Norwich City slump as Daggers look sharp

David Cuffley Dagenham & Redbridge 1, Norwich City 0: The Daggers were just a little too sharp for Norwich City's reshuffled defence as they inflicted the first pre-season defeat on last season's League One champions.

David Cuffley

Dagenham & Redbridge 1, Norwich City 0

The Daggers were just a little too sharp for Norwich City's reshuffled defence as they inflicted the first pre-season defeat on last season's League One champions.

Gavin Tomlin, snapped up from Yeovil by newly-promoted Dagenham & Redbridge, was the liveliest attacker on show and struck the only goal against the Canaries.

City, who used 21 players in front of a meagre crowd that included more than 250 travelling fans, fired blanks for the second time in three days after a goalless draw at Stevenage on Tuesday night.

Tomlin's goal in front of a crowd of just over 1,000 at Victoria Road came after 24 minutes and Paul Lambert's side seldom threatened to get on terms, despite nine changes on the hour.

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Once again, skipper Grant Holt, defenders Steven Smith and Jens Berthel Askou and midfielder Stephen Hughes were absent from the squad on duty.

Zak Whitbread was named in the starting eleven but failed to appear after the warm-up because of a calf problem, though Elliott Ward recovered from an Achilles injury to play 45 minutes and there was a place for 17-year-old left-back Remy Gordon, son of former City winger Dale Gordon.

City began the match with an unfamiliar back four, Ward partnering Owain Tudur Jones with George Francomb and Gordon as full-backs.

Tomlin almost gave Dagenham the lead after 10 minutes while City were down to 10 men with Tudur Jones receiving attention for a cut on his forehead. The striker appeared to shove Francomb as he pursued a long ball and managed to poke his shot past goalkeeper John Ruddy, but Ward chased back to clear off the line.

Two minutes later, Tomlin was denied again when he got away from Tudur Jones to shoot from a tight angle, but Ruddy made a near-post save.

Romain Vincelot unleashed a long-range effort midway through the half and it narrowly cleared the bar.

Tomlin was rewarded for a lively display when he gave the hosts the lead in the 24th minute.

Danny Green played an astute through-ball into the Norwich area and Tomlin found enough room to poke his shot past Ruddy.

Twice within a minute, City almost levelled, acting skipper Simon Lappin's sidefoot effort being turned away by goalkeeper Chris Lewington and Chris Martin having a header cleared off the line by Damien McCrory.

Korey Smith needed lengthy treatment on his left shin after being caught by a late challenge but was able to continue.

Ruddy was tested again when McCrory struck a powerful free-kick from outside the area as the Daggers continued to look more likely to score.

Russell Martin replaced Ward at the break, with Francomb switching to the centre of defence.

There was a flare-up in the 58th minute when Smith reacted angrily to a challenge by Stewart Lewis and players on both sides became involved in a shoving match.

Referee Ward lectured Chris Martin and Scott Doe and spoke to skipper Lappin before play resumed.

On the hour, City made nine changes and Dagenham four, with Francomb the only City player staying on for 90 minutes.

Tomlin went close to making it 2-0 soon afterwards with a long-range effort.

Dagenham continued to threaten most and Vincelot was unlucky when his header from a cross by Darren Currie crashed off the underside of the bar before it was cleared.

Michael Nelson, who took over as skipper at the interval, had a shot charged down following Wes Hoolahan's corner.

With seven minutes to go, keeper Jed Steer saved a header from Vincelot as the Daggers looked to make the game safe.

Two minutes later, a foul on Josh Dawkin gave City a free-kick on the edge of the area, but David Fox's dead-ball effort took a deflection and trickled through to Lewington.

t Dagenham & Redbridge: Lewington, Ogogo, McCrory (Gwillim, 60), Doe (Antwi, 60), Vincelot, Arber, Green (Currie, 60), Lewis (Montgomery, 81), Benson (Bingham, 60), Tomlin (Scott, 71), Gain. Subs (not used): Sambridge, Wilkinson, Currie, Bingham, Osborn, Wootton, Femi

t Norwich City: Ruddy (Steer, 60), Francomb, Tudur Jones (Nelson, 60), Ward (Russell Martin, 45), Gordon (Drury, 60), Gill (Fox, 60), Korey Smith (Crofts, 60), Lappin (Surman, 60), McNamee (Hoolahan, 60), Jackson (Dawkin, 60), Chris Martin (Johnson, 60)

t Referee: Gavin Ward (Surrey)

t Attendance: 1,092 (254 City fans)