League One: Yeovil Town 1 Dagenham & Redbridge 3
Defenders on target to earn first away victory
DAGENHAM & REDBRIDGE manager John Still said last week he sensed the side were on the verge or turning a corner. On Saturday, there was further evidence for everyone to see.
Having struggled to beat the sides around them at the bottom of League One this season, and without a win on the road, a trip to fellow strugglers Yeovil Town looked an ominous fixture.
On top of this, the opening exchanges were so one-sided it looked as though even the most ardent of the 125 travelling supporters may have needed some locally-brewed cider to comfort them on the journey home.
First, Will Antwi made a last-gasp interception, Andrew Welsh curled an effort just wide of goal, Dean Bowditch dragged a shot wide from close range before Chris Lewington made a point-blank save and Abu Ogogo cleared off the goal-line.
All this in little more than five breathless minutes. However, on 18 minutes, the momentum shifted.
“Sometimes the harder you work, the luckier you get,” said Still afterwards and their opening goal owed a large part to sheer determination when Danny Green chased an apparent lost cause to win a corner.
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His out-swinging delivery was met by Antwi, whose header looped over goalkeeper John Sullivan and into the net to take everyone by surprise.
Even the sound of celebrations from Daggers supporters arrived on delay as though watching an out-of-sync recording as they took an extra second to be sure.
The nervousness in the shouts of the home fans only inspired the visitors and Bas Savage’s cross was just missed by Jon Nurse while Green danced past three defenders before shooting over.
Yeovil remained a danger however and almost capitalised on some uncertainty from rookie keeper Lewington, before levelling in the only minute of injury time to be played in the first period.
As Daggers committed men forward, they found themselves out-numbered on a counter-attack which allowed Owain Tudur Jones to play in Andrew Williams, who blasted a shot into the top corner of the net.
The opening to thesecond half was dangerously similar to the first for Still’s men and Lewington again had to smother a loose ball in the area to deny Bowditch.
While a goal changed the course of the first period, the boss took matters into his own hands after 55 minutes and switched to a 4-4-2 formation, which meant a debut for loanee Medy Elito on the left wing.
The Yeovil attacks kept coming though as Ogogo was forced into two last-ditch clearances and Williams should have done better with a free header, which drifted just wide of the goal.
A succession of corners followed with the home side, and Tudur Jones in particular, continuing to miss chances, although Elito and Green continued to pose a threat on the wings.
Damien McCrory, who otherwise endured a difficult afternoon, provided the impetus for putting Daggers in front with a crunching challenge near his own area, before Peter Gain’s accurate punt forward freed the Colchester United loanee.
As the home defence backed off, the former England under-19 international spotted the overlapping Ogogo, who ignored Green, took the ball on and blasted past the hapless Sullivan, who appeared to dive out of the way of the shot.
Parity was nearly restored with Sam Williams’ close-range header, but Daggers again received a stroke of fortune as they watched it hit the bar and bounce to safety.
With it went the home side’s belief and when, minutes later, Elito was again invited to run at the back four, he calmly cut in field and placed the ball into the corner of the net from the edge of the penalty area.
Suddenly the contingent of fans from Victoria Road were a little louder amongst the background noise of collapsing fold-up chairs as home supporters made their exit.
Daggers have performed better away from home this year and not taken a deserved share of the spoils.
Admittedly, they were also a few coats of paint and a goalkeeping blunder away from extending their barren run on Saturday. However, as Still said, they made their own luck.
Daggers: Lewington, McCrory, Antwi, Arber, Green, Nurse (Gain 68), Palsson (Elito 55), Savage, Taiwo, Ogogo, Vincelot. Subs not used: Hogan, Brown, Tomlin, Scannell, Currie.