Town 2 Dagenham & Redbridge 0Town: Jayson Leutwiler, Liam Lawrence (c), Connor Goldson, Jermaine Grandison, James Collins (Andy Mangan, 82), Ryan Woods, Bobby Grant (Josh Ginnelly, 90), Mark Ellis (Tyrone Barnett, 73), Mickey Demetriou, Cameron Gayle, Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro
Subs not used: Mark Halstead, Mikael Mandron, Keith Southern, Scott Vernon
Dagenham & Redbridge: Mark Cousins, Damien Batt (Alex Jakubiak, 76), Scott Doe, Billy Bingham (Joss Labadie, 82), Jamie Cureton, Abu Ogogo (c), Luke Howell, Ashley Hemmings, Ayu Obileye, Andre Boucaud, Joe Widdowson
Subs not used: Ashley Chambers, Christian Doidge, Matt Partridge, Ian Gayle, Lewis Moore
Referee: K. Hill
Assistants: M. Duncan & B. Roberts
Fourth Official: J. Hull
Attendance: 6,143 (98 from Dagenham)
Martin Wild reports from Greenhous Meadow
Town’s promotion push was given a huge boost this afternoon with a 2-0 win against Dagenham & Redbridge. And just as Bobby Grant was the hero last week with both goals against Portsmouth, Connor Goldson stepped up the plate to land the bubbly this time with a double salvo of his own. Goldson planted headers into the net from two Liam Lawrence set-pieces inside five minutes to enhance the promotion credentials still further. And there was another clean sheet to celebrate – a 23rdof the campaign in all competitions.
Lawrence – who had been suffering from illness for much of the week – was fit enough to be named in an unchanged Town line-up from the one that gained three points at Pompey last time out. And Josh Ginnelly was rewarded for some eye-catching performances for the reserves with a place amongst the substitutes.
It was a damp afternoon in SY2 with the lights on from the outset, as Daggers got the game underway attacking the Salop Leisure Stand end of the stadium. Three of the stands at the Greenhous were well populated for this vital Bank Holiday fixture, with lengthy queues outside the ticket office ahead of kick-off.
There was an early opportunity for the Londoners when Ashley Hemmings skipped away down the left and pulled a pass right into the path of on-rushing skipper Abu Ogogo. He struck the ball first time and it took a terrific block from Goldson to prevent Jayson Leutwiler from having to make a save. Ogogo held his head in his hands which suggested the Town keeper might not have been able to get across in time in any event. And Town had another escape after 12 minutes when Billy Bingham’s superb 30 yard shot fizzed all along the sodden surface but just missed the right hand post.
James Collins saw a shot blocked off after he did well to open the space, and from the corner Town went ahead. Lawrence’s kick was perfect and Goldson climbed high to bury the header past Mark Cousins on 17 minutes. It was the defender’s fifth goal of the season and had arrived at a perfect time with the visiting side looking lively with the ball.
Midway through the first half, the same combination brought a second Town goal. Lawrence’s free-kick was superbly met by the highly valued centre-back and once again Cousins was helpless to keep the header out as the ball looped into the far corner. Goldson’s contributions as a defender have attracted a whole host of plaudits, but here he was popping up in the opposition box twice in succession with devastating effect.
As Shrews cranked up the pressure it took an incredible FOUR saves in the space of 60 seconds from Cousins to deny Mickey Demetriou, Ryan Woods, Jermaine Grandison and Mark Ellis. The last of them was a fairly routine one, but the other three were top drawer stops. But for brilliant goalkeeping this game would have been over with an hour left.
With 10 minutes to go before half time and the home fans in buoyant mood, it changed somewhat as the image of Nick Mann was flashed up onto the scoreboard. Nick, who was 35, lost his life in tragic circumstances last Sunday morning, having watched the team win at Fratton Park with his brother Rob who continues his fight for life after being critically injured in the same incident. Cousins denied Collins to make up for his mistake or the most fitting tribute would have been paid in the 35th minute to the lifelong Salop fan. As it was, the whole stadium rose to applause for 60 seconds – including Micky Mellon in the technical area - and it made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. All the players were wearing black armbands as a mark of respect and you very much sensed the community feel of the football club.
In the first of two additional minutes a fantastic burst from Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro almost resulted in a third, but his shot from the edge of the box was a fraction wide. It demonstrated quick thinking, quick feet, pace and power from the Frenchman and deserved a better ending.
Half-Time: Town 2 Dagenham & Redbridge 0
The crowd was announced at the break (6,143) with the second highest turnout of home supporters in attendance for a league game this season.
At the resumption, former Shrewsbury striker Jamie Cureton – who failed to register a single goal in blue and amber – rasped a shot high into the side netting as Dagenham looked to unsettle the hosts early doors.
Ten minutes into the second half, Cousins was called upon again when an audacious 30 yard left foot volley from Collins had the keeper at full length to deny Town’s top scorer. And when play went up to the other end, Grandison muscled Ogogo out of the way on the 18 yard line when danger loomed for the Shrews. It seemed effortless from the powerful defender who continues to be the doyen of the Meadow faithful.
The game had lost its momentum since the interval although the pattern of play was very similar. Town were much better – safer if you like – than Dagenham when in possession, but the away side still carried a goal threat with plenty of pace in their side. The incessant whistle blowing by the referee wasn’t helping but at least he was consistent.
Also consistent was man of the match Goldson who made up at least half a mile on Ogogo, to get in another first class tackle as the midfielder shaped to shoot. Goldson had been outstanding. Wayne Burnett’s side were having their best spell of the match though, and James Collins picked up a yellow for a mistimed tackle on halfway.
Ellis was withdrawn with 17 minutes left and Tyrone Barnett took to the pitch to add some menace to Town’s front line. A yellow card for Goldson when he kicked the ball away did little to take the shine off a masterclass of a performance from the number six.
With Town looking comfortable, Barnett glanced a header well wide from Demetriou’s excellent ball in and there were claims for a pen waved away when JLAA’s shot was blocked off. And Salop made a second change with Andy Mangan getting a 10 minute run-out with Collins the man to make way.
Barnett dragged a shot wide before Ginnelly came on for Grant to see the game out, with another vital three points banked from a fourth successive victory.
Full-Time: Town 2 Dagenham & Redbridge 0