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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
15:00 25th January 2014
By  James Baldwin

The Iron saw a three-goal lead washed away as Dagenham & Redbridge staged a stunning fight-back in London.

It was a game briefly interrupted by a huge thunderstorm which forced the players off the pitch late on.

The hosts had seemed well set for victory courtesy of strikes from Sam Winnall, Deon Burton and Paul Hayes, but a stunning strike from Abu Agogo gave the hosts hope.

A further goal from substitute Chris Dickson further reduced the arrears, before a torrential downpour with just six minutes remaining and the score 2-3 forced referee Darren Bond to escort the teams back to the dressing rooms.

And it was the Daggers who profited most from the unexpected stoppage when Luke Norris capped a remarkable turnaround by netting an 89th minute leveller to rescue an unlikely point for the home side.

United boss Russ Wilcox continued his approach of tactical consistency; opting to make just one change from the side which played out a goalless draw against AFC Wimbledon at Glanford Park last Saturday as a
heavily-strapped Burton replaced the homecoming Hayes to make his 600th career league appearance.

The Daggers meanwhile were boosted by the continued presence of top-scorer Rhys Murphy in attack, with the former Arsenal academy product having turned down a move to League One promotion contenders Peterborough United earlier in the week.

Murphy formed part of home team which saw manager Wayne Burnett make two changes from the one which fell to a narrow 1-0 home defeat to promotion-chasing Fleetwood Town a fortnight ago, as Luke Wilkinson and Medy Elito came in for Scott Doe and Dominic Samuel.

After a cagey opening few minutes, it would be the visiting side who threatened first with four minutes gone as Sean McAllister determinedly carried the ball into the area before intelligently laying a back-heel into the path of David Syers. The ball eventually fell the way of Burton, but his first-time effort was deflected behind for a corner which the Iron failed to capitalise upon.

Three minutes later, United looked to be in again when Brian Saah was dispossessed on halfway by Winnall. The Iron striker stormed forward with the ball, only for Saah to display excellent athleticism to catch the former Wolves forward and atone for his error by clearing the danger.

Despite their goal coming under threat with relative regularity in the early stages, the Daggers were causing some problems of their own courtesy of the pace and guile of wing-men Elito and Zavon who helped earn a 10th minute corner. The set-piece was played short, allowing Hines to burst into the area before tumbling – with referee Darren Bond waving away his ambitious calls for a penalty.

With 18 minutes gone, the Iron made the first decisive attack of the match as Syers had the vision to release the advanced Eddie Nolan down the left flank. Nolan took the ball in his stride before slipping the ball across the area perfectly to find Winnall a yard ahead of his man to stroke home from close-range and put United ahead with his 14th of the campaign.

Having taken an important lead in the game, the away side looked to consolidate their position in the 25th minute with an attack down the right-wing, only for Terry Hawkridge to be crudely felled deep in home territory. From the resultant free-kick, delivered by Hawkridge, Niall Canavan rose highest to meet the ball with a firm header only to see Daggers goalkeeper Chris Lewington palm away with an acrobatic save.

Not long after, United once again sought to use the right flank as a means of attacking the Dagenham back-line – this time Ribeiro cutting inside before firing a left-footed effort at goal from the angle which called Lewington into action at his near-post.

The home side had spent the vast majority of game since going behind on the back-foot, but just after the half-hour mark could have levelled matters as Hines expertly spun his marker before firing a low cut-back across the six-yard-box. A number of Daggers players looked to attack the ball, but dogged defending from Canavan and David Mirfin saw United avert the danger at the expense of a corner which was dealt with comfortably by the visiting defence.

The Daggers continued to look for an equaliser as the game moved into the last five minutes before the break, with an increasingly forceful wind aiding their cause. However, they were unable to take advantage, and instead found themselves penned back as United closed out the half with most noteworthy action of the latter stages being Dagenham’s substitution of the injured Luke Howell in favour of Luke Norris.

The Iron began the second half in positive fashion, and on 48 minutes a cleverly-worked free-kick from deep by Hawkridge caused problems as Mirfin headed back across goal towards Canavan – who in turn diverted into the path of Syers only for the midfielder’s effort on the bounce to be charged down.

United were doing all the early running, but the Daggers had a rare sight of goal four minutes later when smart link-up play between captain Agogo and Lawson D’Ath culminated in the latter curling an effort well over from the edge of the area.

That minor scare prompted the away side to go on the offensive once again, and as the rain became torrential they doubled their lead from a Hawkridge corner from the right in the 56th minute. The delivery caused chaos in a packed six-yard-box, and after a goalmouth scramble Burton was on hand to fire home – although he sustained an injury for his efforts which saw him replaced by Dagenham-born Hayes soon after.

Hayes would need less than five minutes to make a telling impact on the game, picking up Winnall’s pass into space on 61 minutes before calmly slotting past Lewington into the bottom corner to increase the visitors’ advantage and seemingly seal the win.

Iron manager Russ Wilcox then responded by making his second substitution of the game with 63 minutes gone, introducing Michael Collins in place of Syers. The wind was both literally and metaphorically in the sails of United now, and they pushed forward with increasing fervour as they attempted to add gloss to an already emphatic score-line.

Having seemingly been dead and buried, the Daggers were then given a life-line out of next to nothing in the 67th minute as Ogogo picked up on the edge of the area before curling a sublime effort past a sprawling Sam Slocombe. That goal persuaded Dagenham boss Wayne Burnett to make his two final substitutions, bringing on Sean Shields and Chris Dickson in place of Murphy and Elito two minutes later.

Those changes almost paid immediate dividends when Hines – who had switched to the left – broke free of his marker before fizzing across the area to find Norris. The striker hit the ball on the run, but his side-footed shot skidded wide of Slocombe’s left-hand post much to the delight of the United fans behind the goal.

Despite that missed opportunity, the Daggers were visibly buoyed by the prospects of a revival, and began to exert serious and sustained pressure on the Iron goal. That pressure was to bear fruit on 76 minutes when substitute Chris Dickson won an aerial duel with Sean McAllister before racing forward and showing great composure to lash past Slocombe and reduce Dagenham’s deficit to one.

The hosts understandably had a spring in their step, but left themselves wide open to a counter just two minutes later as a frenetic spell of action saw Hayes burst through unchecked. The experienced front-man advanced on the ‘keeper, but Lewington spread himself to narrow the angle and deny a crucial fourth as thunder and lightning descended on the ground.

With less than 10 minutes remaining, the home side began to throw caution to the wind in search of a once improbable equaliser, and from the second of two corners make-shift striker Saah flung his head towards the ball only to see it bounce inches wide of the post. That scare prompted Russ Wilcox to bring Gary McSheffrey into the action in favour of Hawkridge with 7 minutes remaining and United desperately clinging on to victory.

The now rampant Hines forced yet another corner with six minutes remaining, but United dug deep to clear amid an apocalyptic storm which caused referee Bond to take the decision to haul the players off the pitch much to the frustration of everyone within the stadium.

After a brief interlude, the players took to the sodden field once more to complete what was left of the game to huge cheers from all quarters of the stadium as Bond re-started the game with a contested drop-ball in Iron territory.

The wind was now an even greater factor than ever, as the Daggers struggled to make progress up-field as nature contrived against them. However, they would need just one opportunity to bring themselves level from 3-0 down as substitute Norris collected a Gavin Hoyte cross deep in the area on 87 minutes before doing just enough to force the ball over the line and complete a remarkable Dagenham fight-back.

That left the game poised perfectly going into an extended period of five minutes added time, as both teams looked to find the odd goal in seven to settle the contest in their favour. The home side came close to landing the decisive punch in the first of those minutes, when a free-kick was desperately cleared away by United under intense pressure from Dickson at the back-post.

The Iron would then have their own chance to steal the win when a back-post from Dagenham stopped dead in the area causing panic with Winnall and Lewington entering a manic foot-race with the Dagenham number one doing just enough to deny the opening goal-scorer a clear shot at goal.

With barely seconds remaining, each time continued to attack with carefree abandon in a pulsating finish which did justice to an enthralling game, but neither could do enough to separate the sides as referee Bond called a permanent end to proceedings with the scores level.

The result sees United stretch their unbeaten run to eleven games and maintain their place at the top of the league despite the late disappointment, with the Iron fans rightly applauding both United and Dagenham off the pitch for their collective efforts in a remarkable game.

TEAM LINE-UPS;
Dagenham & Redbridge:
Lewington; Wilkinson, Connors, Howell (Norris, 45), Hoyte; Elito (Dickson, 69), D’Ath, Agogo (capt.), Saah; Hines, Murphy (Shields, 69).
Substitutes not used: Seabright, Ilesanmi, Doe, Bingham.

Scunthorpe United: Slocombe (capt.); Nolan, Mirfin, Canavan, Ribeiro; Williams, McAllister, Syers (Collins, 63), Hawkridge (McSheffrey, 83); Burton (Hayes, 59), Winnall.
Substitutes not used: Severn, Waterfall, Adelakun, Madden.

Referee: Darren Bond (Lancashire).

Attendance: 2,037 (537 away).

    QUICK FACTS

    For the first 50 years of their existence, England played their home matches all around the country.