Rotherham United 3 Dagenham & Redbridge 1
Daggers suffered their heaviest league defeat of the season at Rotherham on Saturday, as John Still’s side were punished for some uncharacteristically calamitous defending at the Don Valley Stadium.
The normally rock-solid backline was without skipper Mark Arber - only fit enough for the substitutes’ bench - and the Millers exploited mistakes at the back to net three times in the opening 45 minutes.
Quite simply, this was an afternoon where all of Daggers shortcomings were exposed.
Their failure to score more than once in a game has largely gone unpunished this season, but after conceding three times so early on Daggers were never likely to return from South Yorkshire with points in the bag.
Striker Lewis Grabban dragged a shot wide on five minutes as the home side signalled their intent from the off and just three minutes later Rotherham edged in front.
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Marcus Marshall, in space on the right, sent in a swirling cross which Abu Ogogo failed to clear under pressure from Alex Revell and the loose ball fell to Gareth Evans to power past keeper Chris Lewington.
But, midway through the half Daggers levelled, when Scott Doe scored his first-ever goal for the club, rising highest to head home Gavin Tomlin’s corner.
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With Rotherham briefly rattled the visitors pushed forward once more and after Tomlin outmuscled defender Ryan Cresswell, keeper Conrad Logan rushed to smother away the striker’s effort.
Daggers optimism was short lived however, as Rotherham regained the lead on 29 minutes. Again, Marshall was allowed far too much space to cross on the right flank and Doe’s misdirected header deflected in off Grabban.
And on 38 minutes Grabban was on target again to put the game beyond Dagenham. Tomlin inexplicably played a loose pass to Ogogo inside his own penalty area, which Evans intercepted and pulled back for Grabban to lash in on the turn.
A double change at the break saw Arber on to bring some much-needed solidity to the back line, while the introduction of striker Jon Nurse, fresh from international duty with Barbados, saw a change in formation and provided added punch up top.
Millers’ boss Andy Scott admitted afterwards that his team had been second best in the second half, but while Daggers dominated proceedings they were unable to add to Doe’s first-half header.
Oliver Lee came closest when his volley from 20 yards rattled the crossbar. Sam Williams had an effort from the edge of the box well-held by Logan, who was called into action shortly afterwards to push Lee’s well-placed effort round the post.
As the visitors continued to push forwards, a half-volley from Nurse was deflected just wide by defender Tom Newey and Peter Gain glanced the resulting corner agonisingly past the post.
While the final whistle sealed Daggers fate and preserved Rotherham’s unbeaten home record, Still will know but for three costly lapses at the back, this was a game his side could well have won.
Daggers: Lewington, Ogogo, Doe, Walsh (Arber 46), McCrory, Bingham (Nurse 46), Lee, Gain, Tomlin, Scannell, Williams. Subs not used: Hogan, Rose, Woodall.
Attendance: 3,286 (including 118 away supporters).