The Daggers lost again last night at Gravesend to set a new record for the club
of five games lost in a row, but strangely enough most of the travelling fans
will have been encouraged by a second half performance that deserved more and
showed that there is life yet in the team.
As expected, Shane Blackett replaced Ashley Vickers in the starting line up,
Ash starting his four match ban. Otherwise the only change was Tony Boot in for
Jack Midson as Chris Moore's partner up front.
the bench Nick Bussey was sub keeper which suggests that Abi Baruwa is not in
John Still's plans. One surprise and welcome face on the bench was Paul Bruce
(right), back from the wilderness hopefully to add left sided options to the
The first half opened in familiar fashion with the Fleet making all the
running and the Daggers stretched at the back and in midfield. Shane Blackett on
the left repeatedly found himself one on one with Moussa Sidebe who hugged the
touchline, Lee Flynn going missing defensively. Despite this, Blackett had a
good game, although the boo boys in the Daggers support seemed not to notice.
In goal, Alex O'Reilly seemed to have some vampire tendencies, repeatedly
choosing to flap a fist at crosses that could have been caught. Given
Gravesend's ability to whip in some wicked crosses especially from a series of
early corners, it was almost inevitable that something would come from this and
sure enough, just before the half hour the home team took the lead.
deep cross from the Daggers left was perfect for Roy Essendoh who was faced by
Lee Goodwin (left). Although Goodwin could not have won the header, his failure
to even jump and challenge meant that Essendoh had the simple task of heading
the ball back to Steve McKimm who slipped the ball into an empty net.
Just seconds later it looked like the Fleet had a decent penalty shout when a
shot from the edge of the area following another corner was cleared off the line
by Mark Janney with what looked suspiciously like an arm not a chest.
The officials though were having a true nightmare of a game, getting the
simple line calls wrong time and again for both sides, so it was unlikely that
Mr Evetts was going to get such a big decision right, and he would repeat his
"no penalty" decision for the Daggers in the second half.
behind the Daggers finally started getting into the game and Wilkerson in the
Fleet goal had to make a series of great saves to keep them in front. One, a
flying leap to the top left hand corner of his goal to keep Jake Leberl's
(right) header out was right out of the top drawer.
It was a shame then when just four minutes into the second half the Fleet
made it 2-0. Manny Omoyinmi ran through, once again with only Blackett in close
proximity. O'Reilly managed to half block the ball but Omoyinmi picked up the
rebound and smashed it into the roof of the net for the spectacular finish. Later he would try the same
trick when past the keeper and miss the target so next time roll it in Manny!
the Daggers were stung into life. Tony Boot wriggled free and had a shot but
couldn't get the power into it to beat the in form Wilkerson. Then Lee Flynn (left) was found after a great
break by Janney and Moore and his shot was tipped onto the bar and over by the
keeper at full stretch. As
his defence congratulated Wilkerson on another stunning save the officials
decided it was a goal kick!
Two minutes later though the Daggers managed to end their goal drought that
ran back to the 24th minute at home to Woking - 492 minutes of football in all! A
corner from the left by Glen Southam induced panic and after a scramble Chris
Moore managed to turn and smash it in from a couple of yards out for his fifth
of the season.
there was a little belief again. Chris Moore (right) began to torment the Fleet
defence as of old. One break saw him turn his marker in the area and he was
brought down for as clear a penalty as you are ever likely to see. Once again
though Mr Evetts decided that it was no penalty.
Having ducked the big decisions of the game, Mr Evetts also fouled up on the
two yellow cards he dished out. First he booked Chris Moore for catching
Wilkerson in a 50/50 challenge outside of the area when Moore was entitled to go
for the ball and indeed would have been severely admonished by John Still had he
Then, when Jake Leberl went in two footed on a Gravesend player it looked
every inch the fifth red card for the Daggers in six games, but Mr Evetts
decided it was just a yellow. Very lucky Jake! It was Conference refereeing at
its most awful and Evetts and his assistants should be sent back to park
football as a result by the assessor.
The Daggers shuffled their pack a little, Craig Mackail-Smith
(left) replacing the
ineffective Lee Flynn, then Paul Bruce coming on for Mark Janney. Mackail-Smith
again looked a handful, especially once wide on the right and must be pressing
for a start soon.
As the game came to an end the Daggers
pressed forward and the Fleet forwards threatened on the break and it looked
like it had to be either 2-2 or 3-1 but in the end neither side could add to the
scoring and the Daggers ended pointless one more.
Worryingly, in injury time, Lee Goodwin had to hobble off with an injury that
looked a nasty one, replaced by Warren Barton in his Conference debut.
Results elsewhere mean the Daggers slip to 16th after nine games having
topped the table after four games, but even so the second half performance,
going forward at least, will have encouraged many that the run of defeats may
soon be halted.