Wilkinson at the double as Daggers down Hawks
- Credit: Paul Dennis/TGS Photo
Vanarama National League: Dagenham & Redbridge 3 (Wilkinson 7, 50, Balanta 75) Havant & Waterlooville 1 (Ayunga 85)
A Conor Wilkinson brace fired Dagenham & Redbridge to a 3-1 success at home to Havant & Waterlooville in the Vanarama National League.
Daggers made a bright start to proceedings, with Conor Wilkinson firing them ahead inside the opening 10 minutes.
Wilkinson and Balanta then netted in the second period to put the home team further ahead, before the Hawks scored a late consolation goal.
Daggers boss Peter Taylor again opted to name an unchanged starting XI following Saturday’s victory at Bromley.
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That mean Kenny Clark, who moved to Victoria Road from divisional rivals Ebbsfleet United on Monday, had to make do with a space on the bench.
Taylor’s men were quick out of the blocks, with Alex McQueen flashing a shot with the outside of his boot just over the bar in the fourth minute.
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Daggers were able to make good on their bright start, though, as Wilkinson fired them ahead four minutes later.
McQueen took a short corner on the right, passing to Wilkinson who looked to have plenty to do.
However, the attacker waltzed past three visiting defenders, before firing into the net from a title angle for his third goal in as many games since joining on loan from Gillingham.
Though looking comfortable early, the Victoria Road were tested for the first time in the 12th minute when Harry Phipps cheaply gave possession away inside the home half.
Havant broke, but a smart save from Daggers stopper Elliot Justham prevented Jordan Ayunga from levelling the score.
That seemed to spur the Essex club back into life and they should have doubled their lead two minutes later, but Wilkinson headed a Matt Robinson cross straight at visiting stopper Ben Dudzinski.
Taylor’s men were nearly the beneficiaries of a huge slice of luck when, under pressure from Angelo Balanta, Dudzinski smacked a clearance against colleague Tyler Cordner.
The visitors, though, were able to spare their blushes before Balanta could get to the ball and subsequently cleared their lines.
Daggers themselves had something of a scare in the 24th minute when a free-kick into the box led to confusion in the home defence, before Manny Onariase cleared for a corner that came to nothing.
With 17 minutes left in the half, Balanta robbed Cordner of possession on the edge of the 18-yard box, leaving him one-on-one with Dudzinski.
Sadly, the former Boreham Wood man could not make the most of his chance and eventually got a tame shot away that the stopper comfortably saved.
Wilkinson went close again to a second in the 40th minute after a something resembling a goalmouth scramble in the area, but saw his effort cleared off the line.
That meant Taylor’s men led by just one at the break, despite having the majority of the chances.
Daggers began the second half like they did the opening period – on the front foot and taking the game to the visitors.
Balanta was presented with another great chance for his first home goal in the 48th minute, but saw his effort from 10 yards blocked by Dudzinski.
Lees than a minute later, the Essex club did finally have their second goal through Wilkinson.
The striker let fly with a powerful effort from the edge of the area which squirmed under the Havant stopper and into the net.
Despite Daggers’ doubling their advantage, a series of corners in the 60th minute gave the Hawks a chance to claw one back, but the pressure ended when Cordner headed one set-piece wide.
After already scoring twice, Wilkinson almost turned provider five minutes later when showing good strength to tee up Ben Goodliffe in the area, but the defender skewed his effort wide.
The Victoria Road outfit further shored up their lead 15 minutes from time when Balanta finally netted.
The ex-Boreham Wood man picked up the ball close to the halfway line and was practically waved through by the Havant defence, before firing past Dudzinski from inside the area.
There was a moment of disappointment for the Essex club in the 85th minute when a long punt from Dudzinski was flicked on by substitute Nicke Kabamba, with Ayunga dinking over the onrushing Justham.
That proved to be just a consolation for the visitors, though, as Daggers saw the game out without too much fuss.
The task for the Essex club now is to make it four league wins in a row when they visit Hartlepool United on Saturday.
Daggers (4-2-3-1): Justham; Nunn (Clark 67), Onariase, Goodliffe, Pennell; Robinson, Phipps; McQueen, Balanta, Munns (Harfield 82); Wilkinson (Kandi 70).
Subs: Moore (GK), Adeloye.
Havant (4-4-2): Dudzinski; Strugnell, Woodford, Cordner, Williams (Tarbuck 6); Leeflang (Cosgrave 46), Stock, Robinson (Kabamba 76), Bradley; Ayunga, Rutherford.
Subs: Huggins, Sekajja.
Referee: Josh Smith.
Attendance: 1,054 (including 50 Havant fans).