Report: Exeter City 2 Dag & Red 2
A goal deep, deep into stoppage time by Eliot Richards earned Exeter City a 2-2 draw at home against Dagenham & Redbridge.
The Grecians had gone ahead in the first half through Tom Nichols, but a fine strike by Luke Norris got the visitors on terms in the second period.
Dagenham went ahead through what appeared to be a soft penalty, as Medy Elito slotted in after Brian Saah was judged to have been fouled. But Richards rescued a draw and a vital point with virtually the last kick of the game as he turned in Matt Oakley's cross from the right.
After impressing in midweek for the under-21 side, David Wheeler came straight back into the starting XI for Exeter City to face Dagenham & Redbridge, although Jimmy Keohane was not in the matchday squad at all. Sam Parkin returned to the forward line, where he partnered Tom Nichols in attack.
Last season’s Grecians loanee Lawson D’Ath started in midfield in Dagenham colours, while Daggers dangermen Zavon Hines and Rhys Murphy both missed out through injury. 18-year-old James Hamon took a seat on the bench as the reserve goalkeeper for Exeter, with Artur Krysiak retaining his starting berth between the sticks.
And within a minute City had already registered their first chance – Nichols showed great running to get to the left-hand corner flag and backheel for strike-partner Parkin – the former Luton and Swindon man picked out Liam Sercombe at the far post, but he volleyed over.
Exeter were showing plenty of positive signs and again Sercombe found space after working well with Wheeler down the right, and his left-footed strike deflected into the arms of the grateful Chris Lewington from outside the area.
Dagenham had looked uneasy with City’s threat in the opening quarter of an hour, but suddenly showed a bit of creative spark. D’Ath teed up Luke Norris out wide on the left and the striker bent a shot goalwards with his right foot from outside the box – and it just clipped the far post on its way behind.
Soon after captain Abu Ogogo went within a few feet of opening the scoring – Femi Ilesanmi threaded a great ball down the left channel for Adebayo Azeez, who laid back for the skipper, but his effort was fractionally wide of the upright.
The game had gone into a rather scrappy lull, despite conditions being about as favourable as they had been for some months at the Park.
But the Grecians got a goal that their first-half pressure had merited just after the half-hour mark. Parkin escaped down the left channel and set up Craig Woodman to swing in a deep cross – Wheeler rose highest to nod back for Grimes, and the teenager’s shot was diverted into the net by Nichols with a neat backheel inside the six-yard box.
The visitors began to look rather short of ideas again and it was City that could have grabbed the second on the stroke of half-time, but Woodman’s superb corner was just taken off the head of Scot Bennett.
Half-time: Exeter City 1 Dagenham & Redbridge 0
Woodman again was posing a threat with the dead ball as the second period started – after Sercombe won a free-kick on the right touchline, the left-back delivered a great set-piece to the far post which was headed just over by skipper Danny Coles.
Nichols, full of running, came close to turning provider for fellow forward Parkin as he collected another ball into the inside-left channel. A delightful floated cross was weighted perfectly to pick out Parkin’s run but his chest control was just a tad too heavy and allowed Lewington to gather.
And for all City’s positive play and goal-threat, it was a countering goal by the Daggers which followed to level the game at one-apiece. Exeter had been camped in the visitors’ half for the first 15 minutes of the second period until a quick break saw half-time sub Ashley Chambers feed Norris. This time, he picked out the corner for the leveller.
Azeez nearly put the Daggers ahead straight after as he rose to meet a cross at the far post, but a goal did follow just ten minutes later and in rather bizarre fashion. Gavin Hoyte’s low cross was gathered by Krysiak, but the referee awarded a penalty to the guests for a foul on Saah. Elito was cool from the spot to make it 2-1.
Jamie Reid and Eliot Richards were both thrown into the mix in the final quarter of an hour as part of a front four, which included Bennett after he was instructed to remain upfield.
Reid’s direct running saw him escape Ogogo in his own half and he looked set to pull the trigger 25 yards out, before D’Ath cynically tugged him down. The loanee was booked but City couldn’t make the set-piece count.
Even when a long throw Oakley caused chaos in the box during the five added minutes, Richards couldn’t beat the well-positioned Lewington from ten yards on the volley.
But with basically the last action of the game, Oakley raced away down the right and delivered a low cross into the six-yard box – Richards struck instinctively and Lewington couldn’t keep the ball out as it bundled over the line for a point-saving equaliser.
Full-time: Exeter City 2 Dagenham & Redbridge 2
Exeter City: Krysiak; Bennett, Coles, Moore-Taylor, Woodman; Wheeler (Reid 79), Oakley, Grimes, Sercombe; Nichols (Richards 76), Parkin.
Unused subs: Hamon, Butterfield, Baldwin, Davies, Gill.
Goal: Nichols (34).
Dagenham & Redbridge: Lewington; Hoyte, Doe, Saah, Ilesanmi; Ogogo, D’Ath, Howell (Chambers 46); Elito, Azeez (Dickson 89), Norris (Wilkinson 89).
Unused subs: Seabright, Bingham, Shields, Connors.
Goals: Norris (62), Elito (pen 72).
Attendance: 3,057 (108 away).
Referee: D. Phillips