Date Wednesday 4th September; 19:45 Competition Vanarama National League Venue Victoria Road Attendance 1526 Home/Away Split 1398 | 128 Referee Adrian Quelch
01: Elliot JUSTHAM 02: Will WRIGHT 04: Manny ONARIASE 05: Luke CROLL 06: Kenny CLARK 08: Mitch BRUNDLE 10:Ángelo BALANTA 12: Matt ROBINSON 15: Joe QUIGLEY 19: Joan LUQUE 20: James DOBSON
- BAGASAN GRAHAM | DOBSON (72') - REECE GRANT - HARRY PHIPPS | LUQUE (90') - WILL WOOD - ANDREW ELEFTHERIOU
01: Mark COUSINS 02: Joe KIZZI 03: Sam WOOD 05: Marc-Anthony OKOYE 07: LukeCOULSON 08: Frankie RAYMOND 09: Michael CHEEK 10: Billy BINGHAM 13: Chris BUSH 19: Reeco HACKETT 25: Josh REES
- JACK HOLLAND - ADAM MEKKI | REES (69') - MICHAEL KLASS | RAYMOND (82') - KORREY HENRY - ADRIAN CLIFTON | COULSON (58')
Thirty seconds after Dagenham had the ball in the corner, seemingly on the precipice of another home victory alongside an eagerly-awaited first clean sheet of the season, they were struck by a devastating blow that sent bodies all around the ground slumping to the floor in disarray. As mocking whistles filled the air, former Daggers youth product Reeco Hackett worked a yard of space in the box and fizzed a low effort beneath Justham to earn Bromley a point that was probably fair given the balance of play, but feels like a defeat for a Dagenham side that led from two minutes following Balanta's early header. Failure to kill the game off was the hosts' downfall yet again and is proving the difference between mid-table and the play-offs, though another undeniable contributing factor was the inexplicable incompetence of the officiating. Five unbeaten for the Daggers, though, and it's a testament to our improved recent form that a draw against high-flying Bromley feels so gutting.
The BT Sport cameras were in town for a Wednesday night clash between two London teams whose fortunes are looking up, with the Daggers unbeaten in four and Bromley the only side in the division yet to taste defeat this season. However, this was a notoriously tough fixture for the Ravens, who had provided Dagenham with five wins from six meetings including their biggest home victory in each of the past two seasons. An entertaining match-up was in store and the match certainly delivered in the opening stages, with the opening goal coming just after the one-minute mark. That was roughly the time on the clock when James Dobson picked up the ball in a seemingly safe position before swinging in measured right-wing cross for Ángelo Balanta to delicately glance an inch-perfect header into Mark Cousins' bottom-right corner.
It was a brilliantly-worked goal for Dagenham and the perfect start, however they had to be wary as they'd sacrificed a lead in their last four fixtures. Similarly, Bromley had come from a goal down in their recent trio of fixtures at the end of August, so were adept at earning points from losing positions. Defensive hesitancy between Justham and Onariase served as a reminder of the fragility of the Daggers' advantage as returning ex-Dagger Michael Cheek was nearly presented with a gift, however the ball was eventually cleared albeit unconvincingly. That first five minutes set the tone for an open game in which the ascendancy flowed freely from one team to the other. Bromley showed glimpses of their attacking prowess as both Cheek and Hackett produced some sharp touches and movement, however they struggled to work their way past a rigid, compact Dagenham defence.
A good burst of energy from Billy Bingham played in Cheek with nine minutes gone, but his shot was excellently blocked for a corner that amounted to nothing. Dagenham were enduring similar luck at the other end as things just weren't coming off, evidenced by a cross-field pass to the marauding Will Wright that just zipped out of play before he could take it under his control. Elsewhere, a Luque cross to Balanta was just yards astray of it's destination, then Matt Robinson beat two men with a great bit of skill only for his final ball to let the attack down. A few desperate clearances from the Bromley defence highlighted how uncomfortable Neil Smith's side seemed, but Dagenham couldn't capitalise and towards the end of the half, the visitors began to look more stable. Just before the hour mark, the ball arrived at the feet of Hackett - he struck fiercely at Justham but the keeper tipped it away smartly.
Still the hosts' attacked with purpose, Balanta and Luque in particular not giving the away side any time on the ball, but they lacked the spark they possessed in the previous two home games. Then, towards the end of the half, Michael Cheek out-muscled Clark and looked for Coulson in the box, yet there wasn't enough coherency between the two to pose significant damage, and in the end a promising attack came to an insipid end. One minute was added on after the initial 45 minutes but aside from a few crosses that were just off the mark, Dagenham hadn't offered much since taking their early lead. Both managers knew their teams needed to improve in certain aspects, but Peter Taylor would've undoubtedly been the happier. A one-goal lead was far from comfortable, though, and Bromley were always going to get better after the break following, you would expect, a few choice words from their manager.
Indeed, the Ravens' revival came in the midst of Dagenham's customary post-interval wobble and, though Elliot Justham's goal was never under siege as such, there were several 'nearly' moments that indicated the second half would be far from enjoyable. A Justham finger-tip preserved the lead while various crosses sparked mass panic amongst the Daggers defence. Then, Adrian Clifton came onto the pitch as Bromley switched to 4-3-3 and proceeded to dominate the next few minutes. There was no way the Daggers were going to survive a whole half while they were under pressure, and they desperately needed to ride the storm and regain control. Thankfully, that's exactly what happened. Dagenham frustrated their visitors then began to get shots off at the other end, with Luque flashing one wide and Dobson's cross/shot forcing Cousins into a great athletic save, moments after Hackett had been shut off brilliantly by Justham at the other end.
Mekki and Klass came on for Bromley with 20 minutes left in an attempt to restrict the rhythm Taylor's side had regained, and it did alter the game somewhat as both players gave Bromley more composure in midfield. Towards the latter stages of the contest, the match began to adopt an end-to-end flow again as a combination of the visitors' desperation, plus tired legs for both, meant the game completely opened up. Luque hooked a potential match-sealing chance over the bar, although it later transpired that an offside flag was wrongly up, while Clifton headed at Justham. Brundle fired wide amidst a packed box of crowded bodies, then substitute Bagasan Graham sent a shot flying wide of Cousins' goal. However, from a spate of home pressure emerged a late Bromley rally.
A very strong-looking penalty claim was turned down by the referee, but Dagenham hadn't got away with it for long as the man in black awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box, but Justham pulled off an incredible save and it seemed as if that was that. After five minutes of agonising injury time, Phipps had the ball in the corner while being manhandled by three Bromley players. Somehow, with no logic or reason whatsoever, the linesman flagged for a free-kick. Ten seconds later, Mekki threaded it through to Hackett, who span Onariase in the box then fired through the legs of Justham, to the disbelief and outrage of every home supporter in the ground. Absolute heartbreak with the final kick of the game.