Hawkins’ first goal not enough for Daggers
16:54 20 February 2016
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Sky Bet League Two: Mansfield Town 3 Dagenham & Redbridge 2
Dagenham & Redbridge again let another lead slip as they lost at promotion-chasing Mansfield Town.
Having taken the lead somewhat against the run of play, Daggers conceded three in the second half while also missing a penalty.
There was hope late on with a second for the visitors, but it would prove little more than a consolation effort.
Having been successful with three centre backs at the start of his third stint as Daggers boss, John Still reverted to a 5-3-2 formation.
Josh Passley returned to the side immediately after serving a one-game ban, while Clevid Dikamona came in at centre back.
Other changes included Liam O’Brien in goal and Ashley Chambers in the hole, while Matt McClure made his first appearance since getting injured at Wimbledon.
There was also a spot on the bench for Matt Richards who had not played since the win at Northampton Town in September.
One of the changes presented Daggers with a good chance top open the scoring in the fifth minute when Chambers was fouled around 25 yards out in a central position.
Oliver Muldoon stepped up to take the resulting set piece, which curled just wide of the left upright.
O’Brien was also given an early tester in the Daggers goal, with full back Danny Alfei letting fly from distance in the 10th minute, but the keeper was well behind the shot.
The visiting stopper was called upon seven minutes later too, collecting Chris Beardsley’s tame header after Matty Blair had crossed from the right.
Daggers were finding themselves increasingly under pressure, but a good ball from Joe Widdowson went all the way across the box in the 21st minute.
But again O’Brien was called upon to bail the east Londoners out, denying Mal Benning’s free kick from finding the net three minutes later.
From there, the half seemed to deteriorate along with the weather as Field Mill became engulfed in a downpour.
That was until the 39th minute when Hawkins showed good strength to wriggle free of Ryan Tafazolli and play the ball forward.
Chambers latched onto the through ball and took a touch before firing with his left foot at Scott Shearer, who got down well to save the effort from the edge of the area.
It seemed to spark Daggers into life and they took the lead with just three minutes remaining in the half.
Dikamona intercepted a cross into the box by Mansfield before passing to Chambers, who sped forward at pace.
He passed the ball on to McClure, who in turn found Widdowson who played the ball across the box with Hawkins tapping home at the back post for his first Daggers goal.
Daggers took that lead into the break, although it looked in danger as Stags went on the attack early in the second half.
Alfei chanced his luck from distance again in the 49th minute, but once more found O’Brien in a determined mood to keep hold of his clean sheet.
Almost immediately at the other end, Hawkins flicked the ball into the path of McClure, but the striker could only find the arms of Shearer.
It would prove a costly miss as Mansfield drew level in the 53rd minute through Matty Blair.
A free kick into the box was cleared only as far as the hosts’ midfielder on the edge of the box, whose effort clipped the post on its way in.
Despite falling behind, Daggers were almost afforded a huge slice of luck four minutes later when Josh Passley’s cross from the right took a deflection.
The nick of the defender sent the ball looping towards Shearer in the home goal, with the stopper having to push the ball over a corner that was dealt with.
O’Brien was also busy at the other end, having to leap acrobatically to prevent Adi Yussuf’s header from finding the net five minutes later.
By now, the visitors were besieged so it was perhaps little surprise when they fell behind in the 67th minute.
Yussuf latched on to a long ball forward from the back and cut inside Dom Hyam before slotting past O’Brien.
Daggers were by now second best, with O’Brien again doing well to deny Benning with another free kick with 14 minutes remaining.
Two minutes later and the keeper was at it again, this time denying Lee Collins from a corner.
Daggers were handed a possible lifeline in the 83rd minute when Jamie Cureton was hauled down in the box by Krystian Pearce, who was sent off.
The evergreen attacker stepped up to take the spot kick, but instead fired it into the home fans.
Adding further insult to injury, Green went on to score his second of the game less than two minutes later.
But the visitors were not done yet, with Cureton tapping in at the back post in the 85th minute to give Daggers hope.
Chambers went close with a header late on, but Daggers were unable to find a way through to stay six points adrift of safety.
Mansfield: Shearer, Benning, Pearce, Collins, Chapman, Clements, Beardsley (Yussuf 51), Green (Lambe 85), Tafazoli, Blair, Alfei
Unused subs: Jensen, Thomas, Kavanagh, McGuire, Baxendale
Daggers: O’Brien; Passley (Jones 79), Worrall, Dikamona, Hyam, Widdowson; Labadie, Chambers, Muldoon (Richards 71); Hawkins, McClure (Cureton 71)
Unused subs: Cousins, Doidge, Hemmings, Hoyte
Referee: Sebastian Stockbridge
Attendance: 2,822 (including 129 Daggers fans)