Rochdale left East London empty handed on Saturday after Dagenham and Redbridge came from a goal behind to record a 2-1 win over Dale at Victoria Road.
A stoppage time goal from Dagenham and Redbridge’s Medy Elito ensured victory for the Daggers.
Andrew Tutte had put Dale ahead on 72 minutes with a fine strike, however the lead was short-lived and John Still’s men responded within three minutes through Abu Ogogo who levelled the scoring. Elito delivered the sucker punch blow on 93 minutes.
Dale went into the encounter at Victoria Road looking to bounce back from last Saturday’s defeat at home to AFC Wimbledon, and Manager John Coleman made two changes for the trip. Matty Pearson replaced the suspended Joe Rafferty, while Brian Barry-Murphy made his first starting appearance since September as he was handed a place in the eleven ahead of Jason Kennedy who dropped to the bench.
The first chance of the match fell for the home-side on three minutes as they broke on the attack. Goalkeeper Chris Lewington sent the ball long, and as Kevin McIntyre attempted to flick the ball back into the Daggers' half, Brian Woodall picked up the stray header and ran through on one on with Josh Lillis. His on target shot lacked power and it was easily collected by the Rochdale stopper.
Three minutes later and Terry Gornell, who joined Dale on a permanent basis on Thursday, had his first effort on goal after getting on the end of a Bobby Grant free-kick. His turning shot, which looked headed for the target, was deflected wide of the upright without troubling the ‘keeper.
With both teams creating little in the final third it was very much a battle of the midfield which was won time and time again by skipper Peter Cavanagh and Brian Barry-Murphy. On 12 minutes, Cavangh did well to win the ball as Dagenham came forward from inside their own half, and after some great vision, he thread the ball through for Gornell who was unable to get a clean shot away as he was charged down by two markers who were quick to surround him.
Opportunities in front of goal were few and far between, however Woodall drew applause from the home fans as he attempted to find a break-through with an over-head kick inside the area on 22 minutes – the effort was comfortably saved by Lillis. Just 60 seconds later and up the other end, Bobby Grant came within a whisker of heading Dale into the lead from a Kevin McIntyre cross. However Grant was unable to make a connection with the ball and in the end it flew across the face of goal and out of play.
Grant was involved in the action again two minutes later, this time forcing ‘keeper Lewington into a fantastic save to deny him from a set-piece. The frontman rounded the wall with a free-kick from 25 yards but was kept out by the goalkeeper who got two strong hands behind the effort to send away for a corner.
Shortly after the half hour mark Grant tested Lewington again, this time from distance with another curling effort. The ‘keeper was on hand once again to keep Dale’s top goal scorer out as he acrobatically punched the effort up and over the bar.
As the half continued it was the Daggers who had the better of the opportunities and they should have done better from close range.
On 34 minutes the Dale defence appeared to stand still as Woodall found a way through towards the back post, but despite getting himself into a dangerous position, he smashed the ball over from just two yards out. And deep in stoppage time Scott Doe could only send his effort from six yards high over the bar.
This was the last opportunity of the half and the teams went into the interval tied at 0-0.
After the break it was Rochdale who looked the better of the two and looked the more dangerous, particularly in the final third.
On 55 minutes Phil Edwards’ header from inside the 18-yard box looked headed for the net, but as it was sent away, Grimes made sure the ball stayed with Dale inside the area and after controlling it impeccably, he sent a curling effort in on goal. Unfortunately for the 26-year-old, who was named as December’s Player of the Month on Friday, the shot went the wrong side of the upright.
Dale continued to apply the pressure and four minutes later Gornell sent a glancing header narrowly wide of the target.
On the hour mark Rochdale did find the back of the net through Grimes, however the goal was disallowed as the frontman was deemed to have been in an offside position.
Two minutes later, Dale had Lillis to thank for keeping the score level as he pulled a fine point black save to deny Medy Elito from close range. Elito was quick to follow up on the re-bound but he was again kept out by the ‘keeper who did well to smother the ball as the shot came in on goal.
Momentum continued with Dale and they finally found the break-through they deserved on 72 minutes. Gornell troubled Lewington with a snap shot from the edge of the area, drawing a save from the ‘keeper which only went as far as Grant on inside the area. He picked out Tutte who smashed the ball into the roof off the net to give deal a 1-0 lead.
The lead however was short-lived and the home-side responded inside three minutes to level the scoring - the Daggers’ Abu Ogogo found the back of the net from less than six yards.
Rochdale continued to go in search of a second but despite some neat football and link up play between Grant, Grimes and Gornell, the Dagenham defence stood strong and Dale were unable to find a way through.
In the closing minutes of the match it was the Daggers who applied the pressure and deep in injury time they netted the goal which would secure all three points. Ilesanmi played the ball into the box for Williams who left for Elitio and he slotted it home to ensure victory for the Daggers.
It finished Dagenham and Redbridge 2, Rochdale 1.