Aldershot Town 3 Dagenham & Redbridge 1: Daggers suffer huge blow in push for National League play-off place as Shots close in
PUBLISHED: 21:38 21 March 2017
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National League: Aldershot Town 3 (Fenelon 17, Mensah 38, McClure 81) Dagenham & Redbridge 1 (Doe 57)
Dagenham & Redbridge’s place in the National League play-offs looks under huge pressure following a 3-1 loss away to promotionrivals Aldershot Town.
An utterly dreadful first half saw Daggers concede twice, but in truth they were fortunate not to let in more.
Daggers were given hope of a comeback with a goal early in the second half, but that was extinguished by a third Shots goal in the final 10 minutes.
It means Daggers are now only in the play-off places by two points, having looked like title contenders as recently as mid-February.
Following Saturday’s loss at Barrow, Daggers made one change with Frankie Raymond replacing Andre Boucaud, who is on international duty with Trinidad & Tobago.
There was also a recall to the matchday squad for Luke Howell following a knee injury, with the midfielder taking his place on the bench.
Daggers were given a further boost before kick-off with Luke Guttridge, Matt Robinson and Sam Ling put through their paces by fitness coach Dave Richardson.
Though the trio missed out on selection at the Recreation Ground, it should hopefully mean they are back in contention in the near future.
With a touch over two minutes on the clock, Daggers were fortunate not to concede an early goal when Idris Kanu nodded wide from a matter of yards after a cross from Bernard Mensah.
Three minutes later, the Essex club had another let off when Shots forward Scott Rendell found the net, only for the goal to be ruled out for offside after a period of deliberation.
Daggers were looking second best early on, with Jordan Maguire-Drew allowing Aldershot full-back Cheye Alexander to cut inside and fizz a shot past the left post in the ninth minute.
The Victoria Road outfit were finally beaten in the 17th minute, with Mensah involved again down the left.
The winger crossed the ball for Shamir Fenelon who beat Shaun Donnellan to the ball and turned it past Elliot Justham from close range.
With eight minutes left in the half, Daggers fell further behind when Mensah himself got on the scoresheet.
Shots left-back Nick Arnold delivered a well-weighted cross from the left, which was met at the back post by Mensah, who coolly slotted past Daggers stopper Justham.
It took Daggers until the 43rd minute to fashion their first real chance of note, when skipper Scott Doe glanced a Corey Whitely corner into the side netting.
In all honesty, though, it seemed something of a relief when the referee blew for half time with Daggers somehow only two goals behind at the break.
Within two minutes of the restart, though, Daggers were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position for a foul on Elliott Romain, who replaced Jordan Maguire-Drew at the break.
Raymond took the set piece, recording Daggers’ first shot on target and drawing a save from Shots stopper Jake Cole before it was cleared for a corner.
After a spot of ping-pong following that set piece, skipper Scott Doe fired a half volley over the bar from the edge of the area as Daggers’ best sequence of the game came to nothing.
Doe did find the net in the 57th minute, though, as the Essex club pulled one back somewhat against the run of play.
After winning a corner, the set piece was cleared as far as Okenabirhie on the edge of the area, who let fly.
However, his effort was scuffed and after taking a nick off an Aldershot defender, was headed into the net by the Daggers skipper.
Daggers were unable to kick on and find a second, though, and paid the price with nine minutes remaining.
Former Daggers forward Matt McClure had come off the bench for the Shots 10 minutes prior, but wasted little time in curling past Justham from distance.
It was a goal that ended Daggers hopes of finding a route back into the match and consigned the Victoria Road outfit to a fifth loss in their last seven games.
Daggers could have conceded a fourth with four minutes to go, but Justham got across his goal well to keep out a Nick Arnold free kick.
Thankfully there was no further damage to the goal difference column, but Daggers will head into what is now a vital clash at home to York City on Saturday bereft of confidence.
Aldershot (4-2-3-1): Cole; Alexander (Straker 78), Evans, Reynolds, Arnold; Gallagher, Benyu; Fenelon, Mensah (McClure 71), Kanu (Giles 85); Rendell
Subs: Buckley, Smith
Daggers (4-2-3-1): Justham; Sheppard, Doe, Donnellan, Widdowson; Robson, Raymond; Maguire-Drew (Romain 46), Whitely, Okenabirhie (Howell 71); Hawkins (Benson 71)
Subs: Cousins, Staunton
Referee: Adrian Quelch
Attendance: 2,113 (including 109 Daggers fans)
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