Dagenham V Bath City
By Paul Nicolaou
Dagenham survived an early scare to earn a draw against a spirited Bath City side in the FA Cup with Budweiser first round.
The visitors took the lead early on when Sean Canham was sent clear of the defence and placed his shot pass Daggers keeper Chris Lewington. But Brian Woodall's first goal for the club ensured the teams must meet again to decide who progresses to the next round.
The game started well for Dagenham, with the home side knocking the ball around well. However it was the away side that had the first effort on goal, with Canham's strike from outside the box easily saved by Lewington.
The Daggers responded well, and a Damien McCrory corner found the head of Phil Walsh, whose effort led to a scramble in the area, but was eventually dealt with by the City defence.
The non-league outfit were first to break the deadlock after 11 minutes when some sloppy defending allowed Canham to burst through the home defence and calmly place the ball past Lewington.
Dagenham threatened to strike straight back at their opponents from the restart when Damian Scannell darted down the right flank but could not quite pick out his intended target Jon Nurse.
The following period of play descended into a scrappy affair with neither side able to mount any serious attack.
But it was the Daggers who found their feet first, and in particular Scannell, who looked dangerous out on the wide right.
Just before the half hour mark it was Scannell who this time drilled a ball across the six yard box after a good lay off by Nurse.
The resulting corner by McCrory led to a second goalmouth scramble where some good reflexes by Glyn Garner in the visitor's goal denied the home side an equaliser.
Dagenham started to pile on the pressure and Danny Green's jinxing run into the box added to this, however his shot was well blocked by their defence.
The home side continued their dominance as Nurse chased the ball on the right, got around Garner in the away teams goal and narrowly failed to beat the angle, sending the ball agonisingly across the face of the goal with no attackers on hand to prod the ball into the net.
But the Daggers deservedly drew level on 40 minutes, when Nurse crossed from the left, and Brain Woodall headed home his first goal for the club since his arrival in the summer from Gresley Rovers.
Dagenham almost took the lead just before half time when Danny Green's cross found its way across the face of goal but no one was on hand to finish the move. Bath looked to stem the tide at the break by bringing on Charlie Clough for captain Jim Rollo at the break.
The second half started slowly for both teams but burst into life in the 53rd minute when Marley Watkins once again found himself round the back of the home defence. One on one with Lewington, Watkins knocked the ball past the Daggers keeper who was then adjudged to have brought down the City winger after he took a tumble just outside the box. There was little protest from the Dagenham goalie who can count himself lucky to only receive a yellow card for the offence, much to the dismay of the City coaching staff.
The resulting free kick, taken by Canham, was easily dealt with by the Daggers defence.
The home side had chances of their own, most notably when a counter attacked led by Peter Gain saw a dangerous McCrory cross diverted for a corner by the away defence. The resulting corner was met by the head of Nurse and Garner did well to save.
John Still brought on Dominic Green and Josh Scott for Scannell and Woodall as he looked for his side to press for the winner.
But City had not finished yet either, and Canham forced another save from Lewington with ten minutes to go.
The away side made a few changes themselves, with Canham being replaced by Lee Phillips and then Jamie Cook making way for Paul Stonehouse shortly afterwards.
There was time for one last attempt from the visitors, with Adam Connolly shooting from outside the box and Lewington once again saving well.
But the game was destined for a draw, and the Daggers must now travel down to the south west in hope of overcoming their lower league opponents at the second attempt.
Vicarage Field Man Of The Match - Jon Nurse
Attendance - 1225 (183 away)