McCallum comes back to haunt former club Solihull to guide Daggers to victory

Paul McCallum of Dagenham and Redbridge

Paul McCallum of Dagenham and Redbridge

A deserved, hard-fought victory for the Daggers was secured by a Paul McCallum goal on his return to Solihull – ending a personal goal drought – leaving those at Dagenham delighted.

The Daggers travelled to the midlands to face Solihull Moors in the National League, for only the ninth instalment in the history of the fixture – at a showery Damson Park. The away side went with the hope of ending their two-game losing streak and turning some good performances into results; ex-Moors player Paul McCallum would lead the line for Dagenham, in their bid for three points.

The number 9 looking to find some goal-scoring form, against a Solihull side struggling for consistency, another man looking to impress for McMahon’s side was debutant, Tom Smith, in the middle of the park.

The visitors were to be the quickest out of the blocks, having got the game underway, they won a set-piece on the edge of the box. Myles Weston though, saw his effort rise just over the bar, unable to give his side an early lead.

Following the early pressure on them, the hosts looked to hit back, they won a corner on five minutes and after the failure of Dagenham to clear their lines – the Moors attacker tried his luck on the volley. He was to just miss the target however, a let-off for Dagenham.

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The opening stages set the tone for an exciting night under the lights as both sides threw caution to the wind; the Moors the sharper of the two – intercepting the ball in their high press. This caused the Daggers a few problems early on and some frustration, Elliot Johnson was to be the first to enter the ref’s book on 10 minutes.

After a slight lull in play, a burst down the left saw Liam Gordon get the better of Usher-Shipway and venture into the box – his chipped ball in only found the hands of ‘keeper Boot though.

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Up the other end, it was the defender Usher-Shipway causing the away side problems with his long throws which caused havoc in the box. Dagenham’s defenders were left with little option but to clear behind for a corner; that was dealt with comfortably by the defending side.

But it wasn’t long before they were left defending another after a predictable Daggers attack down the left flank saw the visitors caught in possession. The resultant corner from the counter-attack, fortunately for McMahon’s men, came to nothing.

Relentless though, were James Shan’s men, as the 30-minute mark beckoned, Sbarra causing issues for the defensive line of Dagenham. Cranston’s ball in though cleared by Paul McCallum, who was no doubt frustrated, wanting more action in the opposite box!

For all Solihull’s possession and control of the game, there was no real work for either ‘keeper to do with 35 minutes played; both sides saw chances fade out in the final third and few players took aim at goal.

Dagenham’s first real opportunity from open play came from the left wing as Gordon continued to get the better of his opposite number - Paul McCallum glancing his free-header wide though. That seemed to spark the latter into action though as again he latched onto a delivery, this time a low-cross, but again it went just wide!

That was to be the last action of the half and the two biggest chances coming from McCallum and the Daggers – for all the pressure put on the visitors’ back line; which they did well to withhold. So, Dagenham were growing into the game towards the end of the first ’45 and they looked to carry that momentum into the second half.

They certainly did that within the first minute, as Liam Gordon had a shot blocked and Myles Weston whipped a cross in a separate attack, all within 60 seconds.

This continued beyond the 46th minute, a backheel from Paul McCallum played debutant Tom Smith through, but he couldn’t hit the target with his attempt after being forced off balance.

A scare came for the side on top in this half, the hosts managed to get in behind, but fortunately for Dagenham Cranston scuppered that chance. That so nearly proved costly as the away side won a corner on the counter; a bullet header from Rance forcing Boot into action.

That was only to be a warning as the 55th minute would see Boot beaten between the sticks as Paul McCallum met a Robinson cross and beat the ‘keeper with the help of the crossbar! A delightful return to Damson Park for the number 9 who had ended his goal-scoring drought.

The task for the Daggers now though, was to hold out for 35 minutes and secure the three points which was easier said than done. John Shan looked to stop that as he shook things up on 60 minutes, replacing Usher-Shipway with Archer.

Daryl McMahon too, looked to influence things from the side-lines, as Joey Jones was introduced in place of Tom Smith – the former on his return from injury. Since his introduction, there was little in the way of goalmouth action as both tightened their defences in a bid to steady the game.

In the hope of getting level, Solihull whipped the ball in from a free-kick but caused no concern to the Dagenham defence, at ease for another minute were the leading side. The time ticking down.

But Elliot Justham was soon forced into making a save to keep his side in front, as a deflected effort looked destined for the corner, the score remained 0-1.

Not content with just hanging on to a lead, Weston made hay down the right, but Matt Robinson couldn’t find the net from inside the box - to make it two.

Five minutes left to play, the away side were being bombarded as the hosts upped the ante, Hudlin won the header in the box but headed wide of the mark.

Another change was soon in order for the Daggers as Saunders replaced Angelo Balanta, fresh legs were needed to see this one out.

There was to be a minimum of 4 additional minutes played at a drizzly Damson Park with the hosts offering little in terms of goal threat. Rooney had a half-chance in the 92nd minute but it wasn’t an opportunity that would trouble Justham or indeed the score-line.

That score-line was to remain until the final whistle and Dagenham had secured a great victory on the road after Paul McCallum netted in the second half – ending a personal goal drought.

It was a deserved result following a well-fought and solid display which was reminiscent of performances in recent matches – only this time they have a result to back it up.

Now, the task for McMahon and his men is to ensure this isn’t another false dawn if they are to climb the table.

Daggers: Justham, Wright, Clark, Johnson, Gordon, Weston, Rance, Robinson, Smith (65' Jones), McCallum, Balanta (87' Saunders)

Solihull Moors: Boot, Williams, Cranston, Storer, Sbarra (55' Coxe), Rooney, Maycock, Piggott, Ball, Usher-Shipway (61' Archer), Carter

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