Kitching Sinks Daggers At The Vic
Mark Kitching scored the only goal of the game as Pools got their festive period off to the perfect start with a win over Dagenham & Redbridge at Victoria Park.
The full-back found the net for the first time on home soil when he latched on to Tyler Hamilton’s incisive through ball ten minutes from time to finally break the visitors’ stiff resistance.
Dave Challinor made five changes for the contest, restoring Ben Killip, Michael Raynes and Gime Toure to the starting eleven and handing debuts to Gary Liddle and Mark Shelton.
Pools began on the front foot and almost stole in front on four minutes when Nicky Featherstone’s raking switched pass was collected on the chest by Peter Kioso and sat up nicely for a shot but the full-back volleyed just wide from twenty yards.
Challinor’s men were dominating possession in the early stages but were up against a resolute and determined Daggers’ backline which made it difficult for Pools to pick a way through.
More good football from Pools worked an opening for debutant Mark Shelton on the edge of the but the midfielder’s well-struck shot was just too high.
Alex McQueen had the visitors’ first effort of note but hit a tame shot at Ben Killip from the left corner of the box, while Ryan Donaldson nodded a Gary Liddle ball back across goal but nobody gambled for Pools and The Daggers survived.
Josh Hawkes then unloaded from thirty yards to bring the first real save from Elliot Justham who did well to tip the ferocious shot over his bar.
Justham had to alert again not long after when Hawkes let fly again and this time his swerving, dipping drive was pawed away by the Dagenham keeper with Gime Toure’s attempts to make something of the rebound cut short by an offside flag.
Michael Raynes had to be in the right place at the right time to snuff out a dangerous counter-attack as half-time approached, the defending using all of his experience to intercept Joan Luque’s ball as Dagenham broke for the first time.
Kioso then headed over from Donaldson’s whipped right-wing corner as Pools pressed right up until the break but remained frustrated by their visitors at the half-time whistle sounded.
The same kind of patter developed in the second half though, with Pools enjoying the lion’s share of possession and Peter Taylor’s side continuing to live on the break.
However, they almost came unstuck when Donaldson whipped a wonderful ball in from the right towards Toure which the Frenchman bundled towards goal where it was brilliantly kept out by Justham.
Pools kept knocking at the door though; Nicky Featherstone dragged a shot wide from the edge of the area, Toure hit a shot straight at the keeper and then another just wide as patience began to stretch.
With just thirteen minutes left the decisive moment arrived. Toure slipped a ball inside toward Hamilton – just on as a substitute – and the loan star produced a perfect first touch to release Kitching in to the area to finish on his right foot.
It could have been 2-0 almost immediately as Toure fired over from close range after good work from substitute Nicke Kabamba, while Shelton hit a rasping drive just a yard too high from twenty yards.
In the end though, Kitching’s goal was enough and Pools got their Christmas wish of three points – now to carry it on throughout the festive period.
Full Time: Pools 1 Dagenham & Redbridge 0
Pools: Killip, Kioso, Liddle, Raynes, Kitching, Mafuta (Kabamba 65), Featherstone, Shelton, Donaldson, Hawkes (Hamilton 77), Toure.
Subs not used: Richardson, Kerr, Holohan.
Dagenham & Redbridge: Justham, Onariase, Croll (W Wright 83), Clark, Brundle, Kandi, Stevenson, Luque (Grant 81), Eleftheriou (Graham 75), Quigley, McQueen.
Subs not used: Seaden, D Wright.
Attendance: 3,259 (33 Dagenham)
Referee: Peter Gibbons.