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17:00 1st March 2014
By  Andrew Webb

Report: Daggers 0-0 Stags

Mansfield Town were held to a goalless draw by Dagenham & Redbridge in an entertaining match in Sky Bet League Two.

The Daggers had the better chances on a cold afternoon in East London, but were unable to find a way past Stags’ keeper Alan Marriott, who made three important second half saves.

The Stags' best chance came just after the half-hour mark when Ritchie Sutton headed wide at the back-post, following Sam Clucas' free-kick.

Manager Paul Cox made just one change to his starting line-up for the match in East London as the combative Jamie McGuire replaced Chris Clements in centre-midfield.

The opening exchanges were largely scrappy as neither team were able to establish a solid foothold.

John Dempster went into the referee’s notebook in just the third-minute for a professional foul on Rhys Murphy, as Dagenham attempted to use the width to spring a quick counter-attack.

The Daggers also had the first shot on target when on loan striker Luke Norris hit a tame 20-yard effort straight at Alan Marriott on seven minutes.

Mansfield created their first opening in bizarre circumstances on the quarter-hour mark when Junior Daniel’s hopeful long ball down the left channel caused the hosts real problems.

Defender Brian Saah and shot-stopper Chris Lewington collided as they attempted to deal with the danger, which allowed Sam Clucas to flick the ball goalwards, but his effort was off-target.

The Stags’ youngster did test Lewington moments later, however, with a scruffy snap-shot from the edge of the area following strike-partner Matt Rhead’s clever flick on.

The Daggers had another lack of communication at the back on 20 minutes, when Clucas fired straight at Lewington from about 18 yards out, after two players failed to clear.

Chances for both sides were at a premium until Norris tried his luck with a dipping half-volley on the half-hour mark, which flew narrowly over Marriott’s crossbar.

The Stags then spurned a gilt-edge to take the lead on 33 minutes.

Clucas whipped a superb free-kick towards the back-post, where an unmarked Ritchie Sutton rose highest and connected well, but couldn’t hit the target.

Medy Elito had an angled strike saved by Marriott at the other end only a minute later, before the Mansfield keeper played a long ball downfield and released an accelerating Clucas.

Clucas looked up and unleashed a powerful half-volley that flew within inches of the top-right corner, but importantly, didn’t hit the back of the net.

The youngster screwed a separate shot high and wide from 25 yards on 36 minutes, before Adabayo Azeez went close for the hosts with a low snap-shot less than a minute later.

Both teams also had opportunities to break the deadlock in yet another frantic 60-second spell prior to the interval.

Lee Stevenson saw a deflected shot from a tight angle almost creep in at the near-post on 43 minutes, before Lewington played a long ball downfield and caused instant danger.

Elito picked up possession on the right-wing and played an inviting low ball across the edge of the area, which was cleverly left by Murphy for Norris, whose bullet drive was straight at Marriott.

Mansfield enjoyed the first chance after the re-start when McGuire collected a loose ball and let fly with a sweetly-struck 30-yard shot which was just wide of Lewington’s left-hand post.

A minute later Darryl Westlake had a shot blocked by a back-peddling Saah, before the Stags had an appeal for a penalty turned down despite McGuire’s resulting corner appearing to hit the arm of a Dagenham player.

Nevertheless, whilst the visitors looked lively going forward, so did the hosts – especially on the counter-attack.

Only a splendid low save by Marriott prevented the Daggers from taking the lead on 54 minutes, when Azeez couldn’t lift the ball over him after being put clean through by Elito.

In another move, Murphy also enjoyed time, space and a shooting opportunity when Azeez put him in the clear, but Marriott made another important save to keep the Stags on level terms.

By the hour mark, the match was finely poised, despite both teams craving for a potentially game-changing opener.

The Daggers almost found it on 65 minutes, when Murphy peeled off the shoulder of his marker to reach a long ball, before he drilled a low drive straight at Marriott.

Only a few minutes later, the Stags were back on the attack as they bombarded the hosts’ penalty area with a series of crosses, but Dagenham – and in particular Saah – dealt with the danger.

The hosts soon became even more frustrated when Murphy expertly turned away from Dempster inside the area, but saw his subsequent attempt turned away by Marriott.

Mansfield endured more nervous times on 74 minutes, when a corner broke down and Dagenham broke away at pace.

Azeez accelerated away from everyone to give Elito, who was in possession, plenty of options, but when the ball was eventually played to him, Azeez threw himself to the ground in the hope of winning a penalty.

One wasn’t forthcoming though and the ball eventually ran out of play for a goal-kick – much to the Stags’ relief.

Momentum by now was starting to favour the team from East London, who enjoyed quite a few sustained spells of pressure, but couldn’t find a killer instinct to bag the opener.

Nevertheless, the Stags soon registered two chances in quick succession; firstly as Daniel hit a low 30-yard free-kick straight at Lewington, and secondly when Westlake fired over.

Ollie Palmer was introduced in favour of Rhead for the final quarter-of-an-hour and as nerves grew around the stadium, both defences seemed to become tighter.

The Daggers finished strongly and could have snatched all three points with just three minutes left to play when Elito flashed a shot across the face of goal, but had already strayed into an offside position.

The hosts also enjoyed a couple of corners in quick succession in the last few minutes of normal time, but were unable to break down and resolute Stags defence.

Four minutes of added time were allowed, but the match remained goalless as both teams earned a point.

Attendance: 1,377 (172 away supporters).