Turning the corner
Scott Doe tells Chris Burton that Dagenham have overcome an early wobble and are ready to kick on.
Last Updated: 04/10/11 3:58pm
One result can turn a season around, be that a defeat that starts a dramatic crumble or a victory that inspires a sudden surge.
Dagenham & Redbridge will be hoping that they have just experienced one such result.
After suffering the heartache of slipping out of League One on the final day of last season, the Daggers are still getting used to life back in the fourth tier.
Inevitably it has taken them time to clear their heads and find their feet, with it difficult to bounce back from such a demoralising blow.
A positive start suggested the cobwebs had been blown off in pre-season, but an alarming dip in from saw them lose five on the bounce to tumble down the standings.
They were, however, losing by the odd goal here and there and had every right to feel that everything was going against them.
There has been no panic, though, and a 2-1 victory over Crewe on Saturday has seen the Daggers halt the slump.
It is now their intention to kick on from here, with confidence restored to a camp that was beginning to feel a little down on its luck.
Skysports.com's Chris Burton recently caught up with defender Scott Doe in an effort to find out if the tide has turned, and found the 22-year-old to be in optimistic mood.
Asked if the atmosphere around the camp had lifted on the back of the Crewe result, he said: "Massively. We've felt a bit unfortunate. We started well and then we had four or five bad results and we've been really unlucky - especially when we played Northampton. We were much the better team but lost, so it was good to get the win at the weekend.
"It was a mixture of bad luck and us not doing the simple things right. I don't think we were outplayed by anyone, we were just making silly errors for goals and not scoring enough goals."
One win and everything changes, though, and the Daggers are now looking onwards and upwards.
Doe said: "That was all we were waiting for. The manager said to us, 'I have no problem with losing because I know how quickly these things change'. We have lost a couple but we have shown that we can win games - we won two away games out of our first three at the start of the season. Hopefully now things have turned around."
The issue of goal-getting will need to be addressed, though, with the weekend victory over Crewe representing the first time they have found the target twice in a game this season.
"We have been creating quite a lot of chances," said Doe.
"The manager has brought in a youngster on loan from QPR, but then I think we have lost Sam Williams for a bit because he got injured on Saturday. That's not great on our part. I'm sure the manager will have someone lined up or know what he is doing with the strikers.
"I think the stats show that we have only lost one game by more than one goal. Every single game we have played in has been like 2-1, 1-0 and 1-1. We just need to improve our conversion rate. We are creating chances but don't seem to score enough. Hopefully that will change."
John Still is a manager who has been there and done it, but the ever-improving standards in English football continue to make his job all the more difficult.
Asked if League Two was a tougher proposition now than it was the last time the Daggers found themselves at that level, Doe said: "Yeah, I would say so. I have experienced it already, so that helps me in a way. It has got tougher. I think the lower leagues have got so many so-called bigger clubs now, like Luton in the Conference, and I think it is tougher. The leagues are getting tougher but it's still the same where everyone seems to be beating everyone.
"I have seen some unbelievably strange results this season. The one that sticks out is Morecambe. I know Morecambe are doing well, but they beat Crawley 6-0, which just goes to show that anyone can beat anyone in this league."
The unpredictable nature of the fourth tier makes it difficult to set targets and Doe admits the Daggers are working towards short-term goals.
"I think it's more short term," he said.
"At the start of the season, we thought we should be among the top teams - the play-offs or automatic promotion. I know we have lost a couple of players, but we were unlucky to do down in League One so we thought we could do okay. It has been tough but we always get stronger so hopefully we can push on now and do well."
It is never easy for a relegated side to bounce straight back and Doe admits it is important for Dagenham not to dwell on the events of the recent past.
He said: "The manager knows there are always excuses, it's not nice to get relegated - especially when you go down on the last day by a point, that makes it even harder. You look at the stadiums we would have been playing at, Sheffield United and ones like that, and that makes it harder. But we have to get on with it, mentally, playing in League Two."
Having got a taste of the third tier, though, the Daggers are determined to get back.
Doe said: "That's exactly it. We went up the best way possible, we went up through the play-offs and winning at Wembley. There is nothing better than that. If that and the stadiums you get to play at in League One can't push you on, I don't think anything will."
While keen to take that step up again, there is no chance of a sensibly-run club like Dagenham abandoning their principles.
Doe said: "No, that's it. What you see is what you get with the club. We sell players all the time, we sold another two at the end of last season, but still the manager manages to bring in other players and they seem to do well. We had quite a few injuries that are now coming back as well, so hopefully it will all start to gel together."
Having returned to winning ways, the Daggers are now setting their sights on the top half, if not beyond, with only five points separating them from the play-off places despite finding themselves sat 20th in the table.
On the targets from here on in, Doe said: "At the start of the season, after about four games, we were fourth or something like that. We lost four games and went straight down to the bottom. But the manager said not to look at the table. That game on Saturday was massive for us. We have played 11 games now and you want to make sure you are in and around, or not many points off, come Christmas time. Hopefully we can push on and get near to the play-off places.
"Over the years Christmas is the most important time in football because you have quite a lot of games. We need to be up there. That game on Saturday was such a big confidence booster. We have got a cup game tonight (Tuesday) against Southend, which is a chance to get fitness into the players, so come Saturday we have got Cheltenham away and we can look to push on from that game."