ROTHERHAM UNITED’s promotion hopes suffered a setback as Luke Wilkinson’s late winner saw Dagenham claim the points despite a battling display from the ten man Millers.
Following their eye-catching 4-0 victory over Oxford United in midweek, home boss Steve Evans kept faith with his starting eleven for the third match in a row.
Injury-plagued ‘keeper Scott Shearer made a welcome return to the substitutes’ bench at the expense of Tony Thompson while Dale Tonge was also named following a short absence from the squad.
The Millers’ were quick out of the blocks and after Alex Revell was clumsily bundled over on the edge of the box.
From the resultant free-kick, Michael O’Connor curled a delightful effort which had Chris Lewington nervously scurrying across goal but it whistled narrowly wide of the upright.
In their first foray of note, Dagenham missed a guilt-edged chance when Matthew Saunders’ drilled corner found Medy Elito at the far stick whose clever pull-back saw Abu Ogogo blaze the ball over from six yards with the goal at his mercy.
Just past the quarter hour, the Millers’ were finally building a head of steam and Ben Pringle’s arrowed ball saw Liam Ridehalgh got the better of Saunders in a tussle before fizzing an effort which was deflected away to safety.
At the other end, Luke Howell stung the palms of Andy Warrington with an instinctive effort before Daniel Nardiello’s dinked effort was blocked bravely by Scott Doe moments later.
The Millers’ came within a whisker of the breakthrough just shy of the half-hour when O’Connor curled another tantalising free-kick over the Dagenham wall but with Lewington frantically throwing himself across goal, the ball shaved the outside of the upright.
Minutes later, fine interplay between Johnny Mullins and David Noble paved the way for Lee Frecklington to have a sight of goal, but his first-time shot was comfortably gathered by Lewington.
The Daggers’ ‘keeper again had to be on hand to parry Noble’s cross-cum-shot to safety before another O’Connor free-kick blazed harmlessly over the bar.
With half-time approaching, Pringle waltzed around Kevin Maher and Gavin Hoyte before playing a slide-rule ball into the advancing run of Mullins, but his goalbound effort was blocked by a retreating defender.
The home side almost broke the deadlock in first-half injury-time when Frecklington robbed Hoyte, who dallied in possession and Nardiello’s reverse pass back into the path of the Millers’ midfielder saw him bear down on goal but his low effort was blocked by Lewington.
Half-time:- Rotherham United 0 Dagenham and Redbridge 0
Following the restart, Howell’s miscued shot fell kindly for Josh Scott, who turned smartly to unleash a goalbound effort which struck Claude Davis failing to trouble Warrington.
At the other end, a long punt into the box was not cleared decisively by the Daggers’ defence but O’Connor failed to capitalise as he shot over the bar.
The Millers’ hopes were dealt a blow just short of the hour mark when Wilkinson’s long punt upfield saw Elito get on the wrong side of Kari Arnason before the two clashed in the box and the referee, after a few moments thought, awarded the spot kick before brandishing the red card to the Icelandic international.
From the resultant spot-kick, Elito picked himself to blast the ball into the heart of the goal evading the dive of Warrington.
Evans’ immediately reshuffled his pack with Mark Bradley introduced into a three man defence and they responded bravely when Nardiello ghosted past Saunders before striking an effort from distance which Lewington was forced to parry over.
From the resultant corner, the New York Stadium was in full voice when Noble swung a delightful inswinger and Claude Davis rose highest to power a header into the roof of the net to put the home side back on level terms despite their numerical disadvantage.
The home side were buoyed by the equaliser and Nardiello deceived Doe with a clever piece of skill before firing an effort which rolled tantalisingly across the face of goal.
Moments later, after Dagenham failed to clear, Revell weighed up his options before firing an angled effort from distance which was arrowing to the far corner until Lewington’s late intervention.
At the other end, Davis was well-stationed to snuff out a wicked Billy Bingham cross before a superb counter attack led by Pringle saw Nardiello have a one-on-one opportunity with Femi Ilesanmi but he dragged his shot well wide of the target.
The home fans had their hearts in their mouths when Davis cynically hauled down Elito just outside the box with appeals for a spot-kick from the visitors.
However, Dagenham made the Millers’ pay when Saunders’ carefully disguised free-kick saw Wilkinson ghost away from his marker before calmly slotting the ball into the top right corner of the goal giving Warrington no chance.
The Millers’ again responded positively and when Frecklington was the victim of a robust challenge on the edge of the box, Pringle smashed the resultant free-kick against the crossbar with Lewington just a bystander.
The Daggers’ should have sealed the game when a lucky ricochet put Howell in the clear but his dinked effort beat Warrington but rolled wide of the target.
Full-time:- Rotherham United 1 Dagenham and Redbridge 2
Rotherham:- Warrington, Mullins, Davis, Arnason, Ridehalgh (Bradley 61), O’Connor, Noble, Pringle (Agard 89), Frecklington, Nardiello, Revell (Odejayi 83). Unused:- Shearer, Tonge, Morgan, Rowe
Dagenham and Redbridge:- Lewington, Wilkinson, Ilesanmi, Doe, Scott, Elito (Strevens 84), Saunders, Maher (Bingham 46), Howell, Hoyte, Ogogo. Unused:- Seabright, Green, Reed, Dennis, Gracco.
Attendance:- 7309 (124)