Football League Two
Victoria Road, Dagenham
Match Rating: 2
A revisit to Victoria Road has been on my radar for some time now, with my only previous visit way back in 1995, when league football was something of a pipe dream for a club only formed three years previously following a merger. I decided today would be the day, taking advantage of unbelievably cheap advance purchase tickets, on the club's annual 'Daggers Against Racism' day. I will almost always choose a terrace place when given the choice at a Football League ground, as I did today for the princely sum of £2.50, although even seating cost just £9.99 today. However, tickets bought on the day were full-price - £17.00 for standing and between £18 and £21 for seating.
Victoria Road is about a ten minute walk from Dagenham East tube station, and has quite a nice mix of old and new. Those holding a terrace ticket enter in one corner and then may choose whether to stand on an uncovered terrace consisting of about a dozen steps behind a goal, or along a length where the terrace is covered by an old-fashioned structure. Along the opposite length is the main, fairly modern all-seater stand taking up about two thirds of the length with about a dozen rows, whilst in the remaining third, in a corner, is a separate all-seater stand. Behind the remaining goal is a large modern all-seater stand.
This match would be between two mid-table teams. Dagenham went into this game in ninth place, two places but eight points adrift of a play-off positions having played a game more than all four teams currently in the play-offs. A good away win at Rochdale last week arrested a slide that saw them pick up just two points from their previous four games, and a win and three draws from nine games. Hartlepool were in 15th place in the 24 team division, six points clear of the relegation positions but have played a game more. They also haven't been in the best of form either, picking up just a win and a draw from their last six games.
Heavy rain fell as the teams strode onto the pitch, although happily that gave way to sunshine within a few minutes of kick-off. Dagenham and Redbridge had much the better of the first half, creating numerous chances but they just couldn't find the back of the net, although Luke Wilkinson saw his header from a free kick hit the crossbar.
The second half started quite slowly, although on 62 minutes, Dagenham had a goal disallowed after top scorer Rhys Murphy was adjudged to have fouled a defender before going onto slot the ball past the keeper. Hartlepool then took the lead on 69 minutes, even though they had barely threatened previously. Luke Williams hit a powerful shot from about 30 yards, which took a wicked deflection and the ball looped over the keeper and into the net. The visitors had their best spell of the game after scoring as Dagenham and Redbridge seemed to run out of ideas and never really looked like scoring. Hartlepool eventually secured the points when they scored their second. The ball was curled in from the right, was knocked down at the far post and Andy Monkhouse tapped the ball home through a defender's legs. In the end, it was a deserved victory for the away side for sale very solid second half performance, whilst Dagenham will surely be disappointed with a pretty ineffectual performance in front of their biggest crowd of the season.
Video highlights can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5paNOEoj5Y