Back at Mill Farm for the first time since our dramatic 3-3 draw with Dorking Wanderers, The Coasters host Dagenham & Redbridge in our first festive fixture.

Defeat to an in-form Altrincham side last time out, despite Connor Barrett grabbing his second goal in his second game, but next up is The Daggers, who we cast an eye on.  

The Lowdown

The Coasters come into this clash with Dagenham where 3 points is a necessity for both sides. The Coasters fell to a 2-1 defeat away to Altrincham last weekend with 2 wonder strikes from Chris Conn-Clarke confirming defeat in Greater Manchester. The Coasters will be looking to add more of a creative edge this weekend after last weekend’s showing which saw the Coasters without the ball for large parts of the game.

The Daggers are also looking for their first win in over a month and trying to steer their way clear of the relegation zone. However, with defeats to teams around them, the Daggers are being dragged right into this relegation battle. This could be a massive 6 pointer with both teams needing a win to improve their current situation.

The Manager: Ben Stevens

Edgware-born Stevens started his career off at Wingate and Finchley where he notched 38 goals in 67 games which gained the interest of local football league clubs. Stevens was eventually snapped up by Barnet where he would make just shy of 200 appearances in 7 seasons at the club. During that period Ben enjoyed loan spells at Slough Town, St Albans City, Wingate and Finchley. He was also the only player to remain in the squad who got relegated to non-league in 2001 to be then still in the squad for the promotion in 2005. In December of 2005, Stevens made the switch to East London to join Dagenham and Redbridge.

Ben made over 100 appearances in his first spell which also coincided with Dagenham’s first spell in the football league, however, Stevens moved on the season before Dagenham gained promotion to League One. Stevens joined London rivals and now Premier League side Brentford FC. In his only season with the Bees, he was part of a squad that became champions of League 2 and would join Dagenham in League one albeit a year later.

However, after League 2 success with the Bees, Stevens was in hot demand and joined Wycombe Wanderers. Once again he was promoted out of League 2 with Wycombe however stayed the season after which saw Wycombe go straight back down to League 2 from League 1 and Stevens was on the move again. This time joining Kent side Gillingham FC.

Once again Stevens helped another side get out of League 2 this time with Gillingham earning promotion to League 1, However, Stevens left halfway through this campaign to join Dagenham and helped them keep their Football League status. Stevens then dropped 2 divisions to join National League South Eastleigh FC. He once again enjoyed promotion at the first time of asking with Eastleigh scoring 11 times in their promotion winning season.

He then became a key figure at Eastleigh making 89 appearances in all competitions in the next 2 seasons for the Spitfires helping them become a formidable force in the National League. He then followed manager Richard Hill to National League South side Whitehawk. However, he quickly moved back to Eastleigh making 22 appearances in his final 2 playing seasons. He then moved to the touchline being assistant manager at Eastleigh before becoming permanent manager in 2018. In his first season as manager, he guided the club to a playoff finish losing to eventual winners Salford City.

The next 2 seasons were affected by covid but Stevens led the Spitfires to respectable finishes of 16th and 9th before leaving the club in 2022 by mutual consent. Stevens joined Dagenham as manager late on in the 22/23 season and gained 13 points in the final 10 games to lead the club to 10th in the table.

Key Players

Frank Vincent: Joining from Notts County in the summer, Vincent is a smart acquisition for the Daggers. A midfield player who likes to get the ball down and play will be a vital player for Dagenham this year. With vast experience playing for the likes of Torquay, Notts County and Aldershot at this level, Vincent will be one of the main men for the Daggers this year.

Inih Effiong: A born goalscorer with unbelievable hold-up play and strength. 6ft 4 and with a wealth of experience, Effiong will be a handful for the Coasters backline. Scoring goals for the likes of Dover, Boreham Wood, Woking, Aldershot and Barnet at this level. Effiong doesn’t need to be asked twice where the net is and giving away chances to him could be costly for the Coasters.

Freddie Sears: Arguably one of the most experienced wide players in the division who has played in the football league all his career up until Dagenham. With skill to go around players and the finish to top things off Sears could be vital for the Daggers for the rest of the season. He also gives the Daggers key experience which will help them should they get dragged into a relegation battle.

Previous Meetings

19th August 2017
AFC Fylde 2 vs 2 Dagenham and Redbridge

24th March 2018
Dagenham and Redbridge 2 vs 0 AFC Fylde

17th November 2018
Dagenham and Redbridge 2 vs 1 AFC Fylde

2nd April 2019
AFC Fylde 1 vs 1 Dagenham and Redbridge

23rd November 2019
AFC Fylde 3 vs 0 Dagenham and Redbridge

10th March 2020
Dagenham and Redbridge 1 vs 2 AFC Fylde

02 September 2023
Dag & Red 3 vs 1 AFC Fylde

Opposition Form

The Daggers travel to Mill Farm to push towards mid-table and away from the relegation zone. The Daggers do travel well however with 16 of their 25 points this season coming on their travels and currently on a run of 3 away wins on the bounce coming into this fixture.

The Daggers’ problems come from scoring and creating chances with them having the second-worst attack in the league which is an unwanted record and one that Ben Stevens will want to improve. With the Daggers out of the FA Trophy and the FA Cup, the Daggers’ sole focus this season will be to stay away from the drop zone and may even push for a top-half finish.