Woodall leaves it late to extend Daggers unbeaten run
Southend United 1 Dagenham & Redbridge 1
At times it was excruciating viewing, but Brian Woodall’s late goal earned Dagenham & Redbridge a richly deserved point from their Bank Holiday trip to the seaside.
Backed by their largest travelling support of the season, Daggers dominated for the vast majority of the match, but looked likely to make the trip back down the A127 empty-handed, until Woodall struck three minutes from time.
There were signs in the first half that it may not be the visitors’ day, as despite creating a number of promising opportunities it was Southend who led at the interval.
Jon Nurse and Cristian Montano both headed wide, after excellent team moves.
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But the promotion-chasing Shrimpers began to exert their authority later in the half when Ryan Leonard rattled the crossbar with 30 yard free-kick and on 37 minutes they went ahead.
Leonard’s cross from the right was cleared by Michael Spillane, but Michael Timlin was well placed to volley in spectacularly from 20 yards.
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Before the interval Montano volleyed wide on the turn and Brian Woodall’s close range shot was blocked by defender Mark Phillips.
Daggers sensed they could trouble the Southend defence in the second half and their superiority had the home supporters on edge.
Ten minutes into the second period Chris Barker, under pressure from Woodall, conceded possession.
The former Gresley forward raced clear, but chose to square to Nurse for a tap-in rather than shoot himself, which allowed Phillips to block and spare his fellow central defender’s blushes.
The final 20 minutes saw Daggers lay siege to the Southend goal, with the majestic Dominic Green creating countless opportunities from the centre of midfield.
Nurse had two headers saved by Luke Daniels, Montano saw three efforts creep agonisingly wide, while substitute Exodus Geohaghon had a header blocked on the line by right-back Sean Clohessy.
As the clock ticked down Southend desperately clung on, until Woodall latched onto Billy Bingham’s defence splitting pass and fired low past Daniels from just inside the box to level on 87 minutes.
Surprisingly it was the home side that had the best chance to win the game, deep into stoppage time.
Geohaghon inexplicably conceded possession in his own half to Kane Ferdinand, who sent Anthony Grant through on goal.
But as the central midfielder looked to be one-on-one with Lewington, left-back Femi Ilesanmi produced a perfectly timed challenge to preserve the point.
This performance did more than just extend an unbeaten run to four league games, but showed that Daggers can impose themselves on anyone in the division.
After relegation from League One and a club record run of consecutive defeats in League Two, Daggers may be glad to see the back of 2011.
But 2012 looks full of promise.
Daggers: Lewington, Rose, Doe, Spillane, Ilesanmi, Montano, Maher (Geohaghon 23), Bingham, Dominic Green, Nurse, Woodall. Unused subs: Hogan, Elito, Danny Green, Cunnington.
Attendance: 7,564 (including 765 away supporters).