Prenton Park | Att: 5227 | Vanarama National League | 11/11/17
01. Scott DAVIES 03. Liam RIDEHALGH 04. Ritchie SUTTON 05. Steve McNULTY 09. Andy COOK 10. James NORWOOD 11. James JENNINGS 15. Ollie NORBURN 18. Dylan MOTTLEY-HENRY 20. Mitch DUGGAN 24. Jeff HUGHES
30. Mark COUSINS 02. Ben NUNN 04. Scott DOE 05. Craig ROBSON 07. Luke HOWELL 08. Charlee ADAMS 11. Fejiri OKENABIRHIE 17. Andre BOUCAUD 23. Michael CHEEK 25. Corey WHITELY 29. Jake HOWELLS
Lacklustre Daggers confidently swept aside on the Wirral
A confident and comfortable home performance condemned Dagenham to a seventh successive winless game on the road, and there was nothing they could do about it. It was a lacklustre away performance and, even though Tranmere were worthy winners, it was far too easy for them at times as they strolled to a 2-0 victory. The Daggers were outplayed, outfought and outwitted at Prenton Park; from the minute James Norwood fired the hosts' into an early lead, the result never really looked in doubt, and Norburn's 42nd-minute strike sealed a straightforward result. The away side were much improved after the break but it was too little, too late. After a two-week break from action John Still would've been expecting a much better performance, and will hope that this is just a bad day at the office, rather than a sign of things to come.
The visitors arrived in Merseyside having ended October somewhat strongly, defeating Maccesfield and drawing at Maidenhead; this, added to a positive record against Tranmere in the past, left fans in a confident mood. However, this was lessened slightly with the news that Morgan Ferrier would be unavailable, having sustained a minor injury whilst on England C duty. As a result the formation was adjusted slightly, with Cousins starting in goal behind a back-four of the returning Nunn, Robson, Doe and Howells. The midfield contained a trio of Adams, Boucaud and Howell, while Okenabirhie and Whitely started out wide. Michael Cheek was the lone striker. It was a fairly strong lineup, but the question was......which Dagenham would turn up? Sadly, this question was quickly answered within five minutes at Prenton Park.
Whitely had tested Davies with an early free-kick but it didn't take the home side long to get into their stride, and they were soon ahead through James Norwood. Andy Cook played the ball through to Norwood, who took on the Dagenham defence before profiting from Scott Doe's slip to rifle into the bottom-right corner. This allowed them to seize the momentum and they tried to double their lead but both Andy Cook and Steve McNulty headed over from well-delivered set-pieces. The Daggers backline was struggling to handle the home pressure, and only quick reactions from Mark Cousins prevented Mottley-Henry's cross from finding a teammate. Tranmere continued to look strong and resumed their assault on the away goal. Even two injury-forced substitutions couldn't disrupt their flow and they continued to have chances.
In one such opportunity, Andy Cook turned and struck on the half-volley a low attempt which Cousins saved comfortably. Soon though, Tranmere's domination would yield further reward and they doubled their lead just before the break. They had looked threatening from corners but this was far too easy for them. A floated delivery found Oliver Norburn lurking criminally unmarked at the far post, so it was no surprise when he steered the ball into the bottom corner. Dagenham now had work to do but Tranmere were nearly out of sight by the interval when James Norwood headed wide from another corner. Finally, they were put out of their misery by the sound of the half-time whistle and, to their credit, emerged for the second period looking fresher and more determined. The damage had been done, though, and it would take a heroic comeback to rescue anything.
Almost instantly Michael Cheek came alive in the box as Dagenham enjoyed a rare foray forwards, but could only flick the ball wide from Okenabirhie's left-wing cross. This was better from the Daggers. But you can't keep Tranmere quiet for too long. They responded with an attack of their own, Norwood's determined run resulted in a shot being whipped wide from the edge of the box. At the other end the ball sat up nicely for Charlee Adams, not averse to a long-distance screamer, but Davies was equal to this attempt. There was now a more even game on the cards but, as Dagenham grew more and more confident, the Tranmere defence was solid and dealt with every desperate attempt that was aimed at them. The attendance was announced as 5227 at Prenton Park, and so far it was a miserable day for the 131 away supporters in attendance.
It would nearly get more bleak for them. James Norwood was becoming impossible to deal with for the visiting defence and he continued to waste chance after chance on the Wirral. When found well in the box, Norwood let fly, but blasted into the side netting. Moments later a defence-splitting counter attack again saw Norwood have an opportunity. He was one-on-one against Scott Doe and, just like during the first goal, got round him with surprising ease. Mark Cousins raced out of his goal to clear the danger and Norwood was eventually crowded out. After he saw his strike blocked, the ball was recycled to Andy Cook, who was again thwarted by Cousins. It perhaps summed up Dagenham's day that they were 2-0 down, and yet Mark Cousins was still their best player. The hosts' saw out the final minutes comfortably, and Dagenham will need to bounce back next Saturday, when they welcome struggling Guiseley to Victoria Road.
NEXT UP: Home v Guiseley AFC, Saturday 18th November 2017 at 3pm, Victoria Road, Vanarama National League