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Match report: York City 3, Dagenham 2
Two-goal York City forward Ashley Chambers beats Dagenham ’keeper Chris Lewington and heads off to celebrate in front of the home fans
DAGENHAM & Redbridge’s players walked from York railway station to Bootham Crescent on Saturday but no game is ever a stroll against John Still’s team.
Their first encounter with York City for five-and-a-half years, despite ending in a 3-2 defeat for the train-travelling visitors, proved no exception.
Just like that last 2007 meeting between the two teams, a Dagenham centre-back scored both of his side’s goals and, if ever an illustration was needed of the Essex team’s reliance on aerial strength for points, then look no further than this latest contest.
Headers were responsible for all of the visitors’ first six goal attempts of the match and it took until the 84th minute for an away player to manage a shot – on or off target – with his feet.
Set-pieces, inevitably, led to more than half of the efforts that threatened Michael Ingham’s goal but the Minstermen just about survived the onslaught and produced an attacking display that was the antithesis of their opponents’ robust and ugly approach.
Ashley Chambers’ two goals were as clinically finished as they were well crafted and Matty Blair’s ultimately decisive second-half strike was just as aesthetically pleasing following good work by nimble-footed on-loan Peterborough midfielder Danny Kearns.
The game was another big test passed by Gary Mills’ team during their Football League acclimatisation, with the players preventing a run of five home games without a win from becoming a bigger concern.
Mills should certainly consider dispensing with tradition perhaps and, given the choice, kick towards the David Longhurst Stand in the first half of matches rather than the second.
It worked during City’s only other home triumph this season when Michael Coulson opened the scoring after only 16 seconds of a 3-1 victory over Oxford.
On Saturday, meanwhile, Chambers claimed the Minstermen’s first goals at Bootham Crescent in five matches, as he bagged a brace before the break in front of the noisiest section of the ground.
Earlier, a Dagenham team, unashamed by their football philosophy, had signalled their intentions from the first whistle when Luke Wilkinson, who would later get his team’s two goals, booted the ball half the length of the pitch and out of play from the kick off.
The former Portsmouth defender then headed the game’s first opportunity wide from a Matt Saunders corner.
City took longer to impose their image on the game but, on 17 minutes, Scott Kerr and Jason Walker combined before Blair burst through the heart of the visitors’ defence only to be stopped in his tracks by Dagenham ’keeper Chris Lewington, who smothered at his feet. Within two minutes, the hosts were in front.
Blair sprinted ahead of Daggers defender Scott Doe to retrieve Jamal Fyfield’s headed flick on down the left flank.
He then nudged the ball inside to Chambers, who switched it on to his right foot before curling a shot beyond the dive of Lewington to find the bottom corner from 12 yards.
The visitors were level on 23 minutes, however, when a towering Wilkinson attacked the near post unchallenged to head in Saunders’ corner, only for the 5ft 10in Chambers to prove equally devastating in the air when he restored the home side’s lead before the interval.
Fyfield’s left-wing cross was excellent but matched by a perfectly timed leap by Chambers, whose powerful downward header from six yards bounced quickly off the slick surface to leave Lewington helpless.
Early in the second half, the selfless Chambers, normally just as pleased to tee a team-mate up for a goal than score himself, perhaps sniffed the possibility of a first senior hat-trick when he fired a wild effort high and wide from an unfavourable angle.
Dan Parslow also headed wide and Blair forced a near-post save from Lewington following a strong run through the right channel.
But, just before the hour-mark, Wilkinson headed inches wide from a Saunders free-kick, prompting Mills to scream at his defence to start attacking the ball.
The City boss was happier on 65 minutes when Kearns tricked his way towards the left byline before cutting the ball across the face of Lewington’s goal towards the far post, where Blair was steaming in to fire into the roof of the net from six yards.
Walker then wasted a great chance to put the final outcome beyond any doubt when he intercepted a poor Dwight Gayle back pass to bear down on Lewington’s goal.
With the Daggers’ ‘keeper sliding out to meet Walker 12 yards off his line, the City striker opted to deftly lift the ball over him but failed to gain the height needed to clear the former Leatherhead shot-stopper’s body.
At the other end, substitute Jake Reed fired wide from 25 yards with the visitors’ first shot of the game and Ingham had to react smartly to push Luke Howell’s curling free-kick behind for a corner after it had bounced in front of him when nobody met the winger’s delivery from the left flank.
Dagenham still refused to surrender and, after referee Andy Davies missed a blatant trip by Fyfield that left Gayle floored in the penalty box, the ball broke to Reed, who stabbed a shot against Ingham’s near post from a narrow angle.
When the ball was then cleared as far as Wilkinson, the impressive centre-back proved he is not just a one-trick pony when he thundered a thoroughbred 30-yard finish into Ingham’s bottom right-hand corner during the second minute of stoppage time.
But City got past the winning post to move back into the top half of the League Two table.
York City 3 (Chambers 19, 37; Blair 65), Dagenham 2 (Wilkinson 23, 90+2)
Michael Ingham 7
Will be disappointed that Wilkinson had a free header in his six-yard box for the first goal, but strong in general.
Dan Parslow 7
Solid and dependable, but could have distributed better at times.
Chris Smith 8
Mopped up when needed and never panicked when playing out from the back.
Clarke Carlisle 8
Provided important muscle and aerial strength to the City back line when the bombardment intensified.
Jamal Fyfield 8
The starting point of many an attack down the left flank, although fortunate not to concede a penalty.
Scott Kerr 7
Pulled the first-half strings as the team’s midfield heart beat, but his influence waned prior to being substituted.
Danny Kearns 8
Always willing to express himself on the ball and laid on the third goal for Blair.
Matty Blair 8
His pace and determination saw him win countless chases for possession that he had no right to.
Michael Coulson 7
Neat and tidy without really providing a substantial threat in the final third.
Jason Walker 7
Competed manfully against two strapping centre-backs, but should have scored his fourth goal of the season.
Ashley Chambers 8
STAR MAN – two tremendous finishes gave City the confidence to end a disappointing goal-starved run of home results.
Subs: Jonathan Smith 7 – combative (for Coulson, 64), Jon Challinor – foc-used 7 (for Kerr, 69), Danny Blanchett (for Walker, 84). Not used: Musselwhite, McGurk, Johnson, McLaughlin.
Dagenham: Chris Lewington, Abo Ogogo, Luke Wilkinson, Scott Doe, Femi Ilesanmi, Medy Elito (Dominic Green, 62), Michael Spillane (Gavin Hoyte, 66), Matt Saunders (Jake Reed, 79), Luke Howell, Sam Williams, Dwight Gayle.
Subs not used: Kevin Maher, Brian Woodall, Darren Currie, Jordan Seabright.
Star man: Wilkinson – constant threat in the City penalty box and no slouch on the deck either.
Referee: Andy Davies (Southampton). Rating: 6/10 – missed a few things, most notably a penalty against Fyfield before Dagenham’s goal.
Booked: Ingham 90.
Sent off: None.
Attendance: 3,391 (125 away fans).
Shots on target: City 6, Dagenham 5.
Shots off target: City 2, Dagenham 6.
Corners: City 6, Dagenham 7.
Fouls conceded: City 14, Dagenham 9.
Offsides: City 0, Dagenham 2.