22 Nov

Dagenham & Redbridge 2 – 3 Southend United

Southend United rode their luck to take three points off a battling Dagenham & Redbridge on Saturday, in an entertaining encounter at Victoria Road (sorry the London borough of Barking & Dagenham stadium).
With the District Line out of action, I took the train to Romford before hopping on a bus full of Blues’ fans to the ground. The journey was pretty unspectacular through this mundane part of East London, apart from when we passed Dagenham Town Hall, a Stalinist-era concrete monstrosity straight out of downtown Leningrad, sandwiched between two tower blocks in a council estate. Very random.
Arriving at the ground, having failed to get a ticket in the sold out away end, I ventured through the home turnstiles to watch the game in the side terrace among our friendly cousins from East London. After initially standing among the hardcore who were chanting obscenities at the Blues’ fans in the corner, four of us Shrimpers sought sanctuary half way down the terrace by the halfway line.
As anyone who has ever been in the wrong end will testify, it is extremely difficult to keep quiet, especially when your team scores, while having to half heartedly clap if the opposition net. At times it was painful, but we managed to contain ourselves and put up with the chants of “pikeys”, **** off back to Canvey, and the abuse heaped on Bilel Mohsni after he got booked (“get your hair cut you woman”).
Southend made one change from the team that drew at Preston in the FA Cup last weekend, with Mohsni starting in right midfield in place of Ryan Leonard.
And with just eight minutes on the clock the Shrimpers took the lead when a superb cross by Ryan Hall was prodded home by Kane Ferdinand in front of the travelling Shrimpers. 1-0 and this is going to be a cricket score, some may have been thinking.
After the goal Mohsni was booked for apparently going over the advertising hoarding during the celebration, which he reacted to with one of his characteristic hissy fits. This meant he became public enemy number one for the Daggers’ fans, but at least he didn’t get sent off.
But instead of building on this lead, Southend allowed Daggers to hit straight back when West Ham loanee Montano, who caused our centre backs problems all afternoon, was invited to run through our backline and equalise five minutes later, a soft goal to concede.
The game then petered out a bit, Michael Timlin had a decent effort cleared before our second moment of quality football on the half hour put us back in front. Timlin, who was lively as ever in midfield, fed the ball out right before it arrived to Mohsni to square to Liam Dickinson in the box for an easy finish. 2-1 at half time, and surely now we would see off the upstarts from East London.
After a very disappointing mascots race at half time (none of them seemed to try), instead of Southend coming out all fired up, it was Daggers who upped their game, as Ogogo scored a screamer on 49 minutes to level things up at 2-2. Probably no more than they deserved as Southend reverted too much to a long ball game looking for Liam Dickinson, which meant Ryan Hall was not getting much of a look in.
An hour passed and it was anyone’s game. But on 64 minutes, Southend again showed a bit of class to edge in front, Dickinson played a lovely through ball to Ferdinand who dinked it past the onrushing keeper before rolling the ball into the unguarded net. “Yeeees”, I thought in silence turning round to Simon with a cheeky grin and whispering “great goal”. But there was still an age to go, and Dagenham then threw everything at us.
But somehow we managed to hold out, largely due to some quality saves by on loan keeper Luke Daniels, who tipped one shot over the bar, before making an awesome double block in injury time when I was just waiting for the net to bulge, ensuring the three points were coming back to south east Essex.
In fairness a draw would not have been unfair on Daggers, but we cannot complain when we keep picking up results while not playing very well. We all know we can play better than today, and the three times when we played some quality football we scored. We’re now just nine points from the magical 50 point safety mark, and as a certain former manager would have said, “anything else after that is a bonus”.
“You’ll only come straight back down if you go up”, scowled one Daggers’ fan leaving the ground. Well, we’ve got to get promoted first, but another win in a match which could have been a real banana skin is a real fillip in the ongoing effort to get back to League One.
Ed Beavan


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