Match 31
27 January 2007.
Dagenham and Redbridge (a)



C ity ended a topsy turvy week by suffering their heaviest defeat of the season at The Glyn Hopkin Stadium. Dagenham's clinical finishing in the second half ensured they extended their lead at the top of the table and left City in ninth, six points and four places outside the play offs.

Tisdale employed the same 4-5-1 formation that had been successful earlier in the week against Weymouth, but opted for a more defensive looking set up with Dean Moxey and Andy Taylor replacing Lee Elam and Wayne Carlisle.

The game kicked off with City playing towards their supporters amongst the 1816 present but the early action was in their own penalty area. Dagenham's first attack, within a minute, had brought a swift challenge from Billy Jones, the ball carrying back to Rice in goal. As he picked up the ball there were cries of backpass from the home side but thankfully the referee waved play on. Rice's clearance was headed straight back towards the penalty area where Mackail-Smith, a threat all afternoon, lobbed Rice only to see Todd recover and clear from under the crossbar. City cleared the resulting corner and were then able to get a foothold in the game. After a Dagenham free kick had been cleared, Jones played a raking 50 yard crossfield ball straight to Taylor on the right. He took the ball towards the byline and pulled it back. Unfortunately it fell between Philips and Challinor who had run into the area, and Gill who was following up and the danger cleared. Both sides tried to mount meaningful attacks as the half progressed and after Rice had saved smartly at his near post, then easily from a long range effort, City countered with a testing cross from Tully, after good work by Phillips. On the quarter hour City's first shot came in from Jones who had pounced on a half clearance after a cross from the right.

City continued to press at every opportunity and Tully was getting a lot of space to come forward. One foray saw him interchange passes with Challinor and Taylor and when the ball was pulled back into the centre Gill and Moxey set up Challinor who dragged his shot wide. Dagenham's best efforts seemed to be coming from set pieces. They forced a number of corners which produced half chances, mainly headers but City's main problem seemed to be the overly fussy referee who insisted on throw ins being taken from exactly the right spot.

In the closing minutes both sides looked equally dangerous. A great curling cross from Taylor eluded both attackers and defenders, and then after Phillips had controlled a long throw he turned and played the ball to Challinor whose shot was saved. Moxey could not get any power on his shot as he followed up the rebound and Roberts on the Daggers' goal gathered. As added time ran out at the end of the half the home crowd were shouting for a penalty as Todd held off Mackail-Smith as they chased a ball over the top. As the two of them and Rice got to the ball a shrill blow of the whistle saw a free kick given to City and the danger, and the half, ended. There were no changes at the break and in a mirror of the first half Dagenham were soon on the attack, but this time 1-0 up. A long throw from the right was headed out by Todd. The ball fell kindly for the thrower who drilled a cross in at pace. Benson was quickest to react and he diverted the cross beyond the reach of Rice. But City were not deterred. A Jones free kick was well caught by Roberts then Philips forced a corner after a run and good play from Buckle and Challinor, the latter heading wide from the resulting set piece. At this time, only six minutes into the half City made a double substitution, Taylor and Moxey making way for Carlisle and Elam and City's next effort came via a 25 yard shot from Phillips which curled wide.

But on 55 minutes Dagenham made it  2-0. A ball into the area found Mackail-Smith who knocked it back to a lurking Benson. Benson volleyed from 15 yards leaving Rice with no chance. But City were soon back in the game. Jones cleared a free kick to Phillips who turned and ran towards the edge of the box. As he approached the area he slid a ball through to Carlisle who confidently slotted home to reduce the arrears.

The one goal deficit only lasted eight minutes though, as a quick through ball found Mackail-Smith just the wrong side of Billy Jones. He used his pace and strength to hold off the defender and as Rice advanced he coolly lifted the ball over him and into the net. City soon made their final substitution as Cozic replaced Buckle and they still created chances. Challinor shot over after a neat layback from Phillips, then Phillips himself headed just wide as he stretched for a Jones cross.

Dagenham were content to take the sting out of the game and made their substitutions but there was still time for a final goal deep into the three minutes of added on time. A ball across the field on halfway from Todd was cut out. A quick, incisive pass later found Benson bearing down on Rice. He took the ball round the keeper with great aplomb and completed his hat-trick. The final whistle went soon after and City left the field disconsolate, the result all the more surprising after the stalemate in the first half.

The difference between the sides had been the incisiveness of the finishing. Benson and Mackail-Smith kept the City defence on their toes all afternoon, Todd in particular having a good game making a number of important interceptions and clearances. Tully again looked assured and gives a good outlet on the right. The midfield had a tough afternoon as Dagenham closed down quickly but they were competitive and supported Phillips well. Up front, Phillips worked hard but didn't get much space. He hasn't quite achieved the power and pace of last season but he set up Carlisle's goal and when he got the ball always found his?team mates.

So City leave Essex empty handed and next travel to Stafford to try and avenge the home defeat from October before returning home for a game against Woking. A tough set of January league fixtures has seen the Grecians defeat Oxford and Weymouth, and lose to Dagenham and Gravesend. February offers the chance to play teams away from the play off zone and aim to gain more consistency that will be required to test the teams above.

Match Details 

Dagenham and Redbridge 4
Exeter City 1.
Saturday 27 January 2007.

Dagenham & Redbridge 
Roberts, Foster , Uddin, Blackett, Griffiths, Southam (Akurang 83), Rainford, Leberl, Sloma (Saunders 72), Benson, Mackail-Smith (Strevens 86). Subs Not Used: Hogan, Cole.

Goals: Benson 46, 55, Mackail-Smith 69, Benson 90.

Rice, Tully, Todd, Edwards, Billy Jones, Taylor (Carlisle 52), Gill, Buckle (Cozic 74), Moxey (Elam 52), Challinor, Phillips.
Subs Not Used: Paul Jones, Mackie.

Booked: Gill.

Goals: Carlisle 61.

Attendance 1,816

Referee D Sheldrake (Midlands).



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