The Coasters are back on the road this Tuesday night in the Vanarama National League, as our survival bid continues at the Chigwell Construction Stadium against Dagenham & Redbridge.
The Essex side are another competing to avoid the drop, sitting three points above the relegation places in 18th, with a game in hand on the majority of their rivals around them. The Daggers – under the stewardship of Daryl McMahon – picked up a crucial victory at the weekend, taking a 1-0 win home from a trip to Aldershot Town. The Coasters played out a goalless draw with Solihull Moors at Mill Farm, a game which could have tilted either way in challenging weather conditions. The turn of the year has proven fairly productive for Dagenham, whose only league defeat so far in 2020 came in the form of a narrow 2-1 loss at leaders Barrow in late February.
Founded in 1992 through the merge of Redbridge Forest and Dagenham, the Daggers made their EFL debut in 2007 after winning the National League title (formerly the Conference Premier). They would spend nine consecutive years as a league club – including a solitary season in League One during 2010/11 – before dropping back into the National League in 2016. The club achieved a play-off place in their first season back in the fifth tier, but were eliminated by Forest Green Rovers and have since finished 11th and 18th in the division in the face of previous financial difficulties.
Of players to watch for the Daggers, ever-present goalkeeper Elliot Justham is certainly deserving of a mention. The 29-year-old local lad, formerly of Luton Town, signed for his hometown club following the club’s drop into the National League, since making well over 100 appearances between the sticks including every league match this season. Defender Kenny Clark has made 31 outings this season for the Daggers, finding his feet at this level since arriving at the club from Ebbsfleet United in the 2018/19 season. Former Chelmsford City and Dartford man Clark enjoyed a fruitful 2017/18 from a personal perspective, making 40 league appearances for the Fleet, but after finding himself out of the side, he then enjoyed a consistent run upon joining Dagenham.
Sam Deering has recently been able to tie down a regular starting place in McMahon’s team, the midfield man and winger arriving from Billericay Town last November. A creative presence and set-piece specialist – very tidy on the ball – 29-year-old Deering has represented the likes of Oxford United and Cheltenham Town, along with playing non-league football for Whitehawk and Ebbsfleet – the latter also under McMahon.
Recently returning to fitness for the Daggers is leading scorer Angelo Balanta, who has so far registered eight goals in the National League this term. Formerly of Queens Park Rangers, Bristol Rovers and MK Dons, the exciting Colombian forward joined the club in October 2018 from Boreham Wood.
Daryl McMahon arrived at the Chigwell Construction Stadium in early January of this year, after leaving Macclesfield Town, for whom he replaced Sol Campbell in charge last summer. The Irishman spent his playing days as a midfielder, with Leyton Orient, Stevenage and Ebbsfleet among his former sides, before hanging up his boots in 2015. McMahon, still just 36, made his name in the management game with the Fleet, spending three years on the touchline with the club.
The Coasters put an end to a barren previous run in meetings with Dagenham back in November, running out 3-0 winners in the National League reverse fixture at Mill Farm, as Mark Yeates and Jordan Williams were among the scorers. Two Daggers wins and two draws make up the previous record between the sides, since our first competitive meeting in 2017.