Date: 17th December 2011 at 7:06pm
Written by:

I want to start this match review with a story, mainly for the benefit of Paul Peschisolido and Gary Rowett. You see I used to have a dog, a very stupid dog as it happens, who would frequently walk into our patio window thinking that as there was light coming through, therefore, the door must be open. Everyone else could see that the dog was wrong but, obstinately, the dog continued down this merry path of walking into plate glass time and time again. I sensed in the dog’s eyes one day that the reason it walked into the door wasn`t because it could see light from the other side but, because if it kept on doing this, one day the door would be open and it could then walk freely into the kitchen. Now to continue this theme I just want to say to our erstwhile manager, no matter if you pair up John McGrath and Adam Bolder in midfield a million times over, IT IS NEVER, EVER GOING TO WORK!!

Why are Peschisolido and Rowett the only two people who cannot see this? Why do they persist in this naturally defence-minded pairing that offers absolutely nothing other than for two identical players to continually hold back attacking moves, get in each other`s way and stop the rest of the team from playing free-flowing, attacking football?

I actually sensed that today was going to be miserable as I was walking across the main car park at about 2pm, listening to what sounded like someone strangling a cat over the PA system. As it transpired this was actually the pre-match entertainment, but it summed up the forlorn sense of foreboding that I had. And then I heard the team line-up?.

To be fair, other than the Bolder/Macca pairing, the rest of the line-up seemed to allow us to attack a Dagenham side that despite the FA Cup win on Tuesday had actually lost nine league games on the bounce. Justin Richards was back to partner Calvin and it looked possible that we could be seeing a fair few goals hit the back of the visitors net.

This feeling was enhanced during the first couple of minutes when the Daggers looked petrified. They couldn`t hold onto possession, their passes were going astray and they looked really ill at ease. But then let`s not forget that we were playing the bottom placed team, so it was odds on that Burton would somehow let them into the game. After all, charity begins at home.

It did only take a couple of minutes before Dagenham found their footing and started pushing Burton back, playing the ball around quite well on what looked to be a slippery pitch. Admittedly Burton players found themselves out of position quite easily, making space for their opponents, and, bizarrely, a little bit of pass-the-ball between Amankwaah and Stanton ended up with the latter, unmarked, knocking the ball out for an early corner.

It didn`t get much better from thereon in, and Burton, when in possession, were seemingly happy to hoof the ball forward in the general direction of Calvin so he could chase lost cause after lost cause. Justin gave him some support (when he wasn`t getting caught offside), but his late runs back into an onside position repeatedly took him out of the game just as his attacking partner needed an outlet.

Maher found himself with an early shooting opportunity when an Austin clearance dropped perfectly. However his snap-shot cleared the crossbar by quite a margin. At the other end, Cleveland seemed to want to try to score from the most obtuse of angles when a sideways pass to the unmarked Zola was much the easier option.

Burton had a spell of attacking but no matter what they did, it just didn`t feel like they were going to hit the back of the net any time soon.

After twenty-six minutes there was a goal, actually quite a deserved goal, for Dagenham. Adam Bolder (I think) sent the “Gresley Reject”, Brian Woodall, tumbling just outside the Burton area and Michael Spillane, on loan from Brentford, stepped up to plant the ball into the top corner with a slick free-kick.

1-0 to the Daggers and cue applause from all sides of the ground.

For the remaining nineteen minutes of the half it seemed to be mainly Dagenham pushing forward, Burton breaking up the attack by hoofing the ball forward, Dagenham regaining possession and pushing forward, Burton breaking up the attack by hoofing the ball forward and so on. Eye catching it most certainly wasn`t.

And so the whistle blew for half-time, the Dagenham supporters cheered and the Burton supporters, err, shuffled off to get a coffee. So bored were we that we couldn`t even boo.

The second-half started and much to our surprise there had been no changes made when an attacking threat was sorely needed by Burton.

Dagenham picked up from where they left off, pushing Burton back and imposing themselves quite well. In fact it was Atkins, the home goalkeeper, who had to be alert five minutes in, saving from the Dagenham number 10 who shot from a good position.

After a short spell of pressure Burton drew level, with a headed goal from Calvin via a corner from the Burton left.

1-1 and still there was that feeling that this wasn`t going to be our day. I mean, Dagenham are bottom and surely at some point they must roll over and let us score the goals that are the right of the fifth-place team. Nope, not even close.

On 58 minutes we finally got some excitement in the form of a twenty-man ruck after Abu Ogogo took out Aaron long after he had played a forward ball. There is no dispute that it was a cowardly tackle and that he would see red for it, but he most certainly saw red in another manner as it kicked-off between both sides and quite an entertaining tear-up it was. Once the referee and his two assistants had calmed things down the red card was duly shown to Ogogo, but did he want to gogo? No he didn`t.

He ended up getting shepherded off by some team mates and coaching staff members, and in the continuing argument a Dagenham coach was invited to watch the remainder of the game from the posh seats.

What needs to be said is that Rhino and Stanton were lucky they didn`t see red either, with both piling into the ruck and both appearing to lash out. Why they felt the need to run virtually the width of the pitch to get involved we`ll never know, but given we were almost certainly going to be a man up in numbers after the “challenge” by Ogogo, you`d have thought the penny might have dropped. Stanton saw yellow and was an extremely lucky boy.

Say what you like about footballers, but they ain`t too bright at times.

And so the game petered out with Burton putting Dagenham on the back foot, but the visitors stood firm and repelled what little we could throw at them, although Burton nearly took the lead when a ball was crossed in from Jacques from the right, evaded all bar one of the Dagenham defence, flew off the last defender and hit the post, bouncing away to safety. That seemed to sum up our day.

Mercifully the referee blew for time after an added seven-minutes and we could put all thoughts Burton to the back of our minds and go off and enjoy Christmas.

So Dagenham travelled back to Essex with a point but remain on the bottom thanks to Plymouth getting their own 1-1 draw, this time at home to Hereford. Burton drop a point, now finding themselves in sixth place.

Driving home my overriding thoughts were that Dagenham do look like a team destined for the Conference. They had very little imagination, created opportunities mainly from mistakes made by Burton and looked extremely lacking in confidence. The worrying thing is that for the second week in succession Burton look just as bad.