Adeloye fires Daggers to safety
The Daggers got the game underway at the Kuflink Stadium knowing a win for them and a defeat for Havant would see them secure safety and The Hawks relegated. With that in mind Harfield instantly put Ebbsfleet under pressure with some exceptional pace down the Daggers' left-hand side. Despite good play down the right from the Fleet they were unable to break the Daggers' back-line. The Daggers’ number 26 continued to cause serious problems for Ebbsfleet on the counter, doing really well to get the Daggers up the pitch relieving any possible pressure on the back line.
Nathan Smith looked to aid the Dagenham attack as he crossed from deep for Balanta, who himself got a volleyed effort on target to test Ashmore for the first time in the match. After Smith did well in the other half of the pitch to beat ex Dagger Cheek to the ball and clear it, the resulting corner saw the ball cleared off the line. After goalmouth action up Dagenham’s end, Adeloye looked to go one better and find the net up the other and he did after doing wonderfully to cut inside from the left flank and score a brilliant solo effort!
With the visitors 1-0 up they refused to take their foot off the gas as really good play down the right from Dagenham aimed to get them in behind. Though they couldn’t quite get in behind they did begin to dictate the play with Matt Robinson at the heart of it, dictating the pace and tempo of the game. Dagenham’s number 19 Tomi Adeloye was at it again but this time he saw his header land agonisingly wide of the Fleet's left post, as he looked to push his side ever closer to safety with just three games remaining. The Daggers played excellently on the counter-attack, but you felt with the Kent side’s attacking capabilities they needed to capitalise on the chances they had. Successive shots from a fans favourite, who has had little game time of late, Tomi Adeloye in the box, saw a powerful strike sting Ashmore's palms late in the half and force the Fleet number 1 to make a diving save.
Ashmore’s opposite number Elliot Justham was called into action in additional time of the half doing excellently yet again, commanding his area with authority to claim the ball and ease the pressure. As Declan Bourne signalled the end of the half, home fans were less than impressed with their side’s first half that consisted of minimal chances. On the other hand, the travelling fans would have been hoping for more of the same in the second half in order to possibly secure safety.
The Fleet restarted the match in similar fashion to how the first 45 ended with a couple of chances, as they won an early corner. Danny Kedwell, a key man for the Kent side this season was introduced to the game as well making a huge difference with his presence up front - this would now prove a big test for the Visitors’ back line. The Daggers were unable to pick up the tempo they had sustained in the first half therefore not controlling the play as their attempts at goal now became half hearted.
A positive however for the side in front was Doug Loft who began to take care of matters in the middle of the park, winning key challenges. The away side now looking to defend their lead as oppose to add to it were under the cosh, with Justham just beating Kedwell to a ball that would have seen the striker put his side on level terms. Peter Taylor, with his side still in front, on the 67th minute made his first change in personnel with the goal scorer Tomi Adeloye being replaced by Top Scorer Wilkinson. The introduction of the Irishman brought a new found hope as The Daggers now looked to gain a two goal cushion.
Firstly a fast well worked counter attack won a corner, which was cleared at the last second by the Fleet. Then minutes later substitute Conor Wilkinson got on the end of a cross from Smith but Nathan Ashmore proved his worth tipping the ball over the bar. Up the other end The Daggers back line were making key interceptions that were crucial in keeping the home side’s attack at bay. Kenny Clark, former Fleet player, and Manny Onariase, who is still yet to commit his long term future to the club.
Going into the final ten minutes there was a nervous atmosphere around the Kufflink Stadium, Corey Whitely looked to settle those nerves and equalise against his former club. However he dragged his effort just wide, therefore there was time for Will Wright to tie Justham‘s laces as the keeper was reluctant to take his gloves off - rightly so. It wasn’t over though as Kedwell’s effort from a corner rose just over the bar; taking a deflection in the process. Could The Daggers hold out? Or could Ebbsfleet find something?
Into four minutes of additional time and after a mixup at the back the hosts won a corner but Justham was there as he so often is. Continuing to break up the play in the midfield were Loft and Robinson and they did so until the end of play. Bourne blew his whistle to the delight of Dagenham and Redbridge who had secured National League status for next season. The Hawks were indeed defeated and took up the last relegation spot, a hard fought and well deserved win!