The Dons kept up their record of scoring two goals per game, this time shedding the annoying habit of shipping three, and thus recording our first League points, and League victory, for god knows how long. Nine years apparently. How long will it take us to tire of that song? Another nine years is my guess…
Now I have to admit, I didn’t take the thirty-six stop epic District Line journey I commented on in my preview, partly because I’m not stupid. Perhaps this fixture should be renamed, rather than District Line Derby, surely Change At Waterloo Then Take Jubilee To West Ham Before Boarding An Eastbound Train On The District Line Derby would be more accurate? Once on the District, it’s not exactly a short hop… the train called at Plaistow, East Ham, Barking, Southend, Lowestoft, Rotterdam, Gdansk and Narnia Heathway before finally pulling in to Dagenham East. Ok, not the longest journey we’ve ever made, but I’ve blocked the arse numbing coach journeys to Gateshead and Darlington from my memory, and tube trains weren’t designed for extended occupation…
The ground was pretty close to the tube station, and the Daggers are rare amongst football clubs in that they pretty much roll out the red carpet for visiting supporters… Even the view half way up the spanking new Marcus James end towers over the two adjacent stand roofs, and to cap it off, there’s a bar underneath it, with a couple of TV screens in. And a burger bar out back, that you might miss had there not been a sign at the first burger bar you come across just inside the gates advising not to queue for no reason and giving directions. Now that is class.
What isn’t class is a group of people who want to sit together each buying tickets separately, thus ending up with seats in completely different parts of the stand. We got lucky in that although the Dons contingent was large, it wasn’t quite large enough to fill the 1200 seat stand, meaning spares were available, and I was able to sit with people I know rather than my allocated seat. We got away with it this time, but tactics employed in the Premier League days may need to be redeployed (or not, as I seemed to find myself stuck on my own a fair deal back then…)
Once the game got underway, the travelling support initially had reason to worry, as Dagenham looked the better side early on, and might have threatened had they had a little more composure in front of goal. Unlike last week the Dons, while not looking entirely comfortable, went beyond the twenty-minute mark with sheets still clean, and started looking pretty threatening themselves. Charlie Ademeno was preferred over Christian Jolley for the start, and caused Dagenham all sorts of problems, setting up Jack Midson for the Dons first real chance, but the Not So Secret Footballer prodded over on the stretch.
The Dons eventually went ahead via the penalty spot, but it’s no exaggeration to say they should have had two more… a handball that went unspotted along with a rugby tackle on Midson, and along with this it appeared as though the Daggers should have gone down to ten men after their last man hauled down Midson just outside the area (him again, not having much luck with the referee as we’ll see in the second half…). As all these incidents took place down the opposite end it was difficult to tell what the referees thinking was behind turning down any of them.
When the referee finally caved in and pointed to the spot, the incident looked a little innocuous. A big Sam Hatton throw from the right flicked on and hitting the guy somewhere on the upper arm, the weight of previous appeals finally got to the man in black. The award caught the Dons fans a little off guard, one of those weird delayed celebrations followed as people finally caught on with what had happened. Luke Moore made no mistake with the kick, sending the keeper the wrong way for his second of the season.
With the tunnel situated just in front of the travelling support, the Dons fans were able to give the referee a little advice on his first half performance on the way in, followed by Charlie Ademeno, who was given a more rousing reception. Charlie’s performance was really encouraging, building on decent showings from the bench against Crawley and Bristol Rovers, and if he can stay fit he could prove a surprise hit… On signing I think most Dons fans expected Charlie to support an eventual Kedwell replacement, yet on recent form he’s providing us with everything Kedwell gave us and more, hardworking, almost impossible to shake off the ball and with an eye for goal.
Ademeno’s departure meant Jack Midson sneaked off almost unnoticed, blood appearing to be spurting from a head wound – well, perhaps ‘spurting’ is over dramatic, there was definitely red stuff on show. Not having seen the incident he could well have collided with a spectator with a heavily loaded hot dog, absence of mustard suggests that wasn’t the case, but either way Midson returned after the break, no bandaging apparent.
To be honest the Dons threatened to run away with it in the second half, Dagenham went from looking ex-League One to Conference fodder within the space of forty-five minutes. The second goal effectively finished the game, and was a fantastic effort from Toks, striding forward as the defence backed off, allowing him to fire a left foot effort into the top corner of the net, and worth the journey and ticket price on its own.
Dagenham had a spell lasting about five minutes directly after the goal where they forced a series of corners, but to be honest the Dons looked more likely to extend their lead from that point on. Even the removal of Ademeno provided little respite, Jolley coming on to terrorise the tiring home defence. Yet Wimbledon’s best chance of extending the lead was thwarted once again by the referee, this time right in front of the Dons follower allowing no excuses… Midson brought down as he bore down on goal, quite why the referee turned that one down I’ll never know.
The Dons were good value for the two goal cushion at least, but this early in the season it’s nice to see Wimbledon supporters remaining pretty grounded. This early in the season its hard to judge just how good a win this was, although three points away are always handy no matter which league you happen to be playing in, we’ll probably have more of an idea how we’ll get on by mid-September.
Until then, what of Dagenham? They certainly didn’t look like a side that almost survived in League One last year, although by all accounts they had a fair few injuries. Unlike Crawley and Bristol Rovers they probably won’t be challenging this year, and showed as much by failing to take advantage of a Dons defence still getting to grips with the division. They are probably closer to what you would expect of a mid table side this term, and if so we aren’t going to have too many problems achieving a respectable position this term.
For Wimbledon, well I remember commenting a little while back Nostradamus-like that losing a twenty goal a season striker won’t be a problem so long as goals are spread amongst the team, and here we are now, six goals scored, five goalscorers. Now if we do find that twenty goal hitman before the end of August (or one of Charlie/Jack/Luke get the knack of hitting the net), and the rest keep chipping in, who knows where that could take us?
We now move on to Plymouth and Hereford over the next week, two sides who shipped seven goals between them on Saturday. Yet once again, let’s keep our feet on the ground for a moment (he says, after suggesting otherwise in the previous paragraph…). Plymouth are a young side operating under extreme pressure and budgetary constraints, their heavy home defeat could be as much of a blip as their decent point at Shrewsbury on the opening day. And Hereford, well a win in midweek over Macclesfield is a possibility, and could give them the confidence they have been looking for. The problem with being in a League where every dog has his day, what if we are the dog and have just had ours?
Two tough games, to add to the two we’ve already played and forty-two that will follow…