Oxford United 2 Daggers 1
The Daggers dropped back into the relegation zone as a late goal from James Constable sent them crashing to an unfortunate defeat at The Kassam Stadium on Tuesday evening.
Just as John Still's side appeared to have earned a well deserved and invaluable point, Constable broke their hearts on Valentine's Day with a well struck winner eleven minutes from time.
Daggers gave a debut to new signing Matthew Saunders in a five-man midfield, while Dominic Green returned from injury. That left Josh Scott cutting a lone and often isolated figure up front.
With neither side having played for nearly three weeks due to the recent bad weather, it took a while for the match get going. The Daggers looked solid and well organised - easily containing a lacklustre O's side - and it took the best part of half an hour for either side to threaten - United's Asa Hall firing wide after good work from Constable.
But it was Still's men who finished the half on top. Scott showed neat control inside the home penalty area to tee-up Mickey Spillane, but he could only fire wide from a tight angle in the 29th minute, while Billy Bingham then saw a low effort saved by Ryan Clarke three minutes before the break.
After such a low-key opening 45 minutes, things improved considerably in the second period, although it was the hosts who grabbed the lead within six minutes of the resumption. Liam Davis did well down the left and his cross was headed home at the near post by ex-Norwich striker Oli Johnson, his first goal for the club.
Still responded by bringing on Adam Cunnington for Bingham - in a switch to a more attacking 4-4-2 formation - and it almost paid dividends within a minute. Green's in-swinging corner from the right was met with a powerful header from captain Mark Arber - which beat Clarke in the O's goal - but Johnson was in the right place to clear the ball off his own goal-line, while Spillane could not force home the rebound.
Medy Elito then replaced Green with more than twenty minutes still to play, and he made an immediate impression - picking out Jon Nurse at the far post - but the Barbadian's header was saved comfortably by Clarke.
However, the Daggers were level moments later. Again Elito was involved with a great cross from the right, and Arber arrived at the far post to head back across Clarke into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.
Still's men had the momentum now and they were close to going in front in the 77th minute. The two substitutes combined well as Cunnington got on the end of a neat ball in from Elito, but his half-volley crashed against the outside of Clarke's post.
Then, typical of the Daggers luck this season, they found themselves behind for a second time just four minutes later. Johnson turned creator with a neat ball to Constable, who beat Chris Lewington with a sharp, low drive.
The Daggers threw everything forward in the closing stages in search of the point they deserved, but the nearest they came was a chip from Spillane which just cleared the crossbar in stoppage time.
With Northampton beating AFC Wimbledon and Plymouth picking up a point against Barnet, Still's side drop back into the bottom two, with all three relegation candidates now level on 24 points.
Attendance; 5,653 (109 away)