Alex Bonner was at St James’ Park for a thrilling contest between Exeter and Dagenham and Redbridge:
Exeter City scored a last ditch equaliser in the 94th minute, with the score ending 2-2, to gain a much needed point against Dagenham and Redbridge. The game was played on a surface that was particularly lifeless, following a tough winter.
Exeter put in a spirited performance, with a draw a well deserved result for the Grecians. The result leaves Exeter six points clear of the relegation spots in 21st place, while the Daggers lie in 15th.
City started proceedings in positive fashion, with Tom Nichols latching upon a well directed cross, to only then scuff his volley. Exeter utilised the long ball well in the opening ten minutes, which certainly heaped pressure onto the Daggers back line.
Exeter’s David Wheeler patrolled the right wing well early on, which made it difficult for the Dagenham wing backs to deliver any early crosses. The opening ten minutes of play were certainly dominated by Exeter; however Dagenham, in the next phase of the first half, began to assert themselves. Exeter were lucky to have a dubious offside decision given in their favour, as Dagenham’s Azeez would have had a clear opportunity on goal otherwise.
With Dagenham controlling proceedings, City’s defence played well to keep the scores level in the first twenty five minutes of play. Exeter pressed well to keep Dagenham playing in their own half, meaning chances were in their infancy during this stage of proceedings.
An ambitious pass by Dagenham’s Ilesanmi saw Azeez on goal, but the resultant shot was poorly executed. Dagenham’s lack of clinical finishing gave City some additional belief; Exeter’s Matt Oakley continued to deliver some dangerous crosses into Dagenham’s penalty box, but neither Nichols nor Wheeler were in a position to capitalise.
Dagenham’s Luke Norris came incredibly close to giving his side the lead when his long range shot hit City’s outside post. Despite this apparent momentum shift, the home side edged the first half, and took the lead when Tom Nichols converted Matt Grimes’ scuffed shot.
The opening phases of the second half left much to be desired for both teams; both City and Dagenham failed to pass the ball with any conviction, meaning there was little to witness in terms of chances. Despite this, Exeter’s stand out player, Tom Nichols, continued to cause Dagenham’s defence problems.
City looked the livelier of the two during this phase, but Dagenham’s defence continued to frustrate Exeter. The Daggers, receiving ardent support from the Dagenham faithful located in the away end, managed to level proceedings. Luke Norris curled in a fine effort against the run of play, to make the score 1-1, and leave everything to play for.
This goal seemed to liven up proceedings, as both teams now attempted to gain the win and the all important three points. Another chance again fell to Exeter’s Tom Nichols; however some excellent defending from Dagenham’s Abu Ogogo prevented Nichols from shooting on goal.
Exeter continued to probe, however Dagenham’s deep line continued to restrict City to passes within the middle of the pitch, meaning chances were in limited abundance. A free kick from Dagenham saw a golden opportunity fall for Norris, however a lack of composure saw his shot sail over the crossbar, and into the stands. This was greeted with a rapturous applause from the Exeter faithful.
The game’s final phases gave witness to the most controversial decision of the match. A dubious penalty was awarded to Dagenham following a Danny Coles foul. Medy Elito took the penalty with extreme precision, to propel Dagenham into a late 2-1 lead.
With the crowd and players looking visibly deflated, the choice of the officials to award five minutes of injury time seemed to inject some much needed belief into both the players, and fans. The Grecians salvaged a point, on the 94th minute, when Richards bundled home from close range.
On the balance of play, a draw was no less than Exeter merited, and the equalising goal saved City the disappointment of defeat at the Park.bookmark me