Dagenham and Redbridge – was it the nadir?

Nadir:  1. the point on the celestial sphere directly below an observer and diametrically opposite the zenith. 2. the lowest point; depths - the nadir of despair

For many Charlton supporters our 2-1 defeat at Dagenham on 19th March 2011 was definitely the nadir.  There is plenty of competition for our worst moment (we did after all lose 1-11 to Aston Villa in 1959) but there was something especially dreadful about that defeat to the Daggers.  The initial promise of Chris Powell's arrival (four consecutive wins) had well and truly faded.  The match was the eighth in a run of eleven matches which produced three draws and eight defeats.   The squad was patently obviously not good enough. This was the season of Pawel Abbot, Akpo Sodje and Ross Worner.  Charlton's injury time "consolation" was scored by Frank Nouble - on loan from West Ham.  The attendance that afternoon was 3,505. Charlton were drifting to a mid table place in League 1.   And we hadn't even been able to beat Dagenham at The Valley the previous September despite taking a 2-1 lead in the 90th minute.  Danny Green scored (for Dagenham) in both games. Dagenham & Redbridge are the only club that Charlton have played but never beaten in a league game.  I could go on.

Ten years previously (6th January 2001) we had narrowly escaped the indignity of home defeat by then non-league Dagenham in the FA Cup.  John Salako's 86th minute equaliser saved us from becoming the first Premier League club to lose to non league opposition in the FA Cup.  The replay wasn't much better -it took an extra time Shaun Newton goal to see us through.

And if I mentioned our glorious 1-0 defeat of The Daggers at The Valley in the Football League Trophy in August 2010 you'd say it was desperate barrel scraping, and you'd be right.

So will Tuesday be any better?

Well, last season's equivalent was an entertaining 4-0 victory over Colchester, albeit they were reduced to ten men from the 23rd minute.  But most of these early season League Cup ties over the last decade or two have been uninspiring affairs.  The team has usually contained at least five or six reserves and this has seemed to have had the effect of deflating the regular first teamers. The crowd is sparse and the atmosphere non existent.  We end up praying to avoid extra time.

The Dagenham game might offer more of interest, however.  It seems likely that we will see more of Cristian Ceballos and Zakarya Bergdich.  Johnnie Jackson will surely lead the side. Maybe Regan Charles-Cook will get a game. Might we also see Naby Sarr?  Reza and Callum Harriott might remind us why they are not in the first team squad. I would quite enjoy seeing the mysteriously sidelined Andre Bikey make an appearance but I guess this is unlikely as he hasn't been given a squad number.

We are also likely to be able to watch the player who, since the retirements of Ryan Giggs and Kevin Phillips, is now the oldest outfield player in the league.  Step forward Jamie Cureton who will be 40 in three weeks time but who was The Daggers player of the year last year and leading scorer with 20 goals. In a career which began at Norwich in 1993 and which has spanned twelve clubs he has made over 750 appearances and scored over 250 goals.  I seem to remember him skinning Miguel Llera and scoring against us (for Exeter?) not so long ago.  Surely worth the modest admission price on his own?

Dagenham began their league season with a 0-3 beating at Portsmouth but will presumably come to The Valley with a nothing to lose mentality.  However, Guy Luzon is as yet unbeaten in the League Cup and will wish to maintain that record.  Here's hoping for a win in ninety minutes and an early night for all concerned.  We're going to need all our energy for Derby away next Saturday.