Dagenham 1-0 Town
By David Mitchell
Fleetwood Town battled in dreadful conditions only to be denied a share of the points by a 92nd minute penalty at Dagenham and Redbridge.
Sam Williams was brought down on the edge of the area by central defender, Youl Mawéné, and stepped up to place the ball to Scott Davies’s right. A crowd of 1618 braved the elements as Town went down to their first away defeat for three months.
Illness affected team selection ahead of the game with Curtis Obeng, Dean Howell and Alex Marrow unable to travel south to a wet Victoria Road in East London. Micky Mellon made four changes as Town defended an eight-match unbeaten record away from home. Shaun Beeley returned at right-back after illness while Alan Goodall took the left-back shirt for only his third league start of the season in place of Howell. Barry Nicholson’s performance in defeat on Tuesday earned a recall in midfield and Tom Barkhuizen returned up front.
The only change for the Daggers was a potentially important one as they look to move on without leading scorer, Dwight Gayle, on loan at Peterborough. Williams took the striker’s place.
The first act of intent came from Dagenham and Redbridge. Luke Howell picked the ball up in a central position and drilled a right foot shot wide of Scott Davies’s right-hand post after five minutes. Three minutes later Oluwafemi Ilesanmu went on a run from left back, his shot lacking conviction and failing to trouble Town’s defence.
Town started to show more fluency in the difficult conditions. Beeley got into the penalty area to force a corner as goalkeeper, Chris Lewington, bundled his shot wide and there was good interplay between David Ball and Nicholson just before the quarter hour which led to a teasing low cross from the latter which just eluded Junior Brown. In the 21st minute, Damien Johnson produced a good pass to give Ball a chance but the striker fired wide.
The Daggers came back into the game with opportunities for Luke Wilkinson and Medy Elito. Elito’s firm shot finished good build-up play after Goodall lost the ball near the centre circle. The closest to a goal came on 32 minutes. Jake Reed pounced on a defensive error to hit a shot which cannoned back off an upright, the follow-up attempt looping harmlessly over the crossbar. Three minutes later, a solid shot from Michael Spillane rammed into Davies’s chest. Town responded with Ball setting up Goodall but came under pressure again three minutes before the break when Mawéné delayed a clearance.
Town made a bright start to the second half, gaining successive corners. Brown was a livewire in midfield and had two attempts to break the deadlock. The first shot looped out for a corner after a deflection off Ilesanmi while the second was saved by Lewington to his right. Much of Town’s approach play was going through Barkhuizen down the right and one of these moves, just after the hour, almost created an opportunity for Ball, Lewington pouncing on a loose ball to the frustration of the former Peterborough striker.
Dagenham and Redbridge countered, substitute Brian Woodall flattening Goodall with a cross from the right after 67 minutes, his first contribution since replacing Reed. Ferguson and Barkhuizen combined well after 72 minutes, Lewington just getting to Barkhuizen’s through ball ahead of Ball.
The rain continued to drive down incessantly but Town kept up their work-rate on a pitch which was holding up well. Matt Saunders 77th minute corner flew dangerously across Town’s goal. Before the restart, Alex Titchiner replaced Ball, having been recalled from his loan spell at FC Halifax. Five minutes later, Brown picked him out with a cross from the left but Titchiner was unable to get a firm touch at the near
As the elements took their toll late in the game the experience of Barry Ferguson was proving influential in the midfield battle. Then came the dramatic conclusion with Davies and Ferguson being booked for their protests as Mawéné conceded a penalty for the second time in five days. Brown nearly got a header past Lewington at the death but it was not to be for Town and the protests continued after the final whistle.
TEAM: Davies, Beeley, McNulty (captain), Mawéné,Goodall, Nicholson, Johnson, Ferguson, Brown, Barkhuizen, Ball (Titchiner 77)
Booked: Davies, Ferguson