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Colin Munford at St James’ Park
Saturday, March 8, 2014
League Two: Exeter City 2 Dagenham & Redbridge 2
Daggers were denied a second successive win at Exeter in stoppage time as Elliot Richards rescued a point for the Grecians.
The hosts had lead in the first half through Tom Nichols’ close-range finish, but two goals inside 10 second half minutes put the Daggers in the box seat, with Luke Norris’ curling effort and Medy Elito’s penalty.
And they looked set for all three points until deep into stoppage time when goalkeeper Chris Lewington gathered Richards’ shot but let it slip from his grasp and the striker was there to make sure from a matter of inches.
Daggers manager Wayne Burnett made one change from last week’s goalless home draw with Mansfield Town as Rhys Murphy dropped out through a groin injury, which he has been nursing for the last six weeks. Luke Howell was his replacement, coming in for his start since the 3-3 draw with Scunthorpe United on January 25.
Liam Sercombe wasted a good early chance for the hosts after firing over from a pin-point Sam Parkin cross, after defender Scott Doe’s attempted clearance hit himself flush in the face
A mazy run from Elito went unrewarded, but Sercombe was in the thick of the action as the Grecians got off to a good start with an eighth-minute deflected effort falling straight into the hands of Daggers goalkeeper Chris Lewington.
But with the first serious foray forward Burnett’s side could have had the lead when former Exeter loanee Lawson D’Ath played a lovely ball across to Norris who shot first time, only to see his curling effort strike the post.
Daggers began to gain a foothold in the game from that moment on and skipper Abu Ogogo shot just wide from 25 yards with Exeter goalkeeper Artur Krysiak at full stretch.
However that all changed in the 34th minute when the hosts took the lead.
A ball in from Craig Woodman was nodded back across goal by David Wheeler, which found Matt Grimes.
His goalbound shot went straight to team-mate Tom Nichols just two yards out and he flicked it past Lewington to give the Grecians the opening goal.
Loan signing Ashley Chambers was brought on at the break for Luke Howell as Daggers tried to get a way back into the game, but it was the hosts who enjoyed the early pressure.
Home skipper Coles headed a Woodman free-kick just wide, and then Lewington had to be brave on 51 minutes when he thwarted at the feet of Parkin after a chipped ball across from goalscorer Nichols.
There wasn’t a lot coming from the Daggers in attack but one fine sweeping, counter-attacking move brought them to life.
D’Ath brought the ball out of his own box before releasing Chambers just inside the Daggers half.
He showed Matt Oakley a clean pair of heels before playing in Norris, who took one touch to steady himself before curling into the top corner.
One could have quickly become two when Elito chipped a ball in for Azeez who headed over, but Saah did well to clear with Nichols putting the former Torquay man under pressure up the other end.
That turned the momentum the Daggers way and they now looked like a rejuvenated side in attack.
And they won a penalty on 72 minutes when Coles was adjudged to have pulled down Ade Azeez in the box. Referee David Phillips pointed to the spot, though there appeared to be little appeal from anyone in a Daggers shirt.
But the visitors weren’t fussed how it came about and Elito coolly slotted past Krsyiak to turn this game completely on its head.
Exeter had plenty of the ball in the closing stages as they pressed for an equaliser but the Daggers fought tooth and nail to keep hold of the lead.
However, they eventually succumbed in the final minute of time added on when Lewington let slip Bennett’s effort and Richards prodded home from a matter of inches to deny the Daggers all three points.
Exeter City: Krsyiak, Bennett, Coles, Moore-Taylor, Woodman, Wheeler (Reid 80), Oakley, Grimes, Sercombe, Nichols (Richards 76), Parkin.
Unused substitutes: Butterfield, Baldwin, Davies, Gill, Hamon
Dagenham & Redbridge: Lewington, Ilesanmi, Doe, Saah, Hoyte, Howell (Chambers 46), Ogogo, D’Ath, Elito, Norris (Wilkinson 90), Azeez (Dickson 90).
Unused substitutes Seabright, Bingham, Shields, Connors.
Today’s attendance: 3,057 (108 Daggers fans)