Sharps Makes a Point!
Posted by chris_saxon on January 04 2009 19:59:51
Some of the 3,300 hardy souls assembled at freezing cold Don Valley thought that we deserved our draw against yesterday’s opponents Dagenham & Redbridge, others thought we were lucky, opinion was split on this first fixture of 2009.

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I suppose that it all depends on your take on proceedings. Whatever your view, there’s no denying that the Daggers are one of the league’s most improved sides. I saw us play them twice last season and they looked a poor outfit destined to struggle once again this time around.

However, judging by this display they really ought to be thereabouts come the end of the season. A startling transformation given the size of the club.
They have that rare combination at this level, pace and strength in abundance and everyone of their players looked comfortable on the ball.

Having said all that and despite being second best for long periods of the game, especially in the second half, we did stick manfully to the task and never gave up. I suppose that for sheer effort alone we deserved a point.

Arctic conditions had deterred all but the diehards to the DVS and a travelling support of less than 100 reinforced the view that our opponents are a club punching way above their weight in the Football League. They are in every sense of the word a Conference team.   

On a day when there were lots of postponements, the pitch looked in good nick and justified the decision to dispense with any inspection.

Broughton had defied the odds and started the game despite reports that he was suffering from that flu virus currently doing the rounds and was partnered up front by Rueben Reid back in favour after his goal at Notts County the other day.

Dagenham had an impressive recent CV winning their last four games and scoring goals a plenty! It promised to be an exciting encounter.

Unfortunately, the first forty-five minutes proved to be something of an anti-climax with both teams serving up efficient competent football rather than anything more exhilarating.
Chances were few and far between and neither keeper was unduly bothered come the half time whistle.

As the temperature plummeted, proceedings took a decided turn for the worse for the Millers as Ritchie headed the visitors in front early on after the break. Indeed, their swift passing threatened to swamp the home side and only a combination of poor finishing and some inspired keeping from on loan Stockdale kept us in the match.

Having said that, the referee played a significant part in maintaining home interest when he waved away penalty appeals after Stockdale felled Ritchie on a one on one courtesy of a disastrous back pass from Harrison. Ritchie seemed to be clearly upended by our man between the posts which would have warranted a red card but for the referee.  

Taylor came on for Nicholas and the tiring Broughton was replaced by Barker as manager Mark Robins tried to freshen things up a bit. I suppose this could be counted as his debut given that he’d signed on the dotted line after his loan spell.

Moving on and we finally created a clear cut chance, which fell to Taylor one on one with their keeper but he only succeeded in offering a weak shot which went wide.

As the minutes ticked away and we went into time added on Taylor was unceremoniously bundled over on the edge of the box, in fact had it been a couple of inches further we would have had a penalty.

Reid stepped up to fire the free-kick low and hard into the crowded area and Fenton’s effort was blocked only for Sharps to score from close in with the keeper possibly unsighted.

Relief, joy, contentment all rolled into one and there wasn’t even time to restart the game.

A point then against as good as any opposition we’re likely to encounter at this level, considering their wage structure and income, manager John Still has put together a fine team which might well go on and win promotion.

This was definitely a point gained rather than two lost and with Barnet and Grimsby not playing and Bournemouth and Accrington losing, this was a good result.

We seem quite unable to beat any of the top teams in this division but equally seem far too good for anybody in the bottom half, perhaps that indicates nothing more than mid table mediocrity for us?

Talk amongst the fans was mostly centred on our alleged six figure bid for Liam Hatch. On the evidence of this display we’d be far better trying to bring in a quality midfield man at least in my opinion, though a striker able to regularly find the net would be a bonus.

Reid continues to be something of an enigma occasionally very good but on the whole seemingly uninterested and looking out of place in the team.

Our next three games are crucial if we are to completely dispel any relegation fears. Away trips to Luton and Grimsby sandwiched around a home game against Bournemouth should tell us much about how the season might pan out.
For now, we’ll glory in the knowledge that things really are looking up both on and off the pitch.
Enjoy the remainder of 2009.

Chris S