Dagenham & Redbridge 0 Brighton 1
Daggers six game unbeaten run comes to an end, as Brighton move 13 points clear at the top of League One
Daggers steep League One learning curve continued in their home defeat to Brighton on Tuesday night, but it was perhaps John Still’s team’s harshest lesson to date.
The home side’s 18 attempts on goal to Brighton’s five tells the story of a match dominated by Dagenham until Glenn Murray volleyed home his 20th goal of the season on 59 minutes.
On the back of six games unbeaten, Still’s side were brimming with confidence from the off and not fazed by their opponents, who went on to set a post-war club record of eight consecutive wins.
This was not one of those evenings where ‘little’ Dagenham bullied their more illustrious opponents, hoofed the ball forward at every given opportunity and hoped to nick a draw.
Brighton boss Gus Poyet blamed the Victoria Road pitch for his side’s inability to play their normal brand of flowing football, but the surface did not seem to hamper the hosts.
Peter Gain dominated the centre of midfield, while Danny Green and Damian Scannell tormented the Brighton full-backs.
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Daggers first opportunity came, following a fine passing move involving Green, Bas Savage and Romain Vincelot, with the Frenchman finding Damien McCrory in space on the left flank, only for the defender to slice his effort harmlessly over the crossbar from 20 yards.
Just two minutes later the hosts were denied the opening goal following a bizarre passage of play.
Jon Nurse beat Inigo Calderon and raced away down the left flank, before his low drive was parried away by Casper Ankergren into the path of Savage, whose tame effort was cleared off the line by Marcos Painter. But Painter’s clearance was miscued. Striking Savage, the ball appeared to hit a combination of the crossbar and roof of the net, before being cleared to safety.
Still Daggers continued to dominate. Green had an effort blocked by Seagulls skipper Gordon Greer and Ankergren saved from both Savage and Nurse before half time, while at the other end Tony Roberts did not have a save to make.
Brighton could count themselves lucky not to be behind at the interval and the second period started in exactly the same vein.
Scannell’s curling effort from the edge of the penalty area sailed over Ankergren, but crept wide of the post and a Savage pot-shot was palmed away by the former Leeds stopper.
Daggers paid the ultimate price for their failure to turn their dominance into a goal just before the hour mark. In what was virtually the visitors’ first sniff at goal, Craig Noone crossed from the left and Murray stole a march on McCrory and volleyed past Roberts from six yards.
It was quite simply a moment that shows the difference between the top teams and the bottom teams in English football’s third tier.
For all Daggers endeavour they were undone by a moment of quality from a prolific centre-forward, something they have been desperately searching for all season.
The goal killed the home side’s spirit and just a couple of half chances from Peter Gain were the closest they came to levelling the score.
Murray went close to doubling Brighton’s lead with three minutes remaining, but his shot on the turn crept wide of Roberts post, while the Welshman stood motionless.
The final whistle brought an end to Daggers fine unbeaten run, but the positives from their latest performance bode well as they continue their brave battle against the drop.
Dag & Red: Roberts, Ogogo, Doe, Arber, McCrory, Green, Vincelot, Gain, Scannell (Currie 73), Nurse, Savage (Lancaster 66). Subs: Lewington, Antwi, Ifil, Lee, Morgan.
Attendance: 3,604 (including 1,411 away supporters)