Having secured the Nationwide Conference title on Saturday, the Daggers today
stumbled to a 4-2 defeat at the Abbey Stadium against
a buoyant Cambridge United side after taking an early 2-0 lead.
could have been anticipated, John Still rang the changes for this game, coming
so soon after the party following clinching the title and with another trip to
Northwich on Wednesday. Nicky Eyre made his Conference debut in goal, Robbo
apparently having picked up an ankle injury in the game on Saturday. Paolo
Vernazza and Jake Leberl started in place of Dave Rainford and Sam Sloma, both
on the bench with Chris Moore up front alongside Paul Benson
The non playing members of the squad joined the fans in the away stand,
applauded to their seats in a moment that you won't see in too many Premiership
Daggers flew out of the blocks showing little signs of the inevitable hangover
and took the lead as early as the 8th minute when Paul
Benson (left) headed the visitors in front from
a Sam Saunders free-kick.
added another three minutes later, Chris Moore (right) bursting free down the
Daggers left and slipping a perfect pass into the Conference leading scorer, who
made it all loo simple taking
his Nationwide Conference goal tally to 28 for the season.
Cambridge began to show the form that saw them score seven against Weymouth
in their previous home game from there on in though and started to use the width
of the Abbey Stadium pitch to stretch the Daggers. After a couple of close
shaves it was no real surprise when Mark Peters rose highest from a corner to
reduce the deficit to 2-1
in the 24th minute and suddenly it was game on.
The Daggers were still a threat though, having a goal disallowed for offside
before Robbie Simpson got the equaliser for the U's bundling home somehow after
the home side broke, looking suspiciously offside on 32 minutes.
Suddenly the home team were really buzzing and they took the lead five minutes
later. Again they broke in acres of space and Courtney Pitt finished superbly
shooting across Eyre and just inside the post. The Daggers fans never skipped a
beat though singing "2-0 and we mucked it up" (well close to that) and
joining the home fans in a chorus of "We're not going down."
the break again the Daggers showed they were still a threat with Jake Leberl (left)
heading just over from a Sam Saunders cross. Jake kicked the post in frustration
knowing he should have scored and the Daggers were punished for the miss when
Robert Wolleaston made it 4-2 to Cambridge, again breaking into acres of space
and finishing superbly into the corner.
At that point it looked like the the
game could see any number of goals and both sides had chances to increase their
tally as the game went on. The hosts thought they should have had a penalty when
Simpson appeared to be clipped in the area, but the referee waved play-on.
Simpson went close a couple more times, once denied by a great save from Eyre,
and close to the end Paul Benson finished superbly for what looked like his
hat-trick only for the goal to be ruled offside.
572 travelling Daggers fans Conga'd in the away stand, not really caring how it ended though
and gave the team a standing a standing ovation at the final whistle despite the
end of the 11 match unbeaten run that clinched the title. One negative for the
game was seeing Mark Arber (right) helped off the pitch limping instead of
joining he other Daggers in applauding the fans.