Dagenham & Redbridge owe a lot to last match with Guiseley
14:30 15 February 2017
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A look back at the last time Daggers faced the Lions
Dagenham & Redbridge’s last match against Guiseley back in August might have seemed a straightforward victory at the time, but as the National League season has progressed, it should be regarded as one of the most important
Daggers triumphed 2-0 in west Yorkshire, but the match offered so many pointers as to how the season would go.
The squad demonstrated good mental strength to tame the Lions, having suffered a crushing 3-0 loss at Chester in their previous match.
Chris Assombalonga may have got his first and last goal for the Victoria Road side that day, but fellow striker Oliver Hawkins opened his account for the term.
The former Hemel Hempstead Town attacker has gone on to find the net a further 17 times in the league and hopefully it will not be long before he hits the magical 20 mark.
Then there was the display of Fejiri Okenabirhie, who teed up Assombalonga for the opener and terrorised the Guiseley defence from start to finish in a performance we’ve become accustomed to.
The former Harrow Borough winger continued to impress with his speed, work rate and creativity before sustaining an injury in October, and it’s no coincidence the form stuttered in his absence.
The Victoria Road side have won every game since Okenabirhie has returned, demonstrating his importance to the Essex club as the season approaches its business end.
Another player Daggers have missed this season is Matt Robinson, who has been out since November.
Against Guiseley, he was impressive in midfield, allowing Andre Boucaud the time and space to dictate the tempo.
Boucaud’s performances have tailed off a little since Robinson broke his leg in November, and the latter’s return from injury in the coming weeks is sure to be a big boost in the title race.
Further back, Elliot Justham kept his second clean sheet of the season and his first on the road; the Daggers stopper now has 14 for the season, a joint-high in the National League.
It was a performance which on reflection offered glimmers of what to expect this term when hopes of a possible title challenge were still in their infancy.
The Lions are a different prospect this time around, with experienced pros like Simon Walton and the talented John Rooney looking to do damage.
But if Daggers can fulfil the potential they demonstrated back at Nethermoor Park in August, then they will be well on their well to collecting all three points.
• The views of the match may have been influenced by a cracking, traffic-free trip up the A1 on the day, as well as a superb pre-match Subway just up the road from the ground. Other sandwich chains are available.