Daggers boss Still pays respects to Keith Alexander

DAGENHAM & REDBRIDGE manager John Still has paid his own tribute to Macclesfield boss Keith Alexander, who tragically passed away last week, writes Mike Simmonds.

DAGENHAM & REDBRIDGE manager John Still has paid his own tribute to Macclesfield boss Keith Alexander, who tragically passed away last week, writes Mike Simmonds.

The 53-year-old had been in charge of the Silkmen's 1-0 defeat at Notts County on Tuesday night, but died after returning home.

Like Still, Alexander had also been in charge at Peterborough United, while he had two spells at Lincoln City, where the Daggers boss has also spent time as a coach.

"It's absolutely tragic news, I had known Keith for 25-30 years and he was a proper, alright bloke," said Still.

"It's weird, but the Thursday before, I had a message from him on my phone wishing me luck with my operation as we kept in regular contact. His brother lives in Romford and often spends some time at the club too. It's tragic that it's happened.

"He was well respected in the game and it was right that he was remembered up and down the country prior to the match.

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"If you take football out of it, he was an ordinary person, who was lucky enough to be involved in the game.

"He was the manager at Peterbrough who bought 'Macka' (Craig Mackail-Smith) and Shane (Blackett) off me too, so we had some dealings professionally.

"Both Peter Gain and Mark Arber had played under him too, so it's going to be very strange when Macclesfield visit us soon and he won't be there."

There was a minutes applause at Gigg Lane before Daggers goalless draw with Bury on Saturday, where Alexander had been director of football for six months.

After the players put the emotion of the occasion behind them, the visitors turned in a battling display to stretch their unbeaten run to four games.

"I thought it was a fair result and both teams put in a decent performance," said Still.

"They had a goal disallowed for offside that looked slightly marginal, while we had one that looked a bit more obvious.

"We had the best chance of the match with Paul Benson, but I felt he was really unlucky as it was a difficult pitch and he never really had a true run of the ball."

The clean sheet for Daggers, means it is now over three games and five hours of football since they last conceded a goal.

They were grateful to a fine save from goalkeeper Tony Roberts late on, and Still was quick to heap praise on his defence.

"It's something we work hard on and it's pleasing to see we are hard to beat and keeping clean sheets," he said.

"There are three young ones in the back-line too. We are pleased with the combination we have now. It was a good save from Tony, but one that we would also expect him to make because of the high standards he sets himself."

Still had made one change to the starting line-up from the side that drew 0-0 with Torquay United in midweek, with Yoann Folly making his first start since joining from Plymouth Argyle.

"Yoann has been looking very good in training, so I put him into the side and I thought he played well," said the boss, who dropped Jon Nurse from the squad.

"We know that Peter (Gain) can play wide left, as he has done earlier in the season, so I had no trouble in putting him there."

Daggers enter another important week as they look to reach the League Two play-offs, hosting Rotherham United on Saturday, before a Tuesday night trip to Lincoln City.

"We have 12 games left, 36 points to play for, so let's give it a real go," said Still, whose side were in 10th place before Tuesday night's matches.

"We've now taken four points off Bury, four off Bournemouth, three off Shrewsbury and we've beaten Chestefield, so we've done well against the top teams this season.

"Rotherham are another strong side, and (Adam) le Fondre is a good player, but we've come up against good players this season.

"Every game will have something on it though, as Lincoln are still fighting to make sure they stay in the division.