Date Tuesday 8th October 2019 Kick-Off 7.45pm Competition MANarama National League Venue Meadow Lane Attendance 3670 Home/Away Split 3558 | 112 Referee Samuel Barrott
01: Sam SLOCOMBE 04: Mitch ROSE 05: Ben TURNER 07: Wes THOMAS 11: Enzio BOLDEWIJN 13: Connell RAWLINSON 14: Kyle WOOTTON 15: Regan BOOTY 17: Zoumana BAKAYOKO 20: Richard BRINDLEY 32: Sean SHIELDS
- MICHAEL DOYLE | THOMAS (61') - KRISTIAN DENNIS | SHIELDS (61') - NATHAN TYSON - PIERCE BIRD | BAKAYOKO (79') - SAMUEL OSBORNE
01: Elliot JUSTHAM 02: Will WRIGHT 03: Liam GORDON 04: Manny ONARIASE 05: Luke CROLL 07: Alex MCQUEEN 10:Ángelo BALANTA 11: Bagasan GRAHAM 12: Matt ROBINSON 15: Joe QUIGLEY 23: Harold ODAMETEY
- REECE GRANT | QUIGLEY (64') - WILL WOOD - JOAN LUQUE | GRAHAM (68') - JAMES DOBSON | MCQUEEN (68') - ANDREW ELEFTHERIOU
THIS frustrating yet graceful end to Dagenham's eleven-game unbeaten run can be attributed to a multitude of circumstantial factors, from the unstoppable brilliance of Notts' goals to a refereeing display that even exceeded National League standards, yet the underlying reason behind the result ultimately lies in Daggers' lack of a potent striker - something that has always remained a drawback of an otherwise decent-looking side, but particularly came to the forefront at Meadow Lane. For 65 minutes of the game Peter Taylor's outfit were excellent and embodied all the characteristics of a team befitting of a play-off position, yet it was the preceding 25 minutes during which the damage was done, as County took the lead through a superbly-placed Regan Booty free-kick; from that moment Daggers were left to chase the game and, for all their efforts, it was simply too hard an ask on the night.
With Dagenham forging a reputation for being tricky opponents on the road and Notts turning Meadow Lane into a fortress of late, there was the impression that something had to give here. However, under Peter Taylor, the Daggers typically struggle at big National League grounds so, as they headed to a stadium that is simply obscene for non-league football, there was always the fear that they'd be a little bit overawed. Unfortunately this materialised and for the first half an hour Dagenham played with an inferiority complex as they seemed to attribute more importance to the game than it perhaps merited; Notts were a decent outfit but Dagenham gave them far too much respect and time on the ball.
For the opening fifteen minutes, Notts were allowed to zip the ball across the pristine Meadow Lane surface relatively unchallenged, as Dagenham set up with the intention of embarking on quick counter-attacks. All the hosts' had to show for their early dominance was two tame Enzio Boldewijn efforts that rolled into the arms of Justham, but the intent was very much there. While Notts were patiently biding their time, calmly waiting for that split-second where they could switch things up a gear when space opened up, Daggers' approach was more reckless and they constantly gave away possession in the opening stages. It was not the start of a team in the midst of an eleven-game unbeaten run - Dagenham looked disconcertingly unhinged, crucially lacking composure. Balanta was isolated, Quigley anonymous, so any rare forays forward for the visitors broke down as quick as they had started.
Unfortunately, just when Dagenham were growing into the encounter, they were hit with a sudden sucker punch. Moments after Balanta had smashed a fierce drive against the palms of Slocombe at the other end, Notts ventured forwards and won a free-kick that infuriated the away contingent; had the referee not blown his whistle, the incident would've occurred without as much as a few hopeful groans from County fans and therefore there was a sense of inevitability amongst the away end that it was going in. Regan Booty indeed curled a glorious strike into the very bottom-left corner of the net and, though this made Dagenham's task a whole lot harder, it was actually the catalyst for a fantastic 65 minutes. Instantly the visitors went in search of an instant response, with Balanta nearly playing McQueen through on goal only to be halted by an offside flag, and in five minutes they showed more intent than the entirety of the game before that.
Balanta began to weave his magic with a few instances of brilliant footwork in Notts' half and, in the 36th minute, he drove a brilliant ball across goal that defender Brindley hurriedly hacked away under pressure from Joe Quigley. This was followed by ten minutes of relentless pressure as Dagenham began to grow into a rhythm, however they were unable to create another significant opportunity as Quigley gave Slocombe little more than catching practice with a looping header and Matt Robinson lashed a wild effort miles astray of the target, highlighting a lack of cutting edge that would ultimately cost the team. McQueen fired a set-piece wide before one more chance fell to Balanta, who was readying himself for a left-footed shot in the box when the referee awarded a ludicrous free-kick to the hosts' in a moment that epitomised the frustration of the half. In the end, the whistle came at the worst possible time for Dagenham, who were improving by the minute, however thankfully they were able to pick up where they left off after the break.
Within a minute of the restart, McQueen got in behind and was potentially fouled by Rawlinson but the winger's reluctance to justifiably go down perhaps hinged the decision in the Magpies' favour. Notts then regained control of the encounter temporarily as Wootton went close with a header and Booty whipped a free-kick over the bar this time, but Dagenham quickly reasserted their dominance of the half and enjoyed their own quick-fire spate of opportunities. Will Wright sent a cleanly-struck half-volley narrowly astray of the target as the away side edged closer to an equaliser, then Balanta nearly flicked McQueen through but his header just evaded his teammate. Peter Taylor then made all three substitutions in a ten-minute period as he looked to inject the spark that had been missing from the night - Grant, Dobson and Luque replacing Quigley, Graham and McQueen respectively.
It almost paid immediate dividends as Grant found himself through on goal within minutes of entering the field, after being found by Balanta's pass that beat the offside trap. This was the chance, but in a manner befitting of how the night unfolded, Grant could only caress a gentle shot into the legs of Slocombe; it was far too telegraphed and, from that moment, Dagenham's fate seemed clear. Fellow substitute Dobson went close with a curling effort and the same destiny was bestowed upon Reece Grant soon after, all while the clock was ticking down at an alarmingly quick rate. Soon the game roared into it's final ten minutes and the returning Luke Croll had a huge chance to put Dagenham level but glanced wide when well placed from a corner, another moment that foreshadowed Daggers' eventual fate. Unfortunately there wasn't to be an intense, kitchen-sink-throwing, backs-to-the wall finale either as the visitors' momentum seemed to drain at the worst possible time.
By the time the referee put the board up for four additional minutes, Dagenham had already been put out of their misery. On the break, Notts came forward with 87 minutes gone and the ball was knocked into the path of Kristian Dennis, who bent an incredible shot off the post and in, prompting a rapturous crescendo of sound from the Kop end that persisted right until the final whistle. Dagenham will be frustrated to have not bagged themselves a point they probably deserved, but there was nothing they could do about either goal, and ultimately they were made to pay for a slow start in Nottingham. There are still positives for Peter Taylor to take and his side now have to dust themselves down for a trip to Stockport at the weekend.