Swindon Town 1 Dagenham & Redbridge 1
Jon Nurse’s late strike keeps Daggers outside the drop-zone.
There are times when one point feels like three.
Jon Nurse’s goal, 83 minutes into a tense encounter at the County Ground on Saturday, was cheered as loudly by the 337 travelling Daggers fans as any other this season.
For Swindon this was a game they dare not lose. For Dagenham this was a fixture that followed two consecutive wins and to claim a draw in the closing stages was as satisfying as the previous triumphs over Bristol Rovers and Colchester United.
In a cautious opening period, David Prutton had the first effort on goal after 14 minutes.
Mike Grella breezed past substitute Billy Bingham and sent Prutton through one-one-one with Tony Roberts, but the veteran stopper was quick off his line and got down well to parry away the low-placed effort.
Seven minutes before half time, Daggers first bit of magic came through Bas Savage on the left, who, in similar fashion to his trademark goal celebration, danced past two players before crossing to Jon Nurse. Keeper Phil Smith rose above Nurse to punch clear, but the loose ball fell to Abu Ogogo whose well-struck effort was deflected over for a corner.
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That was Daggers only real effort of note in the opening period. Despite edging out their opponents in the possession stakes it was the Robins who looked most likely to score.
On 43 minutes they obliged, but not without a helping hand from Ogogo.
The right-back, arguably Daggers most consistent player this season, inexplicably allowed Smith’s long punt forward to bounce and was outmuscled by Grella when challenging for the second ball, before the Leeds loanee lobbed the advancing Roberts to claim his first goal for the club.
It was a bitter blow to suffer on the stroke of half time, but the second period began with Swindon nervously trying to protect their lead.
They were fortunate not to concede a penalty in the opening minute, when Savage was tripped by Andy Frampton, but referee Gary Sutton waved away the protests of the furious visiting players.
The home side then had keeper Smith to thank for preserving their lead, which was looking frailer with each passing minute. First he denied Nurse from a tight angle and then Savage from six yards moments later.
It looked as though Paul Hart’s men had weathered the storm and they went closest to a second on 74 minutes, when Matt Ritchie’s curling effort from 20 yards had the excellent Roberts at full stretch to tip round the post.
However, the visitors continued to press for an equaliser, which finally arrived on 83 minutes, sparking jubilant scenes from the red and blue corner of the ground, while 7,500 home supporters let out a collective sigh.
After Green’s long throw had been headed out to the edge of the box by Jonathan Douglas, Peter Gain’s effort bounced into the ground and up off the head of Nurse, wrong-footing Smith and sealing a hard-fought point for John Still’s side.
There was still time for a late penalty shout for the home side though. In the final seconds Paul Caddis was bundled over in the box, sandwiched between Femi Ilesanmi and Romain Vincelot.
For a heart-stopping second referee Sutton pondered over the incident, but his whistle was simply to call time on a thrilling finale, ensuring Daggers remain outside the bottom four, while Swindon’s miserable winless run extended to 14 games.
Dag & Red: Roberts, Ogogo, Doe, Arber, Ilesanmi, Green, Taiwo (Bingham 12, Currie 64) Vincelot, Gain, Nurse, Savage (Morgan 67).