The Daggers Carling Cup jinx struck again at Stadium MK last night as a second half brace from former Leyton Orient striker Jabo Ibehre sent them crashing out at the first hurdle for the fourth year in a row.
Following a tough league opener at Hillsborough last weekend the last thing the Daggers needed was another tricky away trip and manager John Still made three changes from the side that had been beaten on Saturday. Jon Nurse came in for the injured Danny Green on the right, Darren Currie replaced Peter Gain on the left while Josh Scott partnered Paul Benson up front in place of Gavin Tomlin.
After overcoming a strong start from the hosts, the Daggers took a 12th minute lead. Referee Gavin Ward penalised Dons midfielder Peter Leven for a challenge on Nurse and Damien McCrory stepped up to curl a superb left-footed free kick around the wall and into the bottom corner of the net from 25 yards. It certainly was a great way to open his account for the club following his move from Plymouth Argyle in January.
The Daggers almost doubled their advantage three minutes later when Benson broke clear of the home defence but Dons defender Danny Woodards got back to make a terrific last-ditch challenge and avert the danger.
With the front two of Jermaine Easter and Ibehre now beginning to get into their stride The Dons fought hard to get back in the tie before the break. It was Ibehre who came close to an equaliser in the 18th minute after Angelo Balanta had got clear down the left, but he did not connect cleanly and the ball spun harmlessly wide of the right-hand post.
The Dons continued to have the better of the chances in the first half and Mark Arber was forced to block an effort from Ibehre while McCrory then headed a dangerous cross from Balanta to safety just before the break.
The hosts upped the tempo at the start of the second half and Easter thought he had brought them level five minutes after the restart. Another great cross from Balanta found the head of the former Wycombe front man and he nodded past Tony Roberts from 10 yards but Ward cut his celebrations short after spotting a push on Arber.
Driven on by their sense of injustice The Dons really stepped up the pressure and it brought dividends within three minutes. Easter turned provider this time with a great ball to release strike-partner Ibehre and he coolly tucked it under the diving Roberts to bring the hosts level.
With the tide now very much in The Dons favour Still made a triple substitution with twenty minutes left, replacing Scott, Benson and Currie with Phil Walsh, Damian Scannell and Gain, but it was the hosts who went in front eight minutes later.
Doe and McCrory were caught napping at the back by the lively Ibehre and despite the angle being against him the former Leyton Orient man was still able to smash the ball into the roof of the net from 12 yards.
It was very nearly all over six minutes later when substitute Sam Baldock worked space for a shot on the edge of area but while his effort beat the desperate dive of Roberts it rolled just the wrong side of the right-hand post.
The Daggers had one final opportunity to save their cup dream just as the tie moved into stoppage time. Nurse was brought down by Luke Chadwick 30 yards out but McCrory was unable to repeat his earlier effort and The Daggers Carling Cup hopes had disappeared for another year.
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