Daggers boss Still critical of forward play after defeat at Walsall
“Our final third play just wasn’t good enough,” says disappointed manager.
DAGENHAM & REDBRIDGE manager John Still criticised his side’s lack of attacking threat after a dour showing at Walsall on Tuesday night.
An 82nd-minute goal from Northern Ireland youth international Will Grigg eventually decided the basement battle, which had important ramifications for both sides in their fight against relegation.
However, the Saddlers created 15 shooting opportunities and looked comfortable in possession going forward for the entire game.
In comparison, Daggers recorded just one shot on target, which came in the dying moments when substitute Marvin Morgan tamely poked an effort towards goal and it was cleared off the line by a defender.
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“I didn’t want a point, I wanted three. We desperately wanted three and didn’t want to play for a draw,” insisted Still.
“But we haven’t posed enough threat if I’m being honest. They didn’t pose an enormous amount of threat, but they posed more than us.”
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The boss made two changes for the fixture with Danny Green returning from suspension to replace Darren Currie and, more surprisingly, Bas Savage starting in place of Morgan up front.
As Daggers played with one up front for most of the contest, Walsall showed constant attacking ambition, with former Manchester City marksman Jon Macken impressively linking the play between attack and midfield.
Former Ipswich full-back Matt Richards, who has now been converted into a central midfielder, was full of bite in the engine room and orchestrated a lot of his side’s best attacking forays.
Daggers did have one excellent chance in the first half when Solomon Taiwo picked out Damian Scannell six yards out, but the winger’s header was saved by Jimmy Walker.
Macken twice shot narrowly wide from distance in the first period, while Daggers were also grateful for last-ditch blocks from Scott Doe and Abu Ogogo.
Going forward, Daggers struggled to retain possession and Savage was given little support, resulting in frequent pressure on their own backline.
Tony Roberts made a fantastic save to deny Macken early in the second half, repelling an effort from point-blank range, after a breakaway from Alex Nicholls.
Captain Mark Arber and defensive partner Doe were excellent all evening and when Darryl Westlake missed an open goal after 68 minutes it seemed a point was there for the taking.
It was the introduction of Grigg, which supporters jeered at the time because they did not want to see Nicholls make way, which changed the game.
Once again Macken pulled the strings and held off his marker, waited patiently for support, before rolling it into the path of the 19-year-old to expertly curl past Roberts.
“In the last couple of games we’ve clicked in the final third, particularly late in games but tonight we perhaps didn’t,” said the manager.
“We defended very well, I was pleased with our defending, but our final third play just wasn’t good enough to give us a proper goalscoring opportunity.
“Jon (Nurse) got in down the side of them late in the game and put in a half-cross – he didn’t really get hold of it – which looked like it could be a chance.
“They’re the sort of things we need to try and do better, particularly away from home where you’ve got to do your share of defending and hope you can catch people on the break.
“When we had opportunities on the break though, we didn’t make the most of them.”
He added: “I told the players the other day that because of the amount of games we’ve got left, we’re going to lose some.
“I told them to not worry about losing. It’s going to get really tight down at the bottom. You’ve got to scrap for everything.”
Daggers: Roberts, Ogogo, Doe, Arber, Ilesanmi, Green (Tomlin, 86 mins), Vincelot, Taiwo, Scannell (Morgan, 69 mins), Nurse, Savage. Subs not used: McCrory, Currie, Bingham, Walsh, Lewington.
Attendance: 3,174, including 120 away fans.