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Dagenham & Redbridge 1-2 Kingstonian
DAGGERS CAN'T PIERCE HURST

The first away game of the season saw K's travel the short distance to Dagenham for what was their first home game back in the top flight of non-league football. The hosts were also looking to extend their unbeaten home record in the league which saw them undefeated for the whole of last season's Ryman league. Almost the same team as that which beat Northwich three days previously took to the field - sporting their brand new yellow away shirts - with Ronnie Green stepping in for Amara Simba.

The game started with K's on the attack early on, with Geoff Pitcher sending a left-footed shot not far wide of Tony Robert's left hand post. But for a while that was really all we saw from the visitors. It seemed as though the malais from the weekend was continuing into the middle of the week, and most of the chances were created at Richard Hurst's end of the field.

But Steve Farrelly's understudy did himself little harm in this game. Brennan sent an early tester just over Hurst's bar, but after this he stopped most things on his own. Despite playing three tried and trusted centre-halves, K's were opened up time and again - the first such occasion presenting Brennan with a much better chance than the earlier one. One on one with a goalkeeper of Hurst's reputation, the Dagger must have fancied his chances, but instead of calmly slotting home, he stabbed his shot straight, and Kingston's number one saved well.

Just moments later and Hurst was called into action once more. Junior McDougald received a ball from the left, cut in towards the edge of the area and unleashed a venomous shot low to the goalkeeper's right. Once more, Hurst did all that was asked of him by smothering the ball low down.

Simon Stewart provided some assistance to his goalkeeper by winning a race with Steve Forbes who seemed to have been put clear through on goal. Forbes again had a chance just after, when he shot from some 25 yards, but was again denied by a good save by Hurst, who this time flew to his left to turn aside for a corner.

In the meantime, there had been once chance for K's - with Ronnie Green shooting wide after good work by Pitcher - but it really did seem as though Dagenham were more "up for it" than their opponents. This must have made it all the harder for the home supporters when Kingstonian took the lead after 27 minutes.

Ronnie Green was set free on the right, and with Geoff Pitcher free in the middle the odds looked good for a K's opener. But Green managed to miss Pitcher's screams and in the end had to turn the ball out to Mark Beard, who was supporting on the right. One touch took the wing-back around his opponent, and his next touch saw the ball heading across goal. Pitcher dummied/missed (delete as applicable) at the near post which meant that Eddie Akuamoah had the chance to score. From six yards he was unlikely to miss, but it was still a good finish as he was under considerable pressure.

Eddie almost doubled the lead just afterwards, when a quick Pitcher free-kick found him free in Dagenham's box. His prod was on target, but was saved well by Roberts, who then proceeded to scream at his defence for their lack of marking skills. And well deserved the screams were too.

Hurst was again called into action, and again produced the goods, just before the break, when Forbes shot from the edge of the box only to see a corner - via Hurst - as his only reward. But the corner almost led to the equaliser. After a couple of bobbles, a shot came in from the right-hand side of the box which finally beat Hurst. But lurking at the far post was Akuamoah, who cleared from under the bar. Who ever said he never defends?

The second period was much the same as the first to be fair. It took just seven minutes for chances to start being created. McDougald had a shot from the edge of the area blocked, his follow-up was saved by Hurst, before somebody else shot over. Just moments later, McDougald thought that he might have earned his side a penalty, but not so according to referee Mr.N.Perkin. Simon Stewart won a tackle with the number ten and then decided to rub it in by beating him. Except he didn't manage it. McDougald nicked the ball off of him and sprinted into the area. Contact was made, McDougald fell but the referee said no penalty.

The pressure finally told after 65 minutes. A cross from the right was headed out by Eddie Saunders, but there was standing Mark Brennan. His right footed shot finally beat the goalkeeper and Dagenham had their deserved equaliser. Yet equality lasted a mere 60 seconds.

Straight up the other end, Ronnie Green showed us what he can do on the left - i.e. cut back onto his right foot - and crossed towards Winston. With an almighty leap, the striker got to the ball just before the goalkeeper and headed into the net. Even though Roberts got a hand to the ball, there was such power that he couldn't keep it out and K's had regained the lead.

By this time Dagenham had probably realised that it just wasn't going to be their night. McDougald went close once more, yet Hurst saved once more; Forbes shot wide from the right when everybody expected him to hit the target; and then Brennan sent a free-kick crashing onto the top of the bar.

There were still some chances being created by those in yellow - most notably for Eddie Akuamoah, who managed to shoot just over after Beard and Winston had combined out on the right. Junior Kadi was introduced for Ronnie Green before the referee took over.

Dagenham sent in numerous crosses - one of which looked dangerously close to going in. But Colin Luckett was there watching as the ball just cleared the post for a goal-kick. Or so we all thought. Mr. Perkin awarded a corner and the K's defence went ballistic. The result was still a corner, as well as two cautions - one each for Mark Harris and Luckett.

Nothing came of the spell of pressure and we entered the five minutes of overtime. Pitcher sent a late ball through for Winston to chase, and he managed to get there ahead of the two back-pedalling defenders. He got into the box and was then tripped by a combination of Matthews and compatriot. Winston lay strewn on the ground, yet Mr. Perkin declined appeals for a penalty. Somewhat upset with this decision, the striker got to his feet and quietly spoke with Matthews. Or screamed obscenities at him - nobody's quite sure which it was. Whatever, Mr. Perkin decided that he had heard enough and the red card was produced for Winston. Now what odds would you have got on the first sending off not being for Gary Patterson I wonder...

If the sending off was for foul and abusive language, which it seems to have been, then Winston can probably have no complaints. Although he was annoyed not to be awarded the penalty, the fifth minute of injury-time surely isn't the time to get too upset at such a decision. But in the end it didn't really affect the game. The further sixty seconds were played out and K's had won all three points.

Yes Dagenham probably did deserve more than they got, and yes against a better team K's probably wouldn't have won. But they did. And with Farrelly, Patterson and Wingfield to return, the future looks bright. Well, for everybody but Farrelly of course. After Hurst's display, is there any way that he can be dropped? Well, yes.

Date
Tue 22nd Aug 2000
 
Venue
Victoria Road
 
Attendance
1252
 
Competition
Football Conference
 
Score
Dagenham & R1
Kingstonian2
Akuamoah, Winston
 
Kingstonian
1Richard Hurst
2Mark Beard
3Colin LuckettCautioned
4Eddie Saunders
5Simon Stewart
6Mark HarrisCautioned
7David Bass
8Geoff Pitcher
9Sammy WinstonSent Off
10Ronnie Green15
11Eddie Akuamoah
12Amara Simba
13Luke Basford
14Derek Allan
15Junior Kadi10
16Gary Drewett
 
Man of the Match
Richard Hurst
Richard Hurst
 
Match Report By
Gary Ekins