TT MATCH VERDICT
Alan Wills – @alanjwills
Dagenham & Redbridge 0-0 Torquay United
Our annual trip to Dagenham is always a nice away day with a good atmosphere.
The last time the Yellow Army travelled here though was in January 2020, oblivious to the fact that a global pandemic would soon prevent us going to any football matches for a while.
My overriding memories of that day were having a surreal chat with Dogger Dagger the mascot, who was notably absent on this occasion, and the returning Saikou Janneh missing a few good chances and sadly getting injured in the 0-0 draw.
To the present day then, and hopping on the train with some Hampshire Gulls, we soon met up with more exiles from the East Midlands, and Norfolk in the Pipe Major pub, along with a Danny Wright impressionist resplendent in full kit and bleached hair on his stag do.
186 hardy members of the Yellow Army from all corners of the country created an atmosphere of twice their number, singing about cheap Tesco sandwiches, in tribute to the Dagenham goalkeeper Elliot JustHam, whose Dad some of us had been chatting to in the pub earlier.
Similar to recent matches, Torquay started strong with Stephen Duke-McKenna turning a Dagenham defender in the area to cross for Danny Wright who unfortunately headed wide.
There were several half chances at both ends during the first half, albeit many off-target, but which made for quite an exciting game that galvanised the noisy Yellow Army.
Joe Felix came on for Asa Hall at half time.
The best chances for Torquay in the second half fell to Johnson, and Duke McKenna who forced good saves out of Justham, with Lemonheigh-Evans missing the target twice in the five minutes of injury time.
Dagenham looked certain to score on the 90 minute mark, but Ali Omar got back to heroically clear the shot off the line.
MacDonald 7 – Some good saves when required, but didn’t have a great deal to do as our defence was so solid. Hope he is happy to stay next season when he would deserve to be guaranteed the No.1 spot.
Wynter 7 – Always a player you can rely on, and has clearly grown into a more central defensive role since his forced move inside during the away game at Notts County, following Ali Omar’s sending off.
Lewis 8 – Won everything as usual. One of the standout players this season.
Omar 9 – Man of the match (see below).
Duke McKenna 6 – Tried hard, and got into a few good positions getting a few crosses in. Didn’t really come off for him today though.
Johnson 6 – Got forward from left wing back on several occasions, and had one of the best chances, which was deflected wide.
Lapslie 7 – His usual tenacious self, winning the ball back when needed.
Hall 6 – Went off at half time. Hopefully was rested rather than injured.
Little 6 – involved in many of Torquay’s best moves, but not his best game.
Wright 6 – Always puts in a shift up front to allow Torquay’s midfielders to run through.
Evans 6– Lively around the penalty area, but missed a few good chances.
Felix 6 – Nice to see Joe getting 45 minutes as a replacement for Asa Hall. Looked busy, and tried to start moves forward.
Lolos 5 – Had a late half-chance again, but like in earlier games, it was blocked. Seems to be lacking a little confidence.
Edwards N/A – A very late substitute for the tireless Lapslie. Only played for a few minutes.
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Man of the Match: Ali Omar
Probably Ali’s finest hour (and a half) in a Torquay shirt.
After his difficult start to the season, the extra coaching seems to have paid off, as we can start to see why Gary signed him in the summer.
He is becoming a cult hero amongst the loyal Gulls following, as they chanted “Ali Omar” to the familiar tune of “Yellow Army” when he cleared a certain goal off the line.
To be fair, he was making some great saving tackles leading up to the moment, and had a solid game.
Joe Lewis had another almost faultless game alongside Ali Omar, as together with Ben Wynter they were sweeping up everything that came their way.
An attacking 3-5-2 formation with Chiori Johnson replacing the missing Dan Martin at wingback, with Stephen Duke McKenna on the other side of Lapslie, Hall and Little.
Ali Omar, Ben Wynter and Joe Lewis looked a very strong back three, keeping Dagenham’s forwards fairly quiet. Danny Wright (the real one) and Connor Lemonheigh-Evans were the usual pairing up front.
Dagenham really needed to win this game, but despite a lot of attaching play, especially late in the second half, they didn’t really look like they would get the better of Torquay United on the day, with many of their shots well wide.
Gary Parsons was partial to waving around a lot of yellow cards, in what was by no means a dirty game. Otherwise, there were no controversial moments.
They think it’s all over… it is now!
Just like last season, the campaign seems to be ending with far too many draws, mainly through not being able to put the ball in the back of the net from multiple chances.
With just three games to go, it is now not mathematically possible to reach the 7th and final play-off spot, as we look forward to next season.
There could not have been a bigger contrast between the two sets of fans though, as the Yellow Army gave their heroes a standing ovation for their efforts, whilst there were a few disgruntled shouts from Daggers fans towards their team.
It’s been a season of some great moments, with hopefully more to come in the final three matches.