Mark from @9men answers questions about the Daggers
Hi there, so how would you summarise the Daggers season so far?
Hello! Things have certainly been a bit up-and-down for us this season. After keeping the majority of our squad that finished last season so well, I think everyone was delighted by our start but not necessarily surprised. We won 6 of the first 8 and were absolutely flying. Unfortunately the wheels came off pretty spectacularly with 7 losses in the next 10! Things have improved a bit recently, but that bad run has probably left us with too many defeats on the board to think about a top 3 finish. We seem to either blow teams away, or lose 1-0; 6 of our losses have been to nil, but we are also the top scorers in the division.
How’s the teams recent form been?
We go into the game with 4 wins on the spin in the league, so results are certainly looking up. However, we haven’t quite clicked in recent weeks – we’ve done just about enough to get past Dover and Aldershot who didn’t offer a huge amount – and it remains to be seen if we can raise our game on Saturday. We have been forced into a lot of changes throughout the season which hasn’t helped, and we are still a little bit short in midfield which is throwing the balance off.
What’s been your highlights of 21-22 so far?
On the opening day we won 3-1 at Stockport which really set the tone for those first 2 months. We’d done very against them last season and were quietly confident, but it was a dominant performance and really laid down a marker. Another standout game would be the 5-1 win over Solihull – we were lethal that day.
Who are your key players and why?
At the moment I’d have to say Josh Walker is absolutely vital. He was one of our few summer signings, and many fans probably expected him to bide his time behind Balanta and McCallum for a starting berth up front. In reality, he’s been the best of the bunch and we certainly suffered when he missed games through injury. He never gives the defence a moment’s peace, he has bags of pace and excellent timing of runs in behind, but he’s also capable of driving with the ball and scoring from outside the box.
I know last time I highlighted Weston and Justham, both of whom are also big players for us, but this time I would shine a light on Mo Sagaf. He really keeps us ticking over in midfield, he has a touch of class on the ball and can go box-to-box.
Will the club look to recruit in January?
I think it is unlikely. A catalogue of injuries in forward areas saw us bring in Ibby Akanbi from Aldershot and Junior Morias from Kings Lynn in October/November, so that problem is largely solved.
The other area of concern all season has been our vulnerability in defence, particularly to crossed balls and set pieces. We are a relatively small team and have a lot of players whose qualities are with the ball rather than without it. Thankfully we have very recently signed Yoan Zouma, previously of Bolton and Barrow, and he already looks the part. It will be interesting to see how he stands up to what is likely a stiffer test this weekend.
I think there’s an outside chance we could see 1 more arrival, but only if someone exceptional became available.
Who’s the manager and how does he like to set the team up?
Daryl McMahon is still in charge. The question marks many fans had against him last March have almost completely disappeared after our superb end to last season, which saw us win 7 of the last 10, and our excellent start to this campaign.
We have played 3-5-2 throughout the season, and we are able to score different types of goals. We often try 1-and-2-touch moves around the box, but we also have threat out wide. However, we do occasionally end up going in behind for Walker a little bit too much, especially when things aren’t going our way. We like to push the wing-backs high up the pitch and have recently experimented with Balanta, a forward, in the midfield. All of this makes for a very attacking game-plan that can sometimes leave us vulnerable.
Will many Daggers supporters make the trip down?
Maybe something like 80. We never seem to get the best time of year for a trip down to your place!
Can the Daggers maintain a promotion push?
This team should be making the play-offs, no question. We have quality all over the pitch, we have multiple goal-scorers, and we have a long list of players to come back from various injuries and illnesses. The concern remains that we are a bit easy to score against, and that we never seem to fully overcome our injury issues. Hopefully the management team can find the right formula for the rest of the season.
Which opposition teams and players have impressed you most?
I suppose this should be quite an easy question to answer, as the only team to beat us by more than 1 goal is Boreham Wood. They are probably the only team who have stopped us from making any impression on the game. Yeovil also did a bit of a number on us in their 1-0 victory – they dominated us physically.
And finally, what’s your prediction for the game at Plainmoor?
Strangely, Torquay don’t have a home draw and we don’t have an away draw so far this season. I think we need 3 points to maintain our charge, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a 1-1.