Chester FC 0 Dagenham & Redbridge 4: Hapless Blues thrashed after second-half capitulation

Reporter:

Charlie Croasdale

Chester suffered a second-half capitulation as they were thrashed 4-0 by promotion-chasing Dagenham & Redbridge.

The Blues defending after half-time was embarrassing at times and this was their worst league display since Marcus Bignot took charge and leaves them firmly in the relegation mire.

What the viewers at home must have thought of the defending doesn't bear thinking about after this live BT Sport fixture, with goals from Sam Ling, Luke Howell and a brace from Michael Cheek sealing a fully deserved away success for the Daggers.

But for Chester this is a huge wake-up call after a diabolical performance which saw them booed off at full-time.

Chester began in bright fashion despite conditions making life hard for both teams, with a swirling icy wind blasting across the pitch.

Nyal Bell was the first to cause problems in the box, rolling Daggers skipper Scott Doe with a lovely turn and shot which skimmed just wide of the far post.

The visitors had a good opening in which to try and grab the lead on five minutes as a deep corner wasn't dealt with by John McCombe and fell to Corey Whitely six yards out but he couldn't connect properly with his shot and the danger was cleared.

Referee Daniel Middleton surprised the whole of the ground as he gave a foul against the rampaging Lathaniel Rowe-Turner when it looked like he'd been pulled back himself, before Craig Robson was shown an early yellow card for a robust challenge on Kingsley James which left the Blues midfielder flat on his back on the deck.

Cheek found himself in acres of space in the Blues area on 15 minutes but dragged his low cross behind Morgan Ferrier and Andy Halls cut out the danger.

Chester counter-attacked and Ryan Rainey's whipped cross was met by Ross Hannah on the half-volley, Robson blocking and Hannah's appeals for a spot-kick waved away.

The Sheffield-born striker tried his luck on 20 minutes from range but Scott Doe got in the way and blocked the effort for a corner, Jordan Gough coming in at the back-post from the resulting delivery but fouling Ling in the process.

James Akintunde's endeavour in harrying several Daggers defenders got the home crowd up for the fight, and the Blues enjoyed a good spell of possession shortly after but frustratingly couldn't find the cutting edge they've badly lacked during the first-half of the season.

Whitely looked the liveliest of Dagenham's attackers and he cut past Rainey on 32 minutes but blazed his shot well wide of the target.

In all honesty this was a scrappy affair with very few clear-cut chances to speak of, but the Blues were certainly the better side in possession with Rainey and Gough providing natural width on either flank.

Akintunde was full of running and collected Halls long ball forward in fine style but dragged his low shot narrowly wide.

All the best Chester moments were coming through Akintunde who fired a powerful shot at goal from 25 yards, which wobbling in the air and was parried away by a relieved Mark Cousins.

Hannah cut inside past Kevin Lokko but his shot from 12 yards was well blocked as James also found it difficult to penetrate the Daggers defensive line, who were stood firm in the face of constant pressure from Bignot's side.

Hard work from Hannah earned a stoppage time corner which Dawson swung in but was punched clear by Cousins as the half-time whistle blew.

Doe's near post header flashed wide as Dagenham looked to capitalise on a shaky moment from Alex Lynch at the start of the second-half.

James seemed to be the target of some over-zealous challenges from the visitors and Andre Bouchard was the next in the notebook for a rash tackle on the 25-year-old midfielder.

John Still's men began to attack with a real vigour as the game exploded into life within a five minute period.

First up, Ferrier jinked past Dawson in the box and was chopped down by the languid midfielder, giving the officials no choice but to award a spot-kick.

Whitely stepped up casually to the spot but inexplicably fired his shot well wide of Lynch's upright, a major let-off for Chester.

However, just 50 seconds later the Blues defence switched off and allowed the visitors to take the lead. Ferrier brushed past Halls, got to the byline and hooked a left-footed cross to the back-post where Ling was waiting to tap the ball home, put under no sort of pressure whatsoever by Gough.

Dagenham nearly doubled their advantage three minutes later as Cheek rattled the crossbar with a fierce drive from 15 yards, before Robson's header hit the side-netting.

Bignot made an unexpected change on 64 minutes as Ryan Astles made his return from an ankle injury and was immediately sent up front in place of the disappointing Bell, who wasted too many good positions and continues to frustrate.

Jorome Slew was also thrown on in place of Rainey as the Blues chased an equaliser which their dreadful second-half display hardly merited.

James drove forward and found Hannah, whose appeals for a handball were waved away, as Gough recovered well at the other end to deny Ferrier.

Daggers doubled their advantage on 75 minutes and it was all too easy against a Blues defence who went to sleep yet again.

Ferrier was allowed room to fire a 20-yard shot goalwards which Lynch flapped at, and the ball dropepd to Dan Sparkes, whose low cross was converted by Howell.

Just four minutes later and the misery was compounded. A major defensive mix-up between Lynch and his centre-halves enabled Cheek to pick up the ball just six yards out, easily round a defeated Lynch and pass the ball into the empty net.

From then on it was a case of how many and Cheek made it four in injury-time as he latched onto a long punt forward, shrugged off the challenge of Gough, and calmly passed the ball past a motionless Lynch.

It rounded off a simply horrendous second-half performance from Chester, who must improve rapidly if they are to stave off relegation to National League North.

Chester: Lynch, Halls, McCombe, Rowe-Turner, Gough, James, Dawson, Rainey (Slew 67) Hannah, Akintunde, Bell (Astles 64); Subs not used: Vaughan, Anderson, Turnbull.

Dagenham: Cousins, Doe, Robson, Lokko, Howells, Ling, Howell, Boucard, Cheek, Ferrier (Kandi 86), Whitely (Sparkes 72); Subs: Moore, Adams, Bloomfield.

Attendance: 1,638

Email:

charlie.croasdale@nwn.co.uk

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