Dagenham 0-3 Southend

27 Dec

DESPITE this extraordinary run we seem to have found ourselves on, I must admit to a bit of trepidation when waking up on Boxing Day morning on a couple of counts. One was purely after our Boxing Day experience of last year (taking all the in-laws to their first ever Southend game and seeing it abandoned) making me expect the worst. Whilst I am used to disappointment and let downs, I like things to go smoothly when taking the wife, as was planned again this Boxing Day (the rest of her family learnt their lesson). So when it pelted it down with rain all of Christmas Day morning to the point of not being sure we could even drive into Billericay, I was not holding out much hope that Mrs Hewitt was going to get to see the Tomlin and Britt show. Fast forward 24 hours, and a quick phonecall to Dagenham and suddenly I was talking to a lady at the club who even seemed surpised that I should be suggesting the game might be off. Game. On.

Boxing Day football means no public transport and a car parking bun fight, no more so than at Dagenham – a ground that is situated in a place that, even on a bank holiday, you feel sure that come 90 minutes, you are bound to come back to your car and find a parking ticket. It was 12.15 though, and 45 minutes away from kick off. No time to muck about. The ‘chance taking the hit’ concensus was throughly justified a mere 46 minutes later. The concourse bar was buzzing, and a quick (and average) pint of Worthingtons went down the hatch. Anybody that ordered a second or third might well have regretted it. We had barely had time to find our seats and already Christmas had got better. An unsurpisingly unchanged Blues side picked up where there left off on Friday. Within a minute, Daggers’ got in a pickle out by the touchline, Tomlin got hold of the ball and just ran. If this was September, he’d have picked out a cross, and might well have failed at that. This is December though, and this is a new Gavin Tomlin. There was only one thing on his mind, and Daggers’ fans probably couldn’t believe what they were seeing when he ran goalwards and promptly smashed it into the back of the net. I hadn’t even had time to point out to the lady who Gavin Tomlin was.

We remained on the front foot, and not 15 minutes later, Assombalonga displayed ridiculous skill by bringing a ball down, playing a one-two with Laird on the edge of the box (if memory serves me correctly), got down the inside left channel and put it in the middle for Tomlin to score again. Gavin had netted as many times in front of the Daggers fans in 15 minutes as he did during his whole time there. He must have been higher than Bobby Gillespie in the 90s.

Even having seen such excellent away performances as Torquay and Wimbledon lately, I must admit, with Daggers in good form, not even I was ready for this onslaught, and to be fair to the home side, as can be very annoying, they discovered how to play only after going 2-0 down. Sam Williams started to be a bit of a handful for Cresswell, and they started to get on top of things a bit. But the combination of Laird and Mikandawire, as has been stated in the past, were proving to everyone how important keeping hold of these two really are when assessing our promotion hopes, and spent large chunks of the rest of the half protecting the back four, and anything that did slip through was dealt with brilliantly by the confident combination of Prosser and Cresswell.

We held off til half time, which was vital, and you got the feeling that if we got a third it was Goodnight Vienna. And so it proved. Some more excellent work from Tomlin on the left allowed him to hold onto the ball and pick out an inside ball to the waiting Kevan Hurst who guided the ball into the top corner from the edge of the box. It was good timing on his part, as his family happened to be sat in front of me, and despite a couple of young girls in his group prior to the goal already doing some Boxing Day sales shopping on their phones, he certainly made it a family day to remember by celebrating right in front of them.

And that, pretty much was that. This side don’t really let go of two goal leads, let alone three, and you could say it petered out, but there couldn’t be any complaints. For once, we scored when we were on top, and we stifled when we needed to stifle. And that, in my book, is what you need to do to go up, and anything else is a bonus. This run will end (though I have no idea when at the moment), and if this team responds to that defeat in the right manner, then talk of league 1 really should be happening more regularly around the Roots Hall faithful. Happy Christmas indeed.


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