Hemmings the star at Victoria Road as Daggers earn crucial home win
17:03 31 January 2015
Dave Simpson/TGSPHOTO c/o 27 Plaiters Way, Braintree, Essex, CM7 3LR - Editorial Use ONLY - FA Premier League and Football Leagu
Sky Bet League Two: Dagenham & Redbridge 3 Cheltenham Town 1
Dagenham & Redbridge delivered a second half performance to be proud of at Victoria Road as they defeated Cheltenham Town to earn a crucial three points in their battle to beat relegation.
Jamie Cureton fired them ahead after his penalty had been saved before the visitors responded.
But man of the match Ashley Hemmings ensured this would be a happy Daggers Against Racism Day as he fired home in the 71st minute.
A third goal followed for Wayne Burnett’s team as substitute Alex Jakubiak put the game to bed with a terrific goal that moves them up to 19th in the table.
Daggers were unchanged from their mid-week draw with Cambridge United and picked the exact same bench – a clear sign they are looking for consistency.
It meant Zavon Hines again wasn’t included and Jack Connors missed out, despite the latter being fit.
Cheltenham started the match and conditions were not the greatest with sleet present from the off and that contributed towards the scrapping opening.
The first effort of note didn’t come until the 11th minute when Damian Batt lost the ball just inside his own half.
Zack Kotwica pinched the ball and dribbled at the Daggers back four before passing to Jack Dunn. However, his shot was weak and Ayo Obileye came across to block.
Two minutes later and the home team had a terrific opportunity to open the scoring when Cureton displayed great movement to get away from Lloyd Jones and Matt Taylor.
Hemmings picked him out with an excellent through ball, but the experienced forward could only slot just wide from inside the area.
Burnett’s team continued to impress and Luke Howell had an excellent effort with 20 minutes gone when he controlled Hemmings pass in space.
Widdowson has picked up the ball and played into Hemmings, who found Howell. But his strike was deflected wide and Daggers couldn’t make the most of the resulting corner.
The one-time Cheltenham ace, Hemmings, was having an excellent match and delivered another searching ball into the box minutes later, which Braham-Barrett put behind for a corner.
Home supporters in the TGS felt the Robins defender had handled the ball to put it behind, but only a corner was awarded.
Prior to that incident Kotwica, Robins best player in the first half, fired wide from outside the area as he continued to impress.
Daggers had the ball in the net just past the half hour mark when Cureton and Rhys Murphy linked up wonderfully.
They played a one-two on the edge of the box and Murphy fired past Trevor Carson from an acute angle on the left. But it was ruled out for offside.
A minute later and Cheltenham nearly took the lead when Jake Gray latched onto a loose ball and dribbled past Obileye and Scott Doe.
Just as Gray was about to pull the trigger Batt came across to brilliantly block and ensure Mark Cousins wasn’t called upon.
Daggers were dealt a blow in the 35th minute when Murphy was forced off after apparently holding his groin.
Jakubiak replaced the forward, who spent the majority of 2014 out with a groin problem, and partnered Cureton up top.
Despite that setback Hemmings continued to shine at Victoria Road and got a shot off after linking up with Cureton. The winger’s effort deflected wide, though.
Hemmings was involved once more before half time, but fired widely over the bar and it was goalless at the break.
Robins came out and started the second period brightly with Joe Hanks forced Cousins to easily save his curled free kick in the 50th minute.
Burnett’s team hadn’t made the best start after the break, but were given a chance to take the lead in the 54th minute when Andre Boucaud won a penalty.
Howell came more central and passed into Boucaud, he didn’t control the ball properly, but Craig Braham-Barrett swiped to clear the ball and connected with the Daggers man instead to give the hosts a spot-kick.
Cureton, who hadn’t found the net for seven matches since November 29, stepped up and had his penalty brilliantly saved by Carson.
But the forward was first to the rebound and fired into the corner to delight the home faithful and give his team a precious lead.
The lead only lasted eight minutes, though, as Cheltenham earned a spot-kick of their own in the 61st minute.
Kane Ferdinand neatly found Dunn’s brilliant run and Cousins came out and appeared to push the ball away from the Robins forward.
But referee Graham Horwood felt the Daggers keeper got the man and not the ball and the visitors had a chance to equalise.
Dunn duly delivered as he sent Cousins the wrong way to make it level again at Victoria Road with 28 minutes remaining.
The home team needed to respond and they did through Hemmings as he scored a glorious goal to put them ahead for the second time in the match.
He picked up the ball and drove at the Cheltenham defence, he cut inside Jones and went back on the outside completely fooling the right-back before smashing into the net to delight the home faithful.
It was a terrific strike and Hemmings fifth overall for the club and second in a week following his header at Cambridge.
Daggers were ahead again and with 19 minutes remaining they would have liked to hold onto the advantage this time.
Hemmings wasn’t finished there, though, and nearly scored another stunner 10 minutes from time when he smashed an effort from 25-yards, but Carson tipped over.
Billy Bingham’s resulting corner kick was flicked wide by Scott Doe as they looked to get a third to ensure the points.
Burnett’s team, despite entering the later stages of the game, were showing an air of confidence and pushing to get the third.
Widdowson could have got it in the 88th minute, but after Howell had beat two players and found the left-back. He fired over the bar.
Obileye then made a crucial tackle a minute before time after Kotwica looked to have picked out Hanks. But the Charlton Athletic loanee superbly halted Hanks.
Daggers again came back positively, looking to score the third and Hemmings nearly got his second when Jakubiak passed into his path. His low strike deflected just wide, though.
Four minutes had been added on by this point, but Burnett’s team weren’t showing signs of nerves and looked composed.
That positivity was reward in the third minute of stoppage time as Jakubiak twisted and turned inside the box before lashing home Daggers third.
It was another excellent goal and it sealed the three points for Burnett’s team and a thoroughly deserved win for the hosts.
Dagenham & Redbridge: Cousins, Batt, Doe, Obileye, Widdowson, Howell, Bingham, Boucaud, Hemmings, Murphy (Jakubiak 35), Cureton (Ogogo 90).
Unused substitutes: O’Brien, Saah, Chambers, Labadie, Jones.
Cheltenham Town: Carson, Braham-Barrett, Taylor, Ferdinand, Richards (Sterling-James 78), Hanks, Kotwica, Gray, Dunn (Williams 84), Jones.
Unused substitutes: Reynolds, Vaughan, Gornell, Deaman, Berry.
Attendance: 2696 (208 Cheltenham supporters)