Cup draw gives boss Still hope of better things to come
Dagenham & Redbridge 1 Bath City 1
Daggers may be no closer to Wembley, but there were signs from Saturday’s FA Cup first round draw that John Still’s men may be closing in on a return to winning ways.
On the face of it, the home side should have cruised through to round two as they entertained a side, rock-bottom of the Blue Square Premier, who have won only twice in all competitions this season.
But with Still unable to fill a full substitutes bench and his unconfident squad struggling to score goals at one end and stop them at the other, avoiding defeat is a step in the right direction.
The home faithful must have feared the prospect of another dark day at Victoria Road, when Sean Canham put Bath in front on 11 minutes.
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An unfortunate slip from makeshift centre-back Femi Ilesanmi created space for Joe Burnell to play Canham through, one-on-one with keeper Chris Lewington, and the forward, on loan from Hereford, sent the keeper the wrong way.
Bath’s bench were jubilant and dreaming of an upset, but Daggers showed a determination to fight-back that has so often been missing in the previous two months and soon took control.
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Damian Scannell and Jon Nurse both carved out opportunities, but missed the target and Phil Walsh forced a fine save from former Leyton Orient keeper Glyn Garner.
On 41 minutes the pressure finally paid off, as Brian Woodall rose to meet Nurse’s precise left-wing cross and headed in his first goal for the club.
On the stroke of half time, full-back Andy Gallinagh cleared Danny J Green’s cross-shot off the goal-line as Bath desperately clung on.
However, Daggers failed to carry their first-half endeavour through to the second 45 minutes and it was the visitors who looked best-placed for a spot in round two.
On 54 minutes came the game’s potential turning point. Bath midfielder Jamie Cook split the Daggers defence with an inch-perfect pass to play Marley Watkins through on goal.
Lewington raced from his line and tripped Watkins outside the box, but, despite being the last line of defence, referee Graham Scott showed the stopper a yellow card rather than red, to the fury of Bath boss Adie Britton and his players.
The home side’s best chance of a winner fell to Nurse, whose volley was pushed behind by Garner with 20 minutes remaining.
But Bath dominated the final exchanges and Lewington was called upon to save from Cook, then Adam Connolly, to keep his side in contention for a cup run, which could prove the tonic to kick-start Daggers season.
Daggers: Lewington, Rose, Walsh, Ilesanmi, McCrory, Scannell (Dominic Green 78), Ogogo, Gain, Danny J Green, Woodall (Scott 78), Nurse. Subs not used: Shea, Elito, Bingham, Okus.
Attendance: 1,225 (including 183 away supporters).