Dagenham & Redbridge 1-1 Fleet

Billy Clifford’s last-gasp header made it a pair of 1-1 draws for the Fleet this Easter as Danny Searle’s side once more came from behind to grab a deserved equaliser and one more precious point that was warmly greeted by the 300-plus travelling Fleet fans.

There was one change to the line-up with Darren McQueen starting in place of Tommy Fogarty against a Dagenham team who were almost safe after their Good Friday win.

It wasn’t the liveliest opening 10 minutes the Fleet supporters would have witnessed this season and the opening chance came from Dominic Samuel’s blistering shot that he blazed over the crossbar.

On 12 minutes came another attack that could have opened the scoring. Samuel whipped a ball into the area towards the far post where both Rakish Bingham and Bryant Bilongo arrived but neither could connect with the ball and instead collided with goalkeeper Elliot Justham who needed lengthy treatment.

Samuel continued to search for the opener when Clifford lobbed a ball into his path and he was through on goal but his touch was too heavy, allowing Justham to collect.

For Dagenham, a Ben Chapman foul on Ryan Hill gave them a first chance of the match and the same player delivered it but couldn’t get the ball past the one-man wall of Chapman. The visitors continued to push, enjoying more possession, before Samuel looked to have tweaked a hamstring on the half-hour and Fleet were forced into an early substitution as Dominic Poleon replaced him.

Inih Effiong had an excellent chance to open the scoring at the far post from Sam Ling’s inswinging cross but the Daggers danger man stuck his close-range effort into the side netting. Up at the other end of the pitch, the Fleet created a strong chance themselves. Poleon delivered the ball into the area which Bilongo met but his first-time shot was denied by the face of Justham.

The tempo slowed as the sides headed into the break all square but in the five minutes of additional time, Dagenham should have snatched the lead. A scrappy succession of shots around the Fleet box kept the pressure on and it took a headed goalline clearance from Declan Skura to see off the danger from Ling’s on target shot.

Goalscorer Billy Clifford was heavily involved throughout the 90

The visitors looked to push on again early in the second period and Toby Edser slipped a ball into the path of Poleon who latched on to it but opted to push the ball around Justham and his second attempt was blocked by the Daggers keeper.

Eight minutes in, a penalty was awarded to the Fleet when a hand got in the way of Clifford’s shot. Bingham steeped up to take but Justham dived the right way and denied the Fleet striker from the spot.

Dagenham started to find their feet after that encouragement but the Fleet still looked the most likely of the two sides to break the deadlock. A ball into the area picked out Bingham but his first-time effort was off target.

Justham kept his side in it again when Craig Tanner played in Poleon who was one-on-one with the Dagenham keeper but couldn’t beat him and McQueen arrived for the rebound but found the Daggers defence just as difficult to beat.

The home side looked like they’d won it with 12 minutes remaining when an Effiong ball wide to Josh Rees was met with a well-placed, rising shot driven into the far corner. Rees nearly claimed a second when a misplaced clearance from Mark Cousins fell to him but that effort came back off Skura before eventually being cleared.

Clifford, Chapman and McQueen kept the Fleet moving forward as time ticked away but it seemed Dagenham would take a somewhat fortunate three points. That was until the fifth minute of additional time. A last-ditch corner was delivered by Tanner and picked out Clifford who climbed to power the ball off his head and in.

With Kidderminster winning below the Fleet but other results not so harmful, it was an important point and certainly one that the visitors more than deserved.

Clifford meets the 95th minute corner to score

EUFC: Cousins, Kenlock, Skura, Chapman, Wright, Clifford, Bilongo (Cundle 74), McQueen, Edser (Tanner 68), Bingham, Samuel (Poleon 30). Subs: Cissé, Fanimo
DRFC: Justham, Eastman, Hessenthaler, Rees, Effiong, Hill (Lawless 83), Pereria (Tavares 83), Page, Ling, Appiah-Forson (Kedwell 61), Longe-King. Subs: Hare, Remy
Attendance: 1,862 (314 EUFC)

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