Full Time: Daggers 1, Robins 0A disappointing day for the Robins as they fell to a 1-0 loss at the hands of Dagenham & Redbridge this afternoon.
It was Dagenham's first win over Cheltenham in the league and a real blow to Mark Yates' side as they looked to keep up the pressure at the top end of the table. Luke Howell's goal handed Dagenham all three points despite a last gasp chance for Michael Hector at the death.
The first half was a little uneventful but Dagenham had the better opportunities in front of goal and Scott Brown was on hand to deny former Wycombe striker Ben Strevens with a close range header. The second half looked as though it may serve up the same as the first but it was Dagenham that took the lead when a Jason Taylor mistake allowed Elito to find Howell inside the area with the midfielder finishing off well past Brown. The Robins keeper was doing his best to keep Cheltenham in the game with solid saves including one from the penalty spot but his hard work wasn't rewarded as Cheltenham succumbed to defeat at the hands of John Still's Daggers.
It was a performance far from Cheltenham's best and they must now travel to Southend in the hunt for a big three points.
Just one change was named by Mark Yates ahead of this afternoon's game with Billy Jones being restored to his duties at left back following a light thigh injury. That meant Sido Jombati dropped to the bench with the recently impressive Keith Lowe maintaining his run in the side on the right hand side of defence. Paul Benson, a former Dagger hero, made his first return to Victoria Road in the colours of Cheltenham and partnered Shaun Harrad who had recently re-ignited his goal scoring prowess with two goals in two games. It was also a return for Marlon Pack who spent time on loan with the Daggers from Portsmouth and he started from the bench.
Cheltenham had never lost to Dagenham & Redbridge and in fact they had never conceded a goal at this venue but the past is the past and Mark Yates was wary of the Daggers threat. The Robins carved out the first chance of this game just three minutes into play with Shaun Harrad's strike stinging the gloves of Lewington but the hosts were tidy at the back and were able to clear quickly and calmly. Dagenham weren't without their early threats but the majority of their attacks were wasted on the final ball and Cheltenham were more than happy to sit patiently for their opportunity. The hosts had their first meaningful attack on goal after 19 minutes when Abu Ogogo found himself on the end of a stretched ball across the box but his strike at Brown's goal was quickly deflected over the bar by a Billy Jones sliding tackle.
It wasn't a game for the purist at this stage and Dagenham were slowly but surely growing into the game. Steve Elliott was needed to make a vital block inside his area from a Matt Saunders effort to avoid Dagenham going a goal up and Brown was quick to gobble up the loose ball. Former Cheltenham Town loanee Medy Elito tried his luck on 29 minutes with an ambitious strike from 30 yards but the winger's effort was wide over and the game continued to play out as a stalemate. Mid-way through this half and the Daggers were the team causing problems and they would have been 1-0 up had it not been for a superb save by Brown. A deep cross found the head of Strevens at the far post after he had out jumped Hector but Brown's right glove pushed it away before it had a chance to settle in the net. Vital save for the Robins.
Still the hosts pushed forward continuing to haunt the back line of Cheltenham but the Robins were defending well and a Sam Williams effort was wide of goal courtesy of some pressure from Elliott. The hosts had a few more efforts minutes before half time. A corner was directed to the head of Wilkinson but the defender couldn't keep the effort down and a long range effort from Saunders was comfortable for Brown. Missed opportunities for Dagenham but they finished the half the better side.
Half Time: Dagenham & Redbridge 0-0 Cheltenham Town
The second half started much as the first half ended and neither side really grabbed themselves a foothold in this game. Russ Penn had a tame effort drop wide of goal on 52 minutes but that was swiftly followed by a double substitution in an effort to change the flow of this match. Darren Carter and Byron Harrison replaced McGlashan and Harrad respectively. That change altered the formation into what was similar to a diamond system with Mohamed the point behind Benson and Harrison.
Cheltenham weren't themselves and they soon found themselves 1-0 down following some sloppy play. Michael Hector had done well to play out an attack but Jason Taylor's mistake released Medy Elito who found Luke Howell in a central position within the area and he fired the ball past Brown to take the lead. It was the first goal the Daggers had scored past Cheltenham here at Victoria Road and it was one the Robins really shouldn't have conceded.
Young Michael Hector was booked on 64 minutes for a clumsy challenge in the middle of the pitch but the freekick came to nothing. Dagenham had their tails up and they were handed a golden opportunity to put themselves further ahead when Steve Elliott brought down Saunders in the area for a penalty. Sam Williams stepped up and fired a low effort towards the bottom corner but a strong hand from Scott Brown prevented a second goal and what possibly would have been defeat. Cheltenham's number one was being kept busy and he made another fantastic save on 73 minutes when a Daggers counter attack broke through the defensive ranks and Sam Williams fired in at goal. A strong hand and a good performance all round from Brown. That was further proven when he pushed a Medy Elito effort wide of goal with Dagenham maintaining the pressure.
Marlon Pack was introduced ten minutes from time in place of Russ Penn in what was his first appearance since the proposed move to Swindon fell through but he could have seen his side further behind seconds later when Elito beat Lowe for pace down the wing and fired an effort across the face of goal. Dagenham were playing well and even their left back wanted part of the action as he burst forward before turning 360 degrees with a pivoting turn but his short was swiftly blocked before he scurried back to more familiar surroundings.
Time was running out for the Robins and they really didn't look like pulling a goal back. Marlon Pack's 35 yard effort was well wide of goal and Cheltenham saw little action in front of goal after that point but they could have drawn at the death had Scott Brown's header from Billy Jones' cross been tapped in at the far post by Michael Hector. It was a loss for Cheltenham Town and one that would really disappoint the players and management.
Full Time: Dagenham & Redbridge 1-0 Cheltenham Town
Dag & Red FC (4-4-2): Lewington (GK); Hoyte, Doe, Wilkinson, Ilesani; Saunders, Ogogo (C), Howell, Elito; Strevens, Williams (Woodall 82)
Subs not used: Seasbright (GK), Maher, Caprice, Gracco, Bingham, Reed.
Cheltenham Town FC (4-4-2): Brown (GK); Lowe, Hector, Elliott, Jones; McGlashan (Carter 53), Penn (C) (Pack 79), Taylor, Mohamed; Benson, Harrad (Harrison 53)
Subs not used: Roberts (GK), Jombati, Deering, Duffy
Referee: Mr. Darren Drysdale.
Attendance: 1,526 (126 from Cheltenham)
Robins Star Man: Scott Brown - Kept the Robins in the game and made a very good save from the penalty spot. Did his best to maintain Cheltenham's hopes in this game.