The Daggers managed to win through to the 3rd Round of the FA Cup with a late
goal from Mark Janney, the hero two years ago at Lincoln. The win means the
Daggers are in amongst the big boys for the third successive season, the first
non-league club to achieve that in 20 years.
The Daggers lined up with an identical starting eleven to that at Halifac
with the exception of a recall for Steve Heffer, in for Geoff Pitcher who
dropped to the bench. Also on the bench was Mark Stein, making a welcome return.
700 plus Daggers packed in to a corner of the impressive Broadfield Stadium, the
atmosphere was electric leading up to the start. All stood in silence for a
minute though (left), remembering a young Crawley fan who had died in the week
before the game.
game started in the worst possible fashion for the Daggers as they found
themselves behind within 3 minutes. The almost always reliable Mark Smith,
(right) dealing with a hopeful through ball, underhit his pass back to Robbo and
in nipped Nic McDonnell to smash the ball in past the stranded keeper.
With one side of the pitch obviously very wet the game seemed to be to play
up the Daggers right and Crawley's left for the first half after this. The
Daggers, despite the early set back took the game to the home team, who
responded with a series of uncompromising tackles, John McGrath in particular a
victim. In response Crawley broke often and quickly, putting Smith in particular
under pressure. Following his terrible start it wasn't a vintage Smudger day
though and he would be subbed at half time.
The Daggers had a decent shout for a penalty in the 15th minute when Mark
Janney's jinking run was ended by a scything tackle by Ellis Hooper right on the
edge of the area. The ref decided it was outside though and the resulting cross
came to nothing.
pressure was building though and it seemed like just a matter of time before the
Daggers were level. With the fans using the line that worked so well at
Charlton, "we're going to score in a minute", it was Junior McDougald
(left) once again that provided the necessary. A period of sustained pressure
led to a corner which eluded the Crawley defence and fell to Junior at the far
post who smashed the ball into the roof of the net.
The Daggers couldn't press home their advantage after this though, indeed it
was Crawley that almost regained the lead when Harkin crossed to McDonnell who
volleyed just wide of the post on 43 minutes.
The second half started with Ashley Vickers on for Mark Smith and a much
steadier platform for the Daggers to attack from. With John McGrath now on solid
ground up the left he tormented the Crawley defence time and time again.
Unfortunately most of the crosses fell too close to Little in the Crawley goal.
The home team were still a threat on the break though and McDonnell again
went close on a couple of occasions, but at the other end the screw was turning.
On the hour it seemed like the Daggers had to score as they had three chances in
as many minutes.
First Steve West crossed for Junior to head just wide, then some slick
passing opened Crawley up for Paul Terry to shoot just past the left hand post
when he should have scored. An even better chance a minute later saw Junior feed
the ball to Mark Janney with a seeming open goal, but he put it over the top.
Crawley's defending became more and more desperate and Hooper was booked for
another crashing foul on McGrath in the 66th minute. He didn't learn his lesson
though and in the 79th minute had to see red when he again was late on McGrath,
right in from of the away section of the ground.
that, it was all the Daggers, but with time running out it looked like it would
be a replay back at Victoria Road. With just 2 minutes left on the watch though,
Mark Janney (right) hit a bobbler that Little got a hand too but couldn't keep
out. The ball hit the net and the Daggers fans went wild.
On Sunday the Daggers learnt that the reward for the win is a long away day
at Plymouth Argyle, the real Pilgrims. While an away draw at a Second Division
team is not what Garry Hill will have asked Santa for, the Daggers fans will be
at the magnificent Home Park loud and proud again on January 4th.
The FA Cup. Pure magic.