The Daggers tonight overcame Conference new boys, Gravesend & Northfleet to win 2-1 at Stonebridge
Road in a very entertaining and tight game. Gravesend's first home game back in
the top flight of non-league for 20 years was heralded by a brass band and
balloons (right) before kick-off
The Daggers started with just one change in the line up from Saturday's team,
Steve Heffer, back from suspension replacing Danny Hill. This involved a major
positional reshuffle though with Heffer in at centre back, with Ashley Vickers
reverting to full back, Paul Bruce up to left midfield, Steve Perkins in central
midfield and Steve McGavin over on the right.
The opening exchanges were pretty even, with the both sides looking dangerous
down the left. Ashley Vickers was booked as early as the 5th minute when he
rashly challenged Robert Owen in the corner of the pitch. Ashley then proceeded
to have a fine game earning him the DiggerDagger man of the match.
In the 24th minute the Daggers took the lead and once again it was Mark Stein
who finished brilliantly placing the ball past Fleet keeper from a right wing
cross by Steve McGavin. This prompted a fast response from the home side though
who charged at the Daggers defence. They had a strong shout for a penalty denied
and then when Lee Goodwin clipped the heel of Sturgess a few minutes later, as
often happens referee Tomlinson decided that he had to give that one. Paul Booth
sent the ball into Tony Roberts lop left corner giving him no chance. Gravesend
finished the half the stronger of the two sides without really threatening to
Only a minute of the second half had passed when the Daggers found themselves back in front.
A good move saw Steve Perkins slip the ball through to Danny Shipp on the top of
the penalty area and he turned and placed his shot in the bottom left
corner to the delight of the large Daggers contingent in the crowd. The Daggers
then had their best spell of the game and for 10 minutes looked very capable of
scoring again before the Fleet again wrested the initiative away.
Garry Hill once again brought Junior McDougald on at about the hour mark,
this time Steve Perkins the man to be withdrawn, dropping Danny Shipp into
midfield and allowing Junior's pace to threaten on the break. The Fleet went
closest first though, hitting the woodwork twice in a couple of minutes. Hatch
found himself clean through, but Robbo stood up to him and although the shot
beat him, it came back on off the inside of the post and was cleared. Then from
a corner Jimmy Strouts also hit the post with a header.
As the home side poured forward for the equaliser it meant that gaps were
opening up for the Daggers to break in to though and Junior's pace looked
extremely threatening. From one break in the 84th minute he beat the keeper only
to see the shot drift just wide.
With time running out Junior (left) again ran free and this time his shot from
the edge of the area somehow hit the inside of the post as the Dagger fans were
screaming goal! With four minutes of injury time added the Daggers hit the
woodwork again when Steve McGavin was flattened on the edge of the area from
another break and Paul Bruce's free kick came back off the bar with Wilkerson
again well beaten.
The win leaves the Daggers with maximum points and top on goals scored after
just two games coming into their tricky trip to Scarborough on Saturday.