Daggers late resurgence offers hope for next season

After 36 games of the season, Dagenham and Redbridge FC were languishing on just 31 points, four adrift of safety and rock bottom of the Football League.

However since then, a revival has seen us safe in 19th place in the table and what a rollercoaster of a season it has been.

Losing just one of the last 10 games has certainly felt like watching a different team in a different season, epitomised by our biggest win of the season on Saturday, a 4-0 victory over Bristol Rovers.

Why has this happened? The biggest issue has been injuries. Nine operations have besieged the Daggers squad. That’s a challenge for any club let alone one of the smallest in the Football League.

The amazing promotion form in the last 10 games of the season has coincided with the return of players capable of forming a genuinely competitive squad, giving John Still options not only on the pitch but from the substitute bench as well.

One other reason I can give, perhaps controversially, is a bit of a hangover from missing out on a 2nd season in League One by a single point. Such a fantastic effort by the players when the critics had dismissed any hope of survival deserved a higher placed finish. The third and final difference is improvement in both boxes. Too many times this season the Daggers have been the better team in a match, only to succumb to defeat by missing chances or stupid mistakes at crucial times.

Whilst all players deserve credit, the spine of the team in the past 10 games has been fantastic. Chris Lewington, playing his first season as number one goalkeeper in the football league has been immense. I haven’t seen a better shot-stopper in the entire league. Mathieu Baudry has come in from Bournemouth on loan and frankly looked two levels too good for League Two, let alone one. Without doubt the best defender I’ve seen to have put on the beloved red and blue shirt.

In midfield, probably our most high profile player: Michael Spillane. He has shown since he joined he is more than technically able to unlock defences and score goals himself, despite coming here primarily as a defender. While in attack, former forklift truck driver Brian Woodall has scored some great goals, his attitude on the pitch represents the sort of spirit John Still looks for in a player. Great credit should go to the manager for these performances. Despite taking a lot of criticism this season the club did the right thing in my opinion by sticking with him, bucking the trend in the Football League. He discovers players with little to no resources, and moulds them into better ones.

The summer will see the age old problem for the Daggers: keeping hold of our best players. Brian Woodall has already been linked with a string of Championship clubs. I for one hope he doesn’t go. For clubs like ours, September 1st and the end of the transfer window cannot come quick enough. If (and it’s a big if) this squad can be kept together I see no reason why we can’t be challenging for the play offs next season. Bright times are ahead.

You can follow me on Twitter @scottycrowe92 for even more Daggers discussion

 


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