CHESTERFIELD’S first home league defeat of the season, and Dagenham’s first away win, has given Spireites chairman Dave Allen a real dilemma.
A straight-forward home victory would have almost certainly led to caretaker Tommy Wright being named as permanent manager.
However, a defeat, after all of the positive hoo-hah over the acquisition of Portuguese international Luis Boa Morte, was not what was planned, or expected, so the immediate future of the hot-seat has been thrown into disarray.
John Still’s Daggers won the game through striker Sam Williams’ first ever double strike. Between his two longish-range shots, Jack Lester guided home his sixth goal of the season and, at that time, the hosts looked odds on to go on to take the points.
But parity lasted just two minutes as the Spireites’ defence opened itself up to major criticism for failing to give the ball a hoof out, allowing Williams to wrap things up.
Wright, aged 46, knows the result hasn’t helped his cause. He said: “Three points would have been better for me but if the decision is going to be based on just one result it’s a bit unfair. But I understand the predicament they [the board] are in.
“It’s a big club in this division, ambitious, they want to get promoted and if they look to me to take over, fair enough, I’d be delighted. But if they look for someone else, then I’ll understand.”
With Sam Hird fit after a neck injury, Wright recalled him along with his new man and his go-to goal-getter, Lester.
He slotted skipper Hird into a three man midfield rather than in his usual defensive position but the new formation didn’t work and after the break it was ditched for a 4-4-2 line-up.
Chesterfield started brightly, earning a trio of corners in the first four minutes, a Neal Trotman header just over being the closest call. The visitors gradually clawed their way into the game with Dwight Gayle and Medy Elito finding space for shots and Gayle headed just over from an Abu Ogogo cross.
Dagenham’s opener was far from out of the blue, though in truth they’d never reached any great heights. Williams received the ball in the inside-right channel and he began to move forwards. No challenge was forthcoming. The striker found himself just outside the box and he fired low, seeing the ball beat Richard O’Donnell to the keeper’s right.
Soon afterwards Sam Togwell had to receive treatment; he limped off in the second half having hyper-extended his knee.
Wright made it clear a few home truths were said at the break: “We were poor in the first half, lacked energy and bravery to get on the ball and after half-time we got a good response.”
Trotman had a shot blocked from a corner and Chris Atkinson hit the bar with the rebound as the tempo of the home side improved. Drew Talbot, back at right-back, fed Lester and Chris Lewington saved well to deny the veteran at the expense of a corner. The second phase from the flag-kick saw Liam Ridehalgh deliver from the left, a defender’s header fell to Craig Westcarr and his low drive was diverted into the goal by Lester.
The home side looked confident but, before the celebrations had died down, Elito and Gayle againt caused havoc at the back. The clearance was poor, allowing the Daggers to feed Williams who skilfully lifted the ball from the box edge to regain the lead.
Scott Doe had to clear a Lester header off the line and Atkinson’s effort from the rebound was blocked. Westcarr got a toe on Boa Morte’s cross but Lewington was well placed and the keeper made his best save to block Boa Morte’s close-range volley.
Terrell Forbes, on his 500th senior appearance, had a shot blocked saved by the impressive keeper but, in the final exchanges, there wasn’t enough home pressure to really threaten a leveller, though Lester went close right at the end.
Key men Marc Richards, Tommy Lee and Nathan Smith are all back in training so Wright will be desperate to still be in a position to select them all. Whether he is or not will be the major debate in the pubs of the town this week.
n Chesterfield (4-3-3): O’Donnell 6, Talbot 8, Forbes 6, Trotman 5 (Darikwa 62, 7), Ridehalgh 6, Togwell 5 (Randall 73), Atkinson 5, Hird 5, Westcarr 5 (Boden 81), Boa Morte 7, Lester 7. Subs (not used): Wilson, Clay, Hazel, Evans.
n Dagenham: (4-4-2): Lewington 8, Ogogo 7, Doe 7, Wilkinson 6, Ilesanmi 6, Elito 7, Howell 6, Saunders 6, Spillane 7, Williams 7, Gayle 7. Subs (not used): Seabright, Green, Reed, Maher, Hoyte, Woodall, Santos.
n Booking: Wilkinson (Dagenham).
n Attendance: 5,082.