Tranmere Rovers 0 Dagenham & Redbridge 2: Daggers secure vital away win at title rivals Rovers
PUBLISHED: 16:57 28 January 2017 | UPDATED: 08:30 30 January 2017
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National League: Tranmere Rovers 0 Dagenham & Redbridge 2 (Whitely 24, Hawkins 47)
Dagenham & Redbridge earned a third straight win in the National League with a professional display away to title rivals Tranmere Rovers.
A first half lacking in chances saw Daggers take the lead through a cross-cum-shot by Corey Whitely – their only effort on target in the opening period.
The second half arguably got off to the perfect start when Oliver Hawkins netted a second early on, and from there it was about being professional in seeing the game out.
Daggers made three changes for the trip to Prenton Park, with Jordan Maguire-Drew dropping to the bench and both Josh Staunton and Sam Ling dropping out altogether.
In their place came Jake Sheppard at right-back for a debut after joining on loan from Reading; Andre Boucaud after international duty with Trinidad & Tobago and Whitely after a hamstring injury.
Skipper Scott Doe was expected to start after serving a two-game ban, but could only make the bench, where he was joined by the fit-again Luke Howell.
After a fairly cagey opening 12 minutes, Daggers were lucky not to fall behind when Andy Mangan found the net from close range, only for the linesman to rule the strike out for offside.
Two minutes later, the Essex club broke swiftly down the left flank, with Luke Guttridge crossing into the middle of the box.
The ball found striker Oliver Hawkins almost on the penalty spot, but his half-volley with his weaker left foot went narrowly wide of the left upright.
In the 25th minute, though, Daggers found the breakthrough after a period of pressure down the right.
A series of quick passes eventually saw the ball reach Whitely on the right edge of the penalty box.
The former Enfield Town man chipped the ball into the area, but his cross sailed all the way in and past a bamboozled Scott Davies to give the Victoria Road outfit the lead.
With six minutes left in the half, the Essex club nearly allowed Rovers to level after a series of poor decisions in defence.
The move initially started with a free-kick into the opposition area by Daggers which was poorly controlled by Whitely, who was robbed by Cook who broke forward.
Joe Widdowson looked to have beaten Cook to the ball near to the Daggers area, only to be bundled off it by the burly front man.
The Daggers left-back managed to redeem himself by winning the ball back, only to lose it again.
The ball then somehow found it’s way to Boucaud, whose attempt at a clearance was poor, allowing Cook possession once more.
The Tranmere forward then passed to James Wallace, whose tame shot was pushed around the post by keeper Elliot Justham for a corner that was dealt with.
That proved to be the last real attack of the half for either side as Daggers took a priceless lead into the break.
Within two minutes of the restart, Daggers doubled their lead after superb forward play from Hawkins.
The forward controlled a long punt forward from Frankie Raymond before turning Steve McNulty and running at Michael Ihiekwe.
Once he was in a central position around 18 yards out, Hawkins let fly and found the corner of the net beyond the reach of Davies.
Seven minutes later, Hawkins was close to a second goal, but his header from a Guttridge corner was nodded off the line by Rovers skipper Steve Jennings.
Tranmere, though, were coming back into the game, creating a succession of chances.
Jeff Hughes perhaps came closest in the 66th minute, but his long range effort was straight at Justham, who gathered comfortably.
A long ball over the top in the 76th minute looked to have put Tranmere substitute James Norwood through on goal, but good pressure from Craig Robson saw a tame shot easily saved by Justham.
The pressure continued to come, with Justham somehow keeping out a McNulty header from a corner in the 87th minute.
With second left, Hawkins had a chance to seal the victory after the ball broke to him in the box, but fired agonisingly wide of the upright.
Thankfully, though, it proved inconsequential as Daggers secured a vital win and will chase a fourth straight win, and clean sheet, at home to Chester next Saturday.
Tranmere (4-1-2-1-2): Davies; Vaughan, McNulty, Ihiekwe, Ridehalgh; Jennings (Norwood 60); Hughes, Wallace; Kirby (Tollitt 46); Cook, Mangan (Stockton 82)
Subs: Turner, Maynard
Daggers (4-2-3-1): Justham; Sheppard (Doe 90+4), Robson, Donnellan, Widdowson; Boucaud, Raymond; Whitely (Howell 70), Guttridge, Okenabirhie (Maguire-Drew 83); Hawkins
Subs: Cousins, Benson
Referee: Anthony Backhouse
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