League One: Rochdale 3 Dagenham & Redbridge 2
Daggers’ second-half fight back proves in vain as ‘Dale take all three points at Spotland.
DAGENHAM & REDBRIDGE slipped back to the bottom of the League One table after an emphatic defeat at Rochdale on Saturday.
Having not won away in the league all season, the trip to play a side who beat them in both meetings last season always looked an ominous prospect for John Still’s men.
Despite Rochdale having lost their last three league fixtures, they quickly found their feet to dominate possession early on and bombared Tony Robert’s goal with a series of efforts.
While the Welsh keeper was initally alert to the danger, making two good saves within the opening three minutes of the game, he could do nothing to prevent Rochdale taking a deserved lead on 22 minutes.
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After Peter Gain gave the ball away in midfield, ‘Dale broke at speed and skipper Gary Jones played in Chris O’Grady, who skilfully shot from the edge of the penalty area and buried a shot in the bottom corner of the net, with the aid of a slight defelction off defender Scott Doe.
The chances kept coming and, with former Leyton Orient loanee Nicky Adams proving a constant threat on the right of a compact midfield, the hosts extended their lead on 35 minutes.
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Typically direct and assertive in possession, the winger careered down the sideline before crossing to Anthony Elding, who found acres of space inside the penalty area and had the simple task of tapping in from from six yards out.
The second goal proved a sucker punch to the visitors, but they began the second half with more belief and, after dropping Gavin Tomlin deeper into midfield, they found it easier to retain possession.
Despite this, the game appeared to be over on 58 minutes when, with Daggers pressing forward, Jones put ‘Dale three goals to the good after applying the finishing touch to another swift counter-attack.
While some visiting fans made for the nearest exit to drown their sorrows, some unexpected drama suddenly materialised in a game which had been mostly one-sided to that point.
Damian Scannell, now playing in an advanced role. pulled one back for John Still’s men on 64 minutes when a Danny Green corner pinablled around the host’s six-yard box allowing the former Southend United man to snatch a shot home.
While the goal barely elicited a reading on the decibel meter from the small travelling contingent still left in the ground, they grew in belief four minutes later.
Green aimed another corner at the near post where captain Mark Arber was the first to react and turned the ball in from close range.
With the momentum behind them, Still threw on Josh Scott in search of a late equaliser, but the Daggers never truly threatened to level proceedings.
Peter Gain appealed for a penalty on 83 minutes, but was instead booked for diving, before substitute Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro nearly put the game to bed with a spectacular long-range effort, which flew narrowly over the bar.
Scannell did burst through again in injury time, but, after ignoring the option of squaring to Tomlin, his shot was saved by goalkeeper Josh Lillis.
Despite a token show of spirit, Daggers were ultimately punished for their sloppy display in the first period.
The search for a first away win goes on...
Daggers: Roberts, Doe, Arber, Ifil, Vincelot, McCrory, Green, Scannell, Gain, Tomlin, Savage (Scott, 76 mins). Subs: Lewington, Gwillim, Currie, Bingham, Pinney, Nurse.