By Tony Leighton
After a slow start to their npower League 2 campaign, Dagenham & Redbridge are on the rise and, hopes goalkeeper Chris Lewington, en route to making the sort of challenge that three seasons ago ended in promotion via the Play-Offs.
Lewington joined the Daggers as a 20-year-old from Ryman League club Leatherhead at the start of that 2009/10 campaign, which was undoubtedly one of the best in the club's history but did not feature any appearances by the young keeper.
The season that followed was not so happy for the club as immediate relegation was suffered, but Lewington played a handful of senior team games and then established himself as the first-choice 'keeper on their return to League 2 last term.
Now he is racking up the appearances and optimistically looking ahead to the future as the Daggers mount a fine recovery from an opening eight-game spell that brought them a meagre four points from the 24 on offer.
With just two defeats in their last 11 outings they have climbed to within six points of the Play-Off places and Lewington told football-league.co.uk: "After making a sticky start we've been in a good vein of form and we're looking a decent team.
"We've beaten good sides like Bradford [City] and Rotherham [United] - in fact we smashed Rotherham 5-0!
"Those teams are among the promotion favourites and they'll make a real challenge, but on our day I feel that we can beat anyone in the division.
"We're a young team - in fact the oldest player in the back five is me and I'm only 24. I've only played around 80 first-team games so in goalkeeping terms I'm still quite inexperienced, but I'm part of a good and improving defensive unit."
Untypical defensive errors cost the Daggers in their last outing, a 3-2 defeat at Burton Albion, but Lewington is confident that he and his team mates will bounce back quickly to gather the points that can keep them moving up the table.
"Sometimes making mistakes can be good for you in the long term," said the keeper.
"Errors are part and parcel of football, but as long as you learn from them you can become stronger from the experience.
"We can definitely become stronger. We may be a young team but we're solid all over the park, we've got good strength in depth in our squad and I honestly believe that we can get ourselves higher in the table and make a challenge up there."
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