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FC Halifax Town visit high flying National League Premier side Dagenham & Redbridge in the Emirates FA Cup first round as they look to pull off an upset in London.
Billy Heath’s men will be looking to get back to winning ways and put Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at home to Brackley Town behind them, and there will be no better way than to progress into the second round of the FA Cup. It had been seven successive victories in all competitions prior to Saturday’s defeat and there would have been no better way than to go into the match high on confidence.
This week’s player spotlight focuses on Dagenham’s talisman and leading goal scorer Oliver Hawkins. The forward has 11 goals for the Daggers so far this campaign, making him the joint second highest goal scorer in the National Premier.
The 24-year-old joined the East London on a record transfer in 2016 from Hemel Hempstead, after spending three years at the National League South outfit. The Daggers Boss John Still had noticed Oliver whilst in charge of Luton Town, before the pair eventually linking up at the start of this calendar year at Victoria Road.
Hawkins had spent the early years of his career in the lower reaches on non-league. It was at Hillingdon Borough where Oliver really began to make his breakthrough under in football under Gary Meakin scoring ten goals during the 2010/11 season. Meakin then moved onto Northwood and took Hawkins with him, in the following two seasons after signing Hawkins finished as Northwood’s top goal scorer. This, unsurprisingly attracted the attention of clubs at higher levels, and the striker then signed for Hemel Hempstead.
The Daggers’ top goal scorer has been invaluable to their fantastic start to the season which has put John Still’s side only four points off the top spot and on course for an immediate return to the Football League.
Hawkins is the key man in Still’s side but there are a number of other players in the ranks who are capable of stepping up to the plate – Former Luton Town midfielder Luke Guttridge and ex MK Dons man Luke Howell to name a few.
It’s going to be a real test for Billy Heath’s lads at Victoria Road, but it’s the FA Cup, and after all ‘the magic of the cup’ does tend to cause upsets at this stage of the competition. Maybe that could be heading Halifax’s way on Saturday.
The second round and whoever it may bring awaits one of these sides.
Read more posts by Kelly Gilchrist