Grit and determination sees Blues beat Daggers
Wycombe Wanderers 1 Dagenham & Redbridge 0
Staff and volunteers cleared snow all morning to make this game possible and the Blues rewarded them with a gritty win over the Daggers at a chilly Adams Park.
Sam Wood's first half strike was enough to settle a game in which both sides had good spells of pressure but Wycombe created the better chances.
Not long ago, you wouldn't have bet on a 1-0 lead being enough for the Blues to win a game, but this was their eighth clean sheet since Gareth Ainsworth was appointed manager just sixteen weeks ago.
A new-found resilience is there for all to see, and their battling qualities sprinkled with a touch of flair have taken the Blues ten points clear of the dreaded drop zone, and for the optimists among you, propelled them to within six points of the play-offs.
Ainsworth made just one change to the side that drew at Wimbledon last week with Anthony Stewart replacing Kortney Hause in the heart of the defence.
The Daggers started on the front foot and when Stewart slipped after only two minutes, Abu Ogogo was given a sight of goal but could only drag his shot wide of the post.
Within minutes, Wycombe had responded with two demonstrations of their own attacking prowess.
Firstly Dean Morgan linked well with Wood who dinked a tantalizing ball into the Daggers' penalty area just beyond the reach of Joel Grant.
And moments later another clever pass from Morgan released Charles Dunne on the overlap and the full back's drive across the face of the goal was begging to be turned into the net but evaded everyone.
Sam Williams fired one wide for the visitors after 14 minutes and that was it for attempts on goal until Stuart Lewis was teed up by Jo Kuffour's cut-back only to see his shot cleared off the line after 28 minutes.
The decisive goal followed just four minutes later when Wycombe broke quickly with Morgan, Grant and Kuffour all involved in working the ball to the left channel where Wood was on hand to plant a sweet left-footed drive into the bottom corner of the net.
Within minutes Jordan Archer had preserved the Blues' lead with a full-stretch save from Luke Howell, and before you could catch your breath, Joel Grant ran over 50 yards and stung Chris Lewington's palms with a rasping drive.
The Daggers' Chris Woodall saw his shot deflected over the bar in the final goalmouth action of a first half in which Wycombe were good value for their one-goal lead.
Clearly up for it after the break, the visitors had a concerted spell of pressure that saw Archer make a superb reaction save from Scott Doe at point blank range. The hosts also survived a flurry of corners as the Daggers tried to catch them cold.
The Blues were still dangerous on the break and Morgan could have done better with an opportunity that saw him dither for too long before being outnumbered.
Lewington saved a fierce volley from Wood after 52 minutes as the Blues began to claw their way back into the game.
A few minutes later, another promising move came to nothing when Morgan was again indecisive on the edge of the box and was dispossessed - the ball falling to Lewis who lashed it high and wide.
The closest the Daggers came to rescuing a point was when Matthew Saunders curled one over the bar and Scott Doe put one wide, but the Blues will be thankful for a crucial last ditch tackle from Dave Winfield to deny Louis Dennis in the dying minutes.
The final whistle sounded and the frozen fans applauded a fine team effort before shuffling home in the slush with a warm glow that only three points can bring.
As far as individual performances are concerned, there was no doubting the determination of Stuart Lewis who gave a full-blooded performance against his old club, but the Vital Man of the Match goes to Sam Wood for the umpteenth week in a row.
Line-up and ratings
Archer (8), Harriman (8), Stewart (7), Winfield (8), Dunne (8), Grant (7), Scowen (7), Lewis (8), Wood (9), Morgan (7) (Morias 83 (n/a)), Kuffour (7) (Ainsworth 89 (n/a)).
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