Bid blown with Gayle sale

Tuesday 19th February 2013 6:02

Dwight Gayle: Sold to Peterborough

Dwight Gayle: Sold to Peterborough

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Dagenham & Redbridge FanZoner Nick Murphy believes his club's play-off hopes disappeared at the same time as goalscorer Dwight Gayle.

For all clubs in every league, it is getting to that stage of the season where performances define where they'll be at the start of next campaign. Start winning consistently and you'll haul yourself up the table or go further clear of the pack at the top. Go on an untimely losing streak, however, and you may find yourself struggling to keep up with the pacesetters or languishing near the bottom - a la Accrington Stanley.

For Dagenham & Redbridge however, the season has hit something of a crossroads. We're neither heading the pack nor languishing at the bottom. We're sitting in lower mid-table thanks to some inconsistent performances over the past few months or so - soaking in our own mediocre juices if you will. This isn't such a bad thing given our previous two seasons where we have been fighting arduous battles against the drop.

It is extremely frustrating though when you consider what might have been. In late November, when we sat six points away from the play-offs, we certainly looked like a team that could challenge. We were playing exciting football with plenty of goals in our game, so much so that we were the division's third top scorers with 30 goals to our name. Since then and following the sale of Dwight Gayle, our goalscoring prowess has taken something of a nose dive.

In the four month period since Gayle's departure to Peterborough, we've added just 15 goals to that tally. And while we remain relatively free of relegation danger, it is a clear reminder of what might have been had we not needed to offload the talismanic Gayle.

For long periods this season, I've stressed what an average league the fourth tier is. It's probably the weakest it has been in years which means there is a lot more competition for places with very little between teams.

After Saturday's 2-1 defeat at Gillingham, it hit home to everyone how this season could have been so much different had we been able to retain Gayle - or had we had another consistent goalscorer at the club.

You just get the feeling that such is the quality of League Two, someone with that spark would have been enough to see us challenging in and around the play-off spots.

Gillingham are a decent side, but in my view they were there for the taking. We created the chances, but we lacked a serious goal threat - excusing Ben Strevens who was making only his third appearance back for the club.

That telling piece of quality is what is separating us from a potential play-off berth once more. That's not to say that we won't make the top seven, it's just extremely unlikely at this stage.

Not to put too fine a point on it, we're about as likely to reach the play-offs as Matt Saunders is to becoming the Pope. But that's what's so frustrating, thinking what might have been - once again.

Then again, supporting Daggers that frustration will always be there. That frustration at selling a player; that frustration at just missing out and that frustration when you wonder what might have been. As I seem to say on a fortnightly basis, that's the frustration that you get when you sign the contract to support Dagenham & Redbridge, and yet I wouldn't change it for the world. And that's something I don't think I can emphasise enough.

By Nick Murphy, FanZone's Dagenham & Redbridge blogger. Follow him on Twitter at @NickMurphyDRFC - and don't forget to follow @FanZone too!

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