Boreham Wood v Dagenham & Redbridge
Friday 7th April 2023, 5:00pm
LV BET Stadium Meadow Park, Vanarama National League
After a comprehensive 4-0 victory over Maidstone United last time out, the Wood have taken a big boost in their pursuit of a play-off place and kick-off their run-in on Good Friday, looking to cement their position in the top seven sooner rather than later with the visit of Dagenham & Redbridge.
IN FOCUS: DAGENHAM & REDBRIDGE
Although the Daggers have spent the majority of their history in the non-league, they did enjoy a nine-year stint in the Football League between 2007 and 2016 before relegation back to the National League prevented them from making it a decade in the top four divisions of English football. They have since remained in the fifth tier with consistent mid-table finishes seeing them struggle to put together a real promotion challenge, despite seeing evidence of year-on-year improvement under now former manager Daryl McMahon, who guided them to a 12th place finish which was followed by an eighth place finish last season, with just a point separating them from a first play-off campaign since their return to the National League. The Daggers mutually agreed to part company with McMahon at the end of February though with the side sat in tenth, and was replaced by ex-Eastleigh manager Ben Strevens two-and-a-half weeks later. Daggers fans need no introduction to the former forward, with Strevens returning to the Chigwell Construction Stadium having turned out for the East London-based outfit over two separate stints between 2006 and 2009 as well as in 2011, and having won promotion with the club during his first spell, he will be hoping to channel that experience into a late play-off push as they look to finally end their absence from the Football League.
Their quest has been aided by a handful of winter arrivals in attack to add to the defensive signings of David Longe-King and Omar Mussa in the summer, and they especially needed to dip into the transfer market following the recent departures of their top scorers with Junior Morias joining Notts County and Josh Walker making the switch to League One side Burton Albion, while they also saw their options in attack decrease with Paul McCallum moving to Chesterfield on loan. Luckily, the signing of Inih Effiong has proved to be a masterstroke with the former Wood forward continuing his fine form at this level, and has already added six goals to his previous season tally of 14 having begun the campaign with league rivals Aldershot Town. He bolsters a frontline that has also seen Jay Bird and Sydney Ibie each make a handful of appearances since their arrival in East London, and they will now be looking to maintain consistency at both ends of the pitch having become a real entertaining outfit for the neutral this season, with just six teams conceding more goals than the Daggers who have also scored the eighth most in the National League. As a result, they currently sit nine points away from the top seven as they enter the final six games of the season, and although Strevens’ time in charge has begun with just one win, he will no doubt want to finish the season as high up in the table as possible.
LAST TIME OUT
Dagenham & Redbridge 0-2 Dorking Wanderers
Saturday 1st April 2023
Vanarama National League
Two clinical finishes sunk Dagenham & Redbridge to their second successive defeat, with Dorking Wanderers sealing a crucial three points on the road.
The Daggers had the better of the early exchanges with wingers Myles Weston and Sydney Ibie providing the main threat, with the first big chance of the game soon falling to Inih Effiong who met the ball on the edge of the box after a Weston free kick was half-cleared into his path, but he struck the ball with a bit too much power and sent it well over. Dorking later had a penalty shout turned down after a volleyed effort was well-blocked by Harry Phipps, although the Dorking players seemed convinced it had struck an arm, and the Daggers ensured this didn’t faze them and continued to battle well, being presented with another great chance with ten minutes of the first half to go, as Ibie did brilliantly to drive to the byline before pulling it back to Weston, who put the ball over with the goal at his mercy. Ibie would soon go close to turning from provider to scorer, as he once again drove down the left-hand side before dragging his low effort wide on the stroke of half time, and as a result saw the two sides go into the break goalless.
After a positive first half, the second began slowly with neither side wanting to leave themselves susceptible to a counter attack, and this saw Dorking grow into it with the first real chance of the half, with James McShane’s deflected effort being well tipped over by Josh Strizovic. Despite the Daggers seeing the majority of the chances throughout the game, it was the visitors who eventually broke the deadlock after the hour-mark when a long throw-in wasn’t cleared, allowing Jason Prior to react quickest and finish into the bottom corner to put the visitors ahead. In an attempt to get right back into it Mo Sagaf tried his luck from range with 15 minutes to go, but his effort was blocked behind for a corner which found its way to Matt Robinson on the edge of the box, but his effort was well-parried by visiting keeper Dan Lincoln. Nonetheless, Dorking were in the ascendancy and took advantage of the Daggers failing to make the most of their best period of the game by putting it to bed, with Harry Ottaway condemning the hosts to defeat when he won the ball on the edge of the box before firing into the bottom corner to double their lead, to seal all three points.
Dorking Wanderers (H) L0-2
Gateshead (A) L3-0
Torquay United (A) W1-2
Oldham Athletic (H) D1-1
Wrexham (H) L0-4
York City (H) W2-1
The departure of Daryl McMahon was made official on February 24th, with Steve Gritt and Dave Jupp taking over the reins as caretaker over the next few weeks as they looked to improve form which had seen just four wins since the turn of the year. They began well with two wins from their opening three games including a shock victory over title contenders Notts County, as well as a narrow win over York City, before setting up incoming manager Ben Strevens with a 4-0 defeat at the hands of the Magpies’ title rivals Wrexham. Strevens subsequently took charge of his first game a little over a week after his arrival, and he was denied a debut win when a late Mike Fondop goal snatched a point from their grasp against Oldham Athletic. An Inih Effiong brace soon saw him get off the mark at the Chigwell Construction Stadium as they came from behind to defeat Torquay United, but they have been unable to create momentum with two defeats from their last two games seeing them slip to a nine-point gap from the play-off places, as disappointing results against relegation battlers Gateshead and Dorking Wanderers means they face an important final few weeks of the season as they look to creep into the top seven come May.
IN THE DUGOUT: BEN STREVENS
During the latter years of a playing career that lasted over 20 years, Ben Strevens transitioned into coaching when he worked a variety of roles at Eastleigh and Whitehawk, before returning to the former as permanent manager in 2018. The 41-year old made over 100 appearances for the Spitfires as a player and oversaw similar success during his time in charge, taking the club all the way to the National League play-off semi-final in his first season, but departed the Silverlake Stadium in 2022 after four years in charge of the club. He would return to management over a year later when he re-joined Dagenham & Redbridge, a club where he won promotion as a player with over 100 appearances across two separate spells, and he has begun his time as manager with one win, one draw and two defeats from his opening four games in charge.
ONE TO WATCH: INIH EFFIONG
Former Wood man Inih Effiong began his career at St Albans City, and later joined Northwood before twice bouncing between the Saints and Boreham Wood. Loans with Hitchin Town and Chesham United saw him join the latter permanently prior to stints at Hayes & Yeading United, Dunstable Town, Burnham, Arlesey Town, Biggleswade Town and Hertford Town, attracting interest from clubs higher up in the pyramid. Spells with Barrow, Woking and Ross County preceded two prolific seasons with Dover Athletic, and it was during this part of his career where he began to establish himself as one of the most reliable finishers in non-league, earning a move to League Two side Stevenage as a result. He later joined Barnet and Notts County on loan before returning to the National League permanently with Woking, where a 13-goal haul during the 2021/22 campaign saw him depart for Aldershot Town, where he notched a further 14 goals in a little over half-a-season. Now standing at 32-years of age, he found himself on the move again after just eight months in Hampshire, and he has added six goals already since moving to Dagenham & Redbridge in February.
LAST TIME WE MET
Dagenham & Redbridge 1-1 Boreham Wood
Tuesday 25th October 2022
Vanarama National League
A second half Zak Brun goal was cancelled out by Myles Weston’s equaliser to ensure a hard fought encounter ended all square the Chigwell Construction Stadium, with the Wood stretching their unbeaten run to four games against Dagenham & Redbridge.
In a quiet first half, it was the Wood who forced a couple of early corners with Danny Newton in particular causing the Daggers defence problems. He had the visitors’ first shot after five minutes where he only succeeded in hitting the side netting, before former Wood striker Junior Morias went on a fantastic run as he looked to break the deadlock against his old employers, but he was unable to get his shot on target. The hosts controlled a lot of the possession over the next period of the game without creating anything, and the Wood almost took advantage when they came to life in the last few minutes of the first half. They should have taken the lead with five to go when a Brunt corner was nodded back to Jack Payne who skied his shot from a good position, moments before Dennon Lewis played in Cameron Coxe who struck his effort agonisingly wide, meaning they went into the break goalless.
Keen to draw first blood in East London, the Wood started the second half the way they finished the first and continued to put their hosts under plenty of pressure, with Will Evans going close with a header five minutes after the restart which was cleared off the line. They soon did find a way through though, and broke the deadlock three minutes later when Newton played in Brunt who’s curling shot gave home keeper Elliot Justham no chance as it nestled in the corner to give the Wood the lead. They would have hoped to see momentum build as a result, but following the Wood’s opener the hosts started to grow into it and controlled a lot of possession. Initially they couldn’t break through a stubborn Wood defence, but came ever so close to levelling the score when a fantastic one-two saw Junior Morias combine with Josh Walker to enable the former to fire a goal-bound effort which was destined to cross the line, but Nathan Ashmore somehow produced an amazing save to deny the former Wood man. However, Morias’ persistence could be dealt with no longer as the hosts equalised minutes later when a blocked Morias shot fell kindly into the path of Weston, who finished well past Ashmore. In a late attempt to restore their lead, Lee Ndlovu screwed a shot wide for the Wood when well placed before a last gasp effort saw Morias almost steal the victory at the death against his former club, but it wasn’t to be as it ended a point apiece.
HAVEN’T WE MET BEFORE? ANGELO BALANTA
Dagenham & Redbridge midfielder Ángelo Balanta arrived at the Chigwell Construction Stadium in October 2018, following a successful two-year stint in Hertfordshire. The former Queens Park Rangers man had made 18 and ten appearances at Bristol Rovers and Carlisle United respectively after spending three years on loan at MK Dons in between temporary spells at Wycombe Wanderers and Yeovil Town, but finally found a chance at consistent football when he joined Boreham Wood. His debut season saw him feature 44 times in all competitions as the Wood recorded an impressive 11th place finish, before an even better 2017/18 campaign saw them reach the play-off final along with record-breaking exploits in the FA Cup as they featured alongside two Football League outfits competitively for the first time, with victory over Blackpool setting up an away trip to Coventry City. Balanta contributed ten goals and six assists as he played 37 times in all competitions, including an appearance at Wembley Stadium in the play-off final defeat to Tranmere Rovers. The Colombian-born forward continued to feature for the Wood with starts in all of their opening ten games of the 2018/19 season, but departed for Dagenham & Redbridge just two months into the campaign.
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