Gain: Thurgood can reignite our season
THEY say one man should never make a team, but the return of Stuart Thurgood can t come soon enough for Dagenham & Redbridge.
by MIKE SIMMONDS
THEY say one man should never make a team, but the return of Stuart Thurgood can't come soon enough for Dagenham & Redbridge.
The midfielder, who signed from Grays Athletic in the summer, was one of the mainstays behind Daggers excellent start to the season, with his tough-tackling displays catching the eye.
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Unfortunately, Thurgood picked up an injury during the match against Rochdale back on November 21 and you can almost trace the start of the decline at Victoria Road back to that one moment.
Leading 1-0 after 69 minutes and sitting on top of the table, the midfielder was forced off and, within a flash, Dale turned the match on its head to win 2-1 and Daggers have never fully recovered.
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Rochdale have gone on to virtually secure their place in League One next season, but John Still's men have found themselves going backwards at a swift rate of knots.
In the 11 games since, Daggers have taken just eight points from 33, with two wins, two draws and seven defeats.
Thurgood's return to action, which is hoped to be in the next few weeks, can't come soon enough, especially for midfield partner Peter Gain.
"The good news is that Stuey Thurgood is on his way back as he's been a massive loss for us," he said.
"He's a massive player for any team and he's going to be a massive boost, so I can't wait for him to be back in the squad."
Gain came as close as anyone to earning Daggers a point during Saturday's 1-0 defeat to Northampton Town when he let fly with a volley from outside the box that Cobblers keeper Chris Dunn somehow turned over the bar.
"I thought it was in, but he's pulled a save out of nowhere and turned it over," said Gain, who was clearly frustrated with his side's second defeat to Town in just over a month.
"I feel they've nicked six points off us over both games. We should have won at their place, whereas it was a scrappy, ugly game at ours, but we still had the better chances.
"The build-up to their first goal was a massive schoolboy error, he (John Johnson) shouldn't be allowed to cut in unopposed, but we've got punished for that."
The former Lincoln City man, who has now made 83 appearances for the club, reverted to his more natural position in the centre of midfield on Saturday.
After spending time on the left wing in recent matches, it was good to see Gain back in the thick of the action, but his position on the field didn't unduly worry the 33-year-old.
"I'll play anywhere," he said. "I don't mind playing out on the left or in the middle.
"You get a get a bit more action in the middle, a bit more time on the ball and a chance to tackle.
"The way we play, the wingers pick up a lot of second balls as we turn things a lot, so you will get a lot more of the ball in the middle, but I'm happy playing out on the left."
The defeat was Daggers second successive lost at home without scoring, and their fifth home reverse in seven matches, as they have now lost major ground on the play-off places.
But Gain remains steadfast that an upturn in their fortunes is just around the corner. "Every team in every league goes through a little blip in their season, unfortunately we're going through ours at the moment," he said.
"The supporters and everyone associated with Dagenham, especially the players, are dying for a win.
"We're absolutely gutted right now. Everyone is putting the effort in, but we're just not getting the rub at the moment.
"We've got to stick together and I know we've got quality in our team. The next win will turn it over for us and we'll go on a little run again."
One person that Gain was delighted to see back was manager John Still though, who was barking orders from the dugout again after recovering from an operation
"For me, John Still is Dagenham & Redbridge Football Club," he said.
"Since I've been here he's had a massive influence on the way we play, so him missing has been a blow, but it's good to have him back again."
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