Shots v Daggers MATCH REPORT
THEY say that a 2-0 lead in football is when you are at your most vulnerable, and that was proved in spades last night as Dagenham & Redbridge completed a marvellous come-from-behind victory at Aldershot Town.
COCA-COLA LEAGUE TWO
Aldershot 2 Dagenham & Redbridge 3
by MIKE SIMMONDS
THEY say that a 2-0 lead in football is when you are at your most vulnerable, and that was proved in spades last night as Dagenham & Redbridge completed a marvellous come-from-behind victory at Aldershot.
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When Scott Donnelly expertly half-volleyed the Shots into a two-goal lead with 51 minutes on the clock, there looked no way back for a Daggers side who had been well below their best.
But Paul Benson bundled home a free kick on 66 minutes, then the striker scored a wonderful solo effort moments later, before Josh Scott slid home a glorious team move in the dying stages sending the 105 visiting fans into raptures.
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What made the victory even more pleasing was it the first time this season that Daggers have won this season after conceding the first goal, a fact that won't be lost on manager John Still.
To be honest, not many in the ground could have seen such a result coming as the visitors, who included the fit-again Benson, moving Nurse to the left flank in place of Graeme Montgomery, were passed off the park in the opening half.
The Shots midfield duo of Oliver Bozanic and Donnelly were very pleasing on the eye, as the hosts switched the ball from side to side, always looking for an incisive ball forward.
Daggers were proving tenacious in the opening exchanges, but everytime they won possession, they were quick to gift it back to their hosts and allow them to build from the back.
Chances were few and far between until Tony Roberts had to palm away Bozanic's drive, but the Welsh keeper was beaten when Shots next attacked.
Donnelly looked up and played a delightful pass to Kirk Hudson, who took a touch and rifled home inside Roberts' near post.
Bar a few crosses and the odd corner, Daggers barely threatened keeper Stephen Henderson, who didn't exude the greatest confidence between the posts.
Benson tried to go it alone, but shot well wide, while home centre half Anthony Charles let fly from fully 40 yards, whistling a shot just off target with Roberts beaten.
After the break, it looked like more of the same as although Marlon Pack curled over, the second goal duly arrived as Hudson chested a cross back to Donnelly and he clinically finished from the edge of the area, volleying into the bottom corner.
Hudson then had a great chance to make it three when he burst clear and rode Roberts' challenge, but from his pull back, second half substitute Daniel Hylton dragged his effort wide.
Anthony Straker also had a header deflected clear, but from that moment, rather than seeing the game out, Shots went back into their shells, while referee Trevor Kettle decided to spend five minutes as Daggers' twelfth man.
It was from one of the needless free kicks he awarded in their favour that the visitors found a way back into the game too as Nurse took a tumble, Green whipped the ball in, Henderson flapped and the unmarked Benson prodded home.
Now Daggers were alive and six minutes later they were level with a goal made and finished by Benson.
The striker outmuscled Chris Blackburn just inside the Shots half, and then powered towards goal before cutting inside and beating Henderson with a low drive into the corner, before wheeling away to the away support.
Although there could be question marks about the goalkeeper, it was a supreme effort from Benson to net his 15th goal of the season.
Whereas the opening hour had been all Aldershot, the last 30 minutes belonged to Daggers and the introduction of Wesley Thomas on the right flank gave them a new lease of life.
Josh Scott came within inches of a third goal, measuring a volley just off target after Damien McCrory's header, but he wasn't to be denied with five minutes left.
The move was started by a wonderful long ball from Pack, picking out the run of Thomas on the wing and his excellent first time cross was slid home by Scott.
Not many in the ground could believe it, certainly not the Shots players, and their efforts at an equaliser proved futile as Daggers, with Scott Doe once again immense at the back, reignited their charge for the play-offs in thrilling fashion.
Daggers: Tony Roberts, Abu Ogogo, Damien McCrory, Mark Arber, Scott Doe, Danny Green (Wes Thomas 71), Marlon Pack, Peter Gain, Jon Nurse (Graeme Montgomery 66), Josh Scott, Paul Benson.
Subs not used: Chris Lewington, Anwar Uddin, Tommy Tejan-Sie, Darren Currie, Romain Vincelot.
Attendance: 2,053 (inc 105 away fans)
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