Macauley Bonne’s first half finish saw Leyton Orient edge past Dagenham and Redbridge to book their place in the FA Cup first round.
With neither side able to find a winner in the fourth round of qualifying at Dagenham on Saturday, a replay was required at Brisbane Road with League One side Gillingham awaiting the winners in the first-round proper.
Steve Davis made two changes to the side who started at Victoria Road last weekend. Jamie Sendles-White missed out due to illness, and was replaced by Michael Clark in defence.
Meanwhile, Alex Lawless was serving a one-match suspension so Romuald Boco came into midfield. For the Daggers, manager John Still opted for the same starting eleven as the previous match.
It was a scrappy opening five minutes with the two National League outfits keen to establish a foothold in the game. Both lined up in a 3-5-2 formation, as they looked to utilise the wide areas whilst going man-to-man in midfield.
Orient began to knock the ball about with purpose. Craig Clay was looking to make things happen in the middle, with wing backs Jake Caprice and Myles Judd taking up advanced positions out wide. On 10 minutes, the pair combined but Judd couldn’t rise well enough to meet Caprice’s cross.
Despite a positive start from the hosts, Dagenham came closest to breaking the deadlock with a quarter of an hour played. Morgan Ferrier turned Clark in the area, creating space before seeing his shot deflected behind for a corner.
It was Orient who netted the opener on the 23rd minute much to the relief of the home supporters. Caprice made a bold run into space before finding David Mooney on the right, he picked out Bonne in the centre who cushioned the ball past Daggers keeper Mark Cousins from close range.
With half an hour played, the O’s had found that crucial goal and it was up to Dagenham to respond. Charlee Adams blazed a long-range effort over the bar for the visitors, before Orient’s James Dayton went to ground in the area only to see his penalty shout waved away by referee Alan Young.
Moments later, Dagenham’s Jake Howells could only bend his left-footed free kick wide of Orient keeper Charlie Grainger’s far post. The hosts then raced up the other end through the sprightly figure of Caprice who tested Cousins from range with a fierce low drive.
Ferrier came close again for the visitors, seeing his effort from a tight angle denied by Grainger. Orient were living dangerously at the back, Corey Whitely pounced on an awkward pass from Grainger before picking out Ferrier inside the box who fired his effort over the top.
It was a positive first half from the O’s who grew in confidence as the game progressed. They didn’t create too many clear-cut opportunities, yet Bonne took his goal extremely well when it mattered. Dagenham had good chances of their own, and would have felt disappointed not to have levelled the match before the break.
Dagenham made their first change of the night at half time, with Adams coming off for Fejiri Okenabirhie who almost made an immediate impact.
On the 51st minute, Ferrier burst down the right side before pulling the ball back to Okenabirhie who fizzed a right-footed shot just wide of the far post.
It was chances galore in the second half, with Boco delivering a deep cross which almost deceived Cousins who tipped the ball behind for a corner. Mooney was then booked for simulation after going down from a challenge from Cousins in the box.
Soon after, Craig Robson became the first Daggers’ player to be booked after a strong challenge on Mooney. From the resulting free kick, Dan Happe came agonisingly close to connecting with Dayton’s delivery to give Orient a cushion on their lead.
In search of a much-needed equaliser, Dagenham squandered two chances with twenty minutes to play. Robson stung the palms of Grainger with a powerful strike, before Okenabirhie flashed the ball across goal but nobody in a white shirt was there to add the vital touch.
In a nail-biting finale, five minutes of additional time were played in which Dagenham were denied an equaliser through a combination of excellent defending and goalkeeping from the O’s.
First, Grainger did brilliantly to deny Ferrier with a smart save down to his left. Then, substitute Michael Cheek’s powerful header was blocked before Clark prevented Okenabirhie from getting his shot away with a brilliant last-ditch tackle.
After a frantic finish, the final whistle sparked joyous celebrations amongst the Orient players and supporters, who can now look forward to their first-round tie at Gillingham on the weekend of November 4th.