Argyle 2 Dagenham & Redbridge 1Argyle 2 (Reid 44, Young 78)
Dagenham & Redbridge 1 (Hines 45)
by ROB McNICHOL
Goals from Reuben Reid and Luke Young extended Argyle’s unbeaten run to seven games, and completed a very satisfactory week at Home Park. The best, in fact, in a very long time.
After a creditable point earned at York City, then a rampant 5-0 victory over Lincoln in the FA Cup, a 2-1 victory over play-off chasing Dagenham & Redbridge was yet another step in the revival of Argyle fortunes.
Little of note took place under Reid fired The Pilgrims into the lead just before half-time, yet Zavon Hines’ equaliser came before the referee had a chance to end the first period.
In the second half, though, Argyle amped up the pressure on the visitors, and Luke Young’s beautifully curled free-kick won all the points for John Sheridan’s men, who have a noticeable spring in their step absent for seemingly so long.
Neither side saw fit to make a great deal of changes going into the match In fact, Luke McCormick replacing Jake Cole between Argyle’s posts was the only difference to either starting line-up since their last outing. Dagenham changed no personnel on their bench either, though Argyle had a couple of different bodies in their tracksuits; Caolan Lavery, signed yesterday on loan Sheffield Wednesday, has been in Plymouth less than 24 hours. Paul Wotton, who also returned to substitute duties, has been in town a wee bit longer.
After an opening ten minutes where both sides seemed content to live life on the safe side, the game threatened to suddenly burst into life. Firstly, Wednesday’s most potent of duos - Reid and Alessandra – nearly combined again to great effect. Reid exploded down a flank and centred early to where Alessandra was poised. Had a Dagger not got there before him, we might have had our opener.
Within a minute, Max Blanchard crossed from deep to pick out Reid, but he headed wide. Reuben may have felt he could have done better; but he won’t have felt as despairing as Zavon Hines did five minutes later. The former West Ham man was granted the freedom of the Devonport six-yard box from a Medy Elito corner, but directed his header into Luke McCormick’s hands. That is not to say that the stop was straightforward – sometimes Luke just makes it look so.
To be honest, Hines was being granted sufficient space at times that one could have serious doubts about his personal hygiene. Eventually, when Hines popped up unmarked in the ‘D’ on the edge of area, it took Neal Trotman to hold his breath and charge the shot down.
Hines, a former England Under-21 prospect, looked a bit of a class apart. Even Argyle swarmed him, he seemed to emerge on top. And when fouled, mid-charge, by Blanchard, he took the free-kick which led to a swift Daggers move, ending only when Durrell Berry hooked clear from his own goalmouth.
Other than Hines’ variety of tricks, the first half was going by relatively uneventfully. That is, until the oddest minute of the match yielded the opening goal. Conor Hourihane had taken a knock, and whilst he was limping around, play basically ground to a halt. It seemed that players were waiting for the referee to stop play, or at least someone to knock the ball into touch. No-one did, and as Hourihane regained some movement, he collided with a Dagger. The away side expected a foul to be given, but it was not forthcoming.
As the visitors paused, Argyle struck. Reuben Reid, buzzing from his treble in midweek, surged forward, set himself and fired an unstoppable shot to the Dagenham net, via the inside of a post.
The lead did not last long. Gavin Hoyte, ex of Arsenal’s academy, crossed deep into Argyle territory, but it seemed Blanchard would have it covered. However, he slipped at a crucial moment, and Hines had once more found space. His finish was low, hard and potent. 1-1.
The start to the second half could scarcely have been more cagey. First Obadeyi for Argyle, then Murphy for Dagenham, found snatches of chances, but found the blocks 3 and 20 respective, rather than troubling goalkeepers.
Andres Gurrieri, though, just after the hour, conjured a ball through to Alessandra to offer up a sumptuous chance.
Alessandra, though, may well have thought his Daggers attendant was a little closer to him than he was. Lewi flailed a leg, and the ball trickled meekly wide.
Argyle managed five corners in the opening twenty minutes of the second period, and looked dangerous thanks to the quality of delivery of Luke Young. However, none of the set-pieces yielded a chance of note.
Until, that is, the referee awarded Argyle a free-kick approximately twenty-five yards out. Reid had been halted illegally after another barnstorming run, and Young gleefully clipped the dead-ball past a grasping Chris Lewington in the Daggers’ goal.
Argyle had been upping the pressure as the half went on, but after the goal stepped it up even more. Obadeyi showed his considerable pace and strength with a diagonal run that saw various blue shirts attempt to stop him with little effect; the run ended with a goalbound shot that Lewington saved smartly.
Young whistled another, similar free-kick over the bar before substitute Lavery nearly marked his Home Park with a goal as he attempted to latch onto a Curtis Nelson knock down, only for Lewington to just about get there first.
Argyle, though, had done enough, and cruised over the line to record another hard-earned victory.
Argyle (4-4-2): 23 Luke McCormick; 4 Maxime Blanchard, 16 Neal Trotman, 17 Curtis Nelson, 2 Durrell Berry; 27 Andres Gurrieri, 14 Luke Young, 6 Conor Hourihane (capt), 26 Tope Obadeyi; 7 Lewis Alessandra (11 Dominic Blizzard 90), 9 Reuben Reid (13 Caolan Lavery 83). Substitutes (not used): 1 Jake Cole (gk) 3 Andre Blackman, 8 Rommy Boco, 15 Paul Wotton, 18 Tyler Harvey.
Dagenham & Redbridge (4-3-3): 1 Chris Lewington; 18 Gavin Hoyte, 5 Brian Saah, 2 Luke Wilkinson (19 Anthony Edgar 90), 3 Femi Ilesanmi; 6 Billy Bingham, 17 Luke Howell, 8 Abu Ogogo (10 Josh Scott 79); 7 Medy Elio, 9 Rhys Murphy, 41 Zavon Hines.
Substitutes (not used): 30 Jordan Seabright (gk), 4 Scott Doe, 11 Afolabi Obafemi, 14 Chris Dickson, 26 Jack Connors.
Bookings: Ogogo 74,
Referee: Steve Rushton.
Attendance: 6,184 (79 away).