A not so bleak winter as Daggers boss finally gets a tune out of his squad

David Loveday/TGS Photo

Dagenham & Redbridge striker Darren McQueen celebrates one of his goals with his team-mates - Credit: David Loveday/TGS Photo

A lot has changed since the last blog, building up to a long-awaited fan return, to Tier 4 – in seven days.

Also, on the pitch we’ve seen change, from that day in which we filled the stands of Victoria Road, where the players failed to rise to the occasion – to a win over the league leaders in a fantastic performance.

Then, as recent as Saturday, we came out victorious in a seven-goal thriller, scoring five of those goals; the Daggers now hitting some form so it seems at a key stage of the season.

With a bleak midwinter outlook going into the busy festive period after defeat to Altrincham; Daryl and his men seem to have turned it around somewhat - proved they are better than that – as we knew, but now getting the results to show for it, too.

Harking back to the defeat which left returning supporters deflated, now on paper it looks like a narrow loss, though we expected to kick on after the Weymouth win and we didn’t.

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Defensive frailties on set pieces very much evident; you knew we’d concede from one of those needless fouls.

Then, going forward, we looked threatening at times – yet, McCallum’s suspension left us with little up top.

David Loveday/TGS Photo

Dagenham & Redbridge striker Paul McCallum goes up for a header against Ebbsfleet United - Credit: David Loveday/TGS Photo

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In the second-half, it was being punted forward, though it seemed to be done aimlessly and this lack of style concerned many Daggers fans above all.

Despite the result; how great it was to be back. Unsure on our next return – we’ll just have to savour that moment for a little longer – being amongst like-minded supporters cheering on the boys.

The bleak and grey outlook on the pitch prompted a tweet from co-owner, Peter Freund, demanding: intensity, passion and commitment.

And like that, his wish was granted! As, Torquay were shocked by McMahon’s men, supporters too pleasantly surprised – delighted.

 I certainly was, but they didn’t make it easy viewing; holding out right until the death – with ten men.

Though, Brundle being sent off on 40 minutes lead to the Daggers resorting to holding out as oppose to building the lead – it tested the character of the side – a test the men in red, white and blue passed with flying colours.

The work ethic was admirable, from all, but Abu Ogogo – the skipper and talisman – standing out for many supporters as man of the match.

David Loveday/TGS Photo

Dagenham & Redbridge captain Abu Ogogo in action against Ebbsfleet United - Credit: David Loveday/TGS Photo

‘Credit where credit is due’ was a phrase uttered by several supporters – aimed at Kenny Clark and the whole defensive unit – who have come under fire of late for their performances.

A turning point, to ‘kickstart the season’, Daryl certainly thought so and I’d concur – we got a little bit of luck in that game on Tuesday which has been missing.

But the hope for the rest of the season, that came from the players’ wonderful first half display, coupled with that determination and grit – digging deep to take three points home against the league leaders – the second side to do that all season.

Some weren’t convinced by the victory (though many were) labelling it as ‘lucky’. So, the Daggers knew they had to build on it and ensure it wasn’t a ‘one off’ result  - therefore they hoped a 5-2 victory would suffice.

A scintillating first half attacking display, mirroring the first 45 against Torquay, though for a longer period.

Paul McCallum securing his second in two games, and now looking to hit form just like the rest of the side, though it was Darren McQueen who bagged a brace on the day.

Just a word on the latter, and I’ve admired his work rate (as I know many have), and I’m delighted that he got the goals his hard work warrants.

Now, to convert those goals to league goals, as he himself pointed out.

Matt Robinson and Callum Reynolds returned from injury for that game, Eleftheriou too the game prior.

David Loveday/TGS Photo

Dagenham & Redbridge defender Callum Reynolds celebrates his goal with his team-mates - Credit: David Loveday/TGS Photo

But they weren’t the names returning on everyone’s lips, Liam Gordon, fan favourite returning on Friday sent supporters into jubilation.

Albeit on a one-month loan, fans loved the deal, as he is in many people’s eyes (as in mine) the best left back in the division. Hence why he earned his move to Bolton.

He further bolsters our squad, a first-team player for sure, leaving McMahon with a selection headache – all these players returning.

A great problem to have for a manager! This, as we turn to three huge games over Christmas: Dover twice and Bromley sandwiched in between.

Now, these few matches and next few weeks will define our season and I think that the Daggers (though the table doesn’t show it) are in a great position going into this period.

That being said, they are five points off the play-offs after the victory at Plainmoor!

The next time we speak we could well be in the top 7, where we should be you might say.

Though, I’d be satisfied if we got enough points to be within touching distance as well, of those in the play-offs.

It’s very tricky to predict results going into these three games, though I will say how I’d like us to set-up in terms of formation – an area in which Daryl has experimented somewhat.

I think the Ebbsfleet game, though a lesser opposition, showed that we can strike a great balance in the side and fit players in.

Elliot Johnson slotting in at left centre-back, unleashing Gordon out wide for example. So, high hopes for this festive period with a lot at stake – unfortunately we won’t be there to witness it unfold.

Nonetheless, we can enjoy the game from afar, as we’ve learnt in recent months.

Until next time, a very Merry Christmas to you all and hopefully a happier new year!

Stay Safe and Come On You Daggers!

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