Dagenham & Redbridge keeper Mark Cousins says he feels for ‘mate’ Elliot Justham after replacing him in starting XI

Dagenham & Redbridge players protest to referee Samuel Allison while Maidstone United players celebr

Dagenham & Redbridge players protest to referee Samuel Allison while Maidstone United players celebrate what they thought was their second goal (pic: David Simpson/TGS Photo) - Credit: David Simpson/TGS Photo

Former Colchester United stopper made first league start of the season on Tuesday

Mark Cousins admits he feels for team-mate Elliot Justham after replacing him in the Dagenham & Redbridge starting XI, but knows that is part and parcel of being a goalkeeper.

Cousins was handed his first league start of the season on Tuesday night, coming in for Justham who has not been at his best in recent weeks, but could not prevent Daggers losing 2-0 to lowly Maidstone United.

The 30-year-old revealed after the game he was only told he would replace Justham once he arrived for the game, but says it hammers home the need to be prepared, even as an understudy.

“You have to be ready as a number two and I feel for Elliot, he’s a mate who I train with day in, day out,” said Cousins.

“It’s a tough position being a goalkeeper and when you get taken out of the team, it’s not nice.

“I’ve waited all season to play in the league, but unfortunately it wasn’t the greatest result or display against Maidstone.”

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The defeat to Stones, in which Joe Pigott and Delano Sam-Yorke netted for the visitors, was hardly the perfect warm-up for a difficult March for Daggers.

In the next month alone, the Essex club visit play-off hopefuls Gateshead, Barrow and Aldershot Town, while they also entertain title challengers Forest Green Rovers.

And Cousins knows that any further slip-ups from Daggers could betray their brilliant form from earlier in the season and rob the Victoria Road outfit of their promotion dream

“This is when it matters, we’ve done so well to get where we are at the moment, but it counts for nothing if we don’t make sure these games are done properly and we get the right results,” added the stopper.

“We all want promotion to the Football League and we can’t let this opportunity slip now.”

While Daggers’ home jitters appear to have returned, their away form remains good, having only lost once on their last eight games on the road.

And with a trip to Gateshead to come this weekend, Cousins hopes Daggers can continue that form on Saturday and kick start their promotion push.

“We’ve got a few tough away games to come, like Gateshead on Saturday and Barrow soon after that,” he added.

“We’ve picked up some good results away from home, so we should be confident heading up there.

“Hopefully the pitch we play on will make it a bit easier to pass the ball.”

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