League One: MK Dons 2 Dagenham & Redbridge 0
Two second-half strikes seal victory for Karl Robinson’s men.
MK DONS manager Karl Robinson used the word ‘perfection’ to describe aspects of his side’s victory on Saturday.
Having not won in six games before hand, the 30-year-old boss’ hyperbole about the drab, lifeless encounter can be attributed to relief at breaking a barren run.
It is harder to find a rhyme or reason why the recently buoyant Daggers, unbeaten in their last four, suddenly crashed back down to earth so spectacularly.
Despite starting with the same players who began what manager John Still called the ‘biggest win in the club’s history’ against Swindon Town a week earlier, they looked like a different team.
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Still was quick to point out afterwards that MK Dons are a more established side at the level and boast players with greater experience - most notably Champions League-winning midfielder Dietmar Hamann.
Both points are valid, but the Daggers chief will have been disappointed by the lack of the three characteristics which normally define his sides - tempo, energy and endeavour.
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Until Jermaine Easter’s penalty rebounded off the post on 41 minutes, after Tony Roberts had clumsily brought down Lewis Guy when heading away from goal, almost nothing of note happened in the first half.
Two long throw-ins from Danny Green were allowed to bounce in the Dons’ penalty area, hinting at a lack of assertiveness in the home rearguard, but they proved to be the extent of Daggers’ attacking forays.
Dons grew in confidence as Easter saw more of the ball and were further handed the initiative just three minutes into the second half when Gavin Tomlin was replaced by Stuart Lewis and the visitors switched to a five-man midfield.
Less than 15 minutes later, the hosts were two goals to the good.
Firstly, lively substitute Sam Baldock beat the offisde trap to race onto a through ball from Angelo Balanta, before acutely chipping over the advancing Roberts from a tight angle.
Soon after, the Colombian on loan from Queens Park Rangers was again the supplier as one his in-swinging corner was met by Hamann at the back post and handed Mathias Kouo-Doumbe to head in from six yards out.
A long-range effort from Green threatened to wake the visitors from their slumber, but no sustained period of pressure or possession was forthcoming.
The intelligent movement of Easter, now being man-marked by Lewis, continued to pose problems and first set up Balanta to shoot wide, before putting the ball on a plate for Baldock, only for Roberts to deny him with an excellent point-blank save.
The result was never in doubt though and Dons professionally played out the game to secure the points and breathe new life into their play-off push.
Expecting Daggers to perform at the levels shown against Colchester United and Swindon on a consistent basis was never realistic and a young team with little League One experience were always going to experience peaks and troughs.
Still will now hope his side can forget about the fixture and start afresh at home to Walsall on Saturday.
In fact, it would probably be in the interests of everyone who saw the game to forget about it as quickly as possible and move on with their lives.
Dagenham & Redbridge: Roberts, McCrory, Doe, Arber, Green, Tomlin (Lewis, 48 mins), Ifil, Scannell, Savage (Nurse, 73 mins), Vincelot, Gain.
Subs not used: Scott, Currie, Bingham, Gwillim, Lewington.
Attendance: 7,083, including 299 travelling fans.