League One: Carlisle United 0 Dagenham & Redbridge 2
Daggers stun Cumbrians with two late goals
DAGENHAM & REDBRIDGE are not averse to upsetting the form book. On Saturday however, they ripped it up.
Carlisle United played seven games at home in November and beat the likes of Sheffield Wednesday and Southampton on their way to recording six wins and a draw.
To therefore have that run ended by a team in the relegation zone with two wins in 22 on the road is a surprise, but the confident, composed manner of victory proved this was no fluke.
Boasting the most impressive player on the pitch in Stoke City loanee Ben Marshall, the home side looked dangerous early on with Tony Roberts having to be at full stretch to deny inside three minutes.
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With leading scorer Gary Madine also posing problems with his movement, the visitors defended deeply and occasionally rode their luck.
This forced boss John Still, without his trusted assistant Terry Harris due to a bug which has gone around many members of the squad, into a tactical change which proved a turning point.
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Switching to a 4-5-1 variation, Kayleden Brown and Medy Elito’s pace in wide curbed the attacking instincts of Carlisle’s full backs, but the display of lone forward Bas Savage made the system work.
Immediately Daggers began to attack with more purpose as Savage headed just wide from a Danny Green cross and Elito blazed a shot over from eight yards within 60 seconds over each other.
With Solomon Taiwo tasked with more defensive responsibilities, Romain Vincelot and Danny Green - in an unfamiliar central midfield position - worked relentlessly from box to box, with the Frenchman hitting an effort just wide before the break.
Carlisle were threatening in patches and Madine, who already has 13 goals this season, reminded the visitors of his threat when he found space in the area just moment after the restart.
His Daggers counterpart Savage may not boast the same strike rate so far, but he selfless running and superb hold-up play laid the foundations for the win.
After Marshall sparkled for 75 minutes without reward, another player borrowed from the Premier League then took over and made a decisive impact.
While players around him tired, jet-heeled West Bromwich Albion loanee Brown applied the after-burners and tormented USA international Frank Simek.
Now passing the American as though he was a snowman which the groundsman had neglected to shift, his perfect low cross to the near post on 81 minutes was met by one of the few with the pace to keep up with him, as Elito toe-poked past stopper Adam Collin.
Rather than go into their shell, the goal was cue for Savage to shed the shackles, pull out some items from his repertoire of trickery and tease the Blues defence while retaining possession.
As the 109 travelling fans nervously waited to see if the visitors could hang on, Brown again roamed forward at full speed and attempted to find Elito once more.
This time the Colchester United loanee dummied the ball and allowed it to run into the path of Danny Green, who took his time and buried it in the top corner of Collin’s net.
“I don’t think there’s a person, even the most biased Carlisle supporter, who wouldn’t say we deserved to win,” said Still afterwards and it is the performance, as much as the result, which will inspire so much confidence into the squad.
They remain four points clear of safety in the bottom four and their overall task of survival is still a tough one, but, having left it late in Cumbria to earn their rewards, it would be unwise of anyone to write this team off prematurely.
Dagenham & Redbridge: (4-5-1): Roberts 7, Antwi 6, Arber 7, Green 7, Brown 8, Savage 8 (Scott 92), Taiwo 6, Ogogo 6, Vincelot 7, Ilesanmi 6, Elito 6.
Subs not used: Doe, Nurse, Palsson, Currie, Oshodi, Lewington.
Carlisle United: (4-4-2): Collin 6, Simek 5, Thirlwell 7, Taiwo 5 (Grella 69 5), Zoko 6 (Robson 79 6), Marshall 8, Madine 7, Berrett 6, Chester 6, Michalik 7, Cruise 6.
Subs not used: Murphy, Hurst, Curran, Caig, Todd.