George FOWLER
DAGGERS DEFEATED BUT SHOW PLENTY OF PASSION IN BT SPORT CLASH
A miserable week for Dagenham & Redbridge was compounded with their fourth consecutive defeat, but there was enough positivity in the performance to indicate that there is still at least a glimmer of hope for the remainder of the season. No player could be faulted as they put in a performance which showed immense commitment to the shirt which merited at least a point, yet an early goal in either half took the game away from them as a ruthless Aldershot side took their opportunities well infront of the BT Sport cameras. However, while the Shots just had that added injection of quality which ultimately saw them through, the Daggers matched them in every other department and on another day might've snatched a point but in the end they will be satisfied with a performance which shows that even amidst all their current problems, they can at least give their all for 90 minutes.
After all that had happened at the club this game had developed want to play in that situation given their fantastic style of play which has caused many teams problems this season. Aldershot would not be willing to show any mercy and would want to demonstrate their talents to the BT Sport audience, so John Still's side knew that they would need to rise up to the challenge and ignore the problems which existed around the camp. It looked like they had adopted this very mentality with a bright start in Essex; even without Ling and Ferrier they looked very sharp in the opening stages and bossed the first few minutes which significantly improved the mood around Victoria Road. That only lasted until the 4th minute though when, in only their second venture into the opposition half, the Shots exhibited a clinical streak which explains their lofty position as a Rendell flick-on was skilfully rifled home by Kellermann. All of a sudden, out of nothing, the Daggers were undeservedly behind and possibly fearing a mauling which was perfectly conceivable considering the undeniable ability of the visitors.
With confidence now coursing through their veins and a vociferous away backing establishing a composed feel to their play, Aldershot transformed into a confident outfit which seemed miles away from the shaky team who, just moments before, seemed to be crumbling under the persistence of unrelenting home pressure. To their credit though, Dagenham kept up the intent and remained the better team in East London, but were just missing a spark. Okenabirhie and Sparkes were doing well on the wings and it was from the latter's pass that Howells saw his cross headed in by Cheek, only for a dubious offside flag to scupper the celebrations. Moments later Sparkes got clear on his favoured left side but optimistically squared the ball, only to a grateful Aldershot defender. It was an excellent idea from Sparkes but the situation demanded a bit of selfishness and a shot from that position may well have beaten the keeper. This good spell continued but while Dagenham enjoyed a lot of territory they rarely looked like they would actually break the resistance of the away side.
Before the break, more chances ensued as Howell sliced wide from a good position before Sparkes too should've done better from an inviting free-kick which was begging to be whipped into a good area, but would only end up curling wayward of the target. The best chance fell to Okenabirhie but instead of being wasteful the winger's effort was more unlucky as it fizzed over the upright. It was a similar story after the break but Dagenham soon began to look tired and once again they succumbed to an early goal which practically killed the match. On this occasion though the goal was coming as a teasing ball to the back post found zone of blue shirts queuing up to convert, which Rendell did with effortless ease to wrap up a fantastic evening for him - he had been a handful to the home defence. Kellerman had turned provider this time but while his delivery was inch-perfect the defending was questionable at best, and the enthusiastic away celebrations not only showed what it meant to the fans but also the players.
From then on the match adopted an end-to-end feel which made for an exciting conclusion where both teams had multiple chances to score. McQuoid was just yards away from connecting with a cross not too dissimilar to the one which led to the second goal but the ball was soon at the other end when Sparkes was in space only for his resulting cross to be cleared. Aldershot always seemed more dangerous however and when Rendell headed over Cousins it seemed destined for the net until Robson produced an incredible acrobatic clearance which showed his class and at least kept the scoreline respectable; a three goal lead would've been harsh and flattering to Aldershot. It seemed as if both teams were trying to outdo eachother though as the home team then wasted a glorious chance at the far post when Okenabirhie blasted over. He would go even closer when poking past the keeper but just like Robson's heroics the ball was cleared by an Aldershot defender.
Despite more late pressure and five minutes of injury time the Daggers were beaten but can at least take pride from a determined, passionate performance. There is at least hope and this showed that there are still many players capable of making a difference. Next up for Dagenham is two consecutive away trips as a visit to Torquay is followed by a clash with Dover at Crabble.
NEXT UP: Away v Torquay United, Saturday 17th February 2018 at 3pm, Vanarama National League, The Launa Windows Stadium