Southend United 1 Daggers 1
The Daggers enjoyed a great start to 2012 as a late Brian Woodall
equaliser gave them a fully deserved share of the spoils at Roots Hall on Monday afternoon.
With just four minutes remaining it appeared as though it was going to be a case of missed opportunities for the Daggers, but Woodall
, who had scored in the previous two matches over Christmas, calmly slotted past Shrimps goalkeeper Luke Daniels to send the 765 travelling fans behind the goal into raptures.
''It was not only a good result but a good performance too,'' said a delighted John Still. ''I think the performance was worthy of all three points, but we need to keep turning up with these kind of performances if we are to get away from the bottom of the table.''
Still's side arrived at promotion-chasing Southend on the back of a four match unbeaten run - including back-to-back home wins over Christmas against Barnet and Gillingham - which had seen them move three points clear of the drop zone, and the side was unchanged from that latest success on Friday night.
Their new-found confidence was evident from the start as the Daggers enjoyed the better of the early exchanges. Cristian Montano
tested Daniels inside fourteen minutes, while Jon Nurse
then headed wide of the right-hand upright after linking well with the West Ham loanee two minutes later.
Still was forced into an early change when ex-Southend captain Kevin Maher
limped off in the 23rd minute - not the he would have wanted to mark his return to Roots Hall - and big Exodus Geohaghan was brought off the bench to replace him for only his second appearance since his switch from Darlington in November.
Despite the re-shuffle the Daggers soon resumed their earlier control and they should have gone ahead just before the half-hour mark. Nurse did well down the left but his cross was headed tamely wide by Montano
at the near post.
That looked like being a crucial miss when the Shrimps grabbed the lead ten minutes later. Ryan Leonard had already seen a deflected effort come back off Chris Lewington
's crossbar when on-loan Swindon midfielder Michael Timlin smashed home an unstoppable volley from 20 yards seven minutes before the break.
However, the Daggers responded well to that setback and came close to an equaliser twice in quick succession just before the break. Montano
volleyed inches wide of Daniel's right-hand upright, before Mark Phillips then deflected an effort from Woodall
over the top, following another left wing cross from Nurse.
The hosts were close to doubling their advantage at the start of the second period when Liam Dickinson fired over after a pull-back from new signing Elliot Benyon, but the Daggers were soon back on top. They should have drawn level seven minutes after the resumption when Woodall
capitalised on a mistake from Chris Barker, but he elected to square for Nurse instead of going for goal himself, and Phillips got back to make a superb last-ditch challenge to deny what had looked a certain goal.
But it was all Daggers now as Montano
fired wide twenty minutes from time, before Nurse then saw a header cleared off the line by Sean Clohessy and Montano
was somehow unable to scramble the ball home from close range.
However, Still's men were rewarded with just four minutes left. Billy Bingham
did well to win the ball from Timlin thirty yards from goal, and his lovely ball sent Woodall
clear of the home defence. The young striker, who had scored in each of the previous two matches, took his time and showed maturity beyond his years with a cool, low finish beyond Daniels into the bottom left-hand corner of the net, to earn his side a well deserved point.
''I think one or two of our less experienced players, who found it hard earlier in the season, are now coping far better with it,'' said Still. ''We have more confidence now, so we are passing the ball much better and you are seeing the real Dagenham again,'' he added.