Dagenham and Redbridge 1 Solihull Moors 1
By Luke Turner
Moors Finish Second in National League as "Daggers Drawn" ...............writes John Clothier
It was the usual early start for all National League clubs in this the last league match of the season. The play off contenders were known but nobody could hazard a guess on who would play who – that would have to wait until today’s matches had concluded. It was good to end the league fixtures at Dagenham – it is the friendliest of clubs and a pleasure to visit.
Tim Flowers made seven changes from the team that drew last Monday with League Champions, Leyton Orient, but with some of the squad carrying niggling injuries and others in need of match time, it made every sense to ring the changes.
Ryan Boot made his 46th start in the 46th league match of the season – say no more!
George Carline was first in action, pounding down the left wing and putting in a cross which was cleared. Jermaine Hylton needed the physio after 4 minutes but was able to carry on although he was limping for some little while . Joe Sbarra picked up an unnecessary yellow card for blatant shirt pulling of Chike Kandi.
Moors had their first chance on 8 minutes when Hylton was fouled near the corner flag and Harry Flowers free kick found Captain, Liam Daly at the far post but keeper Elliott Justham was equal to the header.
With Solihull having the best of the opening period, the “Daggers” had to bide their time for their first opportunity but with the rain coming down and the wind blowing strongly it was difficult for both sides although the hosts had the wind in their face.
The front three from Dagenham, Wilkinson, Balanta and Kandi were combining well and causing problems but when Wilkinson was well placed on 23 minutes he was unable to get the shot in from the edge of the box. Nevertheless, the home side had weathered the storm and both teams were looking for the opener.
Hylton battled well to cross from the bi line and find Lee Vaughan whose shot was pulled from the air by Justham as it flew towards the left-hand top corner. Terry Hawkridge’s free kick, after Carline was hauled down by Loft, fell to Daly but his lob was easily taken by the keeper. Sbarra went wide from 18 yards.
On the half hour mark Kandi put Wright away down the right flank but the cross eluded the front men. Balanta picked up Smith’s pass but blasted over the bar from 25 yards as the hosts enjoyed their best play so far.
On 38 minutes Hylton turned Onariase before launching a pin point cross to Vaughan but the shot lacked power. Maxwell was booked as the interval beckoned but not before he crossed the ball over the Dagenham defence but both Blissett and Harry Flowers were off side. It was Flowers again quelling an attack on 44 minutes with an uncompromising clearance from defence.
Goalless at half time was a fair reflection of play but Moors would now be battling the wind as well as their opponents!
With a minute of play resuming Dagenham went one up; Ryan Boot came well out to deal with a long ball over the Moors defence but it fell straight to the marauding Wilkinson who lobbed it into an empty net. 1 – 0.
Solihull were straight back on the offensive; Carline’s long throw was headed out by Hawkridge who then put a curler into the area but there was nobody to take advantage. That said Wilkinson could have made it two as he dribbled the ball almost to the bi line and from 10 yards attempted an audacious chip which hit the upright and away to safety.
On 55 minutes Moors were rewarded with the equaliser when Hylton again ran at the daggers defence, played a one two with Blissett and just got back onto the ball as Smith’s attempted clearance looked to be on its way for an own goal.
Two minutes later Dagenham were awarded a penalty when Flowers barged Wilkinson off the ball to prevent a clear shot on goal and referee Pollard pointed straight to the spot. Balanta hit low to Boot’s left but the Solihull shot stopper guessed correctly and saved the day.
On 63 minutes Hylton was impeded by Onariase and Hawkridge’s free kick looked like a certain goal as it was helped on its way by Flowers but Justham saved with his feet from close range.
Kandi skipped passed two defenders but there were no front runners to take advantage. Daly’s header was straight at Justham.Blissett made way for Matty Stenson with 20 minutes left.
Balanta collected the ball from Wilkinson on the edge of the area after a last-ditch accurate tackle from Flowers but shot straight at Boot and then when wide seconds later. At the other end Hylton dribbled beyond two defenders but nobody could take advantage. Robinson tried a 20 yarder but curled it beyond the post. In the dying moments of normal time Tyrone Williams rose highest to Hawkridge’s corner but headed over.
In the second of three added minutes Dagenham had a chance to clinch all the points - Balanta’s cross was met perfectly by the incoming Harfield who struck the ball powerfully – it looked unstoppable but somehow, that man Daly reacted in an instant and cleared it off the line.
It ended all square 1 – 1; an entertaining finale to the league fixtures but not to the Moors promotion campaign!
Salford lost away at Hartlepool United which meant that Solihull finished the league in second place. Harrogate (who lost at Wrexham) will now travel to AFC Fylde (who lost at home to FC Halifax) next Wednesday, the winner of that playing Moors at the ATG Stadium next Saturday KO 12.30 pm for a place in the play off final at Wembley Stadium on the 11th May.
Wrexham host Eastleigh in the other quarter for a trip to Salford.
Keep an eye on the Club website for further details of our semi final which is also being televised live by BT Sport.
Man of the Match Liam Daly
Attendance 1370 (154 Moors fans)
Boot, Williams, Daly ©, Hylton, Carline, Blissett (Stenson), Flowers, Maxwell, Hawkridge, Vaughan, Sbarra. Subs Not Used : Agboola, Gudger, Carter, Wright.
Report from John Clothier Photos Courtesy of Tom King
Just think back to Mid November 2017 - Moors had played 19, won 3, drawn 2 and lost 14; 11 points, it seemed hopeless
Now , this season, its played 46, won 25, drawn11, lost 10; 86 points, amazing!