Silva turns gold for vital Daggers victory

Dagenham and Redbridge 0-1 Northampton

***The below match report was kindly provided by my buddy Jamie, the honorary Cobbler, who was in attendance last night. You can follow him on Twitter @jamesfarrier or visit his blog, The Backpass, should you so wish!***

A thrashing of your local rivals, a stupendous second-half comeback or an unexpected underdog victory over champions-elect are all results that stick fondly in the memory. Sometimes, however, it’s the spirit of forcing through a chilly Tuesday night one-nil over relegation candidates at Victoria Road in East London that can make you realise what matters most for a season campaign: the result. The Cobblers have made a big statement in the case for retaining their place in next season’s Football League.

That this was the rearrangement of the winter fixture turned the psychology of the game on its head; Northampton entered the game fully into their stride of Aidy Boothroyd’s revival, having traded places with a Dagenham and Redbridge side now occupying their opponent’s former position at the very bottom of League Two and looking doomed to dropping back to the Conference.

Northampton, unchanged again from victory against Aldershot, asserted their newfound confidence and joined-up team ethic in the opening 20 minutes, applying controlled attacks with a fine mixture of Bayo Akinfenwa’s aerial threat and sterling work by Michael Jacobs and Toni Brito da Silva on the left and right flanks respectively. Silva, in particular, imposed himself with a series of darting runs, tenacious dribbling and some sound efforts at goal.

The Daggers, however, were not a team to roll over and found their way into the game, eventually producing an excellent fingertip save from Matt Duke on the stroke of half time.

The second half saw Town produce the same drive, albeit with the nagging feeling that shots on target weren’t forthcoming. Eventually, though, the Cobblers found the breakthrough when Jacobs’ blocked shot saw the ball break loose for an unmarked Silva to slot cooly home from the right of the six yard box for his first goal with the club.

Silva’s skills were only impeded by a touch of selfishness as he failed to provide the correct deliveries for the waiting Bayo and Guttridge in the centre, often losing possession unnecessarily, and his substitution following the goal was the right decision. Bayo was also withdrawn for Webster to shore up the defence, leading to another tense finish that saw Daggers pile forward. It all came down to another hearts-in-mouths finish with another fine save by Duke at the very death, when Josh Parker really could have done better with a low header from point blank range.

The Cobblers held on and the visiting support clambered around the entrance to the tunnel to give the players and manager a triumphant exit. It was no less than the 669 traveling fans had given for the previous 90 minutes, producing a terrific voice to make the claret proud. I’ve been among my fair share of barmy army away visits, but tonight’s support was one of the best. It was a stark reminder of what fans can do for a side when they need the positivity and encouragement to see a game like this through to a winning conclusion.

These three precious points sees us up to 19th, with a game in hand over those around us, and with discernible daylight emerging between us and the relegation zone. It’s by no means certain safety, but this could be the sort of result that will be remembered if we manage to make an effort of properly consolidating our league status rather than narrowly surviving by the skin of our teeth.

Dagenham and Redbridge v Northampton Town: Match Preview

The time has come for one of the biggest matches of the season with a month’s delay for the fixture only adding to the anticipation for a trip that won’t make or break the season but will have plenty of implications for the coming weeks and the relegation battle. Had we played the game at the scheduled time, we would have been looking up at the Daggers, and indeed the rest of League Two, but thanks to a resurgence of form the clubs have instead swapped places over the past month and it’s the hosts who prop up the rest and the Cobblers needing the win to put ground between us.

All’s set for a tense night with the conclusion sure to have major impact at the bottom of the Football League.

Form…

Dagenham have fallen to a couple of away defeats in the last week, falling 4-0 at league leaders Swindon before Saturday’s 2-1 reverse at AFC Wimbledon. Before that though, they were in decent form and had picked up seven points from a possible nine.

The Cobblers have collected thirteen points from the last eighteen available including back to back home wins this week. Aidy Boothroyd’s men have lost only one of their four away games in 2012, that being the 1-0 defeat at Torquay.

Team News…

The Daggers snapped up Bournemouth’s Mathieu Baudry on loan this week and the Frenchman could make his debut. John Still is meanwhile waiting on the fitness of defensive duo Scott Doe and Mark Arber with both doubts for the game. Matthew Saunders will definitely miss out as he waits on the results of an ankle scan while Sam Williams, Kevin Maher and Peter Gain are also out.

Aidy Boothroyd will be pondering the inclusion of Toni Silva after the enigmatic winger put in a solid performance on his recall to the side on Saturday afternoon. Michael Jacobs and Bayo Akinfenwa were the only concerns for that one but both came through ok and should start again. Anthony Charles might be included in the squad after completing his short term move to Sixfields on Tuesday.

Club Links…

Dagenham signed former Cobblers loanee Josh Parker on a loan deal last week. Parker, now signed up by Oldham Athletic, played three times for Town in 2010.

Injured Cobblers defender Nana has previously spent time on loan at Dagenham and scored twice in an eight game spell at Victoria Park in the 2009-10 season.

Previous Meetings…

24/09/11: Cobblers 2-1 Dagenham and Redbridge

Arron Davies returned from injury to smash the Cobblers in front in the reverse fixture at Sixfields from earlier this season before Bayo headed in for 2-0 the other side of half-time. Dagenham pulled one back through Oliver Lee but we held on for a first home win of the season.

06/02/10: Dagenham and Redbridge 0-1 Cobblers

John Johnson’s goal turned out to be the winner in February 2010 in the Cobblers’ first competitive game at Victoria Road.

26/12/09: Cobblers 1-0 Dagenham and Redbridge

The first ever meeting between the two sides took place at Sixfields on Boxing Day 2009 with the Cobblers coming out on top by a single goal, scored by Billy McKay with just two minutes to go.

The Man In The Middle…

The man in charge on Tuesday night will be Paul Tierney, who has been officiating Championship and League One games in the past couple of weeks. You might remember him for sending John Johnson off at Oxford last season or for showing red to two Stevenage players on the day that we secured our Football League status at the end of last season.

Prediction…

It’s a massive contest and one that I’d like to see us go all out and attack but I can see it being quite cagey and based on the last couple of results wouldn’t be completely disappointed with a point. I’ll go for 1-1.