The Daggers are into the Play Off final at Stoke City's Britannia Stadium by the
skin of their teeth after a breathless semi final at Morecambe's Christie Park.
It is difficult to know where to start after a game like that so I'll start
with team news. The Daggers were unchanged. Junior McDougald and Ashley Vickers
were both on the pitch for the warm up but took no part in it and it was the
same sixteen as Thursday night, meaning no attacking cover on the bench.
the game started Daggers Chairman Dave Andrews (left) shook hands with many in
the Daggers crowd, and as the game kicked off he was still there, applauding the
lads out the same as the rest of us. Much appreciated Dave, one of many gestures
for the fans throughout the season.
The game started with the first of many bizarre decisions during the game by
referee Foster as he booked Lee Matthews for a fairly innocuous challenge in the
5th minute, meaning the Daggers captain had to be on his guard right from the
start. Strangely enough, despite the tension in the game and the full
bloodedness of the contest this was the only card in the 120 minutes.
came out of the blocks fast, hemming the Daggers in and dominating the game,
once again putting makeshift full-backs Lee Goodwin (right) and Tarkan Mustafa
under pressure. This almost told after a quarter of an hour when Thompson beat
Goodwin and crossed for Curtis whose shot crashed against the bar and away.
The Daggers fans waited for more of the same but despite a series of corners
the Shrimps couldn't come that close again in the first half, although Mark
Janney did block twice on the line from successive corners in the middle of the
In the second half Morecambe, playing towards their packed fans pressed
forward once again. The Daggers continued to cope however gave away a needless
corner after just four minutes of the second half when Goodwin's back pass to
Roberts put him under pressure and he sliced the ball away for a corner. The
corner itself beat everyone only for Elam to pick the ball up on the Morecambe
left and swing a cross in that Steve West slammed into his own net.
the aggregate advantage seemed to spur the Daggers on and they started to take
the game a little more to the home side. They had a golden chance to make it 1-1
when Mark Janney got away down the right and slid the ball to an un-marked
Steve West (left) on the back post. With the goal gaping somehow Westy managed
to screw it wide.
The game continued to be a little more even, especially after Janney was
replaced by Steve Heffer on 68 minutes. Heff's moved to right back with Mustafa
pushed up into his more customary right midfield spot.
With the Daggers trading blow for blow with Morecambe it looked like it would
be extra time as the game moved into it's last five minutes. It would be, but
not without some dramatic highs and lows for both sets of fans.
Stringfellow got away from the Daggers defence and rolled the ball to Adriano
Rigoglioso who lifted it over Roberts as he rushed out to create complete pandemonium
in Christie Park. The bench celebrated with the players on the pitch before the
game got back under way.
Daggers weren't dead though and pressed forward looking desperately for an
aggregate equaliser. It came with just a minute of normal time remaining when
Paul Terry picked the ball up and somehow found room to turn and hit his shot
into the top corner. Pandemonium again, this time at the other end.
Still the game wasn't over as Morecambe heads went down and the Daggers tried
to seize their moment. A minute into injury time Mark Stein found some space in
the area and managed to get a toe poke on a shot that looked in all the way
until Mawson managed to finger tip it over the bar.
3-3 on aggregate the game moved into golden goal extra time. Garry Hill (left)
roused the team and the fans before it was off again. The first half of extra
time was relatively quiet, Stein having a shot fly wide and Elam hitting one
that was easily caught by Robbo.
Broomy replaced McGrath and then Mark Smith replaced Steve West as tired legs
started to show. The removal of West meant that Timmy Cole, who had had a
brilliant game again at the back, got pushed up to support Steino.
who has often looked like a frustrated centre forward, seized his chance,
driving the Daggers forward. After a couple of sighters just over Tim smashed
the ball against the bar from outside the area with Mawson well beaten. Jason
Broom also had a great chance to win it after a scramble but somehow trod on the
Right at the death though it was Morecambe who nearly snatched it, with
Robbie Talbot getting round Roberts but having been forced wide, shooting across
the face of the goal.
So it was penalties. The Daggers took first and Mark Stein stuck the ball
away well. Drummond placed his in the corner but Robbo managed to save it.
Shippy then put his in off the inside of the post and McKearney hit the same
post but the ball span away. At 2-0 it looked all over, but then Paul Terry
opted for power rather than placement and his shot was saved.
With heart rates quickening in the crowd Stringfellow scored for Morecambe
then Lee Matthews made the same mistake as PT previously, Mawson saving a firmly
struck but poorly placed shot. Gary Thompson then made it 2-2 with probably the
best of all the efforts in the shootout.
stepped Tarkan Mustafa. With hearts stopping at the Daggers end he found the
back of the net to leave Jamie Murphy the unenviable task of putting it to
sudden death. Faced by Robbo, Murphy placed his shot into the corner but not
hard enough and diving full length it was saved.
Pandemonium again as the Daggers fans ran onto the pitch to celebrate an
unlikely and dramatic win. Robbo was lifted high and the two sets of fans
applauded each other, neither team deserving to lose this one.
It is the Daggers though that go on to the Britannia stadium to take on
Doncaster Rovers who drew 1-1 at Chester City and also won through on
The Daggers are potentially 90 minutes away from being a Football League