Superior finishing provides cutting edge.
The Daggers faced an out of source Stones side who had come up short against relegation rivals Maidenhead earlier in the week. Therefore the visitors were strong favourites at The Gallagher Stadium, the home side weren't helped by some of The Daggers' key players committing their futures to the club; this saw the return of Connor Wilkinson most notably. It was the favourites who got the game underway at the second time of asking but Maidstone looked the better side early on. A great chance for the home side to take an early lead came as Powell struck a ball into the box that found Romain, who forced Justham to palm the ball off his crossbar conceding a corner. It was a slow start from Dagenham as they were again saved by Justham who got down well conceding another corner kick. This came about as a low cross found Taylor this time who turned the ball goal-wards.
After a quiet five minutes compared to the five previous The Daggers found themselves in front, rather out of the blue. It was Balanta who provided the cross for Nathan Smith who had to utilise his neck muscles in order to steer the ball past Ross! On his return to the side and just his second game for the club he had put Dagenham in front. That goal would hopefully improve Dagenham’s performance as up until that point they had created next to nothing. The Stones who had felt hard done by looked for an instant response as Josh Taylor led the charge for an equaliser. His delivery into the box saw Liam Gordon head the ball clear.
Up the other end Balanta won a free kick after being brought down by Walton but it came to nothing. The Columbian was at it again a short while after as his effort won a corner. That set piece found Nunn on the edge whose strike forced The Stones keeper into a routine save. Taylor still in search of an equaliser got another shot off in the last action of the half but his strike was a rather tame one. As the referee blew his whistle for half time The Stones would have seen the score line as an inaccurate reflection on the sides’ performances in the first half. The visitors on the other hand who were urged to get down the tunnel by Peter Taylor would have been pleased to find themselves in front however disappointed with their performance that saw them create little.
The hosts got the second 45 underway and had picked up where they left off with another attack. Former Dagger Romain beat Jamaican goal scorer Smith for pace but shot straight at Elliot Justham; The relegation strugglers were making the chances but just lacked confidence in front of goal. The hosts had to focus on defending their own goal though as well as attacking the other, the defensive part was at the forefront of The Stones’ minds for the next six minutes as Dagenham looked to double their lead. Firstly, Connor Wilkinson eyed up the top corner but the Irishman, who committed his long term future to The Daggers earlier in the week, saw his effort just dip over from 25 yards.
The away side continued as Munns released Gordon down the left hand side and the academy graduate put the ball into the box after a bursting run. However Maidstone blocked two efforts from inside the area as they hung on in there looking to salvage a point. In the opposition area just minutes later Jake Robinson was in a perfect position to chip the onrushing Justham but he couldn’t keep his effort down - it was a poor one in truth! Just moments after that chance he was replaced by trialist Philpot.
Another player nearly exited the field of play in an Amber shirt but for different reasons as Will De Havilland brought down Balanta in what looked a malicious challenge. After missing the Daggers No.10 at the first attempt he then swiped at his legs from behind again, this time bringing the attacker down. He received only a booking for his troubles as Dagenham players swarmed the referee and Angelo Balanta was the man who went down the tunnel due to his injuries and not De Havilland for his what was in my eyes dangerous foul play. The Stones man looked to equalise for his side just moments later as a clearance fell to him on a volley but unsurprisingly for a defender it rose miles over.
The Daggers defence were refusing to be beaten as they were blocking shots in their area all over the shop hanging onto their slender one goal lead. However it wasn't going to stay that way as a break away goal saw Wilkinson burst down the left and slot it into the far corner - the Irishman on his return was cool and composed sealing the win for Dagenham! The Stones had a mountain to climb and they looked to climb it imminently as Wishart's effort hit the joint in the woodwork. But it looked game over as Powell's dangerous looking ball over the top was collected by Elliot Justham.
It looked game over and The Daggers weren't finished there as Lamar Reynolds who came on for Balanta recreated Wilkinson's earlier effort breaking away and slotting it in the same corner past Ross. That had just rubbed salt into the wounds of The Stones players as well as fans who were heading to the exits jeered by chants of ' Is there a fire drill?!'. The ref soon after sounded his whistle signalling the end of an encounter that saw superior finishing provide the cutting edge for Dagenham who also defended ever so well.