Daggers still searching for a solution after late MK Dons strike
Big crowd unable to inspire blunt Daggers
WHAT was once Dagenham & Redbridge’s biggest strength is fast turning into their kryptonite.
In their successful promotion charge last season, John Still’s side won 15 of their 23 home league games, scoring 46 times in the process.
So far this season, they have won twice in 11 attempts at Victoria Road and scored just 10 goals.
Many home regulars would argue they have deserved more for their efforts and indeed should have taken more, only to be hurt by late goals conceded against the likes of Tranmere, Hartlepool and Rochdale.
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MK Dons can now be another name added to the list of sides to cruelly pickpocket Daggers at the last moment and the contest bore all the hallmarks fans have come to expect from a gutsy home defeat.
The hosts began with the frenetic tempo, which normally catches visitors off guard, and created more clear-cut opportunities than normal with full home debutant Marvin Morgan leading the line.
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First he out-muscled visiting skipper Dean Lewington and nearly found strike partner Gavin Tomlin for an easy tap in, only for Mathias Doumbe to intervene at the last moment.
The former Aldershot Town man then created an opportunity for himself, running onto a Mark Arber through ball and dismissively shrugging off his marker before tamely shooting straight at goalkeeper David Martin.
Arber himself also hacked awkwardly when he found space to shoot in the penalty area, but the ball wouldn’t quite fall for him, and the tireless Romain Vincelot forced a save from Martin before the break.
A side sitting in the play-off places were never likely to be on the back foot for long and some tactical tinkering from rookie boss Karl Robinson at half time changed the course of the game,
with Stephen Gleeson now pulling the strings in midfield and Jabo Ibehre being offered more support up front.
Peter Leven twice took aim at Tony Roberts’ net, before Dons showed the wealth of talent at their disposal by bringing on talented strikers Sam Baldock and Rowan Vine.
While the hosts were having to soak up pressure, they had strong appeals for a penalty turned down when Martin dived at the feet of Morgan and the burly striker went crashing to the floor.
It was the first of two game-changing moments in as many minutes.
When Danny Green aimed a free kick squarely at the one-man wall that was Luke Chadwick, the young winger temporarily lost his cool and jumped in elbow first at the former Manchester United man when trying to win the ball back.
Despite having been booked already, he was shown a straight red card and the moment of madness swung the momentum firmly in the visitors’ favour.
From the resulting attack, Ibehre so nearly put the ball on a plate for Baldock to score, although Daggers responded and Femi Ilesanmi should have done better when teed up by Jon Nurse at the back post, but volleyed wide.
Marshalled by Arber, the defence stood firm in the final 10 minutes and 10-man Daggers would have been good value for a point, while thinking they could have taken all three.
Then, in the third minute of injury time, substitute Mark Carrington shot from 30 yards and the ball skidded off the surface, before being fumbled by Tony Roberts to leave them with nothing at all.
The performance was good and there were positives to note, but supporters must be bored of claiming moral victories when tangible results and points continue to elude them.
Without a win in seven home games now, including four defeats in a row, the club will struggle to escape the League One relegation zone unless they can find a formula for scoring goals at home.
Some solace for Daggers fans will be the memory of taking 21 points from the last 24 at Victoria Road last year to sneak into the play-offs against the odds.
They may now require a similar purple patch of form if they are to pull off a similar Houdini impression this term.
Daggers: Roberts, Doe, Arber, Green, Tomlin, Ogogo, Vincelot, Ilesanmi, Gain, Elito (Nurse, 70 mins), Morgan. Subs not used: Lewington, Antwi, Scannell, Savage, Currie, Bingham.