SPIRITED DAGGERS SUFFER HEARTBREAKING DEFEAT
MATCH REPORT: MANSFIELD 2-1 DAGGERS (AET)
COMPETITION: FA CUP
Gutted. Though I can take pride from the fantastic, spirited performance that I saw out there today. Nothing but sheer desire, quality and determination – a show of the Daggers spirit some believe we haven’t seen for a while. What follows is a story of heartbreak; yet a story of hope and immense courage as the Daggers saw their chances of progression to Round 3 dashed by a last minute, extra time Maynard goal – snatching the win for the Stags.
The Daggers were missing 3 centre backs through injury or otherwise, with Ogogo filling in at right back and Croll/Wright the centre back partnership. They also saw Rance in for Balanta following his return from injury, the former ready to battle in the heart of midfield. The aim was simple: advance to the third round. Although the task was tough: to defeat League Two opposition away from home.
It was a scrappy start to the match, with the ball airborne for the first five minutes, although the first chance came for the Stags. A dangerous, low ball across the box beat every Daggers defender and too Cooke – much to the fortune of the Visitors – the Mansfield man going agonisingly close! There was soon a chance up the other end as the ten minute mark approached, in the form of a corner. Weston whipped in the corner but it was well cleared, though Wilson and Weston began to lead the charge down the flanks as McMahon’s side grew in confidence.
A well-organised away side seemed impossible to break down with Nigel Clough’s side unable to find a way through, but someone who was able to find a way through the Stags back line was Paul McCallum! He found the net from an acute angle after Myles Weston penetrated the Mansfield defence – a dream start - the number 9 making it 2 in 2 in his return from injury.
However, that lead was to last just 5 minutes as the hosts recorded an almost instant reply; Charsley fired it low and hard into the corner, underneath the arms of Justham. The game had opened up a little as a fired up McCallum came close to getting his second: just unable to connect with the header from another promising delivery. Daryl’s men refused to hold back in their pursuit to restore their lead, good interplay between Deering and Wilson looked to open up the home side’s defence down the flanks – where they remained vulnerable did the Stags.
The danger still very much alive though in the National League side’s defences as Elliot Justham was called upon to keep the scores level, pushing Clarke’s effort behind, that was destined for the top corner. An entertaining affair, the mini magician Deering nearly making it 1-2, with the help of a deflection – Stech though equal to it.
Both sides continued to throw caution to the wind: counter after counter with neither side willing to let up. The Daggers perhaps the more cautious of the two, as you’d expect, getting men behind the ball out of possession, as oppose to the counter-press of Clough’s side. As the half-time break came upon us, Scott Wilson had one last effort – however tame – before Rance made the challenge of the half. Commendable last-ditch defending in the box, he had to get the slide tackle right.
The resultant corner came to nothing and the referee blew for half time. The end to an entertaining first ’45 which saw the Daggers do us proud and get in front on 20 minutes. Despite the quick equaliser, McMahon’s men stuck at it and could easily have found themselves back in front. A first half of desire, quality and fight – the Daggers spirit well and truly alive at The One Call stadium. I’m sure McMahon echoed the cries of supporters – “more of the same” – the East London outfit matching the League Two side.
The second half commenced and it was picking up where they left off for Dagenham as Wilson made hay down the wing and cut inside – his low-driven effort not troubling Stech though. Sweeney gave a chance for his side to re-group as he went down for a good 2 minutes receiving treatment. Back up on his feet, the home side looked to get on the front foot but they were unable to find a way through a resolute Dagenham. That was until the 51st minute, when the ball landed in the hands of Elliot Justham, following a Stags header.
With the home side temporarily down to ten men due to injury, the Daggers looked to capitalize, but Mansfield’s aerial dominance also extended to their defence – clearing any danger. Forced to make the first substitute of the game, Clough introduced Maris, the match still needing a breakthrough for either side to advance in normal time. Wilson spearheaded the effort for his side to get ahead as he drove forward, playing it out wide to Weston – his cross receiving no response.
Deering would be the first to enter the book, the cup tie still being contested fiercely, just a tad late into the challenge on the halfway line – just under 30 minutes remaining of normal time. That normal time perhaps being all that was required as Clarke tried his luck, a fantastic block from Will Wright denying the Stags a lead. Looking to restore a lead of their own, Weston made his way again into the box after great play. His cross came out to that man again, Sam Deering Dagenham’s influential number 7 whose curling effort was plucked out of the air by Stech.
Whatever was to happen in the 15 minutes that remained (or beyond) Dagenham could be proud of the performance they put in. Although, the result was still at the forefront of everyone’s mind, including McMahon’s as he replaced the impressive Weston for the technically gifted Angelo Balanta. Clough looking to put his stamp on the game introduced Reid; an exciting finale was set up in the East Midlands.
The substitute Reid so nearly turned into a super sub, though the hands of Justham denied him, the Daggers number one getting down low to keep it out – a fantastic save! 7 minutes remaining, McMahon’s side won a free-kick midway inside the Mansfield half, Deering though failing to beat the first man. That so nearly proved extremely costly as the Stags broke and Reid again found himself in behind with the chance to win it – his effort straight at Justham though.
A thriller. This match was the sort you couldn’t take your eyes off, as Deering was soon in with the chance of snatching it for the Daggers up the other end. He looked to nestle his effort into the far corner but it went just the wrong side of the post! Neither side wanted to play a further 30 minutes with games in midweek, Daryl marking his intent with the introduction of the young, exciting attacker George Saunders.
Wright put hid side under pressure on 89 minutes, slicing his clearance behind for a corner, though luckily for him – Dagenham coped with it and got the ball clear. The last chance was to be a Daggers one as Saunders won a corner to the left of the box, a perfect opportunity to cause an upset! Deering floated it in but Croll’s header rose just over.
Despite Mansfield’s late endeavours to snatch the victory late on, extra time would be needed to separate the two sides!
The Stags began on the front foot as Maris took the first shot of the half following a nice move – his effort though far from satisfactory! The Daggers, looking tired, so nearly fell behind on 97 minutes but the linesman was to keep hope alive for the visitors – the Mansfield goal ruled out – a huge let off for McMahon’s men! Another tame effort was collected without issue by Justham, his side under the cosh to say the least.
Half time of extra-time and we looked headed for penalties with the scores still level, though as the second half got underway, Mansfield piled on the pressure – chance after chance. A Will Wright block was vital on the 6-yard box to deny an effort destined for the net, then a Reid overhead kick called Justham to pull off a majestic save!
The next chance though was a Daggers one, who replaced Rance with Charlee Adams, Deering was the one to whip in the free-kick but Stech punched clear! Enjoying a spell of attacking dominance, the Daggers soon won a free-kick right on the edge of the box and it was Will Wright to take it – Daggers supporters praying – but it was fired into the wall.
With a minute to play before penalties, Daggers legend Ogogo was the one to deny Mansfield a late, late winner! But that was only for his side to concede a late, late, late winner at the very death – the penultimate kick! Maynard netting for the hosts. Daggers, heartbroken.
That was it as Brundle failed to score from halfway. A fantastic Daggers performance with fans ensuring that wasn’t taken away by the result. Plenty of positives to take, but it’ll take a day or two to get over the manner of the defeat.
Thanks for reading,