Oldham Athletic look to continue their unbeaten run of form when Dagenham & Redbridge visit Boundary Park in the National League.
A late equaliser from Bradley Keetch in midweek meant Oldham were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw with Maidenhead United on Tuesday evening, making it consecutive league draws for the first time since September.
Alex Reid’s header was too powerful for keeper Craig Ross in the Maidenhead net just prior to the half hour mark. It meant Reid continued his excellent form in front of goal, scoring his fourth in five National League games.
The forward almost doubled his tally, and his sides lead under ten minutes later, latching onto a deep Mark Kitching cross from the left, though his header from a narrow angle bounced off the outside of the upright and behind.
The visitors meanwhile found most of their joy in the second period of action. Tobi Sho-Silva almost netted in consecutive fixtures but his powerful header was well cleared off the line by Devarn Green.
Latics’ resistance was broken in the end, whose hope for a clean sheet was crushed in spectacular style. Casey Pettit’s sharp feet can’t be ignored in the build-up whilst the play eventually found its way to Keetch on the left who rifled a rocket into the top corner to secure an important point for Maidenhead.
Dagenham & Redbridge meanwhile suffered a similar fate to Oldham in their midweek fixture in the National League. Ryan Hill finally broke through a stubborn York City backline after an hour of football, latching terrifically onto a Lewis Page pullback to steer powerfully into the roof of the net.
The home sides hard work did come undone late on however, substitute Lennell John-Lewis clinically volleyed past Elliot Justham to equalise. Top scorer Afolabi Akinyemi struck a cruel blow to the hosts, rolling a composed finish into the far corner to steal all three points in injury time.
There would have been a good feeling around the Chigwell Construction Stadium on Tuesday evening, even before Hill struck the opening goal. Dagenham were dominant for over an hour of the fixture, but their finishing in front of goal was their Achilles heel ultimately.
Josh Rees and Hill both had opportunities in the first half, the former more glaringly. Rees’ run was timed perfectly to latch onto a knock down, but the midfielder rather snatched at the chance and blazed over from just outside the keeper’s area.
Callum Howe and William Smith for the visitors were unable to force the ball over the line in what was the visitors’ only chance of the first half right on the cusp of half-time.
Jake Hessenthaler and Page combined brilliantly down the left to free the latter into a crossing opportunity 15 minutes into the second half. Freddie Sears did well to dummy the cutback from Page, which allowed Hill to lace a fierce drive past Ryan Whitley in the York goal.
It was Hill’s third of the season which ended the Daggers’ two game run without scoring on their home turf, though in what was a crucial period for the hosts following the opener, Dagenham were unable to grab that all important second goal.
Frank Vincent, Charley Kendall and Sears all had significant opportunities over the next ten-minute period to double Dagenham's lead but were either wayward or denied with their efforts.
In the end it cost the home side, who in the last 20 minutes had run out of gas in the final third, inviting a barrage of York chances. Substitute Scott Burgess had the first, whose low strike was deflected away by the feet of Justham.
John-Lewis made a real impact from the bench, but his effort on the spin that bobbled towards the far corner was brilliantly parried away by Justham once more, though the striker was not to be denied on the following attempt.
Burgess’s terrific take and cross from the right, whose delivery found John-Lewis in the box was chested down and volleyed emphatically past the Dagenham keeper to set up a dramatic finish.
Akinyemi meanwhile showed his ruthless finishing, four minutes into stoppage time York’s top marksman slid his seventh of the season into the bottom corner to pierce Dagger hearts, succumbing the hosts to a seventh consecutive game without a win.
It meant Dagenham had lost out in agonising fashion for the second consecutive fixture, after Aldershot Town nicked a 3-2 win last weekend in the latter stages, the Daggers cannot catch a break.
And whilst defensively Dagenham have performed well enough, their shooting boots have not been on so far this season. In their current winless run, they went four games consecutively without scoring, whilst they rank third from bottom for goals scored in the National League.
The Daggers are without a win in their last four on the road, their last came in the 2-0 victory at Wealdstone, though they do tend to be a tough nut to crack away from home having only conceded more than twice in two of their seven visits – once being at league leaders Chesterfield.
They do visit one of the more inform teams at home in the National League. Latics are unbeaten in their last four at Boundary Park, albeit the last two outings being draws. Oldham have scored seven in that run, whilst they have only lost once at home to a side below them.
Dagenham won’t have fond memories of this fixture last season where they suffered a 4-2 defeat, though a win this time around seems a whole lot more significant if they wish to turn their difficult start around.
There’s no surprise Hill was the first name that came to mind when assessing the threat’s Dagenham hold in their arsenal. The 25-year-old was a nuisance for York in midweek, and it wouldn’t be a shock if he continued in that vein on Saturday.
Hill has proved to be a tricky customer for National League defences, possessing such threatening attributes that make him so difficult to match across the pitch.
Agile and quick with a rapid turn of pace is just the half the battle with Hill. The forward is intelligent with his play, liking to link up with his teammates whilst being so effective at one touch football.
Hill loves to operate in the left half spaces in the final third, tending to drive inside and either find a teammate or get a shot away, whilst it was from that zone on the pitch that Hill grabbed his first goal since the one he scored against Fylde in September.
His performance against Fylde was a key highlight of his season so far. Hill’s decision making seemed so assured, epitomised by his goal and assist in the game, which must be something Thompson considers ahead of the fixture at the weekend.
In the hot seat
43-year-old Ben Strevens hasn’t had the smoothest of rides in his managerial career so far. Assistant manager of Eastleigh and then Whitehawk within a year and a half span before returning to Eastleigh where he eventually got his first shot in the hot seat.
Strevens took over Andy Hessenthaler in October of 2018 at the Silverlake Stadium and went onto manage 141 fixtures for the club. He notably got Eastleigh to the Semi-Final of the National League playoffs at the end of that first season in charge but was beaten on penalties by Salford.
The Englishman certainly enjoyed his first spell as a manager. In the 2020/21 season Strevens almost took Eastleigh back to the playoffs but narrowly missed out by three points in a tight scrap for that final spot.
He then went on to become a youth coach for now Premier League side Luton Town at the beginning of the 22/23 campaign until March 2023. Strevens wasted no time in finding his next role which brought him to Dagenham & Redbridge.
Only in charge of 21 fixtures thus far, Strevens is still trying to conjure the right formula for success at the club. Dagenham finished strongly at the end of the 22/23 season, going unbeaten in their last three outings, whilst beating Barnet 2-0 on the final day.
Strevens may feel some sort of connection with his upcoming opposition. His first fixture in charge incidentally came against Latics which finished in a 1-1 draw, though he will hope his side can go one better to secure a critical three points.
Match coverage and information
Live audio commentary is available on Latics Player, guiding you through the match.
Alternatively, supporters can also follow the game with live updates on the club's official Twitter account: @OfficialOAFC
As this game is being played within the blocked broadcast hours stipulated by UEFA, live streaming will not be available through National League TV for supporters in the UK. The game will be available overseas.
As always, we will endeavour to ensure confirmation of the line-up is published as soon as possible.
However, supporters should note that team sheets in the National League are exchanged 15 minutes later than in the EFL and as a result, the line-up is likely to be published slightly later than in previous seasons.