The fans that traveled to Nuneaton for this match left dejected after seeing the Daggers crash again against an average Boro side at Manor Park. The team completely failed to get out of first gear until it was too late, and then lost top scorer Mark Stein (left) with a red card for violent conduct that will see him sitting out 3 of the clubs last 8 games. It appears that even with Boston struggling themselves it is going to be hard now for the Daggers to win the title without some kind of spectacular turnaround in form and fortune.
Garry Hill named an unchanged 16 apart from the substitute goalkeeper, deadline day signing Neville Southall replacing Kevin Shoemake on the bench. As early as the first minute the Daggers had a decent shout for a penalty with Mark Stein being pulled back in the box, but the referee ignored the incident. With the pitch seemingly hard and very bobbley it was once again hit and hope tactics from the visitors, despite obvious acres of space down the right in particular.
Nuneaton forced a great save out of Paul Gothard early on when he parried a long range shot. Goth never looked completely certain in goal though, particularly on crosses where he seems to prefer the punch to the safe catch.
The uncertainty between back four and keeper was graphically demonstrated when in the 19th minute Nuneaton took the lead. A defensive mix up saw Gothard come for the ball only for Mark Smith (right) to head it to Turner who lobbed the ball into the empty net. Instead of this being the signal for a fight back, the Daggers carried on playing the ball long and the half ended 1-0 with no real view of where an equaliser would come from.
It got worse early on the second half. Once again Smith and Gothard seemed undecided what the other was going to do as Nuneaton played a hopeful long ball up the Daggers left. Gothard stayed on his line this time with Smudger obviously expecting him to come and take. Smith hesitated, letting himself be caught in possesion, Charles then crossing to Harris who had the easiest task to score.
Garry Hill used his substitutions to try to liven proceedings up as the Daggers chased the game, McDougald, Hill and Shipp coming on in quick sucession for Smith, Heffer and Jones, but chances for both sides were at a premium. The best fell to Ken Charlery in the 75th minute who after a sharp one-two with Stein sliced his shot wide from the edge of the penalty area.
The Daggers frustrations boiled over in the 81st minute when Mark Stein kicked out at Richard Lavery and was ordered off, having to be virtually carried from the field as he was so obviously angry, presumably at some comment made as he was leaving the pitch.
After this the Daggers ten men finally took the game to Nuneaton, Charlery having a header well saved by McKenzie and Lee Goodwin (left) hitting the post but it was never going to be enough.
The result leaves the title's destiny again in Boston United's hands and the lack of quality of the performance by the Daggers has convinced even the most optimistic of their fans that it is not going to be this time around. Looking back on last season a dismal 2-0 defeat at Manor Park was the catalyst for a nine game winning streak that took the Daggers from mid table to 3rd. This sort of turnaround needs to be repeated for title to end up at Victoria Road this season. The room for
further slip ups is disappearing.