Balanta-Claus delivers

A 226 mile round trip awaited Dagenham fans as they headed to The Peninsula Stadium for the first time in their history. This was a place where the home side hadn't lost since April so it was always going to be a tough test against the title challengers. The last game before Christmas for both sides and there was a little bit of Christmas in the air up north with festive songs being played and a few Santa hats in sight. An early Christmas present in the form of a win and all three points was there for the taking but who would be heading home with them was the big question.

The visitors got the game underway but had the small share of possession early on with a couple of chances finding the hands of Justham not troubling him though in the slightest. One of these tamed efforts saw Rooney's glancing header gifted, much like a present, to Justham. Salford nearly found themselves in front from a corner as it was played to the edge of the box however the shot was deflected and Pond just headed over from two yards! The Ammies still in control and now looking more threatening saw Walker's effort blocked by a determined McQueen however the corner that followed saw Piergianni do what he does best and what he had threatened in the reverse fixture. Carl Piergianni rose highest and put Salford in the lead with the sheer power of his bullet header, Dagenham found themselves behind and at this point you felt there was just a gulf in class.

However after that goal Dagenham started to settle into the game and began to play some respectable football with some great moves and players venturing into the final third but crosses were being blocked and moves broke down before they could get a shot off. Their first set piece saw Munns whip in a corner kick but it resulted in a free kick to the opposition much to the frustration of the visitors. They were persistent in their search for an equaliser and refused to be well beaten as finally a stroke of luck came after a good move saw the ball headed into Balanta's path by an opposition player but he just couldn't get it out of his feet!

Justham showed the confidence that had spread throughout the team in recent weeks as he didn't only beat Gaffney to the ball he then smashed the ball against the striker's legs. A couple of attacks from the away side saw great footballing moves just break down in the final third and Dagenham just couldn't get the better of the hosts' solid defence. Wilkinson finally tested the keeper soon after following a good spell of possession forcing him to make a more than routine save. After another promising move there was a great delivery and it would prove to be a crucial one at that as the man who had just a minute earlier tested the keeper had done so again and this time he succeeded. Connor Wilkinson had scored for his side in the air cancelling out Piergianni's previous effort, Wilkinson's effort just had great direction compared to power.

Elliot Justham yet again proved to be a saviour pulling off to fantastic saves the first of which came after a mess up in the back line that forced him to get down well and make a crucial stop. The second came with injury as a corner saw him punch the ball out without real distance therefore the next effort he knew he had to deny and so he did tipping the ball over in an incredible piece of goalkeeping. However he did collide with the post in the process prompting initial thoughts of concern in the minds of every Dagger but he got up and had ultimately denied Salford the lead before the break. Going into half time The Ammies would have felt somewhat shocked and fairly annoyed they had let Dagenham back into the contest but quietly confident they had enough to get all three points. On the other hand The Daggers would have felt pleased not to be trailing and full of hope they could exploit Salford knowing the hosts had the added pressure of being favourites unlike themselves.

The northern club restarted the match and they started the better of the two sides with Whitehead coming closest early on, his effort just wide of the post. Angelo Balanta looked to put his side in front soon after but a last ditch challenge denied him. Graham Alexander decided it was time for him to try and influence the result as he brought on new signing Green for the rather ineffectual Gaffney. With an hour played Balanta hit the net after a good move won a corner but it was the wrong side of the net for Angelo as he hit the side netting. Up the other end though there was worry for Dagenham as the hosts won a series of corners including one that ended in a goal line clearance and there were appeals for penalties however those appeals were dismissed.

The Daggers No.10 was at it again as he led the push for a second holding up the ball initially winning a free kick that then resulted in a corner. The columbian was rewarded for his determination and efforts as he rose highest to put Dagenham in front sending the travelling fans into jubilation after a great delivery from Munns as they witnesses yet another headed goal. Looking for an imminent response Touray came close for the home side just a matter of minutes later - this game was by no means over. Jack Munns had an opportunity to put his name on the scoresheet after creating the second with Balanta again orchestrating a chance but his touch round the keeper was just too heavy.

With an assist to his name Munns exited the field as Dagenham looked to defend their slender lead with Will Wright being introduced to the game. That slender lead was nearly no more when Tom Walker's attempt rattled the crossbar, The Ammies were not going to lose without a fight. Walker was determined to salvage a point for the northern outfit whipping in an inviting ball but Manny Onariase had other ideas as he made sure of his clearance. Angelo Balanta the scorer of the potential winner and Man of the match contender was greeted with a rapturous applause from visiting supporters as he was replaced by Kandi. The substitute's first involvement saw him play through Wilkinson whose effort forced Neal to concede a corner which ultimately came to nothing.

The Ammies made one final change as Politic was replaced by Hogan within the four added minutes so if he was to make any impact it would have to be instant. Well they nearly found themselves on level terms as The Daggers' backs were against the wall in the closing stages but who other than Elliot Justham would deny them. The Dagenham & Redbridge number one pulled off an incredible double save - he refused to beaten. And he wasn't! Dagenham had caused a major upset as the referee blew his whistle at last, the supporters were ecstatic and so were the players they had done what no one had done all season, they had beaten Salford at The Peninsula and continued their unbeaten run.

It was a fabulous day and an even better result as unexpected as it was - WHAT A VICTORY!



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