Dagenham 2 Darlington 0

STEVE STAUNTON had a fair idea what to expect before he took the Darlington job. Being rock bottom of the table tells its own story.

On Saturday, the Irishman saw for himself what he has let himself in for as he watched his side suffer a fullydeserved 2-0 defeat at Dagenham & Redbridge, who should be regretting a missed opportunity to greatly enhance their goal difference.

Darlington were thoroughly outplayed by the promotion- chasing hosts, who had 24 shots (15 on target), whereas Dagenham keeper Tony Roberts did not have a single save to make.

The charismatic shot-stopper even found time for a spot of embarrassing dad-at-awedding style dancing on the edge of his area when Quakers supporters made reference to his bulging waistline.

Roberts was briefly called into action late on, bursting off his line to stop striker Kevin Gall, who had pounced on a short back pass. Fat maybe, but still fast enough to stop Quakers.

However, it was way too late as Dagenham had been ahead since scoring two sloppily conceded first half goals.

If Staunton had not known already, the realisation that he has walked into the most difficult job in football will have hit him like a sledgehammer during a 58-second period when Danny Green and Josh Scott found the net.

For the first, Quakers keeper Russell Hoult threw the ball out in the direction of Jeff Smith. But Green intercepted and fired into the corner of the net from the edge of the penalty area.

Within a minute Scott cut in from the right, ran at goal and with Darlington’s defence back-pedalling he planted a low shot into the goal.

Game over after 18 minutes.

A red-faced Staunton was stunned. Frustratingly, the teams had been evenlymatched until the two goals, after which Darlington disintegrated.

Staunton said: “I thought we were comfortable right up until the first goal.

“Both goals were very disappointing.

We spoke about it before the game and we worked on it during training on Thursday. But that’s why we’re in the position we’re in – stupid errors. Unfortunately, they cost us.

“They were the reason Dagenham got their noses in front. They overpowered us at times, but the lads gave me everything. They really tried, but you can’t keep giving twogoal leads away.”

Staunton’s first game took a further turn for the worse when new striker Noel Whelan had to be carried off the pitch with a hamstring injury ten minutes before half-time.

“It was the way he landed,”

explained Staunton, who also handed a debut to Moses Barnett.

“We’ll have to wait until Monday to see how it is, but it’s not looking good.”

Barnett, on loan from Everton, slotted in well at leftback, but Staunton admits he must bring in more players if Quakers are to stand any chance of escaping the drop.

He added: “I saw nothing today that I didn’t already have in mind.

“I know the positions where we have to strengthen, so it’s going to be a case of working the market and I always knew I’d have to.

“I was under no illusions before I came here. I’ve always known that there’s going to be a hell of a lot of work to be done, on the field and off it.

That was never going to change regardless of today’s result.”

Darlington also fell 2-0 behind in the first half at Leeds last Tuesday but pulled a goal back before the break and proceeded to have the better of the second half. But there was to be no repeat on Saturday.

Although Quakers marginally improved, Dagenham frequently came close to another goal, most notably when Paul Benson’s 25-yard curling effort clipped Hoult’s crossbar.

Hoult atoned for his firsthalf error by producing a string of saves that kept the score down, while Darlington created a solitary chance, Dan Groves heading wide from a Paul Arnison cross.

That was as good as it got for a Quakers side who did not win a corner until the 80th minute, which was greeted with ironic cheers by the home fans.

Darlington were always likely to struggle against a side looking good for promotion and in possession of an excellent home record.

No team has scored more goals or won more points on home territory than the Daggers.

Sadly, Darlington are leading the way for all the wrong reasons. No team in the top seven divisions in England has won as few points or scored as few goals.

Staunton is going to need more than simply the luck of the Irish.

Match facts


1-0: Green (17, intercepted Hoult’s throw-out before playing a one-two with Scott and firing past keeper)

2-0: Scott (18, driven shot low from edge of penalty area after cutting in from the right)

Bookings: Griffiths (13, foul); Arnison (34, foul)

Referee: Darren Deadman (Cambridgeshire) – Both cautions were correct and neither team could fault the official 9

Attendance: 1,981

Entertainment: ✰✰✰


(4-4-2): Roberts 6; Ogogo 6, Antwi 6, Arber 7, Griffiths 7; Green 7, THURGOOD 7, Spiller 5 (Tejan-Sie 44, 6), Gain 7; Benson 6, Scott 7 (Thomas 77).

Subs (not used): Lewington (gk), Doe, Nurse, Montgomery, Bingham


7 HOULT: At fault for the first goal but recovered to make several fine saves;

5 Arnison: A far better option than the on-loan Kane, but can do much better than he did on Saturday

5 Foster: Kept occupied by a lively forward line and a midfield that got forward

5 Miller: Given a tough game by Daggers forwards Scott and Benson

6 Barnett: Demonstrated a confidence on the ball belying his 18 years;

5 Groves: Played out wide and never looked comfortable

4 Chandler: Uncharacteristically gave the ball away too often

5 G Smith: Kept battling but is not the creative player Quakers need in midfield

3 J Smith: Will surely be among the first players that Staunton will try to replace;

4 Gall: Failed to get involved and frustrated by the team’s failure to get the ball to him 5 Whelan: Added the aerial presence Quakers require but suffered early injury


Main (for Whelan 34): Worked hard for the team but, like Gall, left isolated for long periods 6Mo< Convery (for Groves 57): Not his best game but was surely a better option than playing Groves out of position 5

Devitt (for J Smith 71) (not used): Knight (gk), Plummer, Bennett, Barnes

MAN OF THE MATCH: RUSSELL Hoult – Single-handedly kept the score down.