League One: Dagenham & Redbridge 1 Colchester United 0
Bas Savage’s first half strike is enough to secure derby victory
Dagenham & Redbridge beat Colchester United on Tuesday evening. Bas Savage scored early in the first half. There’s not much else you need to know.
Then again, not many other details will matter to supporters for whom tangible points, rather than any sense of self-satisfaction or artistic merit, are the only thing that will separate them from the dense bunch of strugglers frantically hopping around to keep their feet off the relegation trapdoor.
Fortunately, for those same set of fans, the points are beginning to arrive. Three came back with them from a tricky trip to Bristol Rovers on Saturday and now another treble against a side with aspirations of the play-offs in an Essex derby.
Much like in the first meeting between the two sides in September, Savage put Daggers in front within the opening quarter of an hour.
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The sight of the powerful forward’s celebratory moonwalk is one supporters may not feel they have seen enough this season, but after battling, industrious work from Romain Vincelot in the area, he pounced to poke home a loose ball after just 11 minutes.
John Still said in the build up to the game that he felt his players were beginning to feel comfortable at League One level and the confident nature of their play after taking the lead underlined the belief among the group.
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Any slight feelings of complacency were nearly dashed when Kayode Odejayi’s through ball dissected the home defence to find Ian Henderson, but the winger’s shot edged inches wide of the left-hand post.
An even louder warning siren rang out just before the half-hour as central defender Matt Heath’s surprisingly subtle through ball found the left-sided player again, who this time smashed an effort past Tony Roberts only to see it ruled out for offside.
However, from then on, the flat atmosphere in the stands diffused onto the pitch for the most part though as the visitors lacked urgency and the hosts were quite content to play at a controlled tempo and try to escape with the win.
While the 2-2 draw between the sides earlier in the season was end-to-end entertainment, this was anything but and the U’s still struggled to penetrate even after striker Steven Gillespie was introduced at the break.
Chief among the reasons for Colchester’s bluntness was the impressive Solomon Taiwo at the base of Dagenham’s midfield, while Peter Gain’s crunching challenges and intelligent interceptions spurred his team-mates on.
A hopeful floated diagonal ball nearly paid dividends for Ward’s men when Abu Ogogo’s mistimed jump allowed Anthony Wordsworth a shot at goal, but his attempted lob would not fall down on the right side of the crossbar
The former Carlisle United boss used his full allotment of substitutes – including replacing Odejayi at a time he desperately needed a goal, but the cavalry didn’t arrive.
In the third minute of injury time though, Taiwo fouled Peter Clarke on the edge of the Daggers box and Henderson, maybe the only visiting player to impress on the night, placed the ball on the mark with purpose.
Season ticket holders at Victoria Road have seen many late goals go against the team this season and even the already subdued atmosphere changed into a nervous hush.
As the winger fiercely struck his free kick, Jon Nurse – whose return to the starting line-up over the past 10 games has coincided with an improvement in results, stood up to it bravely to turn it away from danger and he was rewarded by the sound of the final whistle.
The second biggest cheer of the evening came afterwards when the stadium announcer revealed fellow strugglers Walsall had been beaten by Leyton Orient, which ensured Daggers climbed out of bottom four in League One.
The match also marked the first time this season Still’s side have recorded back-to-back victories and it was also the first home clean sheet at Victoria Road since the 2-0 win against the O’s in September 2010.
On a night to forget, they are milestones worth taking note of.