Tomlin backs Morgan and Akinde to fire Daggers forward
New boys make instant impact in training
AT THE start of December, when Dagenham & Redbridge had scored 19 goals in 18 League One games, we asked who was best equipped to spearhead their attack?
Clearly it was a concern on the mind of manager John Still as well, judging by his activity in the transfer market since then.
First Bas Savage signed a contract extension until the end of the season and last week the boss swiftly pounced to snare Marvin Morgan when he was suddenly made available by Aldershot Town.
Still was not finished there, and joined the bidding auction for Burton Albion forward Shaun Harrad, before Bristol City’s John Akinde arrived on loan on Monday.
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Daggers now have five frontline strikers at their disposal, but a single Gavin Tomlin goal was enough on Saturday in their victory at Hartlepool.
The 28-year-old’s season has large parallels with that of the team as a whole, as his two-goal return is not a fair reflection of the quality of his performances.
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However, when adrift in the relegation zone, points matter most and Tomlin can sense a turning of the tide.
“We’d lost three on the bounce, even though we’ve been playing quite well, so it was a much-needed win,” he said.
“We rode our luck a little bit, but the conditions were not very good for us in the first half.
“It was very windy and initially I thought that was going to work in our favour. We won the toss and Arber decided to play with the wind, but it didn’t work out like I thought.
“The balls just kept going out of play and in the second half Hartlepool struggled with it the same as we did.
“In the second half we got into the game more and had more possession, whereas they found it more difficult.”
Daggers barely managed a shot on goal in the first half as they battled the elements, but Tomlin and full debutant Morgan began to pose problems after the break.
When the goal did come four minutes from time, it was the new recruit who won the ball, before laying it off to Jon Nurse to square to the goalscorer.
“I had another half-opportunity and so did Marvin in the second half, so we were creating chances,” insisted Tomlin.
“I played with Marvin in my non league days when we were both at Hayes & Yeading and I think we play well together.
“It helped because I know what to expect from him and as I also know that there’s a lot more to come from him.”
He added: “It was a difficult start for me personally in front of goal, but I’ve always been happy with my performances this season.
“I got injured, was out of the team for a while and then when I came back it just wasn’t falling for me.
“I got one at Plymouth and then got injured, but I’ve got another one now and I just want to keep scoring.”
Despite a winning strike for the new-look forward partnership, the pair will be under increased competition for their places this weekend in the form of new boy Akinde.
The 21-year-old is another physical presence going forward, in a similar vein to existing squad members Morgan, Savage and Josh Scott.
Still has often spoken in the past about finding the best partnership, rather than necessarily the two best individual players, so Tomlin’s pace and skill seems a likely complement to either of his three bigger team-mates.
“I’ve seen John play in training and he looks really strong. He’ll bring another dimension to the team and that can only be a good thing,” he said.
“All competition for places is good for the team. I know it brings out the best in me personally and I think all the other strikers would agree with that.
“There are a lot of games left to play and a lot of sides in this league play in a different way. You need to have different options and John gives us another one.”
On Saturday, Daggers’ new-look attack will have the chance to find its feet when they welcome MK Dons to Victoria Road.
While Karl Robinson’s side currently occupy the final play-off spot, they have conceded 25 times in 12 away games in the league and Tomlin is confident they can make it two wins in a row.
“I missed the first game because of injury and then in the second one I only played one half, but I could see they’re a good team,” he said.
“They like to get the ball down and play, but our focus is to get another win under our belts and we believe we can do that.”