Midfielder Danny Harrison has expressed his relief at finally laying the Dagenham and Redbridge ghost to rest.
A brace from Lewis Grabban and a strike from Gareth Evans saw Rotherham United edge out the Daggers and cement their second-placed position in the table.
It was the first meeting between the two sides since Dagenham claimed the spoils in the League Two Play-off Final in May 2010. The Millers were the pre-match favourites, having completed the double over the Londoners in the domestic competition, but they crashed to a defeat despite two goals from Ryan Taylor.
Harrison, one of the survivors from the showpiece final, told The Star: “Their team is quite a lot different from when we played them then but it was nice to lay the ghost to rest.
“But the most important thing is we got the three points. That puts us six points above them; I know it is early days in the league but we want to start building a gap over them.
“This is the position we want to be in. Hopefully we will not have to go through the play-offs this season.”
Playing at a high tempo against lethargic opposition, Rotherham dominated possession and stroked the ball around with authority in the early stages. The visitors could not get to grips with Marcus Marshall. The 21-year-old, switched from right-back to right wing by manager Andy Scott in the absence of the suspended Danny Schofield, was a constant menace, his pace and directness giving Damien McCrory all sorts of problems.
Marshall was the architect of the opener, his cross caused confusion in the Dagenham penalty area and allowed Gareth Evans to fire in a low right-foot shot which went underneath Chris Lewington.
The pressure paid off for the hosts, with home debutant Alex Revell, looking to build on a promising showing at Swindon, and Grabban having already spurned presentable opportunities to break the deadlock.
If Scott’s side are to get promoted though, they have to start defending set-pieces better.
For the second match on the trot, they switched off from a corner and Scott Doe punished them, nodding in Gavlin Tomlin’s corner. It was sloppy marking and it gave Dagenham a lifeline.
You can guarantee Accrington and Torquay in the up-and-coming away matches will look to profit from that area of weakness.
“It (set-plays) is something we worked on in training on Thursday and Friday,” said Harrison. “We should not be conceding from them and it is something we need to rectify pretty quickly.
“They are individual mistakes and we have got to do our jobs better. It has been highlighted and I’m sure it is not going to happen again.”
Marshall also created Rotherham’s second, his teasing centre was glanced in by Grabban before the striker bagged his fourth goal on home soil after Evans robbed Tomlin of possession out wide.
Dagenham looked drained and tired from their Johnstone’s Paint Trophy exploits and it was no surprise manager John Still tried to lift and galvanise his troops by making two half-time substitutions. The tactical changes had the desired effect and Doe and Lee went close to reducing their arrears.
Scott’s men created precious little after the interval. The home side struggled to get dangerman Marshall on the ball while Grabban and Revell were too isolated up front at times. Too often, they ran out of ideas in the final third. Schofield’s invention, imagination and ability to keep possession in tight situations were sorely missed.
Dale Tonge struck the crossbar while Grabban stung the palms of Lewington from 25 yards with a free-kick and that was about it for the Millers. It was not pretty but it got the job done.
Harrison said: “These types of wins are vital. I thought we played well for 35 minutes. I can’t imagine it was good to watch in the second half but we came away with a win against a team who have come down from League One.
“They have got a good manager who has worked wonders at the club and I’m sure they will be there or thereabouts at the end of the season.
“There will be plenty of games this season where we will have to win ugly.
“It was important we got back on track after what happened at Swindon.
“We have won five out of seven league matches and that is fantastic form.
“We have come off not happy with the way we have played but it has been a fantastic start to the season and long may it continue.
“We can’t be complacent. Anyone can beat anyone in this league.
“We have to carry on being strong, organised and difficult to beat.
“We know exactly what we have to do to go up.
“We have the players who have been in around and this league and the one above to do it.”