Argyle 3 Dagenham 0 - ReportArgyle 3
R Reid 41, pen 78, B Reid 50
Dagenham & Redbridge 0
by Rob McNichol
Whatever Dagenham & Redbridge decide to do to wile away their long journey east after a 3-0 defeat at Home Park, it is safe to say the answer will probably not be 'read'.
They will be utterly sick of the sound of that syllable, after a double from Reuben Reid, either side of a strike from namesake Bobby, saw off the struggling Daggers.
The two Reids, along with the terrific Lewis Alessandra, showed no Christmas spirit whatsoever as they tortured Dagenham and extended an unbeaten run at Home Park which dates back to September.
A late injury to Peter Hartley meant that teenage defender Aaron Bentley made his league debut, and took Hartley's intended spot on the left of three central defenders, with Carl McHugh in the middle, and Anthony O'Connor on the right.
Ollie Norburn started the game in the centre of Argyle's midfield, stepping into the place vacated by Dominic Blizzard, who was injured at Northampton the week before.
Curtis Nelson had also been injured in that game, and so captaincy duties were earmarked for his deputy, Hartley. In both of their absences, Reuben Reid took over as skipper for the day.
Perhaps the late change unsettled the Pilgrims; A high ball in the box in the opening thirty seconds seemed easy pickings to O'Connor, but his attempt to chest the ball back to Luke McCormick was misjudged, and a rapid game of penalty box pinball had hearts fluttering all over Home Park. Within a minute, Joss Labadie advanced to the edge of the box and toed one not far from McCormick's right hand post.
Shaking off the early scare, Argyle settled, and some excellent work by Lewis Alessandra in the left channel teed up Lee Cox, who shot just wide. Alessandra, Norburn and Andy Kellett then combined neatly for the latter to fire a low cross in, but it was excellently defender by Scott Doe.
Ayo Abileye, playing as the furthest right of three defenders, as Dagenham matched Argyle's 3-5-2 system, floated a gorgeous ball towards veteran striker Jamie Cureton, who still appeared to have a lot to do. Using the benefit of 20+ years of experience, the former Exeter forward improvised, flicking the ball over McCormick, and only just wide of the post.
The game had began at a fair lick, and was extremely wide open. Alessandra demonstrated this, running at the Daggers' defence and firing in a shot that made Mark Cousins work, and it was pure fortune on the goalkeeper's part that the parry fell between Reuben and Bobby Reid, who could not follow up.
Obileye went into the book for a lunging challenge on Alessandra, which was about the closest he had got to Lewi at that point. The Argyle number seven was causing no end of problems for Dagenham's back-line.
Sadly, the intensity and openness of the opening exchanges dried up. The latter part of the half was a turgid, stop-start affair in which the positional similarities of the teams, coupled with some fussy bouts of officiating, stopped anything from flowing.
Until the 41st minute. Little appeared on when Bobby Reid picked up the ball in his own half, but a glorious ball to release Alessandra down the left suddenly tore Dagenham every which way. Alessandra pushed on to the bye-line, with strike partner Reuben Reid advancing in the centre. With every game the duo's understanding seems to improve, and it was perfectly tuned on this occasion. Alessandra waited for the perfect moment that Reuben would peel away from the retreating defenders, and picked him out so that he could push the ball into the unguarded goal.
Bobby Reid nearly doubled the lead very quickly with a curling long-range effort, and Argyle had a spring in their step once again.
Leading going into the break was obviously a great boost for the Greens, and perhaps made Dagenham manager Wayne Burnett, himself a former Pilgrim, a shade more irate at the break. He sent his side out several minutes before Argyle emerged, and it seemed to have an adverse effect. Kellett ripped down the left to send in a dangerous low cross towards Alessandra, who was only just blocked.
Argyle were not to be denied for much longer, though, as their second goal with Dagenham still trying to get into the half. Kellett intercepted an attack on the visitors' right, and set Bobby Reid away. A flick to Reuben Reid took out virtually the entire Daggers defence, and the two Reids advanced on Cousins. As Reuben drew the goalkeeper towards him, he squared to Bobby for the facile task of rolling the ball in the net.
Burnett's reaction was to send on Rhys Murphy and Alex Jakubiak for Labadie and Yusuff to freshen things up, but it had little effect. Argyle - with good cause - looked supremely confident, and were shifting the ball around eye-catchingly. A corner was forced on the left side after a teasing Reuben Reid cross was put behind, and from Bobby Reid's delivery O'Connor found an inordinate amount of space at the back post - he will have been frustrated to have fluffed his lines. Before Dagenham had properly cleared, Cox had ripped one just wide.
In a rare foray into Argyle territory, Dagenham forced a corner, and sent in a decent ball, but they found O'Connor doing excellent work in his own penalty area this time.
Argyle had their chance to score a third goal for the second week in succession, after Alessandra, having beaten Obileye once, was tripped by the hapless defender as he tried again to stop him. Reuben Reid, having missed his last spot-kick against Sheffield United, made no mistake this time, side-footing calmly into the net having sent Cousins the wrong way.
Bentley nearly made his debut extra special with a volley from a Bobby Reid corner that was cleared off the line by Murphy, as Argyle looked to turn the screw even further.
With the game won, John Sheridan withdrew the triumvirate of Alessandra and the two Reids, all of whom had tormented Dagenham mercilessly, to presumably protect the trio ahead of a quick double header against Newport and Oxford next weekend.
There were chances to add another - most notably when Kelvin Mellor was tripped in the area, but found referee Carl Berry unimpressed - but Argyle were in cruise mode.
Have safe and happy Christmas Day, all you Pilgrims - we will see you at Newport on Boxing Day for the real holiday highlight.
Argyle(3-5-2): 23 Luke McCormick; 28 Anthony O'Connor, 16 Carl McHugh 25 Aaron Bentley; 2 Kelvin Mellor, 4 Lee Cox, 6 Ollie Norburn, 17 Bobby Reid (14 Tyler Harvey 84), 13 Andy Kellett; 9 Reuben Reid (10 Marvin Morgan 82), 7 Lewis Alessandra (8 Jason Banton 82). Substitutes(not used): 1 James Bittner, 3 Ben Purrington, 19 Nathan Thomas, 24 River Allen.
Booked: B Reid 77.
Dagenham & Redbridge (3-5-2): 30 Mark Cousins; 25 Ayo Obileye, 4 Scott Doe, 5 Brian Saah (capt); 2 Damian Batt, 15 Joss Labadie (9 Rhys Murphy 54), 28 Andre Boucaud, 6 Billy Bingham, 33 Joe Widdowson; 7 Jamie Cureton (34 Patrick Agyemang 70), 27 Adeoye Yusuff (35 Alex Jakubiak 54). Substitutes (not used): 1 Liam O'Brien, 10 Ashley Chambers, 17 Luke Howell, 21 Matt Partridge.
Booked: Obileye 22, Widdowson 77.
Referee: Carl Berry.
Attendance: 7,176 (65 away).