The botched abandonment of what would have been only their second clean sheet of the entire season, just seconds before its imminent confirmation, proved a minor blight on an otherwise perfect day for Dagenham & Redbridge.
Daryl McMahon’s threadbare but still quality-laden side condemned a plummeting Wealdstone to a sixth straight loss in all competitions, the seismic chasm of class giving a 4-1 scoreline that barely does the extent justice of displayed dominance.
Harry Phipps’ opener set the tone, duly followed by an exceptional free-kick from Junior Morias, who then doubled his individual total with a stoppage-time penalty to add shine to a victory Josh Walker had put beyond doubt after 67 minutes. Wealdstone at least made things more respectable via Sam Habergham on the final kick of the game.
Both sides occupied the middle region of the National League table, although that doesn’t quite tell the whole story as all statistical predictions hinted at a Dagenham win given they were unbeaten at home since early September, while five straight defeats had pushed visitors Wealdstone into free fall.
Rather indicative of this, the Stones made three changes in an attempt to alter the dynamic. Their hosts, meanwhile, retained the same starting XI from Tuesday’s draw against Boreham wood, which was a little hard for Omar Moussa and Myles Weston after each had a game-changing impact deserving more than a cameo role this time around.
Yet few could argue with the logic of Daryl McMahon’s chosen side as they took the lead after just six minutes thanks to the highly unlikely source of Dagenham’s first goal from centre-half Harry Phipps in almost exactly four years. . Considering the recurring injury nightmare he has suffered in the meantime, it would have been a moment to be savored.
Fantastically taken he was too, the 23-year-old glancing delicately home an inswinging cross from Tyreke Johnson, whose initial corner was cleared inviting him back for a second bite of the cherry. He established a control that could never weaken to Victoria Road.
Smelling blood, Daggers duly went for the kill against a visibly shaky defense that had conceded nineteen times in October alone. The reasons behind this were no better illustrated than when Tarryn Allarakhia played an ill-advised blind backpass which keeper Sam Howes frantically prevented from hitting the net in comedic style.
He was troubled enough by the free-flowing home attacks without legislating for his own teammates to go rogue, and soon enough the advantage would be doubled after the problematic Johnson won a free-kick from 20 yards out.
Junior Morias duly delivered a magnificent effort into the top left corner, which Howes managed to secure a strong hand but not enough to stop his precisely measured trajectory. Dagenham was very comfortable having not yet really moved beyond first gear.
What helped them immensely was Wealdstone detrimentally repeating the same mistakes, like delivering another presentable set-piece on the hour mark. Morias was just millimeters away from emulating his heroism, this one just a step further, though it certainly worried Howes.
A third would really have killed the contest beyond the bounds of achievable danger, and the hosts spurned a golden chance to get it in injury time as a sweeping move resulted in matt robinson being provided with acres of space on the edge of the box, but the marauding midfielder fired the wrong side of the post.
They would have slightly regretted that moment when Wealdstone had their only real charm when the contest resumed, even if it was more about territory than tangible opportunities. Nevertheless, they kept the ball well.
However, by committing more men forward than needed to pursue a fight back, the Stones consequently left themselves open at the other end. Josh Walker had already been thwarted twice at the last moment when he received the ball deep in his own box with 67 minutes on the clock and finally settled the game on his own.
A heavy touch past substitute Sam Matthews, the primary culprit for the loss of possession, gave Walker a clear run for goal. Sam Habergham desperately sprinted back but wasn’t quick enough to stop Daggers’ number seven from a cold shot into the net; game, set and match.
Extra shine was added in the final seconds, like Omar Moussa was stumbled into the box to leave referee Jason Richardson no choice but to award a kick. Morias got up and exploded into the left side, Howes far from wide despite guessing the right path.
It seemed to cap off a clean day for the East Londoners, but Wealdstone would ultimately have the last laugh, although it was more of a tame whine under the circumstances. A last-minute corner was allowed to float to the far post, where Habergham swept home for the most insignificant of all consolations.
Daryl McMahon’s side would have been disappointed to lose their much-deserved clean sheet, but the sound of the final whistle quickly replaced that minor negativity. They are just one point away from the play-offs, despite having played an extra game.
Wealdstone is back in action with a long trip to Altrincham on Tuesday night as Stuart Maynard looks to engineer a change of fortune.Junior Morias receives adulation for his perfectly placed free kick. (Photo: Dagenham & Redbridge FC)
Junior Morias (Dag & Red) | The prolific Jamaican has frequently demonstrated his ability to score all types of goals, and now dead balls can be added to this ever-growing list after he delivered a free-kick beautifully with pure perfection then later converted with confidence from the penalty spot. Wealdstone just couldn’t contain him or his punching partner Josh Walker which was equally exceptional. In fact, there are four or five other candidates for the “Star Man” tag, so impressive was the performance.
DAGENHAM & REDBRIDGE: Elliot Justham 🟨; Tyreke Johnson (Omar Moussa 72′), Harry Phipps ⚽, Manny Onariase, Josh Hare, Sam Smart (Myles Weston 54′); Dean Rance, Mo Sagaf, matt robinson 🟨; Josh Walker ⚽ (Aaron Blair 86′), Junior Morias ⚽⚽🟨
STONE OF WEALD: Sam Howes; Jaydn Mundle-Smith (Lewis Kinsella 81′), Sam Habergham ⚽, Jack Cook 🟨, Charlie Barker; Simeon Akinola (Alex Dyer 67′), Dominic Hutchinson (Sam Matthews 58′), Giovanni McGregor, Tarryn Allarakhia; Olufela Olomola, Micah Obiero
Arbitrator: Jason Richardson | Presence: 1503 (147 away)