The general view in the Dagenham social club before last night's game was that we were perfectly set up to fall flat on our faces after Peter Trembling's encouraging investment announcement and Saturday's heroic performance against Wigan Athletic. That was a very, very Notts view to have of things. A trip to a Dagenham & Redbridge side who are having an excellent season, but have tailed off somewhat recently, always looked to be a tough test though and the general consensus was that any three points would provide a great return for Dave Kevan and his side. Graeme Lee and Jamie Clapham found themselves rested after immense performances on Saturday as Notts reverted to 4-4-2, with Mike Edwards coming in to play his 200th game for the club and Karl Hawley returning to partner Lee Hughes upfront.
The hosts were quickest out of the blocks and exerted some early pressure, but the Notts defence did well to clear some dangerous balls into the box and make some timely blocks to deny the Daggers any real openings. In fact, the first chance of the game fell to the division's leading scorer, who will feel he probably should've added to his growing collection of strikes. An incisive break forward saw Neal Bishop hook the ball over the home defence and Lee Hughes intelligently chested it down before firing a half volley from just inside the area that skidded a yard wide of Tony Roberts' far post. It was an early warning for the Daggers that the Magpies would look dangerous on every attack. The match was a scrappy affair early on, with neither side allowed any real time on the ball, although chances were hard to come by. The hardworking Paul Benson upfront for the hosts did manage to fashion a half chance for strike partner Josh Scott, but he hooked a volley wide from 25 yards.
Dangerous winger Danny Green's crossing hadn't been up to the mark for much of the half, but he nearly set up Scott with a teasing cross that evaded Stephen Hunt and then Scott by a matter of millimetres at the far post to keep the score level. The Magpies, who had been reduced to sporadic counter attacks for much of the half, should've taken the lead when Ben Davies cleverly played in Karl Hawley at the far post, but his left footed volley was beaten away by the feet of Roberts. The score wasn't to stay level for much longer though as Notts finally made the breakthrough. Lee Hughes played in Karl Hawley on the edge of the box, who's shot was well blocked by Scott Doe, the ball rebounded out wide to Davies however who set up for an inswinging cross, but cleverly jinked inside and found space to curl a delightful effort over Roberts and into the far corner to score his second fine strike in a week. This gave the Magpies confidence and they streamed forward again, with Karl Hawley firing over from six yards after finding some space in behind the Daggers back line.
Davies was to keep his place firmly in the limelight after the break as he doubled the Magpies' lead within seconds of the restart. A free kick in a similar position to the one which he curled home against Wigan Athletic on Saturday was awarded, but this time he bent a cross towards the far post. Lee Hughes flung himself towards it and may have made minimal contact, with the ball bouncing into the unguarded far post. Both players congratulated each other, but the opinion amongst the 306 travelling fans was that Davies had struck his second goal of the night. The game somewhat petered out again after this and Dagenham threw men forward in vain, with Kasper Schmeichel collecting any high balls that were lofted into the area. He did have to save once from Paul Benson who found space at the far post but couldn't get enough power on his header.
Davies almost completed a hat-trick as he struck a firm volley which was parried to safety by Roberts, who was by this stage engaging in more banter with the Notts fans than getting involved in the football match. Notts, always dangerous on the counter attack, still looked more likely to score again and a flowing move saw Lee Hughes played in and clip a delightful cross to the far post, where Neal Bisho's header beat Roberts but not Scott Doe, who was well placed to hack it off the line and away to safety. Not to worry though as the Magpies did add a third goal late on, John Thompson's long ball forward was nodded down by Bishop to substitute Ade Akinbiyi, who opted not to shoot and laid the ball back for Hawley, who's tame shot took a wicked deflected off Abu Ogogo to wrongfoot Roberts and bounce into the net and cap an excellent result for Notts. Most media outlets have the goal down as an 'Ogogo OG', an amusing footnote on a fine night for Dave Kevan's side.
Notts Co - Schmeichel, Thompson, Edwards, Hunt, Jackson, Westcarr (Hamshaw), Bishop, Ravenhill, Davies (Clapham), Hughes (Akinbiyi), Hawley
Dagenham & Redbridge 0
Notts County 3 (Davies '43, '46, Ogogo OG '83)
Attendance - 1,916 (306 Magpies)