Shots are called on Daggers

THE sight of midfielder Peter Gain scratching his head at the final whistle just about summed up the feelings of the Dagenham & Redbridge faithful after they witnessed a 5-2 thumping at the hands of Aldershot on Tuesday night.

COCA-COLA LEAGUE TWO

Daggers 2 Aldershot 5

by MIKE SIMMONDS

THE sight of midfielder Peter Gain scratching his head at the final whistle just about summed up the feelings of the Dagenham & Redbridge faithful after they witnessed a 5-2 thumping at the hands of Aldershot on Tuesday night.


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What made the defeat even more surprising, was that the visiting Shots hadn't won on their travels since September 19, a run spanning seven games, while they hadn't managed a goal away from the Recreation Ground for three matches.

From the first whistle they appeared to have Daggers number though, as the hosts, with four loan players in their ranks, looked and played at times, like a team of strangers.

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Defence

Jamie Day started on the left side of defence, while captain Mark Arber was back at centre-half, and Darren Currie also made his home debut.

But despite the returning Arber, the defence was pulled apart with ease by a pacy and sharp Aldershot side, for whom winger Anthony Straker was outstanding.

The hosts, who badly missed Stuart Thurgood's presence all evening, couldn't get going in the opening 20 minutes, which was a sign of things to come, as apart from a Paul Benson header that sailed over, they didn't trouble Mikhael Jaimez-Ruiz.

The same couldn't be said about the Shots though, as they were neat and tidy in possession, with winger Straker in ominous form.

He appeared to have the beating of Nana Ofori-Twumasi every time, and with Day enduring a shaky debut at left back, the Shots swept forward with real purpose.

Louie Soares tested Tony Roberts with a low drive, but it was Daggers who came closest, when Arber's header was nodded off the line by Scott Donnelly.

The deadlock was broken after 30 minutes, and as if to set the tone for the evening, it was an error in the hosts defence.

Donnelly chipped a free kick into the box, and Roberts came to punch, but never got there, as Anthony Charles flicked the ball into the empty net.

Despite their poor first half showing, Daggers were thrown a lifeline just before the break when Charles turned from hero to villain, handling a cross in his area.

It was a clear spotkick and Arber stepped up to coolly slot the penalty home.

Blip

The last action of the half saw Currie curl a shot straight at Jaimez-Ruiz, but if supporters thought the first period was just a blip, they were sadly mistaken.

Benson came close to notching his first goal in four matches, capitalising on a poor clearance by Jaimez-Ruiz, but his toe-poke was saved and that was the prelude to a mad six minutes of goal action.

Firstly, Andy Sandell made it 2-1 with a glorious striker ala Manchester United's Paul Scholes as he met Donnelly's corner on the volley from the edge of the penalty area and it arrowed past Roberts into the bottom corner.

Back came Daggers though, as Ofori-Twumasi danced round a few challenges and blasted the ball underneath Jaimez-Ruiz for his first senior goal, although the keeper should really have done better.

But just as the hosts thought they might now go on and gain the upper hand, Day was sent this way and that by Marlon Jackson and Marvin Morgan turned Will Antwi in the box to prod home.

The only threats that Daggers were having came from set-plays, and they were few and far between, as Adam Miller almost made it 3-3 from a Currie corner, but his header was scrambled clear.

Danny Spiller came on for his first action since October, but by now Daggers had a whole defence and midfield playing with each other for the first time, and it showed as there was simply no shape at all.

Offside

To highlight the point, a free kick into the Daggers box saw three of the four defenders push out to play offside, leaving Ofori-Twumasi on his own, but the right back managed to head clear.

In Straker though, Shots always had an outlet and he quickly showed Ofori-Twumasi that League Two is a tough place to learn your trade, while Day was next to suffer, missing a long ball forward, leaving Jackson with a clear run on goal.

His first shot was parried by Roberts, as was the second, but somehow he dinked the rebound over the veteran Welshman for the visitors fourth.

Straker almost added the fifth after beating Ofori-Twumasi once more, but Soares made no mistake in stoppage time, brushing off the attentions of Day, to slam home inside Roberts' near post.

The stunned home supporters were long since filing out by the time of the last strike, leaving the Daggers player to ponder just what went wrong on a horrific evening.

Daggers: Tony Roberts, Nana Ofori-Twumasi, Jamie Day, Will Antwi, Danny Green (Danny Spiller 64), Peter Gain, Adam Miller, Darren Currie, Paul Benson, Jon Nurse.

Subs not used: Chris Lewington, Steve Demetriou, Abu Ogogo, Gavyn Dayes, Graeme Montgomery, Tommy Tejan-Sie.

Attendance: 1,876.

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