Praise for top Daggers performers with season still on hold over virus

PUBLISHED: 17:00 14 April 2020

Elliot Justham of Dagenham and Redbridge during Dagenham & Redbridge vs Barnet, Vanarama National League Football at the Chigwell Construction Stadium on 5th October 2019

Elliot Justham of Dagenham and Redbridge during Dagenham & Redbridge vs Barnet, Vanarama National League Football at the Chigwell Construction Stadium on 5th October 2019

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Young Dagenham & Redbridge supporter Keane Handley takes a look at some of the positives of the season, with the National League still suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Coopers Coborn pupil names his top three performers, as well as giving praise to others who have impressed and picking the best newcomers.

Elliot Justham

I’ve run out of superlatives for the man between the sticks who yet again proved why he’s not only the best player at the club, but one of the best keepers in the league.

This season he has again salvaged many points for Daggers with so many memorable performances. It seems if he plays well, the whole team plays well.

The first of those memorable matches was in August against Yeovil where the Daggers edged it 3-2 – no doubt we would’ve lost if he hadn’t denied ex-Dagger Rhys Murphy that day!

Also, his save at full stretch to deny Tyler Hackett-Fairchild a ‘top bins’ winner at Victoria Road is one that stands out for me.

His 100th appearance there was one of his finest and just one of many. Further evidence of his incredible season comes from the fact he was named in four teams of the week.

A big moment this season was when he committed to another three seasons at the club so we can enjoy more brilliance in goal.

Manny Onariase

A rock at the back and another Mr Consistent who comes second only to Justham.

He steadies the back four with his pace covering teammtes, sweeping up anything that gets in behind, and everyone was delighted he returned for this campaign on a one-year-deal.

I remember he was the only name on everyone’s lips last summer. His calmness, consistency and quality means he is a hit with the fans and I can’t remember one mistake he has made – which is rare for a defender.

Angelo Balanta

The Colombian is another player whose quality is admirable but he perhaps didn’t showcase as much as he would have liked this campaign due to injury.

In spite of his spell on the sidelines, Angelo is the top goalscorer with eight goals – playing just 22 games.

I feel his performance this season has been overshadowed by Sam Deering’s arrival butit’s the numbers that count and Angelo is the better of the two in that respect.

Like Justham, he too has committed his future to the club and that’s another exciting step that was taken this season.

Other pleasing performers

Mitch Brundle: It’s safe to say he’s not my favourite but Mitch has delivered this campaign with six goals.

His inconsistency perhaps sees him slip out the top three for me, but there is no denying his talent.

Kenny Clark: Captain Clark has helped steady the ship during times of uncertainty this season, forming a good partnership with Onariase.

Chike Kandi: Chike gives a burst of energy up top and always seams dangerous in attack. When he had the opportunity he took it well, more often than not. Obviously, his last-minute equaliser against Stockport stands out from this campaign.

Liam Gordon: The decision to let Gordon go out on loan was a disgrace as this season was set to be his chance to consolidate his place in the starting XI.

Since returning from his fine spell at Dartford he has delivered week on week, proving Peter Taylor wrong. His defensive talent goes unnoticed as his desire to go forward is often considered his main attribute.


For me, Ben House, Sam Deering and Alex Reid are the top newcomers and they have all brought a new dimension to the side.

Deering came just in the nick of time, alongside House, as with Balanta out there was next to no creative spark. They soon brought it though.

Reid was also a strong signing, making an instant impact and it’s clear he’s a real talent with an eye for goal. His brace at home to Notts County and the ‘Tiki-Dagger’ goal were among his highlights.

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