The great escape is very much back on for the Daggers as they moved to within three points of safety with four games in hand after this vital win at The Memorial Stadium on Saturday writes Ricky Butler. John Still's side began the day a point below Rovers in the bottom four and having lost their last relegation six-pointer at Walsall two and a half weeks ago, another defeat here would have left them with a mountain to climb to avoid the drop.
Their cause was not helped by a injury to Abu Ogogo the previous day and his place at right back was taken by Phil Ifil for his first start since November, meaning he would line up against his brother Jerel in the Rovers side. The only other change for the Daggers saw Scott Doe return at the heart of defence in the now familiar 4-5-1 away formation with Jon Nurse the lone striker this time.
After a nervy start from both sides it was the Pirates who created the first real opportunity after thirteen minutes when a cross from Gavin Williams found Jeff Hughes, who had scored a hat-trick in the reverse fixture in September, but he was denied by Tony Roberts in the Daggers goal before Will Hoskins saw his follow up effort come back off the crossbar.
But the Essex club responded with a good chance of their own twelve minutes later. Danny Green set off on a powerful run down the right and his cross found the head of Solomon Taiwo but he could only direct the ball over the top of Conrad Logan's crossbar.
Mark Arber then went close with a header that looped onto the roof of the net after good work from Peter Gain down the left, but the hosts felt they should have had a penalty just prior to the half hour mark. Rene Howe cut inside Arber and appeared to be caught by the Daggers captain but referee Karl Boyeson waved away their appeals and pointed for a corner instead.
The visitors had to reorganise soon after when Damien McCrory limped off with a knee injury, giving Femi Ilesanmi another opportunity at left back having been on the bench in recent weeks, but it was Daggers who made the vital breakthrough in the final minute of the first half. Roman Vincelot burst onto a ball from Nurse but was crudely brought down by a late lunge from Jerel Ifil, giving Boyeson had no alternative other then to produce a red card for the Rovers man. It was difficult to tell if the offence had occurred outside or inside the penalty area and Green placed the ball optimistically on the spot, but the official ruled it was just outside and awarded a free kick instead. But, undeterred, Green stepped up and curled a superb kick over the wall and beyond Logan into the top right hand corner of the net.
Despite their numerical disadvantage Rovers fought hard to get back on level terms after the break and they twice had the ball in Roberts' net only for the offside flag to deny them on both occasions. First Hughes tapped home after a cross from Howe ten minutes after the resumption before Howe himself then beat Roberts after a great through ball from Stuart Campbell on the hour, but neither effort stood.
Still brought on Bas Savage for Darren Currie midway through the second half in a bid to get the killer second goal and the move almost paid dividends within ten minutes. Green again whipped in a delightful the ball from the right and when the Rovers defence could only half clear the danger, Logan somehow denied the Daggers substitute from close range.
The Pirates were dealt another blow when defender Danny Coles was stretchered off with an nasty looking ankle injury fifteen minutes from time and their misery was then complete as the Daggers sealed the points seven minutes later. A corner from the right by Green found top scorer Vincelot surprisingly unmarked in the penalty area and the Frenchman was able to nod past Logan for his 10th goal of a marvellous season.
So while it may not have been the most convincing of Daggers displays it is all about results at this stage of a season and a win over Colchester United on Tuesday will lift Still's men out of the bottom four for the first time since September.
Assistant manager Terry Harris was delighted with the result. ''It was a very professional performance,'' he said. ''First half was pretty scrappy but we got the break with the free kick, which may well have been a penalty, and it was a fabulous strike from Danny Green,'' he added.
''After their guy was sent off we controlled the second half, kept our shape and looked stronger the longer the game went on. Yes we got the rub of the green on occasions and maybe we won ugly, but I'll accept that and I'll accept a few more ugly three points as well, starting on Tuesday night.''
Attendance; 5,716 (173 away)