Big week for Still and Daggers. (©PAphotos)
Ask any fan of a recently promoted team their wish at the start of the year, and nine times out of ten you can guarantee that the fan in question will wish for their team to consolidate themselves in the division.
At the start of this season, that is exactly what fans of Dagenham & Redbridge were hoping for.
Daggers’ fans are pleased that the team are a Football League club, which in itself is a tremendous achievement but by being a League One club it puts the club on a greater scale than those fans could have imagined of a decade ago.
Without getting ahead of themselves, those same fans know that if John Still’s side are to do that this season, they have an almighty battle ahead to reach that goal. For a newly-promoted team it can be hard to be involved with a relegation scrap as it does take time for the team and certain players to get used to being in a division above.
So although it has not been an ideal start this year for the team, as they sit second bottom of the table, this was something that fans were expecting. Looking back at the team’s league games so far taking away the opening day defeat to Sheffield Wednesday which was always a tough game first up, the Daggers have only really been outclassed in two other games this year - against Bournemouth away and Bristol Rovers at home.
This year is going to be a tough one, but if the team’s hard effort and spirit can be rewarded more wins will come along as the effort has certainly been there this year in all the games. What the team needs to do is perhaps pick up points when they are playing badly which is something that over the season teams fighting to survive in the division will be doing.
Losing Paul Benson was always going to be hard on the team as his goals will be missed this season and as we’ve seen recently from the five goals he’s picked up for Charlton any claims that the popular forward could not score goals at this level look to be ruled out instantly.
Bas Savage is proving a good replacement though and the experienced striker is putting himself about for the cause and is already proving popular with supporters with his extravagant haircuts and goal celebrations.
In the last month the team has picked up five points out of 15, which on paper is not too bad as the team have only lost two out of those games. Last time out on Saturday saw Hartlepool United claim a last-ditch draw at Victoria Road after skipper Mark Arber unluckily deflected in Garry Liddle’s shot for the visitors.
To be fair to Hartlepool they probably deserved a point from the game, but conceding late goals will not be something that John Still will want to get into the habit of doing. In a way you’d rather have problems like that at the start of the season so you can correct them early on and make sure that over the coming months you put things right, hopefully.
Bringing back Solomon Taiwo to Victoria Road is definitely a boost that the team needed and the midfielder who was featuring for Cardiff in the Championship is certainly hungry for first team action.
Taiwo was a popular player in his two previous spells at Victoria Road and is a player that John Still will get the best out of. After all Still will not have forgotten about Taiwo’s ability as the young midfielder caught the eye after progressing from a bit-part player in the non leagues to becoming a first team regular two seasons ago.
With a difficult game coming up against a dangerous Southampton side tonight, there is a great chance for the Daggers to have another good run in the FA Cup when they face local rivals Leyton Orient this Saturday.
Cup runs are always something special for fans and for clubs outside the Premier League and Championship reaching the third round is a dream. Drawing Orient in the first round is huge for both sets of fans and there should be a cracking atmosphere on Saturday.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.