Daggers 3 Notts County 1

Green nets twice as Daggers move two points clear of the drop zone.

Those present at Victoria Road on Saturday afternoon would have been forgiven for thinking they were witnessing an end of season game, played between two mid-table sides with little riding on the result.

But the stark reality was the 90 minutes of football played in the glorious sunshine could well decide the fate of the two respective teams come May 7.

Daggers, on a run of three consecutive defeats, had slipped quietly into the bottom four, with the comfort of having those games in hand diminishing with each passing week.

However, Saturday’s opponents are in turmoil and their latest defeat was the seventh in a row, equalling a club record caretaker boss Carl Heggs will be desperate not to break.

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The home side made the more assertive start to the to this crunch clash with Danny Green and Jon Nurse going close in the opening 10 minutes.

And Daggers did not have to wait long for their goal, with John Akinde volleying in his first goal for the club on 16 minutes.

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Tony Roberts long kick forward found bounced through to Green in space on the right flank and his first time cross was finished off by the Bristol City loanee from close range.

Notts County struggled to settle, but came close to an equaliser when Lee Hughes struck the crossbar from the edge of the penalty area midway through the half.

But the game swung firmly in the hosts favour in the final six minutes of the half.

Nurse beat last-man Graeme Lee to a loose ball and the defender inexplicably hauled the forward to the ground 25 yards from goal, earning him a straight red card.

The visitors were punished further when Green blasted the resulting free-kick past keeper Stuart Nelson and moments before half time their misery was compounded.

After Nurse had seen his chip over Nelson hooked off the line by Sam Sodje and his rebound come back off the post, the loose ball fell to Akinde who, with his back to goal, was needlessly tripped by John Spicer.

Referee Mark Haywood pointed to the spot and Green made no mistake from 12 yards to claim his 11th of the season and Daggers third of an all-too-easy first half.

The visitors defending had been woeful in the opening 45 minutes and with chances on a plate for John Still’ side they took full advantage to cruise into an unassailable lead.

The second half saw little goalmouth action with Notts County looking like a team bereft of ideas, while Daggers simply had to see out the remaining 45 minutes to pull clear of County and the bottom four.

They were given a scare on 69 minutes when substitute Njogu Demba-Nyren headed in Spicer’s corner, but referee Haywood denied the 2,608-strong crowd a grandstand finish when he ruled out Sodje’s fine 20 yard ‘goal’, having already awarded the visitors a free-kick for a foul in the build up.

There were still five nervous minutes of second half stoppage time for the hosts to survive, but the tension in the stands was not evident on the field as Daggers cruised to a timely three points with surprising ease, while their opponents look doomed.

Daggers: Roberts, Ogogo, Doe, Arber, Ilesanmi, Danny Green, Vincelot, Gain, Currie (Lancaster 72), Nurse, Akinde (Savage 79). Subs not used: Lewington, McCrory, Antwi, Danny J Green, Lee.

Attendance: 2,608 (including 484 away supporters)

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