REPORT: Brentford 2 Dagenham & Redbridge 1
DAGENHAM & REDBRIDGE kicked off their new year on Saturday with an unfortunately familiar away defeat, but signs of a new attitude.
Although Gary Alexander’s 88th minute winner meant the scoreline was not reflective of the overall flow of the frenetic contest, visiting supporters would have been able to take heart from their side’s display.
Earlier in the season, after narrow defeats on the road such as at Rochdale and MK Dons, boss John Still would have sounded a similar note. Taking time to highlight the positives and downplay the deficiencies.
Now, with the arrival of January signaling a countdown to the end of the season, every passing game where the club remain in the bottom four takes on an extra level of significance and the pressure increases accordingly.
Before Alexander scored the winner at the weekend, Bees substitute Nicky Forster dispossessed Solomon Taiwo on two occasions, before supplying the assist, and not even his long-standing loyalties to the individual player could distract Still from the bigger picture.
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“We played very well,” he said. “I think our problem was that Solly, who had done terrifically for us, had a great opportunity to clear the ball twice and didn’t.
“It doesn’t matter how well you play, sometimes it’s how much discipline you have and we’ve suffered through a lack of discipline which my sides don’t normally do.
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“These games are so important and we can’t afford to gift teams the ball in our third.”
While many fans in the crowd were likely still nursing sore heads at kick off, Daggers appeared to be suffering a hangover of their own after three weeks without game since their win at Carlisle.
Brentford dominated the early possession and deservedly went in front when Robbie Simpson capped an impressive passing move on 10 minutes.
Two fine saves from Tony Roberts kept the visitors in it until, unexpectedly, an equaliser appeared out of nowhere.
Taiwo’s pinpoint cross-field ball fell perfectly into the path of Danny Green on 34 minutes, whose first time cross was tapped in by the advancing Romain Vincelot.
It wasn’t the cleanest connection from the Frenchman, but gave his team-mates belief, which was supplemented by Brentford hitting the woodwork twice before the break.
Medy Elito had the best chance to put Daggers in front in the second half, but Vincelot and midfielder Billy Bingham, on his full Football League debut, also forced saves from Richard Lee.
Then, even after Alexander’s goal, Femi Ilesanmi drilled a low shot just wide as the visitors left with nothing to show for their efforts.
“We couldn’t have played better or work harder and I don’t think we could have taken the game to them, as an away team, any more than we did,” said Still.
“When I think of some of the teams they’ve turned over it’s a great performance, but a great performance doesn’t come to anything if people have a lack of discipline.”