The smallest crowd of the season turned up at the Glyn Hopkin Stadium on a
miserable Saturday to witness another poor performance from the Daggers as they
slipped to a league double defeat to lowly Leigh RMI.
Rob Gill back at Doncaster, Chris Moore still suspended and Leon Braithwaite
missing the Daggers were short of striking options. With the obvious combination
being Steve Watts and club record goalscorer Danny Shipp it was with some
incredulity that the crowd realised it was Paul Bruce (right), who has been
doing so well at left back recently, pushed up with Watts.
Instead Shipp lined up in the middle of the park with Mark Bentley, flanked
by Tarkan Mustafa and Chris Piper, with the "old" back four, Goodwin,
Cole, Matthews and Vickers, reunited and Danny Naisbitt between the sticks
replacing an injured Robbo.
5 minutes referee McDermidd had put his stamp on the sort of game he expected,
booking Lee Goodwin (left), the first of eleven yellow cards on the day. Quite
how it ended eleven a side given the picky nature of the refereeing is a
The first half dragged by with neither side showing too much, but the Daggers
on top without really looking likely to score. Naisbitt making his debut did
well to save a couple of pot shots from Leigh before conceding as the half came
to a close when Paul Shepherd wrongfooted him with a header that barely reached
the net. The goal followed an obvious handball on the top of the area on a day
when another Conference referee really showed how bad it can be.
Daggers were booed off at half time but the cuppa didn't help this time. Leigh,
given their position were very happy to hold what they had and the Daggers
lacked the imagination to do too much about it. In an effort to shake things up
after 57 minutes Garry Hill brought Mark Janney on for Goodwin, moving Tarkan
back to right back, then finally made the obvious move on 66 minutes, Danny Hill
replacing Chris Piper. Bruce moving to wide on the left and Danny Shipp (right)
going up top.
last the Daggers turned the screw chasing the equalliser. On 74 minutes Referee
McDermidd made another blinding decision when Wayne Maden followed through viciously
on Ashley Vickers right in front of him. Sure enough instead of the red it
should have been it was the ninth yellow of the game. With red mist obviously
descending on Ash, who was the already fourth name in the notebook looked favourite to
be the first red of the day. Somehow though to Ash's credit he swallowed hard
and was the best player on the pitch for the remainder of the game.
Daggers kept knocking on the door and finally drew level with seven minutes left
on the clock. Paul Bruce's corner led to panic in the Leigh defence and Mark
Bentley headed against the bar. The ball dropped straight to Tim Cole (right)
though who scored from close range.
From there it had to be the Daggers who were favorites to grab the winner but
another comedy of errors handed Leigh a winner just a minute later. An innocuous
ball up the Daggers left resulted in Lee Matthews slamming the attempted
clearance against a Leigh player. The ball broke to McNiven who was at least
three yards offside but was waved on. Still the Daggers should have cleared but
Cole and Naisbitt managed to get mixed up leaving McNiven with the ball and an
empty net. 1-2 game over.
Garry Hill stated in his program notes that the run of 13 points from the
previous 18 had built a platform to go for the play offs. To be honest that is
just a fantasy given that the Daggers cannot seem to break down any team that
comes to the Glyn Hopkin Stadium looking to hold out for a point. We have now
fallen to Accrington Stanley, Burton Albion and Leigh RMI in those circumstances
already this season, all teams that we shouldn't be losing to at home.
The run of games coming up see the Daggers with some extremely tricky
fixtures against the top half teams. We need to find some real form very quickly
or we could be staring down the barrel by the end of February.