MATCH REPORT | Dagenham & Redbridge 3 – 0 Southport
Sandgrounders beaten on opening day
Southport began the Vanarama National League season with defeat at recently-relegated Dagenham & Redbridge.
Goals from Fejiri Okenabirhie and Luke Guttridge during dominant first-half performance from the home team were added to by Jordan Maguire-Drew as the Sandgrounders were beaten convincingly.
Dagenham justified their tag as one of the favourites to make a return to the Football League with an impressive all-round display and, had it not been for the performance of goalkeeper Tyrell Belford, the damage for Southport could have been greater.
Dagenham had been the stronger team from the start and it took them just 16 minutes to capitalise.
A free-kick from the right wing by Maguire-Drew was headed against his own crossbar by Neil Ashton, with Okenabirhie on hand to turn home the follow up.
Okenabirhie was the star performer for Dagenham and, seven minutes later, he turned provider, displaying a neat turn of foot before cutting the ball back nicely for Guttridge to steer a first-time finish past the dive of Tyrell Belford from 16 yards.
In truth, Dagenham could have extended their lead earlier, such was the extent of their superiority. Guttridge sent a lofted shot over the Southport crossbar after a long ball from goalkeeper Elliot Justham, while Maguire-Drew later brought a save from Belford, the Southport keeper.
Belford prevented the home team from adding a third before half-time, saving Maguire-Drew’s penalty with a low save to his left after a foul on Curtley Williams by Ashton, before proceeding to make a series of second-half stops.
The only shot of note from the visitors in the first half saw Josh Thompson bring a low save from keeper Justham after Ashton’s corner had found its way to the far post.
Southport had been unable to impose themselves at all on the first half, and although they were responsible for a smartly-worked move at the start of the second period, which saw keeper Elliott Justham save from James Gray, the Sandgrounders never threatened a comeback.
Instead, Dagenham added a third on 68 minutes, Maguire-Drew mopping up the rebound after a right-wing cross from Curtley Williams had been turned onto the crossbar by an excellent save from keeper Belford.
Dagenham & Redbridge: Justham, Williams, Doe, Robson, Widdowson, Robinson (Staunton 77), Boucaud, Okenabirhie, Guttridge (Raymond 89), Maguire-Drew (Assombalonga 69), Hawkins.
Subs not used: Cousins, Donnellan.
Southport: Belford, A Jones, O’Brien (White 70), Thompson, Ashton, G Jones, Nolan, Kearns (Allen 46), Almond (Grimes 63), Gray, Caton.
Subs not used: Crump, McCarthy.
Attendance: 1,296 (98 away)
Referee: Craig Hicks
Report by Alan Jones