SHARP DAGGERS INFLICT WOUNDS
Relatively speaking this was Dunstable's best performance of the three friendly games so far, but the overall (and expected supremacy of the Conference side was displayed in superb preparatory play and ruthless finishing. Until their unfortunate relegation from the Football League, the Daggers progress had been remarkable.
Dunstable initially fielded a much stronger team that was held to a draw at New Bradwell St Peter, and nominal third choice goal keeper Jack Smith had a nightmare start when after only two minutes he appeared to palm the ball into his own net, but the visiting officials were keen to give the credit for the goal to be given to Okenbirku (apologies, but my team sheet gave no forenames). He harried Smith into the error, but the young goalkeeper more tan atoned with a string of magnificent saves, many deservedly drawing generous applause.
Dunstable's Gary Wharton again showed his pleasing persistence, and a fine piece of individual work needed a fine save at full stretch from keeper Justham. Widdowson,, in a similar move for the Daggers brought a notable save from Smith who was kept busy as the visitors constructed a number of attacks. hyde was the next marksman and again Smith held and he repeated this when Okenbirku tried for his second goal.
Maguire, however, was on target with a superb volley that found the top corner after twenty-seven minutes. Dunstabe forays were comfortably broken down by an unyielding Dagenham defence and they also showed deft skills in midfield, patiently picking out the chance with some impressive short pass and move skills. Dunstable were a trifle unfortunate when after the Daggers' keeper blocked one shot, David Longe-King found he had a free shot that struck the keeper's knee. Hutchinson saw his shot well saved at the foot of the post and it was clear that Dunstable were keen to reduce the deficit. Wharton's pace gave him further opportunities but his two efforts, in quick succession were struck wide.
The half -time whistle was blown and I recalled the one other game where I have seen Dagenham. This was way back in 1970 and the occasion was the FA Amateur Cup Final, forerunner of the FA Vase. Amateur meant something in those days and the word was not used as it is today as describing something of poor quality. The venue was Wembley stadium and I did not have a ticket. A tout sold me one for thirty-shillings, (£1.50) which was the 'face' price and in his haste he gave me two. I sold the other for the face value and went in to see the once mighty Enfield thrash Dagenham 5-1.
So, trailing 2-0 at the interval, Dunstable made a number of substitutes for the second half, as did their opponents who did not relax their efforts and went on to score three quality goals in a game they were already dominating comfortably. The half was but five minutes old when Assombalonga neted the third with a powerful header from a measured cross that came from the right. Maguire tried a cheeky chip that landed on the roof of the net. Dunstable have yet to score a goal from open play and they almost scored from a direct free kick, the ball just clearing the cross bar.
A free kick for Dagenham, right on the'D'was well struck but landed on the roof of the net. But just over the hour mark they scored a notable fourth goal when Okenbiku blasted home his second of the game following a swift multi-passing move. Smith was able to keep the score down with further saves but the last goal came five minutes from time when Assambolonga scored his second, a fine header after another accurate cross from the right.
It might have been a stroll for the Daggers but i feel it was a useful exercise for Dunstable as the improvement in their play suggests they will be a fair match for many of the teams in our Premier division of the Southern League. Many new faces were seen again and Tony Fontenelle and Danny Talbot have a number of useful notes for future selection and, of course there is still time for more significant signings.
Tuesday 26 July sees the team travel the short distance to Bell Close to take on Leighton Town who are now relegated to the Spartan Premier Division. Saturday 23 July means another trip in the county, this time to Arlesey Town before Conference South outfit St Albans City are ther guests at Creasey Park on Thursday 28 July with a 7.30 kick-off. Two days later there is a one pm kick-off at Creasey Park with Egham Town the visitors.