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Daggers aim to chime on big Pompey stage

Dagenham & Redbridge's Luke Howell. Pic: Dave Simpson/TGSPHOTO Dagenham & Redbridge's Luke Howell. Pic: Dave Simpson/TGSPHOTO

Tuesday, December 24, 2013
5:13 PM

League Two preview: Portsmouth v Dagenham & Redbridge, Boxing Day, 1pm.

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Portsmouth were holding Arsenal to a goalless draw at Fratton Park in the Premier League on Boxing Day 2007.

But fast forward six seasons and it is Dagenham & Redbridge who will be visiting the South Coast and the players will thrive on the big occasion, according to midfielder Luke Howell.

It has taken until Christmas for Daggers to lose two games on the bounce in League Two this term as they go into the first of three matches in the space of seven days after a frustrating 1-0 home loss against Torquay United.

But Howell feels there is plenty of positives to come out of that game despite the defeat, and believes Fratton Park can bring the best out of the squad.

He said: “It must be strange for Portsmouth to be playing League Two football, but it’s a great experience for us lot. To have a team as big as Portsmouth in the league is staggering, their fans are one of a kind really.

“It’s an exciting time for us to go there. There’s no pressure on us, we’ve just got to go there and enjoy it and I am sure we will.”

The festive period last season brought up some tough fixtures for Daggers and they ultimately lost all three of them against Southend (3-0), Port Vale (3-2) and Northampton (3-1).

This year’s assignments look equally as tough on paper, but Howell insists the squad can start turning some of their positive away performances into points – something they have lacked on the road so far.

“Last year it was hard for us and we’ve got hard games again this term, but these games are exciting to play in,” he said.

“We believe we can go there and get not just the point, but the three. We have to look forward to them and pick up as many points as we can over the tough period.”

It has been a frustrating few weeks for Daggers, but despite the back-to-back defeats they are in 10th spot – four points off the play-offs and nine behind the current leaders Chesterfield, who they travel to on Sunday.

And such is the tightness of the division, Howell insists it’s time for the Daggers to show their character and put themselves right back in the mix, otherwise before long they could be looking down, rather than up.

“You look at the table every week after the games and it never really seems to change much,” he added. “The team that is top one week isn’t the next, more often than not, so that shows how tight it is, and that’s a good thing.

“A couple of wins puts you right back in with a shout, but equally a couple of bad results will mean we have to turn it around and you could start slipping down the table. We don’t want that to happen.”

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