Dagenham & Redbridge ready to exorcise demons at Southport
PUBLISHED: 17:00 10 February 2017
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Daggers suffered an embarrassing night on their last trip to the Sandgrounders
Dagenham & Redbridge return to the scene of one of the worst nights in their history this weekend when they visit Southport in the National League tomorrow (Saturday).
When Daggers last made the trip to Haig Avenue, they went down 2-0 to the Sandgrounders in an FA Cup first round replay in November 2014.
Luke Howell was dismissed in the first half that night, but will be unable to venture to the north west this time having injured his thigh.
But as one of just two players currently at the the Essex club who played that night, the 30-year-old has been telling his team-mates what to expect when they take to the pitch at Southport.
“I’ve warned a few of the boys that it’s going to be a really tough game,” said Howell.
“The facilities aren’t great, the pitch wasn’t that great and their players will be right up for it.
“It’s a very hard game to play in and a very difficult place to play at.
“Our away form is good and I’m confident we can adapt to different situations, like playing on tough pitches.”
Daggers will likely head into this weekend’s match with little idea of what to expect after the Sandgrounders appointed a new manager on Wednesday.
Andy Preece will take charge of Southport for the first time this weekend, and Howell expects that to boost the Merseyside club.
“We’re concentrating on ourselves, but when you have a new manager like Southport do, they have nothing to lose,” added the former Lincoln City man.
“They are all trying to make sure they fight for their place and that they are in the new manager’s team.
“Southport will have a bit extra, but the boys are focussed on what we’re going to do.”
Howell will no doubt be disappointed to miss out this weekend having only returned at the end of January from a knee injury that had kept him out since the end of October.
Before that, Howell also missed the first month of the season with a different knee injury and the ex-Gillingham midfielder admits the current season has been one of his most agonising to date.
“It’s been the most frustrating season of my career and it’s been very tough,” he said.
“To come back from the injury with my right knee and do the same with my left knee was hard enough, but it happens in football.
“It’s one of those coincidences and I have to move on and try to get back playing as soon as I can.”
Despite his injury hell, Howell was able to bring up his 150th appearance for the club during last week’s dramatic 3-2 win at home to Chester.
But the Daggers midfielder admits the landmark occasion caught him a little by surprise.
“I wasn’t too sure it was my 150th game, I thought I was a few short so I must have got my numbers wrong!” he added.