Daggers’ Savage: I’m my own man, not a budget Paul Benson

BAS SAVAGE says he has come to Dagenham & Redbridge to make his own mark and not replace former hitman Paul Benson.

Daggers John Still signed the 28-year-old striker on a free in September to strengthen his attacking options, following the departure of Benson to League One rivals Charlton at the end of August.

The eccentric striker, famous for his multi-coloured hairstyle and moonwalk goal celebration, has scored two goals in five games, including the clincher during Saturday’s 2-1 win against Swindon Town.

The former Tranmere striker insists he has not arrived at Victoria Road to be compared to Benson, who scored 84 goals in 201 appearances for Dagenham & Redbridge, but to make his own history.

“I don’t look at it like that (being brought into replace Benson). I’ve just come in and the manager has given me an opportunity to play,” said Savage, on Saturday.

“I’ve played at this level for most of my career and I’ve just come in and tried to contribute to the team, work hard, give good performances and hopefully goals will follow as well.”

Savage’s nous at League One level has certainly made a difference since joining the Daggers. His height and hold-up play have given his team-mates an outlet, as well as acting as the perfect foil for the impish Gavin Tomlin to play off.

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Standing upfront like a lighthouse on the rocks, he has become a target for his team-mates and a nightmare for opposition defenders with his gangly, muscular frame proving a tall order to shackle.

His performances have earned high praise from his manager. “He’s (Savage) come in and done very well for us,” said Still. “We’ve had to give him enough work to do, he wasn’t quite as fit as us, but when we lost Paul it was trying to find a focal point for our attacks.

“It’s really important that we try and find the right one in character and ability. I think you can see after a couple of games that Bas has become a Dagger.”

Against the Robins last Saturday Savage proved to be a Canary Wharf sized headache for the visitors’ centre back pairing of Scott Cuthbert and Sean Morrison.

With 10 minutes to play, he struck inside the box with a shot on the turn that evaded the clutches of Swindon goalkeeper David Lucas and earned his team the three points to take them out of the drop zone.

Savage revealed the hairdryer treatment at half time from Still, gave the team the kick up the proverbial they needed.

“We got a rollicking at half time and came back out and showed great character to get the win,” said the former Brighton player.

“The last couple of games we’ve played really well and showed what Dagenham are about. We’ve passed it, we’ve matched them and mixed it up. We’ve had to battle in games and to be fair, we should have beaten Charlton (2-2) and Colchester (2-2) and it could be nine points.

“But hard-fought away draws and a win today is good.”