AFC Bournemouth 3 Dagenham & Redbridge 0
The honeymoon is over.
In their four other hard-fought games in League One this season, regardless of the result, Dagenham & Redbridge have emerged with credit and with the knowledge they could have secured three points.
However, in Bournemouth on Saturday, ironically against another side who won promotion last season, the Daggers were comprehensively defeated for the first time and could have no gripes about the scoreline.
Debutant right-back Phil Ifil, who replaced the injured Abu Ogogo, was the only change from the side which beat Leyton Orient at home a week prior and John Still’s men began with the same levels of organisation and desire.
In fact it was the visitors who had the better early chances to take the lead when Tomlin initially had two efforts repelled and then should have done better with a header from six yards, after an inch-perfect cross from Danny Green.
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With the momentum in their favour, Daggers will have considered themselves unfortunate to go behind on 37 minutes, when Cherries skipper Jason Pearce tapped into an empty net after Tony Roberts had been beaten by a cross from the bye-line.
The second, five minutes later, firmly swung the momentum in favour of the home side and, most frustratingly, it was a goal of entirely Daggers’ own making.
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At a time when Still will have wanted players to be conservative, before they had the chance to regroup at half time, Green tried to go past Rhoys Wiggins on the half-way line, failed to make a saving tackle, and watched him venture forward.
As Still threw his hands up in despair on the touchline, the left-sided player sent a cross to the back post where Josh McQuoid headed past Roberts.
Mark Arber had a chance to pull one back with a header before the break, but it proved a false dawn and the second period was one-way traffic in favour of the hosts.
Bournemouth’s fluid front six, filled with players combining pace and technical ability, changed positions at will and all had opportunities to add their name to the scoresheet.
The driving force behind the onslaught was Marvin Bartley, who gave a midfield masterclass and resembled Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira in more ways than simply his lanky frame.
The former Hampton & Richmond Borough ace won tackles, burst forward at every opportunity and acted as a creator in the final third – teeing up his team-mates on a number of occasions.
The third came when Wiggins found space on the left and drilled a shot past Roberts from the edge of the area, before McQuoid, Lee Bradbury, Marc Pugh and Liam Feeney all went close to adding a fourth.
While Darren Currie offered technical ability for Daggers, exemplified by a classy through ball to Jon Nurse in the second half, which the substitute should have done better with, he and the rest of the midfield were simply run ragged,
Still brought on Stuart Lewis to add some steel with 15 minutes remaining, but the damage was done and the game limped to a conclusion with the home supporters taking to berating a linesman in almost pantomime fashion to stay entertained.
Previous games have shown Daggers that, on their day, they have the ability to be competitive with any team in the division. The task now is to maintain their high standards every week, because Saturday proved they will be punished for giving anything less.
Daggers: Roberts, McCrory, Doe, Arber, Green (Scannell, 65 mins), Scott, Tomlin (Nurse, 63 mins), Ifil, Currie (Lewis, 74 mins), Vincelot, Gain.
Subs not used: Lewington, Wilkinson, Bingham, Gwillim.