REPORT: Dagenham & Redbridge 3 Stevenage 2

Boro knocked out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy

Dagenham & Redbridge 3 Stevenage 2

Johnstone’s Paint Trophy: first round

A POOR first-half defensive display from Stevenage cost Gary Smith’s men dearly as they were knocked out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

It is the third consecutive season that Boro have failed to win a match in this competition, but unlike last year – at AFC Wimbledon, when Stevenage came back from 2-1 down to draw 2-2 only to then lose on penalties – glimpses of a second-half fight back were too little, too late.

After a summer of upheaval Stevenage do remain a work in progress, but after a solid start to this year’s campaign this week has been a struggle with a fortunate draw at home to Shrewsbury on Saturday followed by this defeat.

It was the manner of the loss – more precisely, of a woeful first-half display – that would have hurt Smith the most.

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His team had to contend with plenty of high balls sent forth by the Dagenham back line in the early stages, most of which were dealt with, but it was when the Daggers started to pass the ball on the floor that they were able to carve Stevenage open on a number of occasions.

Stevenage gave a start to two debutants with Steve Arnold in goal and Oliver Risser, signed on loan from Swindon Town on Friday, partnering Anthony Grant in the centre of midfield.

Patrick Agyemang, who signed a one-year-deal at the club on Friday, was also in from the start, but most of the first-half chances came at the other end of the pitch with the Daggers taking their chances to lead 3-1 by the break.

The home side took the lead on 12 minutes when Brian Woodall made a move at a corner and, unmarked, nodded home.

Mark Roberts equalised when he fired home from close range after Bondz N’Gala’s header, from a Morais free kick, was blocked on the line.

Yet the home side scored twice more before the break, and in quick succession.

The first was a smart side-footed volley from an again unmarked Josh Scott, with Luke Howell the provider, and then Roberts brought down Michael Spillane in the box after Stevenage had been opened up at the back and Spillane scored from the spot.

A half-time change saw Smith revert to two front men for the first time this season with Marcus Haber, on for Anthony Grant, partnering Agyemang.

For all of their possession in the second half, Smith’s men failed to test the Dagenham goalkeeper often enough, but when substitute Robin Shroot took a corner which was cleared right back to him 73 minutes in, he walked his way to the penalty area, unmarked, and fired home for 3-2.

Yet the home side then had the better of the remaining chances, Spillane shooting over from a free-kick and the home side forcing Steve Arnold into a fine double save late on.

Dagenham: Lewington 5, Wilkinson 6, Ilesanmi 6, Doe 6, Spillane 7, Scott 7, D Green 6 (DJ Green 73), Howell 6 (Bingham 73), Hoyte 6, Ogogo 7, Woodall 7. Subs: Seabright, Reed, Dennis.

Stevenage: Arnold 6, Gray 6, Charles 6, Roberts 5, N’Gala 5, Grant 6 (Haber 46, 6), Risser 5, Tansey 5, Morais 6, Rogers 5 (Shroot 63, 6), Agyemang 5 (Freeman 74). Subs: Ball, Cominges.

Att: 981 (104)

Ref: T Robinson