REPORT: Dagenham & Redbridge 2 Bromley 1

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Defender Jake Sheppard’s late wonder-strike secured a valuable three points as the Daggers got back to winning ways by coming from behind to cruelly defeat Bromley 2-1 under the Victoria Road floodlights.

A rapid start from the visitors was rewarded inside the opening ten minutes when, what should’ve been a routine save for Justham from Brandon Hanlan’s attempt instead, resulted in the keeper spilling it into the net and from then on, the rest of the half was one-way traffic as Bromley’s pace destroyed the hosts.

Somehow though, in their only opportunity in the first 45 minutes, the Daggers drew level when the ball fell kindly to Okenabirhie, who slammed home and in the second half, a real bit of quality won John Still’s side the game, with defender Sheppard smashing the ball past the hapless keeper from distance. It wasn’t pretty, nor was it deserved, but what matters is that they got the three points to keep touch with leaders Lincoln City.

Amongst the Bromley ranks were a number of familiar faces as Turgott, Porter, Goldberg and Dennis all returned to their former club. Dagenham made two changes from the side that were beaten by Guiseley on Saturday; the suspended Whitely and Rob Grant coming out to be replaced by Raymond and Howells, and they had the first attempt at goal when, after a short succession of passes, Maguire-Drew let fly but the ball sailed past the upright.

Bromley, though, were rapid on the counter-attack and particularly were having luck down the left flank, where they went close inside the first five minutes.

Moments later and the visitors took the lead after some catastrophic defending. Robson gifted away possession in the middle of the park to Brandon Hanlan, who raced down the right and fired a tame shot that Justham could only fumble into the bottom left corner.

It was one-way traffic from then on with Neil Smith’s men dominating and controlling the game with relative ease. 21 minutes in, Jack Holland’s header from a corner just crept agonisingly wide and soon after only a poor-weighted through ball prevented another opening for Bromley who were now splitting Dagenham’s defence open with simplicity.

Three minutes later, another opportunity fell to the Ravens as Goldberg broke free down the left, dribbled forwards then narrowly poked wide of the goal, with Turgott then going close just after that. The pacy winger cut inside from the left again, drilling a stinging low effort that needed a fingertip save from Justham, although it was given as a goal-kick.

However, despite Bromley’s dominance, the Daggers managed to unbelievably draw level with their only real chance in the half when Hawkins chested the ball down in front of goal and it dropped for Okenabirhie, who hammered it in with the keeper out of position.

For the rest of the half, the roles were reversed as it seemed Dagenham had finally woken up and realised just how fortunate they were to go into the interval at 1-1. The second half was more of an even contest, although the pace of Bromley continued to cause the hosts’ problems.

In the 54th minute, Goldberg was played through on goal but, as most of the ground held their breath, could only fire harmlessly wide and into the stands. Howells then came off for Paul Benson, who accompanied Oliver Hawkins up front.

It seemed like both teams would settle for a point, something the hosts’ would be quite fortunate to achieve, until a late goal stole an unlikely three points for John Still’s side.

The ball arrived at the feet of Jake Sheppard, who kept running and running at the retreating defenders before unleashing a fantastic drive that flew past the keeper to snatch the win with just a minute left of normal time.

The goal was the fourth in the last five minutes of the last three games at Victoria Road and quite how they achieved the result is unknown, but it was a vital result that could prove crucial come the end of the season.

Bromley will count themselves mightily unlucky as they should’ve been many goals ahead by half-time, let alone winning at all. For Dagenham, it’s a sixth win from seven and they bounced back from the defeat to Guiseley in the perfect manner.

They will be hoping to improve heavily performance-wise for their next fixture, which sees Maidstone United visit Victoria Road in a Vanarama National League fixture.

After the game, assistant manager Darren Currie said: “It was a fantastic goal to win the game for us although the performance wasn’t as good as how we have been playing in recent weeks. We did lack a bit of intensity but the manager has been speaking about it a lot of late about finding a way and that was what was asked of the boys at half time.”

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