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12:25 3th April 2011

Exeter City 2 Dagenham & Redbridge 1

So on a gloriously sunny afternoon at the Park City stage a late comeback to win 2-1 against a hard working Dagenham and Redbridge side in front of 4598 supporters. City lined up: Hamer; Jones, Taylor, Duffy; Golbourne, Harley, Noble, Dunne, Tully; Cureton, O'Flynn.
City returned to manager Tisdale's preferred 3-5-2 system with both Golbourne and Tully returning to the side that beat Swindon in midweek following their one match suspensions for their red cards at Colchester, and it was City who showed their colours early on with a series of forays onto the Dagenham goal. In the eighth minute Tully sent a peach of a ball down the right for O'Flynn to chase who whipped in a cross, at speed, to the near post. Cureton got there first, but fluffed his shot scuffing it across the box where it was eventually cleared.
Four minutes later Jones sent Golbourne scampering down the opposite flank where his whipped in cross was again met by Cureton but his good looking glancing header from ten yards out beat the far post for a goal kick. In the 15th minute it was Cureton's turn to chase as he charged after a ball down the left before cutting inside and playing the ball into the middle where a rushing Harley headed over under pressure from a covering defender.
Midway through the half Duffy blocked an attempted clearance to send the ball ballooning miles up. Cureton controlled expertly before turning and flashing a swerving drive narrowly past the far post from the edge of the box.
It wasn't all City though as Daggers forced a couple of quick fire corners. The first in the 26th minute had a vicious inswinging whip on it and Hamer was thankful to see Jones head off the line at the far post. Jones repeated the effort from the resulting corner, although this time it was following a melee in the goal area rather than the ball heading straight in. Golbourne then hoofed a clearance up the Park for Cureton to latch onto who then expertly laid the ball off for O'Flynn who miskicked a poor effort towards goal. The ensuing clearance eventually found its way out to Tully who drove in a fearsome effort from distance that deflected away for a corner in a heated passage of play.
Things calmed down a bit for a period after that as the two teams cancelled each other out, but with a couple of minutes to go Duffy found himself in possession just past the half way line. As he gingerly advanced, the defence backed off and backed off eventually giving him the chance for a shot, but his effort lacked power and gave Daggers' veteran keeper Tony Roberts an easy collect.
The second half began with both sides eager to take the early advantage. First in the fifth minute Harley dinked the ball forward for O'Flynn to fire goalwards from over his shoulder almost catching the keeper out, then five minutes later beanpole striker Bas Savage looped a cross back across goal for Jon Nurse to head forcefully downwards from half a dozen yards out. The ball rebounded off the turf ferociously forcing Hamer to finger tip the shot over the bar for a corner, but soon after Tis had seen enough and decided to mix it up a bit as on the quarter hour Nardiello and Logan replaced Jones and O'Flynn as City swapped to a 4-3-3 formation with Tully and Golbourne as conventional full backs and Nardiello and Logan joining Cureton up front.
It doesn't always work immediately though as two minutes later Daggers came close when Abu Agogo let fly from distance. Hamer didn't see the shot until late and scrambled the ball away, but only as far as Nurse whose follow up shot lacked the pace to beat Hamer.
In the 21st minute a foul on Golbourne gave Harley a chance with a free kick 25 yards out to the left of the goal, but his left footed drive skimmed the outside of the post. Three minutes later a foul on Duffy produced an identical chance 25 yards out to the right of the goal, but this time Harley's right footed drive wasn't quite so accurate missing the near post by a foot or two.
Substitute Jon Akinde then set off on a mazy run from deep in his own half through seemingly the entire City team before ending up just inside the City box, but then spoilt it all with a ridiculously lazy swing at the ball sending it spiralling into the Big Bank when it seemed easier to score.
In the 28th minute, recognising the severe lack of width, Tisdale replaced Dunne with Thomson as City changed once again, this time to a 4-4-2 formation with Nardiello dropping back into a left midfield role. It looked good on paper, but on grass the immediate effect was a Daggers goal. Danny Greed drove in a high corner past the far post where Peter Gain nodded the ball back into the danger area. As the City defence panicked, Romain Vincelot burst in to butt a firm header past Hamer in the centre of the goal from ten yards out to give Daggers the lead. A lead, it has to be said, that had looked on the cards after a series of rushed and hashed defensive clearances.
But City heads didn't go down and they knew there was a game here to be won and the Daggers lead lasted barely five minutes. A foul on Duffy ten yards into the Daggers' half and ten yards in from the Old Grandstand touchline gave City a free kick that Noble floated towards the far post. Taylor ghosted in completed unmarked to loft a looping header back across goal from six yards out and into the far top corner for a simple and well worked equaliser.
City tails were up and they were soon on the attack again, this time with Thomson storming down the right before cutting in and letting fly with a stinging drive that the keeper could only parry. Fortunately defenders were on hand to hack clear as City forwards looked to pounce on the loose ball. With four minutes to go though, City took the lead in fine fashion. Golbourne played the ball out wide to Nardiello who raced to the goal line before drilling a wicked cross to the far post where Logan came racing in to plant a bullet header into the net from two yards out to send three sides of the ground rocking and one side reeling.
In the aftermath of the goal Logan picked up a needless booking for taking his shirt off in celebration, and a couple of Daggers defenders needed calming down by the ref as their inquisition threatened to boil over into a full scale punch up with McCrory and Green the chief protagonists. Jake Thomson then set up a grandstand finish with a fine run down the right before being tackled off the ball, but he won it back with a decent challenge of his own before laying it on a plate to Cureton on the edge of the box. Like most of the afternoon though his radar was off somewhat and he rather spoilt a decent end to the game with wasteful lash high over the bar into the away end.
No matter though as seconds later the game was over and for the second game running City had secured all three points against a very tricky opposition fighting for their lives at the foot of the table. City are now 15 points and six goals better off than Walsall who currently occupy the final relegation spot - Daggers are a point and five goals better off - so with only six games to go survival for City is all but guaranteed. So well done to the players who worked so hard out there today, especially with a number of formation changes, and well done to Paul Tisdale too for recognising the need for those changes and making them when he did.
At the back though Hamer was rarely troubled, even though he was kept busy at times. In front of him the two players recalled to the squad - Tully and Golbourne - made a massive difference offering the team pace and width down the flanks, plus an awful lot of commitment and energy. Taylor and Duffy had their hands full with Savage, surely one of the tallest players in the League, while the three in the centre of midfield worked so hard to keep the ball and close down when the opposition where in possession.
Up front it wasn't really Cureton or O'Flynn's day, but they chased an awful lot and kept the pressure on the Daggers' back line to make it much easier for super subs Logan and Nardiello when they came on, and well done to the pair of them for a goal of real quality to win the match. Well done also to Jake Thomson - we don't see an awful lot of him, but today he had a fine, albeit short, game and made a good impact.
And so as the season comes to close we make the short trip to Bristol Rovers next weekend - another team in a desperate battle for survival - before welcoming fellow mid tablers Leyton Orient and then Oldham to the Park. But that doesn't mean the season's over though, we could still be on for our highest ever finish in our history this season, so that's something to cheer the team on for, and after a coupled of good back to back wins that all but guarantee League One football next season, let's now see if we can finish this one off in style.
    Data provided by Press Association