Dagenham & Redbridge tonight launched their defence of the Essex Senior Cup
with a resounding demolition of Jewson Eastern Counties League side, Harwich
& Parkeston at Victoria Road. It really felt like the first night of winter with temperatures close to freezing, and there was a slightly strange atmosphere particularly in the first half, with three-quarters of the ground empty due to ongoing building work and The Daggers playing towards the deserted Pondfield End.
The Daggers put out a side including three unfamiliar names, John Easen at left back, Mark Kane in midfield and Mick Dean on the bench. They also welcomed back Steve Heffer from long term suspension for a run out that will do him good before Saturdays FA Cup game. Even so, the home side clearly had way too much for Harwich with the front four running riot throughout the game, particularly Junior McDougald who had just too much pace for the Shrimpers' back four.
The Daggers blasted forward right from the kick off, immediately playing a fast passing game which has been missing in recent weeks. It wasn't all plain sailing however, as the Shrimpers took an unlikely lead in the 5th minute. Against the run of play, Peter Johnston latched onto a
long ball over the defence and, despite appearing to be well offside, placed the ball into
the corner of the net past a stranded Paul Gothard.
The Daggers were back on level terms soon afterwards though when Junior McDougald headed home a Steve McGavin corner. In the 21st minute, Hayzelden was felled in the area by Matthew Stace for a cast iron penalty. Despite the Shrimpers' goalkeeper, Rob Tanner getting to the spot kick, he could only parry it to back to McGavin (right) who took his chance this time and put the home side ahead.
Harwich got themselves back on level terms again when another long ball was taken by Johnston who beat debutant PASE player John Easen and put the ball past Gothard again in identical style to the first goal. That was about it for Paul Gothard for the night though as the home side dominated the last hour and he won't have gained much from the game in terms of match fitness or confidence.
In contrast, Harwich keeper Tanner was kept very busy making several good saves on the night. In the 40th minute though he was given no chance as a McGavin cross was headed powerfully home by Hayzelden to make the half-time score 3-2.
Within five minutes of the restart, Junior McDougald scored a wonderful solo goal that must surely be a prime contender for goal of the month. After beating no less than four defenders, he delicately chipped the ball over the
diving 'keeper to give the Daggers a two-goal cushion.
Tanner again frustrated McGavin shortly afterwards, saving well from Steve's wickedly curling shot. Dean almost scored on his debut when he cracked his shot against the post from a Danny Hayzelden cross from a tight angle with no-one following up what would have been a tap in from the rebound. Continued pressure from the Daggers resulted in their fifth of the night when Junior McDougald headed home his third from a Mark Brennan cross.
Junior scored his fourth with another headed goal in the 83rd minute from a corner and two minutes from time and the Daggers completed their rout when McGavin knocked-home a parry by Tanner of a Danny Hill shot from close range.
In the next round, the Daggers have been drawn at home against Ryman Division 1 high-fliers Ford United who also scored seven in round 3, beating Tiptree United 7-1.