Dagenham & Redbridge 1-1 Eastleigh

11th November 2006 - Dagenham & Redbridge 1 Eastleigh 1

Report by Ray Murphy

In a hastily arranged friendly fixture, Eastleigh put up a good performance against Conference National second placed club Dagenham & Redbridge. Having twice been denied promotion to the Football League in recent seasons, Dagenham are pout keen to obtain a place this season in the Football League for the first time in their history and with both sides having been eliminated from the FA Cup, were keen to show each other their intentions in this competitive friendly fixture.

Both sides were below their normal strength, though Eastleigh were missing players through injury and unavailability with the likes of Rob Marshall and Steve West along with their long term injured. The Daggers had their moist of their main ‘rested’ first teamers on the bench as substitutes.

Eastleigh had the first attack of the match on six minutes. Darren Wheeler’s cross from the left arrived for skipper Andy Harris who produced a stop from Daggers second-string goalkeeper David Hogan. The home side broke away immediately but Cliff Akurang’s drive from the edge of the area was collected by James Pullen on his return to one of his former clubs. A minute later and a header from their leading goalscorer Paul Benson from Paul Bruce’s cross was tipped over by Pullen.

On the quarter of an hour Liam Green’s free kick saw Martin Thomas have an effort saved by Hogan. Midway through the half Benson had a chance to open the scoring but was denied by a great recovery block tackle by the returning from holidaying Francis Benali. As the home side held the upper hand for this time Benson’s cross saw a first time shot from Sam Saunders which was again saved by Pullen then Benson had a header from a Saunders cross saved.

Paulo Vernazza had another Dagenham effort that was stopped by Pullen then with three minutes before the interval dangerous winger Saunders fired in a low drive from twenty five yards that flew just beyond the right hand post of the full length diving Pullen. In the final minute of the half Saunders’ cross to the far post saw Pullen bring off a fine stop from Akurangs volley, then following a bad defensive Eastleigh clearance Saunders fired over the bar. The half time was reached though with no score.

The home side made four interval changes with Eastleigh maintaining their starting eleven. Chances were limited during the half. Daggers had the first opportunity after four minutes Dave Rainfords hopeful lob shot was collected just under his own bar by Pullen then three minutes later Matthew Batt headed Glen Southams cross wide of the target.

Eastleigh’s best chance came on sixty-two minutes. Liam Green created himself space on the left before flighting a cross that was headed wide by Danny Smith. On seventy-nine minutes a fine low drive from Karim Hrabia brought a diving stop from Hogan.

As the game appeared to be heading for a goalless draw, a minute remained when Vernazza’s pass into the path of Batt saw the striker stretch to be able to make contact, which was just enough to divert past the wrong footed Pullen. A minute later though Jack Smith’s pass into Andy Forbes on the edge of the area saw the striker bring the ball under control before side stepping Daggers defender Danny Foster before sending a shot into the corner of the net for an equaliser.

The worst news of the afternoon for Eastleigh was seeing skipper Andy Harris limping away from the action with a knee injury after sixty nine minutes, the clubs medical staff eagerly awaiting the news on Sunday morning of the extent of the injury. Eastleigh did give a run out to trialist defender Nick Cole, the 21-year-old brother of Chelsea star and England international Joe Cole, who was with Thurrock last season.


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