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Dagenham & Redbridge 0-0 Torquay United
Vanarama National League
New Daggers’ boss, Daryl McMahon has a tough job on his hands as his new charges picked up only their third festive point, in four games on Saturday.
Daggers dominated from the kick-off and Luque should have made better contact with an 11th minute point-blank header, but allowed Connor Lemonheigh to make a comfortable clearance.
But, the Gulls – similarly struggling with injuries – were nonetheless a threat on the break. Having earlier seen hitman Jamie Reid miss the target from a good position, co-striker Saikou Janneh beat Elliott Justham – on 38 minutes – only to see his effort agonizingly rebound off a post to safety.
Janneh’s near-miss finally sprung the Daggers into life and a minute later Chike Kandi brought a fine save out of the underworked Lucas Covolan.
Shortly before the interval a rare Torquay defensive error saw Lyle Cameron all too easily allow Kandi a clear bye-line run and shot, but Covolan made a fine, low stop.
Kandi went close, again, soon after the turnaround, but the woodwork – this time the crossbar – denied the unlucky Janneh, on 52 minutes, with Justham relieved to see the ball bounce to safety.
Both sides continued to create only half chances, with Reid slicing over, on the bye-line, before Daggers’ skipper, Kenny Clark denied by a brave Asa Hall block.
Dagenham then started to exploit a tiring Torquay defence and Luque’s fine 67th minute put the ball on a plate for Alex McQueen, only fit for Cameron to clear off the goal line.
Joe Quigley then thought he had broken the stalemate, on 69 minutes, but Covolan produced the save of the afternoon, tipping his swivelled half volley to safety.
Janneh then wasted another chance, as the Gulls broke from the ensuing Dagenham corner, but ran out space, allowing Justham to gather.
As the pendulum swung Daggers’ way, on 73 minutes Luque broke and shot, only for Covolan to make another top-drawer save.
Having done everything but score, it just seemed it wasn’t going to be the Gulls’ afternoon when Jake Andrews’s whipped-in, 78th minute free-kick completely fooled Justham, but again hit a post.
Despite lacking goals, this contest was never dull and Ruari Keating – nephew of artist, Ronan – was denied a late penalty claim from Luke Croll’s challenge, as the visitors enjoyed a late spell of pressure.
In a late Dagenham cameo, Croll shot high and wide as the hosts are now eight league games without a win.
Dagenham head coach, Jody Brown said: “It was a hard-fought point today. I was very pleased with the commitment we showed. We were mindful of Torquay having scored a lot of goals recently. And, that’s two unbeaten. The margins of defeat though have only been by single goals. And, without wanting to sound like a broken record, you throw [striker] Angelo Balanta in and you win one-nil.”
The Daggers are in Buildbase FA Trophy action on Saturday at high-flying Notts County (kick-off 3pm), and Brown claimed: “We will give it our best shot. We went there, in the autumn, put in one of our best performances of the season, and only lost to two late goals. The least we are expecting is to bring Notts back here for a replay – but it’s probably the toughest draw we could have got.”
With new boss, Daryl McMahon, due in the hotseat on Monday, Brown admitted: “I am unsure of my future at the club. But, when the new manager arrived yesterday he just told Terry Harris, and myself just to carry on with our normal planning. He has been really good to talk to. He’s got really good ideas. He wants to drive the Club forward. Hopefully, we’ll be part of it.”
Gulls’ boss, Gary Johnson, added: “Both teams tried hard to win the game today. Neither side was happy with the draw, judging by the number of chances created. I think it was a very good nil-nil.”
“Both teams needed a base to start from, as neither had won for a while. I was pleased we kept a clean sheet, but we weren’t sharp enough in attack. We didn’t come here for the point. But, at the same time a draw is what you’ve got and that’s what you’ve got to take.”
Dagenham & Redbridge: Elliott Justham, Will Wright, Kenny Clark (capt), Luke Croll, Liam Gordon, Alex McQueen (Reece Grant 75), Manny Onarise, Matt Robinson, Joan Luque, Chike Kandi, Joe Quigley (Sam Deering 82). Subs (not used): Josh Strizovic, Bagasan Graham, Andrew Eleftheriou.
Torquay United: Lucas Covolan, Joe Lewis, Robbie Cundy, Asa Hall, Kyle Cameron, Ruariri Keating, Jake Andrews, Connor Lemonheigh-Evans, Ben Whitfield, Saikou Janneh, Jamie Reid. Subs (not used): Shaun MacDonald, Olaf Koszela, Kalvin Kalala, Lloyd James, Aaron Nemane.
Referee: Ryan Atkins
Assistants: Matthew Morrison, Ashley List
Fourth Official: Valentine Ankewe