Match report: County 1-1 Dagenham and Redbridge
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The Hatters further cemented their hold on third place in the National League, and extended their unbeaten run to 15 games, but ended up sharing the points at Edgeley Park in a rearranged contest with in-form play-off hopefuls Dagenham & Redbridge.
Paddy Madden’s seventh County goal gave them a short-lived lead, before the visitors equalised just ahead of half-time to secure the draw.
County took to the field on a overcast, showery May evening showing three changes from the original line-up in SK3 against Wealdstone eight days previously – with Elliot Newby, Ryan Rydel (who was handed his first start as a Hatter) and Macauley Southam-Hales replacing Sam Minihan, Alex Reid and the injured Tom Walker.
The ‘Daggers’, seeking a seventh straight win, created the first chance of the night within the opening five minutes, when Paul McCallum headed beyond County’s left post – before Newby, from the right, gave visiting goalkeeper Elliot Justham an early catch to execute.
McCallum – a scourge of the Hatters, while playing for Solihull, in the previous season – glanced another header beyond the left upright, after latching on to Will Wright’s assist. And Ash Palmer did likewise at the other end, from a James Jennings corner on the right.
Dagenham skipper Ángelo Balanta fired over from the edge of the County box – and the end-to-end fare continued, when Elliott Johnson, under pressure from Madden, did well to deflect beyond the far post a Rydel cross from the left.
Ben Hinchliffe was called into action to tip around the right post a low shot from Saidou Khan, and subsequently stopped a long-range effort unleashed on the left by Mauro Vilhete. But, with 11 minutes remaining before the break, the Hatters countered to take the lead – with Madden converting Newby’s low cross from the right.
The advantage lasted fewer than 10 minutes, however, as the Daggers, following their fifth corner of the evening (and their first from the left), drew level – courtesy of McCallum, who rose unmarked to head home Wright’s in-swinging delivery for his club’s first-ever EP goal.
HALF-TIME: County 1 (Madden, 34), Dagenham & Redbridge 1 (McCallum, 43).
Leading scorer Alex Reid was introduced upon the resumption, replacing Madden who had picked up a knock towards the end of the first half. But the visitors fashioned the initial opportunities of the new 45, as Balanta fired narrowly wide of the left post, and Hinchliffe was forced to keep out another strike on target from Vilhete.
The hour was approaching by the time the Hatters had their inaugural second-half sight of goal, but John Rooney’s shot from the edge of the area lacked pace and was comfortably gathered by Justham.
With 25 minutes left on the clock, Matt Robinson’s stinging shot clattered against the Hatters’ crossbar, as the Daggers continued to look dangerous. And at the other end, County captain Liam Hogan went close after cutting in from the right and letting rip with a shot that Justham parried beyond the far upright.
Newby’s low shot was smothered by Justham in front of the right post, and substitute Richie Bennett chipped an effort that cleared the bar, before Hinchliffe brilliantly tipped over Andrew Eleftheriou’s shot in added time to keep honours even.
FULL-TIME: County 1 (Madden, 34), Dagenham & Redbridge 1 (McCallum, 43).
Team (3-4-1-2): Hinchliffe; Hogan (Capt.), Palmer, J. Jennings; Southam-Hales, Croasdale, Rooney, Rydel (Bennett, 81); Newby; Cardwell, Madden (Reid, 46).
Unused Subs: Minihan, Keane, Fitzsimons.
Man of the Match: Rydel.
Reporter: Gareth Evans.
Photographer: Mike Petch.