The Fleet-Dagenham old boys’ reunion this afternoon went the way of those in the Essex half as the Daggers progressed in the Buildbase FA Trophy, an unassailable 3-0 lead in the first-half doing all the damage.
Lee Martin’s second-half goal sparked hopes of a revival but it was all too brief before former Fleet favourite Darren McQueen snuffed out that glimmer of hope with a quickfire double.
There were three changes to the Fleet side with Reece Grant appearing against his former club alongside Rakish Bingham and Alfie Egan, while Michael West, Sefa Kahraman and Greg Cundle made way.
Dagenham fielded only two former Fleet faces in McQueen and Kenny Clark, with Dean Rance, Sam Deering and Myles Weston all absent.
Paul McCallum saw half a chance with a glancing header as Dagenham applied some early pressure but Fleet got into their passing stride, Ben Chapman tasked with getting forward down the left. He took Jack Paxman’s diagonal pass down on 10 minutes, supplying Martin for a shot that won a corner off goalkeeper Elliott Justham.
But Dagenham took the lead on 16 minutes, winning a corner on the left. Charlee Adams swung it in and the dangerous McCallum got on the end of it to direct it past Tom Hadler.
Two minutes later another Daggers corner had the Fleet rattled as it dropped in the six-yard box but the visitors got that one away. Fleet’s defence did succumb in the 20th minute once more, however, as Angelo Balanta was on hand to collect a half-clearance. Chapman denied him but he clawed the ball back for a second attempt, wrong-footed the players around him with a neat sidestep and tucked the ball into the bottom corner for 2-0.
Fleet stemmed the Daggers tide more effectively after that but McQueen showed his pace on the half hour to get on the end of a ball forward, Hadler diving low to his left to scoop away the former Fleet striker’s effort.
Bingham strode forward purposefully on the break on 37 minutes, delivering from the right towards Martin but his attempt went over. Moments later Bingham’s second delivery was aimed closer to goal, Callum Reynolds having to hook that one over his own bar.
Martin was finding his range too and a good buildup towards the left six minutes before half-time saw the skipper hook an effort into the six-yard box that Justham had to punch clear.
At the other end, Will Wood’s diving header cut out a Dagenham cross at the expense of a corner on 43 minutes. But Dagenham profited from their set piece once more and with the corner swept to the back post, Callum Reynolds manoeuvred himself behind his markers to head home.
And 3-0 it stayed through to the break when a change in the previously sedate weather saw a deluge of rain descend. There was a change, too, for the Fleet with Josh Payne replacing Egan.
It was Payne whose ambitious but perfectly weighted ball forward on 50 minutes set Martin free but his effort was blocked and the same was true of Chapman’s effort from 25 yards moments later.
Martin had more luck with Fleet’s next attack. Bingham headed on Chapman’s pass and Grant found himself with space to get into the box ahead of some poor defending. He swept the ball away from Justham but a little too far away for a shot himself. Martin thundered in instead and swept one into the net for 3-1.
The goal spurred Fleet into a much busier approach and the game was increasingly fluent as a result. Bingham wasn’t far off a second goal on 55 minutes, Paxman’s persistence finding him on the edge of the box and he turned and hit a low effort that Justham gathered by the near post.
And the visitors continued to enjoy their best spell of the game, though Dagenham still showed how dangerous they were when McQueen twisted his way through to a shooting position on 61 minutes, Charlie Rowan flinging himself at the ball as it flew goalwards to head it behind.
But McQueen punished his former club two minutes later. Hadler made a good save from Balanta’s initial shot, supplied by the head of McCallum once more, but it was in vain as McQueen was on to the loose ball to strike it home from 18 yards.
And it was 5-1 on 65 minutes, McQueen again, as Dagenham’s quick passing move ended with McCallum flicking a pass on that McQueen gobbled up.
Wood tried to reduce the arrears with a one-two exchange with Martin on 73 minutes but his strike from wide was smothered by Justham. Bingham’s header from substitute Adam Mekki’s pass on 85 minutes went off-target with both sides down to 10 men by then as Martin and McQueen both limped off within moments of each other.
Most of the action was done and dusted by then but Will Wright almost rubbed further salt in the wound with a free-kick that pinged just wide of the post.
Bingham still had something to say, however, accepting the chance afforded him by Justham’s poor kick out in time added on and he took a touch ahead of Clark before despatching an excellent shot for his sixth of the season but it was a mere consolation by then.
EUFC: Hadler, Adebayo-Rowling, Chapman, Wood, Rowan, Taylor (Kahraman 67), Paxman, Egan (Payne 46), Martin, Grant (Mekki 63), Bingham. Subs not used: Allen, West, Goodman, Holmes
DRFC: Justham, Gordon (Clements 77), Reynolds (Wright 70), Johnson, Clark, Eleftheriou, Ogogo, Adams (Robinson 46), McCallum, Balanta, McQueen. Subs not used: Strizovic, Croll, Brown, Wilson