TT OPPOSITION Q&A
Dagenham and Redbridge fan Mark (@9men on Twitter) discusses his team ahead of Saturday’s fixture
Hi there, how would you summarise the teams season so far in a couple of paragraphs?
Back in December I think I said ‘very disappointing’… I’d probably upgrade it to ‘disappointing’ as it stands! We are still at the wrong end of the table considering pre-season expectations, and still struggling to score enough goals. But it’s not all bad – we’ve brought in a few players with more energy, the balance of the side has improved and we are playing better football than back in autumn.
How’s the teams recent form been?
We’ve been good recently. We have 3 wins and 2 draws from our last 6, but I don’t think anyone could argue if it had been 5 wins out of 6. To be honest, the two we lost before that, against Yeovil and Sutton, should also have gone our way on the balance of play. We have to find that ruthless touch in the opponent’s box – it feels like teams are scoring half their chances against us but our conversion ratio is much lower.
What’s been your highlights of the season so far?
Well, the game at your place was pretty good, a real backs to the wall performance. I felt we’d previously lacked a bit of desire, but this game was quite the opposite. I think we all hoped this would be a kick-start for our season but unfortuntately it went a bit flat again. Otherwise, we’ve had a couple of really good comebacks, particularly the last-gasp winner to beat Kings Lynn 3-2 after we’d also missed a 90th minute penalty.
Who are your key players and why?
I think 2 of the 3 I picked last time still stand – Elliot Justham and Myles Weston. Justham continues to amaze with the saves he makes, and although he made a few errors earlier in the season, he seems to be back to his very best recently. Weston remains the main source of our creativity and delivery into the box – Hartlepool stopped him fairly well on Tuesday and it paid dividends for them.
For the 3rd player, I’d probably opt for Angelo Balanta this time around. He’s had injury and fitness problems for a lot of the season, but at the moment he’s playing as well as I can remember. I don’t think there are many players in the division who can match his skill level.
Who’s the gaffer and what tactics does he like to use?
Daryl McMahon has been in charge for around 15 months now. Some fans will probably say he’s fortunate, as we’ve clearly underperformed this season, and teams in a much better position than us have parted with the manager. I’d like to give him a bit more time, there seem to be shoots of recovery and signs that he’s learnt from his poor summer recruitment and early-season team selections. He will almost certainly opt for a 352. It seems to be our best option at the moment, but I’m not completely sold on it in the longer term – we have a striker in McCallum who thrives on crosses but we limit our threat out wide without proper wingers.
What should we expect from the stream on Saturday?
I’ve been very impressed with our stream this season, once we quickly abandoned the ball-tracking camera and reverted to a proper camera mounted on top of the stand. Our commentary team are first class too, James Glass is very professional, and Mick Payne is a former Daggers goalkeeping coach with a wealth of knowledge at this level of football.
Can you make a late run for the play-offs?
Looking at the fixture list, I like the look of our run-in. But I think we needed to be 3 points better off at this stage. We’ve scored less than a goal a game, and I can’t see anything changing dramatically in that regard.
Just how much have you missed going to games?
I think I’d miss it a lot more if we’d been better! I also think the season could’ve panned out a bit different if the crowds had been in – there were some performances earlier in the season that would’ve been vociferously derided. I actually miss the away days the most – I love getting on the train at an unnecessarily early hour, meeting friends, getting in the pub and seeing new towns. Of course I miss being at Victoria Road with my usual group, but maybe less than I expected.
Which opposition teams and players have impressed you most?
I still feel the same about the standard of the division – anyone can beat anyone, and I think the teams at the top are those that got on a run, have an edge in their mentality, and are ruthless. I’ve not seen anyone who is going to play us off the park. Hartlepool were probably the best team, and Stockport beat us easily but that felt more like our own failings than their brilliance. In terms of individuals, I liked the look of Albi Skendi at Yeovil, Akwasi Asante at Chesterfield, and Kabongo Tshimanga at Boreham always impresses.
And finally whats your match prediction for Tuesday night?
Looking at the form table I suppose 1-1 is favourite, but I have a feeling you’ll sneak a win unfortunately.