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Dagenham and Redbridge 2 Accrington Stanley 1

With five minutes to go at Victoria Road, Accrington were heading for their first away win and first clean sheet under Paul Cook.

With five minutes to go at Victoria Road, Accrington were heading for their first away win and first clean sheet under Paul Cook.

They had suffered two serious injuries and were coming under pressure from the league’s bottom club – but they had made enough chances to be more than the one goal up and were coping with the Daggers’ threat.

Then it all went wrong.

The Reds, in recent times, have been the last-gasp heroes, carving out late goals in four recent matches to rescue something from the game.

This time they fell to a Daggers late, late show with the majority of the Reds players shaking their heads as they came off saying ‘how did we lose that?’

On 85 minutes Damien McCrory fired in a cross from the left which Brian Woodall headed home for the equaliser.

That got the Daggers’ tails up and, after Jamie Devitt gave away a foul on the left-hand side of the penalty area, a melee in the box as they waited for the free kick resulted in Toto Nsiala being sent off for allegedly raising his hands at Micky Spillane.

The set-piece finally was placed in and Scott Doe headed home a vital win for John Still’s side in injury-time.

Not only was this a loss for Stanley – with just one win now in their last 10 games – but it was costly with Danny Coid stretchered off with a serious knee injury, loan man Rob

Kiernan going over on his ankle and leaving London on crutches and Nsiala facing a three-game ban for his dismissal.

"It’s disappointing," said a bemused Paul Cook after the game. "There are reasons why we lost and we have discussed them and they will remain private.

"In the first half we were really good, we were a threat going forward and strong at the back, restricting Dagenham to no chances and creating chances ourselves. But we have got to punish teams when we are on top as we could have been out of sight.

"But in the second halves of games, we are not playing as well. We have got to keep our momentum going for longer than 45 minutes as we are only playing for one half.

"There are reasons for that which I have been speaking to the players about.

"There were positives shown in our first-half performance, but this was a game we never should have lost and I am sick we have.

"Injuries to key players affected us but then we ended up becoming ragged and you have got to keep your discipline.

"Toto was outstanding but then has a head loss and that resulted in us getting beat after he got sent off. He will be a smashing player in the future but he has got to learn, and quickly, else he won’t be playing here."

Nobody could predict such an unbelievable last five minutes as the Reds ran the show in the first half.

Coid did have to head a Matteiu Bauldry chance off the line in the early stages for the home side but that was it.

Hull loan winger Devitt was again a livewire, with two crosses just evading the inrushing Grant while Scunthorpe loanee Grant was denied by Daggers keeper Chris Lewington and Nsiala headed his chance at the far post over.

Then, just before the interval in a swift breakaway move, Devitt played a perfect crossfield pass to Craig Lindfield on the right, his cross was blocked and it fell to Grant on the end of the area, who curled the ball home for his first goal in his loan spell.

The only downside to a strong first half was when Coid went into a 50-50 crunching tackle with Bauldry on 18 minutes and he came off worse – stretchered off with cruciate ligament damage.

At half-time Cook must have felt happy with his side’s show and it was the Daggers fans who were getting more and more anxious – they needed a home win to help their fight against the drop.

Loan man John Akinde was getting no change out of the Reds’ backline and he came off and, while the Daggers did force a succession of corners, Stanley held firm.

And the visitors had breakway chances with both subs Will Hatfield and Padraig Amond having opportunities to put the game to bed.

Then disaster struck for the second time with the stretcher out again when Rob Keirnan went over on his ankle, running backwards in the area on 75 minutes.

The Reds had to rearrange their backline but they remained resolute, keeping out two Abu Ogogo chances while Mark Arber headed over as, to be fair to the home fans, they never got at their team but kept cheering.

However, the pressure finally told when sub Woodall had space to head home five minutes from time and then came the grandstand finish which saw the Reds down to 10 men and Daggers grab a late winner which took them out of the drop zone.

Cook added: "Our fans clapped our players off as you can’t fault our effort, our lads gave a lot but a few things never went for us, some self inflicted, some not."

Despite only one win in his nine-game tenure, Cook is still positive that he can turn things around for next season.

"Accrington is such a good club, it’s so unique in what we do and we want to put smiles on people’s faces. This should have been our first away win but it wasn’t and that’s the way it is. We will move on."

 

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