National League: Ebbsfleet 1 Dagenham & Redbridge 1
PUBLISHED: 17:06 30 December 2017
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Mason Bloomfield’s late goal earned Daggers a share of the spoils in their final outing of 2017.
John Still’s men looked on course for their fourth successive defeat in all competitions, but Bloomfield popped up four minutes from time to slot home from the edge of the box to salvage a point.
Daggers crossed the QE2 Bridge on the back of a 2-0 Boxing Day defeat at improving Leyton Orient, which left them down in seventh place, to face a Fleet side unbeaten in their last four league matches and just two points behind them in the table.
The two sides had shared six goals at Victoria Road earlier in the season, after Daggers let a two-goal lead slip, but their last meeting in Kent had ended in a goalless draw 11 years ago.
Kevin Lokko came into the line-up in place of captain Scott Doe, while Morgan Ferrier and Corey Whitely dropped to the bench as Fejiri Okenabirhie and Luke Howell were handed starts.
And the hosts had the first sight of goal on two minutes when Luke Coulson made his way into the box and fired a low shot at Mark Cousins.
Ebbsfleet had the edge in terms of possession early on, but neither side could create any chances until Andre Boucaud lifted the ball over the home defence and Dan Sparkes saw a header deflected behind for a corner.
And Sam Ling sent the ball back into the box when the whipped-in corner missed everyone, but Okenabirhie’s backheeled effort went wide of the post.
Okenabirhie fired just over the crossbar on 19 minutes as the visitors began to up the tempo, but Coulson saw an acrobatic effort fly just over Cousins’ goal moments later.
And the lively Okenabirhie also sent a shot on the turn narrowly wide just before the half-hour mark, before Fleet opened the scoring on 33 minutes when Danny Kedwell’s shot was blocked and Jack Powell poked home the rebound.
Matt Robinson saw a shot from range deflected behind four minutes before the interval, after being picked outr by Okenabirhie as Daggers looked to get back on terms.
And Ebbsfleet managed to defend a couple of corners as the visitors remained on top before half time, before Coulson broke upfield and found Powell, whose effort was saved by Cousins.
Daggers made a bright start to the second half, with Boucaud blasting a shot over on 50 minutes, with Sam Ling then finding Okenabirhie to win a corner moments later.
It came to nothing and Robinson was booked before the hour mark, as the visitors remained just about on top in their search for an equaliser, with Okenabirhie firing into the hands of Nathan Ashmore.
But Boucaud’s poor pass was then seized upon by Kedwell and Myles Weston saw a shot deflected behind for a corner on 62 minutes.
Former Dagger Sean Shields produced a strong run moments after coming off the Ebbsfleet bench, before Still sent Whitely on for Howell midway through the second half in his first change.
Bloomfield came on for Michael Cheek on 69 minutes, with Jake Howells finding Okenabirhie in the box soon after but he couldn’t find the target with his header.
Morgan Ferrier replaced Sparkes in Still’s final change, with Whitely sending his shot over the crossbar after twisting and turning in the box.
And it was a real backs to the wall effort by Ebbsfleet as Daggers kept pushing forward, restricting the home side to clearing the ball upfield.
The pressure eventually paid off, though, as Ling laid the ball off for Robinson to fire goalwards for Bloomfield to touch the ball past Ashmore and level and Daggers might have snatched a winner during a late goalmouth scramble, but a shot was deflected behind.
Daggers return to Victoria Road to open their 2018 account with a home derby against Orient on Monday.
Dagenham: Cousins, Howells, Robson, Lokko, Ling, Robinson, Boucaud, Howell (Whitely 66), Sparkes (Ferrier 73), Okenabirhie, Cheek (Bloomfield 69). Unused subs: Moore, Nunn.