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Accrington Stanley 2 Dagenham 3

HOW Accrington Stanley threw three points away against Dagenham will always be remembered with utter disbelief.

FLYING HIGH... Lutel James jumps up for the ball with Dagenham keeper Tony Roberts.
FLYING HIGH... Lutel James jumps up for the ball with Dagenham keeper Tony Roberts.

HOW Accrington Stanley threw three points away against Dagenham will always be remembered with utter disbelief.

2-1 up and the headlines seemed to be written with Lutel James - fresh off the transfer list - scoring the winner after he had hit the post with a penalty.

But that didn't allow for the backline going completely AWOL in injury time and the Daggers never giving up hope.

"They walked their last two goals in," raged boss John Coleman - and they did seem to.

The moment Chris Moore hit the ball on 90 minutes after the Reds had failed to clear their lines, everyone at the Interlink knew it was in.

And then, when there was still time to launch a further attack, the home fans could only look on in horror as Kirk Jackson got the ball unmarked and rifled it into the roof of the net.

It was agony for the Reds especially as they had another player sent for an early bath following Robbie Williams' challenge on Mark Janney in the 80th minute.

It was judged serious foul play by the referee and was a straight red and Williams will now sit out three games after becoming the 11th dismissal of the season - and this is after calls by chairman, manager and the players to improve the discipline.

But both managers, who were close to the incident, didn't think it was a straight red.

Coleman certainly thought it was harsh while Dagenham manager Garry Hill admitted he was puzzled by some of the referees' decisions.

"I think as a manager you see some strange decisions by the officials," said the Daggers' boss.

"We got away with a couple of things today but even though they had to play the last 10 minutes with ten men, we deserved it. The ref made his decision about the sending off."

He was obviously delighted to grab victory from the jaws of defeat while Coleman was fuming straight after the match.

"We were embarrassing in the second half. We didn't get anywhere near them, they dominated the second half and they'll feel as though they got what they deserved albeit they've played against 10 men for the last few minutes."

"We shouldn't have been down to 10 men - Robbie dived at the ball but he hasn't gone to injure the lad, he's gone to win the ball fair and square."

"If that's a sending off they should have had two or three sent off. But once again our reputation goes before us. We're soft targets."

"The referee seemed keen to book us at the drop of a hat. Some of the decisions in the second half defied belief. Our penalty defied belief, it was never a penalty."

"The referee's had a horror show but that doesn't hide the fact that we were awful. I don't think we deserved anything out of the game and I think if we'd have won, we'd have stolen it."

"Their late goals were a sickener but it was bad defending on our part. It was tip tap around the box, no-one wanted to dive in there and get a block on it. We weren't good enough - all over the park."

It started well for Dagenham when Chris Piper fired home from 12 yards out on 13 minutes.

The Reds struggled to get going but finally found their feet on 20 minutes when James was only denied a goal by the outstretched leg of visiting defender Tarkan Mustafa.

And then a move involving Paul Mullin, James and Ged Brannan ended with keeper Tony Roberts pushing out a certain Brannan goal.

Then Stanley were awarded a dubious penalty for Roberts' foul on Mullin on 32 minutes and it seemed set up for James to pull his side back round.

But Roberts dived the right way and James's shot hit the bottom of the upright with Brannan's follow up being blocked.

Mullin then miskicked in front of an open goal after Lee McEvilly had taken the Daggers keeper out of the game but, on 41 minutes, they finally got their reward. James' ball in was behind Mullin but Rory Prendergast came charging in for his fourth goal of the campaign.

And they could have doubled their advantage before half-time but Paul Howarth's long range effort was inches wide.

Dagenham were lively after the break but it looked like Stanley had weathered the storm when James started the move, Prendergast's cross found McEvilly, his effort was blocked and James pounced in the six yard box to fire home.

Dagenham then went three up front in the last 15 minutes and, when Williams walked, they piled on the pressure. Kennedy denied sub Leon Braithwaite before Mullin broke and beat the off-side trap but Roberts came out and saved his effort.

Then, with 90 minutes on the clock, the Reds failed to clear their lines a number of times and Moore was there to fire home a leveller.

Minutes later and Braithwaite broke before setting up Jackson who, 10 yards out, had no trouble finding the back of the net to the complete astonishment of the Stanley faithful.

Coleman raged: "I feel we've undone probably five months good work in the space of three minutes."

"A whole season's work has really gone down the pan in three minutes by people who didn't want to stand up for themselves. That was the whole team. At the end of the day they didn't want to win the game enough."

"If the players think I'm going to accept that they're wrong."

"I've said some people are playing for their futures and you wouldn't think so on today's performance."


Stuart Pike
Deputy editor specialising in politics
Alex Bell
Bethany English
District reporter
Beth Abbit
Court reporter
Jon Macpherson
Kate Watkins
Reporter specialising in communities
Garth Dawson
Photographer and columnist