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Match Report


Posted Mon 10 May 10 at 06:43 AM

Daggers in the Play-off's

The Daggers crowned their league season by making it into the League 2 promotion play-offs, securing the last day victory they needed at bottom-of-the-table Darlington on Saturday.

Now John Still's side will meet Morecambe in a two legged semi, with the first leg at home on Sunday (May 16), 1-30pm kick-off, travelling to Morecambe on Thursday week (May 20) for a 7-45pm start, in the second leg.

The incentive for both sides is a Wembley final on Sunday week, May 30 with a 3pm kick-off.

And the omens are good in semi's with the Shrimps, whose progress has been inextricably linked with that ofthe Daggers in recent seasons.

The clubs were promoted together to the Football League three seasons ago - Daggers as champions, Morecambe as play-off winners - and they met in a similar two legged play-off semi seven seasons ago as Conference clubs.

Daggers won that one with victory in the second leg at Morecambe's Christie Park in an exciting penalty shoot-out to make it to the Conference Promotion play-off final against Doncaster Rovers, only to lose it 3-2 to a "silver'' goal at Stoke's Britannia Stadium.

In what wasn't the sternest test they could have faced in a last day decider, already relegated Darlington, preparing for the Blue Square Premier next season, gave a game and spirited performance, but couldn't deny John Still's boys.

On a ground which held fond memories for Daggers' seven coachloads of support, numbering just under 500, in a 2,720 crowd in a 25,000 seater arena, Daggers were never really in serious trouble against a side that had taken just one point from their last 10 home games!

It was at the impressive Darlington Arena that Daggers preserved their League status in the penultimate game of the season, two seasons ago, coming back from 2-0 down to win 3-2, in their first League campaign.

Paul Benson swung over a dangerous cross in the opening exchanges that curled under home keeper Nick Liversedge's crossbar, as the windy conditions in the wide-open Arena threatened to spoil the game.

Liversedge then had to be alert to block an effort from Daggers' top scorer with his body as Benson latched onto an under-powered back-header from defender Alan White as the visitors settled well in such an important game.

Daggers' first shot in anger came from the unlikely source of Abu Ogogo, set up for him by Josh Scott, but the full-back dragged his effort badly wide.

Liversedge was much the busier keeper and he did well to beat away a near post effort from the eager Benson, after skipper Mark Arber had found the striker with a clever ball into the area in 17 minutes.

Four minutes later, the tension was eased as Daggers took the lead their early pressure deserved. From a Danny Green corner, Jon NURSE was left surprisingly unattended to rise and head down powerfully past Liversedge from six yards.

Darlo tried to respond and when a rebound off Scott Doe fell very conveniently to young home striker Michael Smith, he wasted a good opening with a weak finish.

Arber went into referee Webb's notebook for a heavy challenge on opposing skipper Gary Smith, but with the break eight minutes away, the home side had their best chance from the resulting free-kick. Full-back Andrew Milne came in well on Michael Convery's free-kick to get above Daggers' defence, only to power his header a couple of yards over.

Green became Daggers' second booking just before the interval, for a trip on Milne.

Half-time Darlington 0, Dagenham & R 1

Three minutes after the restart, Green tried his luck with a trademark free-kick from fully 25 yards out, his rising effort forcing Liversedge to tip over his crossbar.

Eleven minutes into the second period and Daggers had a shout for a penalty, for handball against White as he hacked clear another Nurse goalbound header from a Green free-kick, but referee Webb showed little interest in the appeals.

Tony Roberts, who had enjoyed a quiet game, was forced into his first real exertion of the afternoon two minutes later. Again full-back Milne was the danger as he rose to Convery's left-wing cross and powered in another strong header. This time, Roberts was forced to push it away at full length.

With 16 minutes of the game remaining, Daggers conjured up the desperately needed second goal that would make their play-off place secure.

It owed much to the persistence and guile of Paul Benson, who cleverly 'pinched' the ball off Darlo teenage defender Dan Burn as he hesitated over a clearance. Benson outpaced the young centre back into the area, where he both delayed and then cleverly weighted his pass into the path of the incoming Josh SCOTT who only had to jab it past Liversedge from almost on the goalline.

The final quarter of the game was played out without undue alarm for the Daggers, who introduced Darren Currie for Jon Nurse with eight minutes left, after the scorer of the first goal had suffered a mild concussion, following a clash of heads.

D&R: 1. Tony Roberts, 3. Damien McCrory, 4. Scott Doe, 6. Mark Arber - capt, 7. Danny Green, 9. Jon Nurse (17. Darren Currie 83 mins), 10. Josh Scott, 14. Paul Benson, 19. Abu Ogogo, 20. Romain Vincelot, 33. Peter Gain. Unused subs: 30. Chris Lewington (GK), 15. Anwar Uddin, 16. Wesley Thomas, 22. Graeme Montgomery, 26. Tommy Tejan-Sie, 31. Phil Walsh.

Att: 2, 720 (492 D&R)

Referee: Mr D Webb (Co Durham).

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