Despite a battling performance, Dagenham & Redbridge couldn't quite put Saturday's defeat against York behind them after being held 1-1 by an ardent Exeter City at Victoria Road. The main talking point however will be Mickey Spillane's penalty miss after Medy Elito put the home side 1-0 up, had that have gone in, who knows what the final score may or may not have been.
Before the match I was optimistic of a victory, although more realistically I was looking at the draw due to Exeter's impressive away form. Saying that, the Grecians had lost three on the bounce coming into this which opened the door for the Daggers should we turn in an impressive performance, (something that doesn't seem to happen very often on Tuesday nights.)
Victoria Road had sort of a subdued atmosphere, almost as though no one was looking forward to it. The mist continued to descend as the teams were announced...
Dagenham & Redbridge: Lewington, Ogogo, Doe, Wilkinson, Femi, Howell, Spillane, Saunders, Elito, Williams, Gayle. Subs: Seabright, Reed, Woodall, Green, Currie, Hoyte, Maher.
Somewhat unsurprisingly John Still named a completely unchanged side from the one that was defeated at the weekend in a performance Still called, "our worst of the season." With the Daggers only having won twice in this fixture in their fourteen prior attempts, a combination of class and maybe a bit of luck would be needed here.
Exeter City: Krysiak, Tully, Woodman, Bennett, Coles, Amankwaah, Sercombe, Oakley, Davies, Keohane, Cureton. Subs: Evans, Baldwin, Moore-Taylor, Doherty, Dawson, Gow, O'Flynn.
Paul Tisdale, who was sporting the most un-manager like outfit imaginable on the touch line, also opted not to make a single change to his side. This meant the club's top goalscorer Jamie Cureton (9) and journeyman defender Kevin Amankwaah would both be starting. Meanwhile youngster Jordan Moore-Taylor who had recently signed a new contract with the Grecians was also available on the bench.
The teams duly came out of the tunnel to moderate applause as the ground slowly began to fill up - I don't think anyone anticipates Tuesday night games anymore. The pre match rituals were then completed, a tracksuit laden Still & the claret trousers wearing Tisdale took their seats in their respective dugouts, and the game began.
Unfortunately though, the game didn't really begin with much of a flurry, Liam Sercombe having a speculative effort blocked well by the Daggers defence early on. Chris Lewington was given a scare minutes afterwards though as Matt Oakley's deflected effort crept wide of the far post for a corner. Everyone's favourite referee then needlessly booked Sam Williams for booting the ball away...with just four minutes gone.
Exeter continued to look like the more threatening side going forward as we reached 10 minutes on the clock. Jamie Cureton was the next man to try his luck, but the prolific forward's glancing strike was gathered well by Lewington to clear the danger. The game became increasingly scrappy from the 10th minute mark onwards, a trait that is creeping into more and more of the Daggers' games this season.
Following some speculative efforts from both sides, one from Cureton and one from Femi - it was the Daggers who broke the deadlock on 37 minutes. Quite how the ball went in from Medy Elito's cross-cum-shot I haven't a clue, nor does anyone else for that matter, let alone the man himself. Somehow though, just inside the box Elito raced to the by-line and hammered home his first of the season to give the home side what some may say was an undeserved lead.
The Daggers were now buoyed by opening the scoring and might have had a second had Femi not over-cooked his touch when screeching down the left wing. Exeter were offering some opposition though and Keohane tested Lewington once again to give the 217 Grecian supporters something to cheer.
As the half time whistle approached, the home side really should have doubled their lead after being awarded a penalty. Some excellent counter attacking saw Spillane play a delightful cross field ball to Elito who sprinted into the box before being brought down after taking the ball around Krysiak. Gavin Ward instantly pointed to the spot, however he only cautioned Krysiak, presumably because there were two defenders back covering and Medy had taken a heavy touch.
Spot kick duties were left to Mickey Spillane who has been impressive from 12 yards so far this season, so the majority were expecting him to dispatch this one with ease. Spillane however squandered the chance by blasting the ball over the bar and into the Marcus James Stand. The referee blew his whistle and the sides went in at halftime - Exeter with considerable relief, whilst the Daggers would have been wondering what might have been.
The teams emerged for the second half and it was immediately clear that the Grecians had a second wind, a kick up the backside if you will. A superb ball forward from Bennett found the aging Cureton in time and space. After beating his marker he lifted the ball over Lewington and it rolled into the back of the net. Cureton had made the Daggers pay for that penalty miss and now we were beginning to wonder if Exeter could inflict even more misery on the home side.
Paul Tisdale's side now had the momentum and nearly took the lead for the first time minutes later. Jimmy Keohane was given the ball inside the box and it looked as though he would make it two in two minutes for the Grecians, however a superb last gasp Abu Ogogo block denied the frontman. That sort of defending is why everyone loves Abu at right back, although Keohane must have been left asking himself why he didn't pull the trigger sooner.
The 217 away supporters were now in good voice as their team advanced forward, Keohane forcing Lewington into another decent save with 55 minutes gone. It was Cureton again who should have doubled both his and Exeter's tally for the evening with 60 minutes played. The lackadaisical Daggers defence failed to clear the ball inside the box and it fell to Cureton. You'd stake your mortgage on the striker to find the back of the net; however he could only manage to blaze the ball high over the bar.
Despite a lacklustre start to the second half the home side then came back into the game slightly; with Mickey Spillane seeing an unmarked header pushed away well by Krysiak. Minutes later Sam Williams who had been impressive with his hold up play all evening attempted a shot of his own, however his half volley was poor and dragged wide of the near post.
John Still then tried out his new tactic in the game, whereby a midfielder (in this case Matt Saunders) is brought off for Gavin Hoyte. Hoyte then goes to right back which means Abu Ogogo reverts to his auxiliary midfield position - and I have to admit it is a move I rather like at this point in the game.
There were then two very good shouts for penalties within a five minute period. First an Exeter corner came into the box and Femi appeared to lower his arm in order to stop the ball. Despite appeals, Mr Ward waved it away much to my relief as I believed it was almost a stonewall spot kick. Then up the other end, Dwight Gayle advanced into the box before being encroached and ultimately felled to the floor, once again though the referee was having nothing of it and waved play on. This surely begs the question that if the referee feels Gayle hasn't been fouled, then he should be booked for diving.
The final 10 minutes were very frantic, as Gayle flashed another effort wide of the post. The closest the Daggers came though was through left back Femi, who was and is still searching for his first Dagenham goal. The open mouthed cult hero cut back onto his favoured left foot before drilling a shot goalwards that hit the side netting, much to everyone's frustrations.
Exeter ended the game the stronger as Jamie Cureton had two shots blocked well by Daggers defenders as the home side looked to ride out four minutes of added on time. Despite their best efforts, neither side could find that elusive winner; making the missed penalty at the end of the first half seem even more important. In truth though the 1-1 draw was what both sides deserved from a poor night's football.
The turning point was without doubt Mickey Spillane's penalty miss, but that happens in football, everyone makes mistakes. The thing to focus on is that we took a point from the match, despite not playing our best - something that has to be a good sign (results wise.) With a big chance to make amends on Saturday against a fast improving Aldershot, I'm sure everyone will be hoping to get back to winning ways.
Seeing as though there's not really much to comment on, I'll reserve my judgement of anything specifically and wrap it up there. As previously stated Aldershot await on Saturday. Our last two home games against the Shots have an aggregate scoreline of 4-10, so we're guaranteed some goals!
Thanks for reading and remember to follow me on Twitter, @NickDRFCMurphy.