Goals from Jamie Cureton and Keith Lowe handed Cheltenham Town a vital 2-1 victory away at Dagenham & Redbridge this afternoon.
A feisty first half lit up on 31 minutes when Jamie Cureton scored a wonderful goal from 25 yards to record his 250th career goal but Dag & Red spoilt the party against the run of play just 9 minutes later with an equaliser after Keith Lowe's clearance smashed back off McGlashan and opened the defensive line for the hosts. A Keith Lowe header reclaimed the lead for Cheltenham however but it was the performances of Scott Brown and his defence that helped seal this victory. Mark Yates will be much happier come home time this evening despite the late pressure Dagenham forced upon his side.
An important three points for Cheltenham against a difficult opponent and it was a victory for the loyal travelling support to enjoy on the way home. Two home games up next for the Robins with the chance to start anew in the 2013-14 campaign.
Changes were signalled ahead of kick off with Mark Yates opting to recall the fit again Craig Braham-Barrett, Sido Jombati and striker Jamie Cureton into the starting XI. Bristol City loanee James Wilson was missing due to international duty with Wales and Keith Lowe slipped into central defence with Jombati and Braham-Barrett occupying the full back positions. Yates also chose a diamond formation with Jermaine McGlashan playing in just behind the strikers giving the Robins a new look in midfield. These were changes that Cheltenham hoped would bring them the fortune and performance they needed to take all three points from a club full of confidence.
Mark Yates had told the media that the time for talk was done ahead of this game and the Robins started well enough with their chance coming within the first minute but Matt Richards' freekick was well saved by Seabright in the Dagenham goal. The midfield had started the game well too with Russ Penn certainly getting stuck into the challenges but there was a sharp intake of breath from the travelling fans with the captain having to receive treatment following a collision. Penn was soon back on his feet though and he was at it again leaping high and making every effort to harry the Dagenham opposition.
First job of the day? Don't concede very early on and Cheltenham reached the 15 minute mark with a fairly solid performance. Byron Harrison had shot over the bar for the Robins and they continued to test the resolve of the Daggers defence with several pacy attacks. The hosts had their first chance on goal when Rhys Murphy was played through on goal by Ogogo but the offside flag had risen and the striker had missed the target but all in all it was more positive from a team who scored five goals in their previous fixture. 25 minutes in and Dagenham were growing into the game with Connor's devilish cross testing the resolve of the Cheltenham defence but Keith Lowe's forehead appeared out of nowhere and took the blow but it was clear and he was congratulated by his team-mates. Cheltenham were perhaps the more positive side in this game but it was becoming increasingly evident that it would take a bit of individual magic to break the deadlock - cue Jamie Cureton. The 38 year-old striker was on 249 career goals before today's fixture and that figure was knocked up to 250 on 31 minutes with a sensational finish. Byron Harrison brought the ball down for his strike partner and Cureton took the shot straight away looping the ball over the head of Seabright from 25 yards out and into the back of the net. 1-0 and a special shirt unveiled by Cheltenham's new goalscoring hero.
It was a moment to savour but the elation didn't last long as Dagenham grabbed an equaliser nine minutes later. The ball had been pumped into the box to the head of Murphy but Brown made a superb save before Ogogo arrived and pounced upon the rebound smashing it into the back of the net for 1-1. A perfect response from the Daggers but perhaps the story of Cheltenham's season so far. Half time approached with neither side threatening again but it did become feisty with several challenges testing the temperament of the game. The break did soon come with the scores level and Cheltenham kicking themselves for letting the lead slip.
Half Time: Dagenham & Redbridge 1-1 Cheltenham Town
The second half begun with a Dagenham & Redbridge substitution with Chris Dickson replacing Afolabi Obafemi and making his debut for the club. The first effort of the game courtesy of Jermaine McGlashan just minutes into the second period but his ambitious 20 yarder failed to hit the target and sailed harmlessly into the stand. Dagenham hit straight back and had a good chance from Luke Howell smashed in from an angle but Brown was comfortable enough to claim the save. A Matt Richards freekick was headed narrowly wide by Byron Harrison as the Robins continued to try and reclaim their lost lead but Zavon Hines did come close with his own Cureton-esque effort although Brown was comfortable enough to let it fly over his bar.
Cheltenham Town did regain their lead on 59 minutes and it was a deserved one for the Robins. Jamie Cureton's header tested the gloves of Seabright before Troy Brown, sitting on the back post, struck the back in towards goal but it was the arriving Keith Lowe who met his effort with a header and smashed the ball into the top corner. It was no less than Cheltenham deserved but the Daggers almost found an instant reply when Rhys Murphy's driven effort stung the gloves of Scott Brown from 25 yards. The hosts were threatening and a crucial overhead clearance from Jombati denied Murphy a free header at goal with another Dagenham cross causing probems. Scott Brown needed to be alert and he produced a wonderful save from Ogogo's long range effort but that wasn't the end of Dagenham's assault on Cheltenham's goal and Brown had to be back on his feet once again to make a block from Murphy's rebounded effort. Cheltenham's goalkeeper had kept them in the lead but there were also several key headers from Lowe and Braham-Barrett to snuff out attacks upon goal.
Tense stuff for the travelling fans as they chewed at their nails and clawed at their clothes, could Cheltenham Town hang onto their lead? They very nearly lost it on 71 minutes when Hines found himself through at goal with Scott Brown charging out to meet him. The striker clipped the ball wide of Brown and there were screams from the home fans that Brown had used his glove outside of the area but the referee waved play on much to the disgust of the Dagenham players and support.
Mark Yates made his first substitution of the game on 77 minutes introducing Terry Gornell at the expense of Jamie Cureton. Cheltenham just needed to keep possession in the final ten minutes and limit Dagenham's opportunities to push forward as much as possible and they were doing that well with Taylor and Gornell putting a shift in. The hosts really should have levelled on 84 minutes when former Robins loanee Medy Elito found the loose ball just inside the area but his shot was wild and left the stadium. Five minutes from time and the clock was arguably being watched more than the game as Mark Yates roared instructions at his players in an attempt to seal the three points and Byron Harrison came close to scoring a stunning goal from just inside on the left wing but the effort thundered past the crossbar.
Late yellow cards for Byron Harrison and Dagenham's Jack Connors were shown ahead of the signal for 5 minutes added on time and Cheltenham steadied themselves for the onslaught. Dagenham attempted to find the breakthrough they needed with Elito and Hines leading the line but Cheltenham held on with the full time whistle greeted by an eruption from the away stand behind the goal. A stronger defensive showing and the right quality up front made this a Saturday to finally enjoy.
Full Time: Dagenham & Redbridge 1-2 Cheltenham Town
Dagenham & Redbridge FC (4-3-3): Seabright (GK); Wilkinson, Saah, Bingham (Elito 64), Connors; Howell, Doe, Ogogo (C), Obafemi (Dickson 46), Murphy (Scott 84), Hines
Subs not used: Anderson (GK), Ilesanmi, Saunders, Dennis
Cheltenham Town FC (4-4-2 Diamond): Brown (GK); Jombati, Lowe, T Brown, Braham-Barrett; Richards, Penn (C), Taylor, McGlashan; Harrison, Cureton (Gornell 77)
Subs not used: Rivers (GK), Elliott, Deering, Noble, Vincent, Kotwica
Referee: Mr. Keith Hill
Attendance: 1,727 (165 from Cheltenham)
Star Man: Troy Brown