National League: Dagenham & Redbridge 3 Chester 2
PUBLISHED: 17:01 24 February 2018 | UPDATED: 17:01 24 February 2018
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Dagenham & Redbridge struck twice in the final five minutes to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat against struggling Chester at Victoria Road.
Fejiri Okenabirhie gave the hosts an early lead, but they found themselves behind in the second half and staring at a sixth loss in seven.
Okenabirhie’s second goal squared matters, though, and Andy Halls headed into his own net to hand Daggers all three points.
John Still made two changes to his starting line-up from the midweek defeat at Dover, as Bondz N’Gala and Michael Cheek came in for Luke Pennell and Mason Bloomfield respectively.
And the hosts made a bright start, with Dan Sparkes beating the full back and flashing a ball across the face of the visiting goal in the third minute.
N’Gala deflected a low shot from Dominic Vose behind and there was a moment of panic from the corner, before Daggers were awarded a free-kick.
And the home side countered from a Chester corner through Okenabirhie, whose intended pass for Sparkes was put behind for a corner, from which Charlee Adams had a shot blocked.
The visitors countered through Matty Waters to win a corner of their own, as Jake Howells turned Vose’s cross behind, but nothing came of it.
But Daggers took the lead on 11 minutes when Matt Robinson teed up Okenabirhie just outside the box and he found the net via the post for his seventh goal of the campaign.
Okenabirhie ran on to Ben Nunn’s pass moments later to stand up a cross to the far post, which Sparkes headed wide at full stretch.
But it had been an encouraging opening 20 minutes for Daggers, with Robinson to the fore in central midfield, and he got a brief glimpse of goal from Cheek’s cutback, only to be crowded out in the box.
Still’s men had a let-off, though, when Waters twisted on the edge of the box and chipped Mark Cousins to hit the crossbar, before Okenabirhie whipped a ball to the edge of the six-yard box and saw Luke Howell stab it just wide.
Okenabirhie scuffed a left-footed shot wide on the half-hour mark, as Daggers continued to push for the second goal their dominance of the play deserved.
But they were pegged back instead when Gary Roberts played a good cross in from the right and Jordan Archer volleyed past Cousins from close range. And the equaliser gave Chester more belief, with Vose their go-to man for the most part on the left flank.
Sparkes sent another dangerous ball into the box from the Daggers left, but Okenabirhie could not profit, before a foul on Robinson gave the home side a free-kick chance which drifted beyond Craig Robson on 41 minutes.
Robinson flashed a drive wide from 20 yards soon after as the first half ended, frustratingly, level.
But Daggers were back on the front foot at the start of the second half and Sparkes saw a free kick evade Cheek, Robson and N’Gala, before Howell had a shot blocked from the resulting corner.
Chester captain Ryan Astles headed wide from a corner on 53 minutes, though, to serve as another warning for Still’s men and Waters sent a low drive at Cousins on the hour mark.
And the visitors took the lead on 62 minutes when Vose sent a low shot towards the bottom corner and Cousins pushed it out, with Waters reacting quickest to tuck home the loose ball.
Archer flashed a half volley wide when Hannah helped on a long kick from Sam Hornby and Still sent Chike Kandi on for Howell midway through the half to boost his attacking options with Daggers now chasing the game.
The hosts had a chance to level when a corner from the left was helped on by Cheek, but N’Gala spooned the ball over left-footed.
However, they were grateful for the poor touch of Archer as he ran on to a long ball into space vacated by N’Gala, but miscontrolled the ball and saw Cousins come off his line to smother.
Chester managed to scramble the ball clear when another Sparkes free-kick caused some panic in the box, while Kandi flashed a left-footed shot past a diving Hornby and the far post eight minutes from time.
But Cousins had to get down and smother another shot from the influential Vose as gaps began to appear at the back.
And Daggers were back on level terms when Robinson helped the ball on for Okenabirhie to flash a left-footed shot inside the far post, before the hosts snatched a winner moments later when another Robinson ball into the box was headed into his own net by Chester defender Halls.
Myles Anderson sent a header straight at Cousins from a late Chester corner, but then scythed down Okenabirhie to stop a Daggers counter in stoppage time and was shown a yellow card when some felt it might have been red.
Okenabirhie limped off to be replaced by Mason Bloomfield, earning a round of applause for his two-goal heroics, as Daggers celebrated their second win in seven matches.
Daggers: Cousins, Nunn, Robson, Robinson, Howell (Kandi 67), Adams, Okenabirhie (Bloomfield 90), Sparkes, N’Gala, Cheek, Howells.
Unused subs: Moore, Gordon, Bonds.
Referee: S Yianni.
Attendance: 1,254 (including 137 Chester fans).
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