The Daggers npower League One survival hopes suffered a blow as Gus Poyet's Brighton clinched promotion with this exciting victory at the Withdean on Tuesday night.
The hosts knew a win would be enough to send them up with five matches to spare, but John Still's side were determined to play the role of party-poopers and made them fight all the way on a night of high drama writes Ricky Butler.
The Daggers showed just one change from the side that had beaten Notts. County at the weekend, Oliver Lee replacing Darren Currie in midfield, and they got off to the perfect start with a goal inside the opening 25 seconds. Danny Green found John Akinde on the edge of the penalty area and his shot flew past the despairing dive of Casper Ankergren with the aid of a deflection off Brighton defender Tommy Elphick.
But the Seagulls responded in the manor of potential Champions. Tony Roberts was forced to tip a 25 yard drive from Craig Noone over the top before Noone then struck the crossbar with another effort from distance, so it was no real surprise when they found the equaliser on 17 minutes. Adam El-Abd turned a corner from Elliott Bennett goalwards and full back Inigo Calderon arrived to stab the ball home from close range despite the best efforts of Scott Doe to clear it off the line.
The Daggers barely had time to recover from that setback when Brighton scored again. Straight from the restart Noone sent a deep cross over from the left and leading scorer Glenn Murray, who had got the only goal when the two sides had met in the reverse fixture a fortnight ago, headed home his 21st of the season at the far post.
With the home fans now beginning to celebrate promotion the Daggers dug deep and finished the half on top. Akinde was twice denied by the reflexes of Ankergren while Romain Vincelot then fired over following a scramble in the home penalty area, and Still's side took that form into the early stages of the second period, scoring twice in four minutes to lead for a second time.
They were level within three minutes of the resumption when Jon Nurse's shot on the turn looped up off Calderon to leave Ankergren stranded, while the home crowd were then stunned into silence when El-Abd brought down Akinde from behind in the area and referee Roger East pointed to the spot; Danny Green confidently dispatching the resulting penalty for his 12th goal of the season.
But Brighton were not going to be denied and they bounced back to level again within five minutes. Murray had already seen a header crash back off the crossbar when Liam Bridcutt capitalised on a weak clearance from Doe to smash home an unstoppable 30 yard thunderbolt that flew into the top right-hand corner of Roberts' net.
El-Abd then sent a header just over the bar as the hosts got back on top and the promotion party was in full swing just past the hour when a corner from Bennett was headed home by substitute Ashley Barnes, his first touch after coming on.
But the Daggers needed the points themselves and they came close to spoiling the celebrations in the closing stages. Ankergren did well to keep out an 81st minute free kick from Green before Mark Arber then beat the Brighton keeper with a looping effort four minutes from time only to see it land agonisingly wide of the left hand upright.
So while Poyet's team celebrated their well earned promotion the Daggers are now just a point above the drop zone ahead of Saturday's crucial trip to fellow-strugglers Tranmere.