Dagenham & Redbridge blog: Daggers face newly-promoted Wealdstone

Dagenham manager Daryl McMahon during Hornchurch vs Dagenham & Redbridge, Friendly Match Football at

Dagenham manager Daryl McMahon during Hornchurch vs Dagenham & Redbridge, Friendly Match Football at Hornchurch Stadium on 5th September 2020 - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

Our Dagenham & Redbridge blogger Keane Handley previews the clash with newly-promoted Wealdstone in front of the BT Sport cameras.

Paul McCallum of Dagenham during Hornchurch vs Dagenham & Redbridge, Friendly Match Football at Horn

Paul McCallum of Dagenham during Hornchurch vs Dagenham & Redbridge, Friendly Match Football at Hornchurch Stadium on 5th September 2020 - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

The feeling of most Daggers, as we await our side’s appearance on BT Sport to face newly promoted Wealdstone, is (rightfully) deflation, anger and just pure disappointment.

Disappointment at, as one fan on Twitter put it, ‘falling for the hype’ around what this ‘promotion-winning season’ had in store. I was initially part of this overwhelming majority after that second half collapse, we all had to witness; a lack of composure; lack of discipline; lack of quality.

I mean, you would be, in those final minutes of a game that looked to be won, then you go down to ten men, miss a fantastic opportunity to give yourself a 2 goal lead and then gift the opposition – bitter rivals at that – a victory! Any football fan is entitled to this reaction when you have defeat stolen from the jaws of victory.

Especially, after an equally below par performance just 72 hours before that, which saw the Daggers again just faulter to a 2-0 defeat to Halifax. But, as I said following my initial disappointment on Tuesday night, we have 44 games remaining, 132 points still up for grabs.

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Yes, we wanted to get off to a good start, but that start did not happen and all we can focus on now is the next week. In which, if we win our 2 games, would see us get back into the fold almost instantly.

Now, I will get onto the next week of fixtures, but first I will look at the failures which have led to the disappointing start to the 2020/21 campaign.

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The first is the defence and, wow, what a difference Manny Onariase made last season. He was just so calm when in possession of the ball at the back and so quick to recover, or if needs be, cover his fellow defenders. He was the key to the back-line last season and his loss is a big blow, especially though when those that remain at the back fail to cover themselves in glory. Two penalties conceded in two games and I agree with Daryl on this that we are just ‘shooting ourselves in the foot’ with Clark conceding a penalty on the stroke of half-time at Halifax and Johnson handballing on Tuesday to let the Bees back into the game.

However, it’s not only at the back where we’re losing games, as the Daggers have scored just one goal in over 180 minutes of football with Balanta the only scorer. Now, we have a proven scorer in Paul McCallum but he is just not seeing enough of the ball; or at least in the right areas.

The number 9 is having to play with his back to goal and is isolated up top with the predictability of the attacking approach not helping Dagenham. It seems to be that they are getting it up to the target man and then he is left with few options and ultimately loses the ball.

In my eyes, George Saunders and other wide players are missed greatly, either forced out through injury or selection, and are unable to provide the service McCallum needs to show us what he is really capable of and help push the Daggers up the table.

The last of the issues I’d like to discuss sort of underpins the performance in the formation, I believe that part of the reason the strikers aren’t getting the service is the wingers being held back as wing backs so I think we should either revert to 4-2-3-1 or have a 3-4-3 to be attacking in all areas of the pitch against Wealdstone and then Woking on Tuesday.

So, moving to this week’s games, and to some fans’ relief (those who have BT Sport) the Stones match will be shown on that channel as oppose to the streaming service which has reflected the Daggers’ performances so far – good in spells but poor at decisive moments.

The stream missing the Halifax penalty last Saturday and then Luke Croll’s second yellow; leading to a red card for the Dagenham defender. I said I’d assess the streaming service in last week’s blog – my assessment: inadequate.

Now, enough looking back, let’s look forwards and to the two fixtures this week making it 4 in 10 days for Daryl’s men – a win is imperative. In an ideal world, as owner Peter Freund’s philosophy goes; you win at home and get a draw away.

But, we’ve got some catching up to do so as always, we should set out to win both games but I’ll be more cautious with my optimism this week and say we’ll get just the 3 points.

I’d like to say we’d get more and I hope for more but both are strong sides and as all games are – an even contest – I back us to come out on top at home on Saturday. I expect McMahon’s men to bounce back against Wealdstone and offer supporters some light relief heading into the Woking encounter – that I feel won’t be as plain sailing.

The Cards have started in similar fashion to last campaign, with a 100% record so far, although I hope to be pleasantly surprised by the Daggers.

They will have to be much improved to go any better though in my opinion; but even if we don’t, I won’t be passing judgement in terms of sacking any manager or writing off promotion until Christmas -when I expect us to be in the play-offs.

Let’s hope we’re in the top half by next week! Have a great week and Come on You Daggers!

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