Dagenham were serious promotion contenders in the first half of the season, but problems off the pitch meant they were forced to trim their playing staff, which resulted in a loss of momentum. A run of eight games from mid-December, which included just one win, effectively ended their push for the top seven. However, in recent weeks their form has recovered, and they come into this match unbeaten in four games, including a victory over promotion contenders AFC Fylde.
Away from home, they drew their last match 0-0 at Gateshead, but have won one of their last eight games on the road, a 3-0 thrashing of Torquay.
They don’t tend to have too many problems finding the net, scoring in 10 of their last 14 games, hitting at least three against Hartlepool, Torquay and Chester twice since November, but have kept just 3 clean sheets in their last 19 matches.
John Still, in acknowledging that promotion is unlikely and their run of away fixtures will put strain on his small squad, has spoken of giving some experience to young players like left back Liam Gordon and midfielder Elliot Bonds.
Dagenham lined up in a 4-2-3-1 against Woking, with Fejiri Okenabirhie looking to get as close to Mason Bloomfield as he could once they came forward to feed off him and form a front two. However, they may be forced into changes as both Bloomfield and right winger Chike Kandi went off injured during the game and are considered doubtful.
Dagenham will look to pass their way through the thirds, with the holding midfielder Charlee Adams comfortable on the ball, but have the option of mixing it up as Bloomfield is strong in the air and brings other players in well.
In midfield, Adams’ partner André Boucaud’s first instinct is to join in an attack, and this opens up the possibility of leaving Adams isolated in midfield, Dagenham therefore being vulnerable to the counter attack. When the opposition have the ball in midfield, Boucaud is more likely to press than Adams, and it looks possible to by-pass the press and isolate Adams.
Adams wants to keep the ball moving to feet from deep positions, and Woking were able, on occasions, to force errors from Adams by pressing him when he was deep, cutting off his passing options and making him play risky passes.
Despite being predominantly left-footed, Dan Sparkes will cut in from the left to switch play and then join the central strikers looking to attack Kandi’s cross: he is quite good in the air and is sometimes used as an aerial target when Dagenham take throws down the flanks.
Dagenham are keen, when they get the ball wide, to get bodies into the box to attack crosses or feed off Bloomfield. Ben Nunn, the right back, is more progressive than Luke Howell on the other flank, who is more likely to not commit himself forward, and try to deliver from deeper on the flank.
When Nunn overlaps he offers the opportunity for Kandi, the right-sided forward, to get into the area. Kandi is also keen, then given the chance, to cut onto his favoured left foot and drive towards goal. However, he is also capable of going around the outside and crossing with right foot.
Bloomfield is a target man who looks to hold the ball up well when he drops off with his back to goal, and is also good in the air, looking to bring team mates in with flicks.
In goal, Mark Cousins is keen to release the ball as early as possible when he can, in order to start a counter-attack.
Sparkes scored a fabulous free kick against Woking, showing that he can shoot accurately and with power from distance with his left foot. He also puts good deliveries into the box from free kicks which aren’t in a shooting position, and corners, where he often looks for Robson beyond the far post.
Sparkes also worked an unorthodox short corner with Okenabirhie, where the latter blocked off a defender and played a return pass to Sparkes, allowing him to deliver from the corner of the box.
Against Woking, Dagenham were successful with Luke Pennell’s long throw, which aims for Bloomfield at the near post. He also uses his throw to gain distance down the flanks when Dagenham have a throw in a deeper position, and caught Woking out on one occasion in the first half last Saturday, missing out Bloomfield in the first hole and throwing to Sparkes, who won his head and allowed Dagenham to open up a pass to the other, open flank. The right back Nunn also gets good distance on his throws.