Super sub Hitchcock strikes to claim point at Dagenham and Redbridge
PUBLISHED: 17:13 29 August 2015 | UPDATED: 17:43 29 August 2015
Substitute Tom Hitchcock's second-half strike rescued a point for a hot-and-cold Stevenage at still winless Dagenham and Redbridge in League Two.
Despite languishing as the Football League’s bottom club, Dagenham were much the better side in the first half and deservedly led at the break thanks to Ashley Hemmings’ 27th minute 25-yard belter.
Boro knew they had to improve in the second period or rubberstamp a third defeat of the season and midway through the half, they created their best opportunity of the game which they duly took.
Brett Williams’ nod found the arriving Hitchcock and the MK Dons loan man slid the ball beyond keeper Liam O’Brien. A reprieve for Teddy Sheringham’s men.
The home side pushed for a winner but Jamie Cureton’s header flashed wide and Fraser Franks’ last-ditch defending denied the Daggers and the game petered out to a stalemate.
Boro made two changes from their first win of the season as on-loan shot-stopper Jesse Joronen replaced Chris Day between the sticks and Chris Whelpdale, who scored in the visitors’ 2-0 triumph at Victoria Road last season, returned to the first team after injury.
Considering Day had kept a clean sheet the previous week, the inclusion of Joronen was a head-scratcher.
For the hosts, mercurial frontman Jamie Cureton, who celebrated his 40th birthday yesterday (Friday), deputised for the suspended Matt McClure, sent off in Daggers’ 1-1 draw with Wycombe Wanderers in their previous game.
Cureton had Boro’s goal in his sights almost immediately as he burst in from the left but his strike partner Christian Doidge was blocked out by loan left back Connor Ogilvie.
Buoyed by their point at promotion-chasing Wycombe, the hosts were the livelier but could not carve a meaningful chance as Boro patrolled well.
That was until Hemmings’ cross was whipped towards the head of Doidge, but Ogilvie was alert enough to intercept and head behind.
From the corner, the ball was not cleared and Joronen was required to snuff out Cureton’s advances at the far post.
Boro briefly settled but just before the half hour, the home side spectacularly went ahead.
Hemmings powered towards Stevenage’s goal and unleashed a left-foot rasper that gave the debutant keeper little chance. On the balance of play, a deserved Daggers lead.
The visitors showed flashes of opportunity but fluffed chances afforded to Whelpdale and Williams as they looked to level.
Cureton could have compounded Boro’s misery in half-time injury time but he was foiled again, this time by Dean Wells.
Sheringham had to change something in order to stop the game slipping from their grasp, so turned to Tom Conlon to replace Dale Gorman for the start of the second half.
Whelpdale soon joined him on the bench five minutes into the second half as Tom Pett entered the fray.
That sparked some good Boro pressure but Schumacher’s 25-yard shot flashed over Liam O’Brien’s crossbar.
At the other end, Cureton was defying his years and causing the away side all sorts of problems. A double chance just after the hour brought the best out of Mark Hughes and then Franks, who nodded the second shot off the line.
Teddy’s final roll of the dice came as Hitchcock came on for the quiet Dipo Akinyemi and it soon paid dividends.
Williams’ nod down found the arriving loan man and he poked beyond O’Brien. Stevenage’s visiting numbers erupted into euphoria.
Dagenham responded with efforts from Cureton and Doidge but Stevenage held firm.
The home crowd were encouraged when the referee’s assistant indicated they would be six minutes added time but there were no further chances as both sides settled for a point.
Dagenham and Redbridge – O’Brien, Passley, Nosworthy (Dikamona, 62), Boucaud (capt), Doidge, Jones (Hines, 79), Hemmings, Ferdinand, Obileye, Widdowson, Cureton. Subs not used – Cousins (GK), Connors, Chambers, Richards, Hamalainen.
Stevenage – Joronen, Franks, Wells, Hughes, Ogilvie, Whelpdale (Pett, 51), Schumacher (capt), Gorman (Conlon, 46), Lee, Akinyemi (Hitchcock, 69), Williams. Subs not used – Day, McCombe, Okimo, Johnson.
Attendance – 1,653 (320).