Daggers can build on survival scare

Monday 10th June 2013 19:10

Steve Thompson: Knows what relegation would cost Dagenham

Steve Thompson: Knows what relegation would cost Dagenham

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FanZoner Nick Murphy insists it is time for Dagenham & Redbridge to look onwards and upwards after a relegation scare in the 2012/13 campaign.

It has been a rollercoaster ride in League Two this season. And with everything decided for the next campaign, only now can we look back and truly reflect on what was an extraordinary final day. With seven clubs still involved in the relegation battle, including the London trio of Barnet, AFC Wimbledon and of course Dagenham & Redbridge, it was bound to be a nervous day for all supporters.

According to club official Steve Thompson, relegation would cost the Daggers an estimated £750,000 via gate receipts and other internal factors such as the club bar. It's spoken about how the Championship play-off final is the richest game in football, but perhaps this one is the most important. With several clubs hitting the wall since dropping into the Conference and with it being increasingly difficult to make an immediate return to the league, survival was of the utmost importance.

Of the teams fighting to remain in the league, all but one had experienced the perils of the Conference before. We all knew the tight finances, the economic implications and just the general feeling and outcome of no longer being a league club. With Aldershot all but relegated, it left just one place to be filled by the six duelling clubs, the aforementioned London trio being prime candidates for the drop.

Despite Aldershot not playing a pivotal role in the final day reckoning, they had a crucial part in the penultimate League Two fixtures. Their 1-0 victory over the Daggers left me exasperated, dreading the final day and convinced that we were heading for the drop. Never have I felt worse after a match than at The Rec after that demoralising defeat. It just summed up our polarised season. One week we looked solid and convincing away at Exeter, whilst two weeks later we can't hit a cow's arse with a banjo.

To say the final day was nerve-wracking would be an understatement. With over 3000 nervous faces (both home and away) packed into Victoria Road, the tension was high and nerves were already fraught before kick-off. We knew that a win would see us safe, as would a result equalling that of Barnet's or AFC Wimbledon's. With so many different scenarios, surely it wouldn't be as easy as that? Dagenham & Redbridge don't do easy.

As expected, the majority of games were tense. There were few chances, with only Bristol Rovers and Torquay providing any prolonged action. As a closely fought first half drew to a close, we remained outside of the drop zone on goal difference. All three games involving the London trio remained goalless, meaning it was as you were at the bottom of the table.

Into the second half and Wimbledon were the first to strike, Gary Alexander giving the Wombles a 1-0 lead just after the 60 minute mark. It didn't last long though, with Fleetwood equalising minutes later. We then received the best possible news. There had been a goal at Sixfields, Northampton had taken the lead against Barnet. It couldn't have come at a more crucial time, with Chris Smith sending York 1-0 up at Victoria Road against the Daggers a minute later.

Our fate was no longer in our own hands and with AFC Wimbledon retaking the lead against Fleetwood - we were now relying on Northampton. And thankfully, luck was with us. The Cobblers doubled their lead and despite a tense finish, condemned the Bees of Barnet to relegation.

What I've taken most from the fateful day just over a month ago, is how close we came. And what an experience it was. To go down on goal difference must be exasperating, but to stay up by virtue of it was magnificent. But whilst we celebrated, we have to remember what a drastic fall we'd had from our mid-season form. And that was a real cause for concern. But now, it's all over, and we can look forward to the delights and perils of a new League Two campaign next season.

Follow Nick on Twitter at @NickMurphyDRFC - and don't forget to follow @FanZone too!

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