A controversial late goal from substitute Charley Kendall condemned the Fleet to defeat and protected Dagenham’s good record at Stonebridge Road.
There were four changes for the Fleet including a home debut for Mustapha Olagunju, who would earn the man of the match award before the end of the afternoon.
A couple of half chances for either side marked the early stages of the match but the Fleet had the first threatening opportunity. Dominic Poleon fended off his marker to slot a ball through to Matty Fanimo who had eyes on goal. Just before he could take the shot, however, a sliding tackle by Tom Eastman put a halt to that one.
Dagenham responded but the Fleet kept them at bay. A corner delivery found the head of Harry Phipps but his headed effort went over. Moments later, Mark Cousins was called into action to tip Freddie Sears’ effort behind the post.
It was an occasionally feisty affair with Dagenham taking the first hit on cautions to Jake Hessenthaler and Frank Vincent before a promising chance for the Fleet came just after the half-hour mark, Franklin Domi opting to shoot but the experience of Elliott Justham to hold his ground kept that one out.
Dagenham forced a number of corners but it was Fleet who largely controlled the ball possession, a trend that would continue into the second-half.
A slow start to that saw neither side fashion a clear-cut chance to threaten the defences. In fact, it wasn’t until the 67th minute where a real opportunity came to light and it was for the visitors. Lewis Page shot shot from an acute angle that was denied by the fingertips of former Dagger Cousins. This invited the Fleet to manage a strong chance of their own, Omari Sterling-James receiving a long ball where he was then able to play in Poleon whose shot was blocked.
The Fleet continued to push hard in the Dagenham half for the opener and there were enough half chances to keep Dagenham’s defence on edge but nothing to overly worry Justham. Another chance did arrive at the other end, a close-range strike from David Longe-King that was superbly beaten off by the gloves of Cousins.
But with four minutes added and a goalless draw seeming inevitable, along came the last-gasp winner. Olagunju cleared an attack for a corner and from that a goalmouth scramble followed. As it pinged around, Kendall got the last touch before the ball was scrambled away with Fleet players adamant it hadn’t crossed the line. The assistant referee, somewhat further away, said it had.
With all Dagenham players including Justham celebrating at the Swanscombe End, the Fleet tried to kick-off and Poleon was urged on to fire into the empty net but the referee pulled play back for a restart to his own satisfaction before blowing the final whistle.
EUFC: Cousins, O’Neill, Wright, Olagunju, Sterling-James (Cundle 70), Tanner, Poleon, Domi, Fanimo (Chapman 70), Solly, Amoo (Odokonyero 65). Subs: Edser, Hollis
DRFC: Justham, Hare, Johnson, Eastham, Hessenthaler, Vincent (Longe-King 73), Rees, Effiong, Page, Phipps, Sears (Kendall 81). Subs: Weston, Francis-Clarke, Ling
Attendance: 1,605 (259 away)
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