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Match Report


Posted Wed 14 Dec 11 at 12:39 PM

Daggers Progress Into The Third Round

Walsall 0 Daggers 0 (aet)
Daggers win 3-2 on penalties

Goalkeeper Chris Lewington was the Daggers penalty shoot-out hero as John Still's side set up an FA Cup with Budweiser 3rd Round tie with London neighbours Millwall on a dramatic night at The Banks's Stadium.

After 120 minutes of largely uninspired fare in the West Midlands, Lewington produced saves from Claude Gnakpa and Lee Beevers in the shoot-out to send the Daggers into the 3rd round for the first time in four years.

Still made two changes from the side that had lost to Port Vale at the weekend. Exodus Geohaghan was cup tied so was replaced by Richard Rose - who had played in the original tie ten days earlier - while Kevin Maher was preferred to Gavin Tomlin in a 4-3-3 formation.

Despite dropping to the bottom of the Football League at the weekend, the Daggers started brightly with Abu Ogogo and Brian Woodall both denied by home keeper James Walker in the opening seven minutes. But in truth neither side could find any fluency in a disappointing first half.

The Saddlers were forced into an early change when Oliver Lancashire limped off with a hamstring injury just past the half hour mark, with captain Andy Bulter replacing him, but the nearest they came to a breakthrough was a long range effort from Jamie Patterson which did not really pose a threat to Lewington's goal.

In fact it was the visitors who came closest to going in front before the break - Mickey Spillane's acrobatic overhead kick just clearing Walker's crossbar.

Woodall, with 2 FA Cup goals to his name already this season, fired over three minutes after the resumption, while Ogogo then failed to test ex-West Ham United goalkeeper Walker as the Daggers flew out of the blocks at the start of the second period. But the tie was fast becoming a stalemate with very little to choose between the sides, who have both been struggling in their respective divisions this season.

The Daggers felt they should have had a penalty in the 66th minute, when Josh Scott went down under a challenge from Beevers, but referee Eddie Ilderton waved away their appeals, and it was Walsall who then enjoyed the better of things.

Gnakpa, who had scored in the first meeting, should have done better after being sent clear by Jon Macken fifteen minutes from time, while leading scorer Macken was then denied by a smart save Lewington in the 78th minute.

But the Saddlers hopes were dealt a blow from the resulting corner. Defender Manny Smith suffered a horrific facial injury that led to him being stretchered from the pitch unconscious and, having already made all three substitutions, Dean Smith's side were forced to play the final twelve minutes, plus stoppage time, with ten men.

However, the Daggers were unable to make their numerical advantage count in the closing stages, and in fact only a superb block from Ogogo prevented Adam Chambers winning it for the Saddlers in the final seconds of injury time.

But the extra half an hour could not separate the sides. Still brought on Medy Elito, Billy Bingham and DJ Green for the tiring Scott, Maher and Gain, but after over two hours of football the match ended goalless, the first the Daggers game to have done so since February 2010 - a run of 82 matches.

So onto the shoot-out. Macken opened proceedings with a successful kick for Walsall, which Spillane quickly matched, but after Alex Nichols fired wide, Rose saw his effort saved by Walker. However, it was advantage Daggers when Lewington denied Gnakpa with his legs, while Elito then kept his cool to put them ahead for the first time.

Walsall substitute George Bowerman and Daggers' Woodall exchanged successful kicks, meaning Beevers had to score to keep the hosts in it. But Lewington dived to his right to make his second save of the shoot-out and send the 96 travelling Daggers fans into ecstasy.

Attendance; 1,802 (96 away)

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