Dagenham & Redbridge 3 Southport 0: Fejiri Okenabirhie impresses in opening day success for Daggers over Port
PUBLISHED: 16:54 06 August 2016 | UPDATED: 08:44 08 August 2016
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National League: Dagenham & Redbridge 3 (Okenabirhie 15, Guttridge 23, Maguire-Drew 67) Southport 0
Dagenham & Redbridge began their National League campaign in perfect fashion with a comfortable success at home to Southport.
A brilliant first-half display saw the hosts take complete control of proceedings and they never looked back.
While they were able to find the net three times, it perhaps should have been so much more having missed a number of chances.
There were a host of Daggers players making their first start for the club, including Elliot Justham who won the battle with Mark Cousins to start in goal.
Curtley Williams and Craig Robson were two new faces in a back four marshalled by the returning Scott Doe.
Matt Robinson anchored the midfield with Andre Boucaud, while Jordan Maguire-Drew and Fejiri Okenabirhie were tasked with providing the width.
The opening 10 minutes lacked any real goalmouth action, though a Southport player nearly turned a free kick into his own net.
Set pieces were troubling the visitors and it proved their downfall in the 15th minute when Daggers took the lead.
Curtley Williams drew a foul on the right of the area, with Jordan Maguire-Drew taking the resulting free kick.
His delivery was wicked, with a Port player nodding the ball onto the bar, with the rebound falling kindly for Okenabirhie to smash home his first goal as a Dagger.
The Victoria Road side almost had a second six minutes later when Luke Guttridge nipped in behind the Port defence after an error.
But the ex-Luton Town midfielder’s half-volley was lobbed over the bar and the chance was gone.
However, the 34-year-old atoned for that miss just two minutes later to double the hosts’ advantage.
Okenabirhie produced a magical run from the right byline to weave his way into the box, before pulling the ball back for Guttridge.
The playmaker slammed the ball home from six yards to give Daggers a two-goal lead, much to the delight of the home fans.
With their tails up, the Essex club were keen to extend their advantage further, with Hawkins slipping the ball through to Maguire-Drew in the 27th minute.
However, the on-loan Brighton & Hove Albion youngster was forced into a wide position, with his chip smothered by keeper Tyrell Belford.
On the stroke of half time, Daggers were awarded a penalty when Williams was pushed to the floor in the box after bursting into the area.
Maguire-Drew, the youngest member of the team, took the spot kick, but Belford saved well to his right.
With the hosts cheered into the break, a louder roar went up when Daggers announced the double signing of forwards Paul Benson and Corey Whitely.
Despite their lead, Daggers found Southport difficult to cope with early in the second half.
A quick-counter from the visitors in the 51st minute saw substitute Jamie Allen free in the box, but his tame effort was easily saved by Justham.
Knowing they could ill-afford to rest on their laurels, the hosts pressed on in search of a third that so nearly came in the form of Maguire-Drew.
Daggers were awarded a free kick on the edge of the area which the youngster took, but he was brilliantly denied by a stunning save from Belford.
Maguire-Drew was involved in the action again eight minutes later after Okenabirhie found him with a ball across the area to the left.
However, the young winger’s effort was scuffed and though Guttridge tried in vain to scramble the ball into the net, Port were able to clear their lines.
From there, the match continued to switch from end-to-end as both sides went close to scoring.
It was Daggers, though, who were able to score next as Maguire-Drew finally got the goal he had been searching for in the 67th minute.
Williams, who was menacing on the right, crossed for Hawkins at the back post, whose header was well saved by Belford.
However, Maguire-Drew was present to nod in the rebound and all but end the game as a contest.
With the hosts in dominant mood, Doe, Hawkins, Okenabirhie and replacement Chris Assombalonga all missed glorious chances in quick succession.
No further goals, though, were forthcoming, but Daggers will be keen to extend their perfect record away to Chester on Tuesday night.
Daggers: Justham; Williams, Doe, Robson, Widdowson; Boucaud, Robinson (Staunton 77); Maguire-Drew (Assombalonga 69), Guttridge (Raymond 89), Okeanbirhie; Hawkins
Subs: Cousins, Donnellan
Southport: Belford; Jones, Thompson, O’Brien (White 70), Ashton; Nolan, Jones, Caton; Kearns (Allen 46), Gray, Almond (Grimes 63)
Subs: Crump, McCarthy
Attendance: 1,296 (including 98 Southport fans)
Referee: Craig Hicks