Meadow Lane is the setting for Buildbase FA Trophy action for the first time ever this weekend as Dagenham and Redbridge pay us a visit.
We’ve already hosted them once this season, but the Daggers’ outlook has changed completely since October and they have a different man in the dugout.
It’ll be Daryl McMahon’s first time leading his new charges and he’ll hope to arrest their slide, which has seen them plummet from seventh ahead of our last meeting to 19th in the Vanarama National League now.
They beat Sutton by virtue of a replay and extra time in round one, while we progressed at the Proact Stadium with a 1-0 win against Chesterfield.
Our visitors will look to reverse recent form but we’ll be hoping ours continues having taken 13 points from our last five games.
We’ve returned to the play-off places for the first time since early November and Neal Ardley has scooped the Manager of the Month award, too.
We’ll hope our league form translates into the Trophy as we aim to move within just three wins of a trip to Wembley.
The boss says…
“We beat Dagenham last time but it was a fairly even game, so we’ll not walk out expecting to win by any stretch.
“They’re a talented side with a lot of pace and the ability to dominate in one-on-one situations.
“That being said, we’re at home and we need to make it about us and take the game to them.”
“It’s a new Dagenham. We’ll have a different mindset with me in charge and it’s about getting those building blocks in place and showing what we’re about.
“This week we’ve done a lot of work around shape and the style of play we want to implement.
“It’s a tough game but anybody can beat anybody and we’ve seen that across the season.
“We’ll go there looking to get on the front foot and win, so it’s about us, how we perform and showing some identity.”
Ardley has confirmed some some changes will be made as the effects of the Christmas period continue to take their toll, with one or two players needing more time to recover.
Regan Booty, Jim O’Brien and Ben Turner are still yet to return to full training, but Sean Shields has this week and is in contention.
Pierce Bird is cup-tied, though, having turned out for Boston United in the competition during his loan spell.
McMahon says midfielder Sam Deering has had a full week of training and he’s hopeful he’ll be available.
Angelo Balanta and Harry Phipps are thought to be around 10 days from being ready to return to action, though.
Head to head
Booty bagged his first at Meadow Lane during our 2-0 win against the Daggers earlier this season, with Kristian Dennis also on target.
That was our first victory against them since a League One meeting in August 2010, when Craig Westcarr got the only goal of the game.
Referee: Andrew Miller
Assistants: Alan Hull and Paul Tomes
Fourth official: Kenwyn Hughes
In the National League this weekend
The FA Trophy may be taking centre stage but LV Bet, the National League’s official betting partner, think the one match in the division this weekend could prove to be a big one…
Dover Athletic and Hartlepool United have been urged to make the most of their rivals’ break from league action and push up the table – and the latter have already done that in the past few days.
On Tuesday they took advantage of a game in hand and earned a big three points at home to Eastleigh.
Now Hartlepool travel to the Kent coast to face a Dover side with exactly the same number of points on the board.
The Whites are the division’s joint best away side but at home they still can’t quite get it right.
They have already endured seven losses in front of their own fans but did beat title-chasing Bromley 3-0 on their own patch on Boxing Day.
The winners of this one will see no reason why they can’t reach the play-offs, so it’s a big one at Crabble.