Exeter 2 Dagenham & Redbridge 1
Exeter come from behind to down Daggers with late double.
Points and not performances are what Dagenham & Redbridge need at this stage of the season.
For 76 minutes they looked good value for a much-needed away win, but after Romain Vincelot had broken the deadlock the visitors imploded.
A timely victory would have lifted John Still’s side four points clear of the relegation zone, but they inexplicably threw away three points from a game they seemed to be controlling.
Exeter made the more positive start to the game and should have done better with two headers in quick succession.
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First Jamie Cureton rose to meet Scott Golbourne’s excellent cross and just moments later, Cureton turned provider, crossing for Ryan Harley six yards out, but both players failed to hit the target.
But Daggers soon got into their stride and peppered the Exeter goal with several attempts.
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On 27 minutes Danny Green’s excellent pass over the top of the defence found Bas Savage, who had got free of his marker, but was caught in two minds with the goal at his mercy and the ball was smothered behind by keeper Ben Hamer.
From the resulting corner Green’s audacious attempt to score caught out the hosts’ keeper, but defender Billy Jones was on the goal-line to head behind for a second corner.
The former Bishop’s Stortford winger picked out Jon Nurse, who was free on the far post, but his header was again blocked on the line by Jones and eventually cleared from danger.
Just before half time the visitors had a strong claim for a penalty waved away by referee Anthony Bates.
Nurse exchanged passes with Savage and as the Barbados international burst into the penalty area he was seemingly tripped from behind by Richard Duffy.
But his attempt to stay on his feet, before eventually going to ground, seemed to sway the referee to rule in favour of the Exeter defender.
The home supporters were more enthused by the half time six-a-side match played by local children than they were about their team’s display in the opening period and Daggers continued to look the more likely to score after the restart.
Hamer was on hand to push over Nurse’s downward header and the stopper was called on again to deny right-back Abu Ogogo from long-range, before saving Savage’s tame follow up effort.
The 67th minute saw John Akinde make his long-awaited debut and it was soon clear to see why manager Still has been so patient with the Bristol City loanee.
Making his first appearance in Daggers colours since his arrival in January, Akinde burst into life within five minutes of his introduction, picking the ball up on the halfway line, he powered his way past three Exeter players, but one-on-one with Hamer he sliced his effort wide.
But on 76 minutes the visitors finally broke the deadlock.
Green’s floated corner was headed back across goal by captain Mark Arber into the path of Vincelot, who headed home his 11th goal of the season.
But the goal sparked Exeter into life and the visitors choked at the worst possible time.
Their lead lasted just five minutes, when Peter Gain conceded a needless free-kick midway through his own half and David Noble’s excellent cross found Grecians skipper Matt Taylor unmarked at the far post, whose header gave Roberts no chance.
Then with just three minutes remaining the comeback was complete.
Substitute Daniel Nardiello, left in acres of space on the left-flank, crossed to the unmarked Richard Logan who headed into the empty net to secure Exeter an unlikely win and send Daggers home empty-handed.
Dag & Red: Roberts, Ogogo, Doe, Arber, McCrory, Green, Gain, Vincelot, Lee, Nurse, Savage (Akinde 67). Subs: Lewington, Antwi, Scannell, Currie, Ilesanmi, Morgan.
Attendance: 4.598 (including 133 away supporters).