Mill Farm | Att: 1590 | Vanarama National League | 19/8/17
01. Rhys TAYLOR 02. Lewis MONTROSE 03. Zaine FRANCIS-ANGOL 05. Jordan TUNNICLIFFE 06. Andy BOND 07. James HARDY 08. Sam FINLEY 09. Danny ROWE 11. Jack MULDOON 15. Simon GRAND 27. Danny JONES
30. Mark COUSINS 03. Luke PENNELL 05. Craig ROBSON 06. Matt ROBINSON 10. Morgan FERRIER 11. Fejiri OKENABIRHIE 15. Bondz N'GALA 17. Andre BOUCAUD 19. Sam LING 23. Michael CHEEK 25. Corey WHITELY
LING THE HERO AS HE STRIKES A LAST-SECOND LEVELLER TO EARN DRAW
If Tuesday's draw felt like a defeat, then this last-gasp salvation act surely must have felt like a victory for Dagenham & Redbridge, who equalised in the dying seconds to maintain their unbeaten start to the season at the expense of an unfortunate AFC Fylde side at their Mill Farm home. Recently-promoted Fylde were much the better side but were punished for switching off at the end of both halves, with Henry Jones' putting the Coasters ahead before Morgan Ferrier drew his side level at the end of the first-half. A thrilling finale saw the hosts' regain their lead through Grand, only for Sam Ling to unexpectedly snatch a third-successive point for his side in dramatic fashion with just moments remaining. Sooner or later, though, their luck is going to run out.
As has been the case all season, the Daggers had no problems in attack but were plagued by defensive issues. They began on the back foot in Lancashire and early warning signs were issued when Danny Rowe, who struck over forty goals for Fylde last season, linked up with Muldoon, but Cousins gathered his deflected strike. The pressure continued and another deflected attempt was again saved by the away keeper, before Finley delivered a cross from the right which was headed narrowly over by Muldoon. In the 14th minute the deadlock was broken and, for Fylde, it was a deserved opener to reward their bright start. The Dagenham defence was split for not the first time this season, as Bond clipped in a throughball for Jones to control and sidefoot past Cousins.
Having gained the momentum, the home side continued to be in the ascendancy and were passing the ball well, with a number of dangerous deliveries stretching John Still's side. Sam Ling saved Dagenham midway through the half with a priceless intervention, and it wouldn't be the first time that he would go on to rescue his side in the contest. The visitors had looked out of sorts but began to improve towards the end of the half. Morgan Ferrier was their main threat; he earned his team a dangerous corner before powering Whitely's pass towards goal, only to be denied well by Taylor. Matt Robinson, brought into the lineup for his first start, saw an ambitious volley fly wide of the upright but then, with virtually the last kick of the half, they levelled the scores from nowhere.
A brilliant threaded throughball played in Ferrier and the striker calmly passed the ball into the bottom-right corner to hand his team a slightly undeserved equaliser. The beginning of the second half mirrored the first as Fylde took control, going close when Danny Rowe fired into the arms of Cousins after being fed by Jones. The Coasters then won a corner and in the resulting delivery Grand was brought down in the box, but the referee waved the claims away. However, the Daggers were looking dangerous on the counter-attack and Michael Cheek went close to scoring when he went past Grand, only to be stopped by a great save from the keeper. The hurling wind was causing problems all over the pitch and nearly led to the Londoners taking the lead after Whitely's free-kick was spilled, before then being gratefully gathered.
With 67 minutes gone, the visitors wasted their best chance of the game as the menacing Morgan Ferrier drifted inside Bond and closed in on goal, before smashing a vicious effort over via the crossbar. This led to a positive spell for them and they went close again moments later; Whitely delivered a cross, but the delivery just evaded substitute Hawkins. Still in search of their first victory of the campaign, Fylde swiftly regained control and piled the pressure on in the last twenty minutes. Muldoon's acrobatic effort was thwarted by Cousins and the same player went close again after his determined run was followed up with a shot which was deflected wide.
After drawing 3-3 with Ebbsfleet in their last outing, John Still bemoaned his side's inability to deal with restarts so he would've been furious when the resulting corner wasn't dealt with before it found the net. Smith whipped in the set-piece, which managed to find it's way to the back-post, before it was scrambled home by an unmarked Grand, despite the best efforts of Whitely on the line. Time was running out, and Dagenham's unbeaten record was on the verge of being scuppered. But since they've been in the National League, the Victoria Road side have scored plenty of late goals, and they were about to strike a cruel twist in the dying embers of the match.
94 minutes were on the clock when a Dagenham corner was cleared, and fans must have thought that was it. The ball was kept alive by Howells, who whipped it in for one final chance. It found the unmarked Ling, who escaped the offside trap and was in acres of space, and the defender lunged at the ball with a diving header which found the bottom-left corner, to snatch a point in the most dramatic fashion. They face a back-to-back Bank Holiday schedule, as they host Bromley before heading to Maidstone two days later.
NEXT UP: Home v Bromley, Saturday 26th August 2017 at 3pm, Victoria Road, Vanarama National League