League One: Dagenham & Redbridge 1 Southampton 3
Lambert strike caps thrilling and controversial second half
AN injury-time goal from Rickie Lambert ended a spirited Dagenham & Redbridge comeback on Monday after a thrilling second half.
John Still kept faith the 11 who started against Brentford two days earlier, although set them out in a more defensively-minded system with memories of the 4-0 defeat in the first game against Southampton still fresh.
Accordingly, much of the first half resembled a training ground match with the visiting attack unleashing a constant tide of pressure at the home defence.
Much like the first game, wingers Alex Chamberlain and Adam Lallana were tormenters chief and the ball rarely left the Daggers half of the pitch.
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Unlike the initial meeting however, Still’s side stood up what was thrown at them with stand-in skipper Will Antwi and young left back Femi Ilesanmi both excelling.
Lone forward Bas Savage chased lost causes for much of the first period, but the game changed when Gavin Tomlin, on his return from injury, was introduced at half time.
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Two minutes later Southampton were ahead.
Chamberlain sprinted past Solomon Taiwo, who injured his hamstring trying to keep up, before the ball was chipped Lallana, whose bicycle kick darted past Roberts.
Substitute John Scott replaced Savage and his first act was to be pulled to the floor by centre back Radhi Ja�di, but referee Mick Russell ignored the home side’s impassioned pleas for a penalty.
Four minutes later the visitors from the South Coast showed their class to double their lead when Guly Do Prado, on loan from Serie A side Cesena, evaded the challenge of Scott Doe and buried a shot in the bottom corner of Roberts’ net.
Rather than be the nail in their coffin, somehow the effort gave Daggers inspiration, but when Antwi lashed a shot over the bar on 83 minutes, their task seemed too great.
Less than 60 seconds later though they halved the deficit, when Scott evaded his marker to head in Danny Green’s pinpoint cross.
Now it was the Southampton backline’s turn to panickedly clear, which they managed successfully until the tricky Medy Elito was fouled outside the penalty area on 89 minutes.
While Green normally blasts every set piece, this time Tomlin curled an effort toward the top left corner, which ricocheted off the underside of the bar and onto the goal-line.
As Tomlin sprinted off in celebration, and three sides of the ground cheered, the linesman remained motionless, despite disbelieving shouts from home players standing near the incident.
It proved the final hurrah and Lambert’s 92nd minute goal confirmed a result which appeared a formality for large portions of the game, but felt slightly unjust given how the final moments played out.
“I thought it was in,” said Tomlin, of his free kick.
“I was celebrating already – I was at the left back position and I took the free kick near their box!
“We also had a penalty, a blatant penalty, not given when Josh Scott turned and they defender pulled him down.
“It’s one of those things, when you’re at the bottom you just don’t get the luck.
“We haven’t been playing that badly all season, it’s just been about getting the luck sometimes and stringing a few results together.”
The two games against Southampton this season perfectly illustrate where Daggers are now, compared to where they were just two months.
Now, as Tomlin says, the challenge is to earn the points their performances have recently deserved.
Dagenham & Redbridge: Roberts, Doe, Antwi, Green, Savage (Scott, 64 mins), Taiwo (Gain, 50 mins), Ogogo, Vincelot, Bingham (Tomlinm H/T), Ilesanmi, Elito.
Subs not used: Lewington, Nurse, Palsson, Currie.
Southampton: Davis, Dickson, Fonte, Lambert (Seaborne, 92 mins), Do Prado (Richardson, 82 mins), Butterfield, Hammond, Jaidi, Lallana, Chamberlain (Barnard, 68 mins), Chaplow.
Subs: Bialkowski, Harding, Schneiderlin, Connolly.
Referee: Mr Mick Russell
Attendance: 3,585 (including 1,167 travelling supporters)