EssexSenior Cup Semi-Final
Wednesday 10th February 1993
With the Dragons struggling at the wrong end of the Diadora League Premier Division having seen popular Manager Mick Loughton resign eleven days previously (being replaced by Steve Dowman as Player/Boss) no one really gave us much hope of achieving a positive result against a side who were Holders of the cup as well as being 3rd in the GM Vauxhall Conference table. In truth this was probably reflected in the small travelling support (I think 30 of us made the trip down the A12) for this Semi-Final tie, and those that did make the journey were made even more nervous as to the outcome when we saw that the Dagenham team sheet included three players who had just been named in the England Semi-Pro squad and only one player who could be termed as a “reserve” in their line-up. The “Daggers” opened strongly and had us on the back foot straight away. Cavell soon volleyed into the side netting from close range which, much to our amusement, led to the tannoy bloke gleefully announcing the opening “goal” despite Jeff Wood taking a goal kick (a slight if ever there was one that the ball had missed). Upon arriving late Phil was informed by the gateman that we were one down and, for a few brief moments, the puzzled look on his face suggested that he was wondering if the Victoria Road ground had its own time lapse variation situated around the halfway line as when he reached our end the score had become 0-0 again. Gradually we began to grow in confidence after withstanding the early pressure and when “Moose” McClean had a header blocked on the line from a Mitchell Springett corner I think our little crew on the terrace knew our lads were really in this tie. Half time 0-0 and a moral victory to us.
Again Dagenham came out strong and ten minutes after the break we had a lucky escape when Richardson’s curling effort came back off an upright. From that point we came more into the game as home keeper McKenna was twice caught out after rushing from his line with both Bainer and Lee Hunter just missing the target from outside the box. McKenna saved well at the feet of “Moose” as he broke through before the final whistle was blown. Full Time 0-0 and several home fans had seen enough and drifted away. With 2 minutes of Extra Time gone “Moose” broke free down the middle again and was promptly upended by Marquis in the area….PENALTY !!. Springett stepped up and rifled home the spot-kick. Cue wild celebrations. We were in dreamland…for all of 5 minutes before Cavell finally got the better of Richie Reynolds (who was outstanding on the night) and shot low past Wood to equalize. Cue doom and gloom (our little mob have always lived on a glass half full/half empty knife edge). The lads did not cave in however and within another 5 minutes Phil Coleman released “Moose” again, and although McKenna got a hand to his resulting shot he could not prevent the ball hitting the back of the net. Cue more jubilation that echoed around an otherwise silent Victoria Road. The 2nd period of Extra Time seemed to take an eternity as Dagenham pressed and I convinced myself that Ex-Dragon Bobby Mayes would be the man to spoil our night (as former players always seem to do) but on this rare occasion it didn’t happen and a combination of stout defending and good keeping eventually broke Dagenham’s resolve and we actually saw out the game playing “keepball” as the final whistle blew on what I certainly consider to be THE BEST win I have seen this club achieve in over 25 years of supporting the Dragons.
TEAM; Jeff WOOD, Steve HOWE, Joff MARCH, Richie REYNOLDS, Steve DOWMAN, Keith BAIN (Sub: Steve BOUSFIELD), Lee HUNTER, Mitchell SPRINGETT, Jon COLLINS (Sub: Simon GRAY). Christian McCLEAN, Phil COLEMAN.