An earlier than usual kick off time of 7.30pm did little to whet the appetite as Wealdstone saw off their “League 2” opponents with relative ease in front of a meagre crowd during an overcast evening in late July.
Wealdstone 3-1 Dagenham: Wednesday 29 July 2015
Of course it’s been a pre-season of rants and moans, when is it never like that? And even this stroll in the park is likely to bring about moans that “it wasn’t Dagenham’s first team…” (add me to the moan queue)
Did Dagenham play an entire team of “kids”?
Let’s dispel the myth a little bit. Jack Connors who captained their side has turned out 40 times for the first eleven and is a current Republic of Ireland U21 international; the number 3 was head and shoulders Dagenham’s star man – but the Daggers must view this as a disappointing evening’s work. Elsewhere they had the famous “Wilson Carvalio” – who? Have a look round YouTube and you’ll see he’s starred in a Nike Academy advert, famed for his nifty footwork… of which we didn’t see. In fact, the Daggers starting 11 have 78 first team appearances under their belt between them, coming from just four players (O’brien, 10; Connors, 40; Gayle, 10 – he was on loan at St Albans last season; Yusuff, 18).
New shirts released (pre-sponsor logo)
Whilst the Rollin’ Kitchen and the PA man stayed at home… one delivery that did arrive – the 2015/16 replica home and away shirts. See below.
Let’s get shirty: home and away
The game itself was dominated by the home side and was notable particularly for the return of Connor Calcutt. The striker, 21, remains popular amongst Stones fans for his contribution during a loan spell last season and his physical presence immediately caused the Daggers back four problems. Whilst the striker hasn’t yet signed, he must feature as the prime target on Bartlett’s shopping list for a team that, until tonight, has struggled to score goals against “notable” opposition during this year’s pre-season programme.
Stones opened the scoring on eight minutes when Binns free kick was headed back across goal and Hutchinson cleverly outmuscled his opponent in the air to lay the ball into the path of El Godfrey: who smashed home (again). It was only the second Vale goal this pre-season for the home side.. both from Godfrey and both bangers (though nothing is beating his first).
Dagenham rarely threatened and it was the Stones who nearly doubled the lead when a Bonnet-Johnson long ranger was clawed away by O’Brien in the Daggers goal.
Second half and the keeper is heard roaring the instruction #DontGetBeat to his defender who is absolutely marauded by an on-form (and on-fire) Shaun Lucien who dips inside and out before curling a shot into the far corner… (see the vid: it’s another goody)
Stones had by now made several changes and it was one of them, Matt Ball, who came closest to adding to the scoring but he first saw a free header loop wide, before later hitting the crossbar from another when equally well placed – but not before the third Stones goal.
Hutchinson was the man to make it three, and again Ball was involved; his smart movement out foxed the visitors and his clever cut back was calmly tucked away by Hutchinson. Calcutt was now saying his goodbyes (for tonight, we hope…) and McGleish came on – he too may have added to the scoring on a couple of occasions but most notably when his looping header dipped off the post after yet more good Lucien work.
Hutchinson came close to adding a fourth as he nodded over the stranded keeper only for the Daggers right back to scramble back and hack the ball off the goal line.
There was still time for the visitors to score a consolation… a shot from the edge that looped into the corner past the outstretched sub keeper Tim Brown on time.
Full time: Stones 3-1 Daggers, highlights below