Ten-man Dagenham & Redbridge succumbed to last-gasp heartbreak as they went down 1-0 at home to Wrexham. In doing so, The Daggers suffered their second consecutive loss, in a game they dominated in large spells.
Dagenham started the game spiritedly, with defender Kevin Lokko meeting Sam Ling’s cross for the first chance of the game in just the fifth minute.
The East Londoners continued to dominate proceedings and had the ball in the net on the 24th minute. A fierce shot from Morgan Ferrier was pushed into the path of top goal-scorer Corey Whitely, with the winger slotting away, only to have his celebrations cut short by the raising of the flag.
Dagenham were reduced to 10-men just past the half-hour mark. A poor touch from Lokko went into the path of Wrexham midfielder, Mark Carrington. The Daggers’ defender dived in with his studs up, and Lokko was shown a straight red card.
However, the Daggers didn’t let up, as moments into the second half Whitely had a sensational opportunity to take the lead. Ferrier flashed the ball across the box, only for the 26-year-old Whitely to shoot straight at Wrexham keeper Chris Dunn.
Dagenham goalkeeper Mark Cousins kept his side in the game as he pulled off a string of saves to deny Wrexham the opening goal. Cousins’ most notable save came with 20 minutes to go as he denied Wrexham defender, Shaun Pearson, with a point-blank save from a header.
The Daggers keeper continued his rich vain of form with just over 10 minutes to go when Wrexham forward, Alex Reid, powered his header towards goal only to be denied by an excellent diving save.
A devastating counter attack from Dagenham in the 89th minute, saw substitute Mason Bloomfield sweep into the box, after neat work on the wing by Ferrier. The forward thought he had scored the winner only to be denied by the linesman’s flag, though replays showed the goal should have stood.
However, disaster struck in added time, when Dagenham defender Craig Robson diverted the ball into his own net after a scramble in the box saw the ball ricochet off him.
After the game, despite the defeat Dagenham Manager, John Still spoke of his joy at the performance.
He said: “I thought it was our best performance of the season, I thought we were outstanding. With 10 men, for over an hour, I thought we were the best team. We created the most chances and we had a goal disallowed for an offside that their manager (and players) said wasn’t offside.”
Still lamented his side’s poor luck with refereeing decisions, whilst praising the sides performances over the last few weeks.
“Over the last couple of games, at Woking, we were the victim of a poor decision and I thought today we were possibly the victims of that, but performance wise I thought we were first class.”
“We’ve had a little run where we haven’t done so great but we played well. We played ever so well in some games where it hasn’t gone well for us, but that is football and we played really well with 10-men. I thought the lads were fantastic.”
Still insisted that fatigue wasn’t a factor in the weekend’s performance, even though they played their third game in a week.
He said: “I think they scored from the only time they looked like scoring. An own-goal, so nothing you can do about that, that’s it, that’s football and you have to take that on the chin.
“So as far as I’m concerned we showed the strength of our team. And as I said I’m very proud of the team’s performance.”
‘Smash and Grab’
Wrexham Manager, Dean Keates said: “We’re delighted with the three points, it’s a tough place to come and we kind of smashed and grabbed here to be honest. The sending off can go one way or the other, if you score straight away it makes your life a whole lot easier, but I think it galvanised Dagenham more than it did us.
“We had a bit of luck today,” Keates continued, “we’ve had a little rub of the green today and obviously maybe they were a touch unfortunate with one of the offside goals that was given against them.”
When asked about the red card Keate’s had sympathy for the opposition and was quick to take positives:
“We’ve come on the end of it at Tranmere and it can galvanise you, as I said, I think it went more in their favour. Fair play to Dagenham players, I thought that they were outstanding once they went down to 10-men.
“But we’ll take the positives from it, we kept going and going and I think if you keep going you might get a little bit of luck and rub of the green and we got that in the end.”
Keates spoke in praise of his defence, their structure and just how proud he was of their performance.
“It’s definitely something we pride ourselves on. If you’re organised and disciplined and we know what we’re are doing, we’re working with a good structure. We knew coming down here would be tough and it was tough against 10, it would’ve been even tougher against 11.”
Next up for Dagenham are the league leaders Macclesfield at Victoria Park on Tuesday night at home. John Still will not be looking forward to the tough opposition on the back of a poor run of form that has seen the Daggers win only two of their last six games.