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Dagenham & Redbridge 1-2 Sutton United
Vanarama National League
Peter Taylor’s Daggers’ inconsistent form continued on Tuesday night, as lowly Sutton deservedly eased their own relegation fears.
In one of their few on-target efforts, on a disappointing evening, Joe Quigley opened the scoring, but Sutton hit back through Craig Eastmond and Tommy Wright.
The injury-hit hosts, with seven regulars missing – hence only naming four substitutes – struggled with bottom-four Sutton dictating the pace.
But, Daggers, against the run of play, almost took a ninth minute lead, with Joan Luque unable to get enough curl on his 20-yard effort, with keeper, Nik Tzanev beaten.
The U’s hit back and before the game began deteriorating into a scrappy, foul-strewn affair, Tommy Wright went inches wide on twenty minutes.
On a rare foray into enemy ranks, Daggers’ Joe Quigley brought the best out of an underworked Tzanev ten minutes before the interval.
However, United continued to dominate and Elliott Justham diverted wide the livewire Wright’s 38th minute header, before penalty appeals for a push on loanee Louis John – on the stroke of half-time – were waved aside.
Daggers – however – were quick out of the blocks after the turnaround and having seen Tzanev bravely block Quigley, Brundle ended a fine 52nd minute move, bundling home Luque’s fine through ball.
If that was harsh on the lowly visitors – they soon hit back. Former Colchester man, Eastmond levelled with a free header from Tzanev’s 65th minute long free-kick, following an unnecessary Quigley foul on John.
The visitors’ recovery seemed complete, barely three minutes later, when Wright – down the Daggers’ left – cut in and curled home a delightful effort past Justham’s despairing dive.
And, they should have wrapped up the points – on 70 minutes – but sub., Craig Dundas could only direct his header over from a Harry Beautyman flag-kick.
Dagenham offered very little in reply and United’s Davis wasted an excellent 81st minute opportunity, shooting wide, when well-placed.
Home sub., Reece Grant did have the ball in the Sutton net in the closing stages, but was stopped in his tracks by an offside flag.
Despite a late Dagenham flurry, the Sutton goal remained intact, with Luque curling agonizingly wide deep into stoppage time.
Dagenham coach, Jody Brown, admitted: “It was definitely a disappointing result. I put the scoreline down to the fact that we conceded two sloppy goals.”
“We had just earned the right to be in the game [with Brundle’s goal]. I felt as if we could have controlled the game better at one-nil. But, we didn’t and we found ourselves behind very quickly.”
He added: “We didn’t deal with crosses very well – we haven’t been doing that all season. I haven’t seen the video – so this is not a time to be finger-pointing.”
“But, I would be doing the whole squad, and the Club, a disservice if I didn’t say we are missing seven players. It’s almost the ‘unwritten’ word at the moment. We are going to struggle.”
“Will Wright hasn’t played at centre-half, regularly, and it shows. Sutton kept kicking it ‘long’, and we couldn’t deal with it. Our centre-halves lost too many battles – and that, ultimately, cost us.”
Brown concluded: “The disappointing thing for me is that we didn’t continue to the good things that lead to our goal. We started going ‘long’ and ‘low risk’ a bit too early. Unfortunately, we paid the price.”
Opposing boss, Matt Gray said: “Tonight, in the first-half, was probably the worst we had played all season – it was a very ‘bitty’ game. I thought the first goal would be ‘key’. But, unfortunately, it didn’t come for us.”
“However, we made a good response, showed great character with Craig Eastmond popping up and Tommy Wright – how many chances did he have – thoroughly deserving his goal.”
He concluded: “The biggest thing missing is our goals ‘for’ tally. I just hope we can start climbing that [league] table.
Dagenham & Redbridge: Elliot Justham, Andrew Eleftheriou (James Dobson 72), Will Wright, Kenny Clark (captain), Toby Stevenson, Alex McQueen, Mitch Brundle, Matt Robinson, Joan Luque, Chike Kandi (Reece Grant 71), Joe Quigley. Subs not used: Harry Seaden, Will Wood.
Sutton United: Nik Tzanev, Jon Barden, Jamie Collins (capt) (Kyel Reid 73), Louis John, Will Randall, Kenny Davis, Tommy Wright (Aaron Jarvis 87), Craig Eastmond, Harry Beautyman, Omar Bugiel (Craig Dundas 71), David Ajiboye. Subs not used: Tom Bolarinwa, Aaron Jarvis.
Referee: Daniel Middleton
Assistants: Darin Geary, Jonathon Black
Fourth Official: Peter Conn