League One: Colchester United 2 Dagenham & Redbridge 2
Daggers pick up deserved point at unbeaten Colchester
ROMAIN VINCELOT may not remember his equalising header at Colchester on Tuesday night, but there will be no shortage of people to remind him about it’s skill and importance.
At 2-1 down in the 72nd minute, Danny Green capitalised on an error from U’s left-back Marc Tierney and immediately sent a cross from deep towards the penalty area.
Despite conceding height, size and strength to his marker Magnus Okuonghae, Vincelot timed his run to perfection and moved in front of the former Daggers defender, before placing a pinpoint header into the top right-hand corner of Mark Cousins’ net.
Rather than celebrate, his team-mates rushed to aid however as, in the process of scoring, the two players suffered a sickening clash of heads, which left them both on the floor and in need of treatment.
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Both men were bleeding, and were substituted after a delay in the game, although Vincelot was temporarily knocked out and did not emerge from the medical room, still being carried by Daggers staff, until nearly half an hour after the final whistle.
While the drama surrounding the collision brought the game to a temporary hush, it could detract from a scintillating Essex derby.
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Buoyed by their impressive second-half showing at Charlton on Saturday, Daggers roared out of the blocks and took the game to Colchester from the off.
After Vincelot went close in the early stages with a headed effort, Phil Ifil played in the fleet-footed Gavin Tomlin on 15 minutes, who looked to run at the home defence all evening.
Man-mountain centre forward Bas Savage was lurking in the centre of the penalty area, but he was strangely not picked up by a centre back and when Tomlin eventually crossed, his strike partner tapped in before unleashing his trademark moonwalk celebration.
John Still’s men did not drop their tempo after going in front, with the front pairing constantly posing problems for Colchester, while Stuart Lewis and full-backs Damien McCrory and Phil Ifil added impetus from deep.
A header from Reading loanee David Mooney was as close as the hosts came, until the 42nd minute when Ashley Vincent expertly lost his marker to head in Andy Bond’s accurate cross.
Scott Doe went close for Daggers with a turn and shot in the area at the start of the second period, although clinical finishing threatened to prove the difference.
After a debatable throw-decision was given to Colchester, the ball was launched into the space vacated by the tackling Ifil and David Perkins pulled back from the bye-line to David Mooney.
The Reading loanee, whose movement had been impressive all evening, again lost his marker and mis-lead Tony Roberts with his eyes and body shape, before placing his shot into the top left corner of the net.
If the goal was harsh on Still’s side, they showed no signs of feeling sorry for themselves.
Their relentless forward drive was rewarded by Vincelot’s equaliser, his fifth headed goal of the season, before his replacement Billy Bingham nearly played in Savage again minutes later.
The announcement of nine added minutes brought a roar from the home crowd, and for the first time in the contest Daggers found themselves under sustained pressure.
Vincent hit the inside of the post, before Scott Doe made a despairing lunge to clear a goal-bound effort off the line.
There was nearly dismay at the end, when Doe’s mis-placed header looped over Roberts and headed towards the net, but captain Mark Arber followed the ball’s flight and nodded away from underneath his own crossbar.
Two draws from two away games at promotion-contending teams will catch the eye observers from afar, but the truth is even more impressive.
The points tally could easily have been six, but for better finishing, and there is a genuine sense the squad has now comes to terms with League One and think of themselves as equals.
Drawing away games is only one part of the equation for successful sides though. The other is winning at home. The visit of Swindon Town on Saturday could prove a barometer as to whether the recent form is a new start, or a potentially false dawn.
Daggers: Roberts, Doe, Arber, Ifil, Vincelot (Bingham 77 mins), McCrory, Green, Lewis, Gain, Tomlin (Nurse 79 mins), Savage. Subs not used: Lewington, Gwillim, Scannell, Currie, Scott.