Date: 5th April 2016 at 9:49pm
Written by:

Dagenham & Redbridge are in big trouble this year. Despite the return earlier in the season of iconic Manager John Stead from Luton, they have remained resolutely in or around the relegation positions in League Two for the whole of the campaign so far. Before the start of play on Tuesday night, the Londoners were absolutely rock bottom of the pile and a whole eighteen points behind their visitors, who had played only one game more. Even a victory tonight would not change Dagenham`s dire situation because York – their main competitors for the drop into the National League – were already four points ahead of them in twenty-third position. Their only hope, pre-match, was that the Shrimps are the one team in the known universe which can be guaranteed to lie down and die in the Daggers` hour of need. They did it the first time they met in the Conference Play-Offs and – even more notoriously – when they faced each other in the League Two Play-Offs five years ago when Morecambe went down to a record defeat of 6-0 at Victoria Road. In the FA Cup earlier this season – their first ever meeting in this competition – the Shrimps drew in London only to squander an early 2-0 lead in the replay and yet again tamely roll over to Dagenham`s eventual benefit without so much as a whimper: this was a truly pathetic display.

So it was no surprise that the team from Lancashire lost yet again tonight. After just eight minutes, Jamie Devitt`s attempted clearance hit the referee and rebounded to a grateful Joss Labadie, whose shot bizarrely hit a divot and bounced over the despairing dive of Barry Roche in the visitors` goal. Buoyed by this piece of luck, the Daggers were dominant in the early stages although Paul Mullin`s superb effort after seventeen minutes was brilliantly saved by Mark Cousins to keep the East Enders` lead intact. But with half an hour played, Captain Labadie turned provider when his excellent pass played veteran striker Jamie Cureton in to take the ball round Roche and make it two-nil to the hosts at half time.

The nearest the visitors came to scoring during the early part of the second half was when Devitt`s cross-cum-shot hit a post after 65 minutes and went for a corner from which Ryan Edwards` header was cleared off the Dagenham line. Kevin Ellison managed to hit the post with another header after seventy minutes but just five minutes later, substitute Tom Barkhuizen scored when Dominic Hyam`s effort to clear his lines hit Cole Stockton and bounced perfectly into his path for a simple tap-in. Stockton had a chance to equalise after 82 minutes but he missed the target with his header and Ellison wasted a further chance when he sliced a shot with his left foot four minutes later. By this stage in the match, Dagenham had been fighting a rearguard action for some time and were trying to hold on to the three points which have eluded them in most games this season. As a result, substitute Josh Passley was booked for time-wasting after eighty minutes but his team managed to hold out for the remaining fourteen minutes that the game lasted.

So John Stead must wish his side could play Morecambe every week. This is only the second league game his team have won at home all season. For the Shrimps, this was a vision of the future. If they play like this next season then they will find themselves in Dagenham`s position this time next year: they should be easily beating teams as poor as the Daggers obviously are; instead, they started the long trip back to the north west with absolutely nothing. As far as Dagenham and Morecambe are concerned, it was thus the same old sad story. The Daggers remain bottom and quite badly adrift despite the win. Even following Morecambe`s poor showing, they remain eighteenth in the table.
Ref: Keith Hill