Report: Exeter City 0 Dag & Red 1
The Grecians slipped to a home defeat at the hands of Dagenham & Redbridge, who were 1-0 victors at St James Park.
Exeter were trailing from the fifth minute when Scott Doe bulleted in a header from a Matthew Saunders corner.
City pushed onwards in the second half and were denied an equaliser when a Danny Coles header was judged not to have crossed the line – and the early goal ultimately proved decisive, as the Daggers saw out the win.
Jamie Cureton, who had had to leave the field late in the Grecians’ last outing with an injury, missed out on the matchday squad, as did Steve Tully who had been playing through the pain barrier in recent weeks.
John O’Flynn returned from injury to lead the line alone, with Lawson D’Ath playing off the front-man.
Before kick-off, all corners of the ground rose to applaud the life of ever-loyal Grecian Angie Ellicott, who sadly died over the Easter period.
And as soon as the game began, it was just as soon called to a halt when Kevin Amankwaah went down injured as he defended a cross from the left flank. After a short period of consultation, physio Andy Proctor decided the City right-back couldn’t continue.
With Tully missing, it meant that Aaron Dawson had to be called into the team in the opening stages for a straight swap.
It got even worse moments later when Saunders whipped in a fierce corner from the left, which Doe arrived to bullet a header beyond Artur Krysiak for the lead.
The game got rather stodgy on an unusually bright and clear afternoon, and the Grecians were struggling to build any purposeful attacking play.
The pace and directness of Toni Silva and Medy Elito on the flanks were forcing the full-backs to have to stand off to avoid getting rolled – and visitors wanted a penalty when Silva went down in the box. However it was no more than a shoulder-to-shoulder challenge, which the referee waved away.
With the Grecians having little luck in building opportunities on the deck, Tis opted to shuffle the deck and introduced Guillem Bauza in place of Jake Gosling in order to revert to a 4-4-2.
It began to look effective as Bauza was offering a target up front, which O’Flynn was continuing to run the channels with unrelenting running.
Bauza then fed a ball into the channel for D’Ath to run onto, and the youngster smashed in a low cross – but Jordan Seabright was down quickly to smother the ball with the City attack lurking.
The visitors might have doubled the lead before the interval when Saunders whipped a fine free-kick goalwards, but Krysiak saved to his left and held the ball well.
Half-time: Exeter City 0 Dagenham & Redbridge 1
City began the second half with good intent, and a measured ball by Scot Bennett from his own half nearly sent D’Ath clear in the right-hand channel – but there was just too much on the pass, and it just escaped the youngster’s reach and went out for a goal-kick.
The play had to be brought to a temporary halt again when Dawson was flipped inside out when challenging for a header – but the City man eventually got back to his feet and was fit to continue.
D’Ath looked to spark a quick counter down the right wing with a quick break – but after dribbling a long way down the touchline, he was upended by Silva, who earned a yellow card for the offense.
Craig Woodman was trying to arrow in some trademark searching balls from the left-back position – and he nearly found O’Flynn with a strafing ball – but it just overran. However Seabright spilled the ball to allow Bauza to poke a ball goalwards, but it hit O’Flynn who was ahead of the play and flagged offside.
And City were sure they had scored midway into the second period when Bauza won a free-kick right on the right-hand byline. Woodman whipped a great ball in which captain Danny Coles headed goalwards, and it was clawed away from the line by Seabright – whether the ball had crossed the line or not was unclear, but neither the referee nor the assistant were willing to give it and play continued.
The Grecians were pressing and pressing and committing bodies forward to try and pinch an equaliser. Bennett was the target on a number of occasions from Woodman free-kicks from deep, but Seabright was consistently managing to foil the home side.
Woodman in fact chanced his arm from a free-kick in a central position from 35 yards, but the goalkeeper watched it all the way and plucked it out the air.
The Daggers continued to frustrate the Grecians for the remainder of the half and throughout the four additional minutes, to travel back to London with all three points.
Full-time: Exeter City 0 Dagenham & Redbridge 1
Exeter City: Krysiak; Amankwaah (Dawson 3), Baldwin, Coles, Woodman; Davies, Bennett, Doherty (Keohane 74), Gosling (Bauza 35); D’Ath; O’Flynn.
Subs (not used): Evans, Molesley, Chamberlain, Moore-Taylor.
Dagenham & Redbridge: Seabright; Ogogo, Wilkinson, Doe, Ilesanmi; Maher; Silva (Dennis 66), Saunders (Fortune 89), Howell, Elito; Reed (Strevens 78).
Subs (not used): Miles, Hoyte, Sharif, Bingham.
Goal: Doe (5).
Attendance: 3,755 (127 away)