Games 39-43 - All to play for!

Well would you believe it! Since February, the idea of Dagenham & Redbridge making the play offs has been a fading dream. Nevertheless, since the return of Paul Benson and Peter Gain, the Daggers have looked a revitalised outfit and now have a genuine chance of making that two legged semi final tie.

Last time I blogged, Daggers had a crucial home fixture against struggling Macclesfield Town. A game in which John Still’s men simply had to win to have any chance of keeping up a faint play off chance. What followed wasn’t a classic but perhaps it could be put down as the turning point of the season. A dire performance from the Daggers saw them 1-0 down to a John Rooney goal after 60 minutes. Nevertheless, the return of Peter Gain and Paul Benson from injury as substitutes on the hour mark saw Dagenham run out 2-1 victors. Benson in particular made a terrific impact scoring with one of his first touches.

Next up was a tough game away to high flying Exeter City. On the day there wasn’t much to seperate the two sides apart from two moments of magic from on loan Charlton striker Stuart Fleetwood. The Daggers went down to a 2-1 defeat but hope was still there as other results went their way.

With a fairly tough looking run in, John Stills men came up against injury depleted Aldershot Town at home in what on paper looked like one of their easier fixtures. However, a fantastic early goal from Aldershot left the Daggers reeling and struggling to get back into the match. Thankfully, a snap shot from the outstanding Matt Ritchie which hit the post was followed up by Paul Benson to head home and take the home side into the half time interval with a 1-1 scoreline. The 2nd half was much more comfortable as the Daggers run out 3-1 winners.

Once again, Chesterfield, Bradford and Shrewsbury were all struggling for positive results meaning an Easter Monday away tie against Gillingham represented a great chance for Dagenham to get right amongst the play off chasers. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be as Daggers held on at 1-1 for the majority of the game but were defeated by a Dennis Oli header 2 minutes from time. The result was harsh on the Daggers but with no real ground lost, the play offs were still in reach.

The stage was therefore set for the visit of out of form Bradford. The former Premiership club had been one of the pacesetters earlier on in the season but had dropped woefully out of form. It was clear that whoever lost this match would have very little chance of making the play offs. An uninspiring first half saw both teams go in at 0-0. The game needed a breakthrough for the two nervy sides and it came soon after the interval. Sam Saunders cut inside from the left and curled a beautiful shot past the outstretched hand of Rhys Evans in the Bradford goal for a 1-0 lead. Minutes earlier Bradford were a tad unfortunate as a goal was ruled out and the woodwork was hit. However, from that moment on it was all Daggers as they run out 3-0 victors.

The result leaves Dagenham three points off the play offs with a game in hand. That game in hand comes tomorrow night against league leaders Brentford who can seal promotion if they win at Victoria Road. As a Daggers fan, I can’t wait!

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