Crewe Feel Zola Loss At Dagenham
Fans feared the worst when Zola was ruled out of today's match earlier in the week and those fears came to fruition today. Dag & Red 2-0 Crewe.
Having seen a Zola-less Crewe (for the most part) thrashed four-one at Macclesfield Town back in December, when the team travelled to Dag & Red without the big Congo striker, who took a ball to his face in training last week, injuring his eye, you could only assume the worst. Last season's scapegoat is this season's saviour, such has been Zola's transformation in recent months.
It was evident early on in the game that the Alex would once again struggle without their main man up front. Dagenham were no great shakes but then neither were Crewe in the final third (or the first third for that matter). We had the possession and quality over 'the Daggers' but the dominance in the first half hour counted for little.
The utterly useless linesman, who is yet to fathom out the most basic principles of the offside rule, was matched by the equally useless Shaun Miller and Clayton Donaldson (and, later, Byron Moore). There was no presence up there, no-one to make the ball stick. Miller did his headless chicken impersonation, offering little to the actual game, whilst Clayton Donaldson lacks that strikers instinct. We did get in behind the Daggers defence occasionally but we had no-one to do anything with it; Donaldson dithered with the ball whilst Miller forgot which way he was meant to be running.
It was soon another 'one of those days'. Dagenham with what was probably their first bit of real pressure and first shot on goal took the lead, atrocious defending/marking/attempted-header by Danny O'Donnell allowing Dagenham's a free header past Steve Phillips. Six minutes later and it was some how doubled. Poor defending all round and a weak shot from outside the area trickled past Steve Phillips and inside the far post. Getting one goal from our strike force was a big enough ask as it was but two or three? Pfft.
It could have been three before the break but for a great double save from Phillips, thankfully keeping us in it (well, you hoped at the time) going into the break.
The second half was much of the same.... without the Dagenham goals thankfully. We had more of the possession but no real chances. The linesman gave some of the most bizarre offsides; apparently we had 11 offsides in the entire match, I doubt more than 5 of those were actually offside.
There's not much else to add. Everything just fizzled out, like this match report I supposed. O'Donkey and MMK showed they're capable of absolutely anything.... and not in a good way. We had one decent shot, Shuey in the last 5 minutes from the edge of the area. And Dario was about to give Carl Martin his debut... but then the final whistle went. The thinking behind a 93rd minute sub when you're losing? Baffling.
It was a frustrating day. We weren't too bad, we didn't roll over quite like we did at Macclesfield, but we never looked like we could win the game. Not that Calvin Zola would have made it a nailed on win but he'd have given us a fighting chance against what was a very poor Dagenham side, a poor Dagenham side that are now 3rd in the league but that says more about us than it does about them. We're 10 places behind them.
It's worrying that we are so predictably useless when we are without Zola. Is his absence are coincidence or are we really such a one man team? The extent of his eye injury, which may or may not need operating on, is yet to be established but you have to worry. If we lose Calvin for any length of time then are we going to cope? I think we can probably forget about the play-offs if Zola isn't back soon.
Zola isn't the only worry, the defence is still making 'mistakes' but haven't they always? Dario talking about cutting out mistakes at the back in his post match interviews has been a given week in, week out for what? 8, 9 years? Still waiting for the day those mistakes are cut... namely Danny O'Donnell.
Hereford away next, this Tuesday. That's if it's on. It's a game we've got to win to keep tabs on the play-offs but after the last couple of games is anyone getting their hopes up? It's days like today when you just think maybe 12th/13th is us, it's where we're meant to be. Capable of a few good wins but just as capable of crumbling.