REPORT | Dagenham & Redbridge 0-2 Wealdstone
Updated: Dec 17, 2023
You can use any part of the anatomy (apart from your hands) to score a goal.
And Sean Adarkwa wasn’t too fussed that the crucial opening goal at Dagenham & Redbridge flew into the net off his right knee!
Stones hadn’t won away from home all season - in fact hadn't even got a point on the road since August - and the striker’s 51st-minute improvisation brought a roar of relief from the vociferous fans packed in behind the goal.
“I knew the ball was coming in from Tarryn (Allarakhia) and I made space but just had to get some sort of contact on it. It was great to see it fly in” said the ex-QPR front man.
Stones’ chief coach Craig Saunders said: “That was for the fans. They’ve followed us up and down the country and although we didn't dominate the game today our keeper Marcus didn't have a shot to save”.
Unsurprisingly, after three weeks without a game, Stones looked rusty in the first half hour.
The first chance fell to Dagenham and Redbridge after just three minutes when Conor Lawless broke free 12 yards out but was denied by a brilliant saving tackle from Charlie Barker.
Dagenham cranked up the pressure with Lawless playing a clever low freekick that was deflected across the face of goal to safety by Jack Cook.
Stones’ solitary attack in the first 15 minutes saw Allarakhia cut inside but saw his low shot blocked by a sea of Dagenham bodies - and he created a second chance 10 minutes later but Brandon Mason at the back post could only shoot into the hands of goalkeeper Elliot Justham.
Daggers’ home record is almost as poor as Stones on the road and their lack of belief was there for all to see: right winger Frank Vincent flashed a shot just the wrong side of a post and the first booking came a minute later when Daggers’ Jake Hessenthaler caught Brandon Mason with a late challenge.
And Stones had to substitute star defender Charlie Barker for Mason Barrett moments later - Barker himself suffering from an earlier late challenge.
The best chances of the first half then arrived as Sam Ling broke down the right but his low cross saw Connor Lawless shoot weekly straight at goalkeeper Marcus Dewhurst.
Then the keeper tipped Inih Effiong’s close-range snapshot over the bar. And as the home side continued to press Frank Vincent saw his left foot shot dragged agonisingly close to the far post.
Yet it was the Stones who finished the stronger side, winning a spate of corners in injury time. From one half clearance, Sam Bowen rattled the home crossbar with a trademark 22 yard effort as keeper Justham flailed at thin air.
And from another, Allarakhia shifted the ball onto his left foot only to shoot straight at Justham.
Stones started the second half strongly with Micah Obiero, Max Kretzschmar, Ashley Charles and the outstanding Sam Bowen taking a grip on midfield. And they took the lead on 51 minutes when Allarakhia picked up a short corner and arrowed a tempting ball into the box. Adarkwa was surrounded by Dagenham’s phalanx of six-footers but he diverted it into the top corner beyond the reach of Justham…. and the visiting fans erupted!
The rust was wearing off as Allarakhia then danced past three defenders and broke into the box - but smashed his shot into the side netting.
Stones’ Ashley Charles was booked for pulling back Ryan Hill by the shirt and the Daggers’ Elliott Johnson was the next name in referee Jason Richardson‘s book for a late challenge on Bowen.
Ryan Hill really should have levelled for Dagenham when he met a near post cross from Vincent but skewed his shot wide from 10 yards.
With the game getting spicy the referee brandished yellow cards for Stones’ Jaydn Mundle-Smith and Dagenham‘s
Hill - and also sent off Dagenham substitute David Longe-King for his part in a touchline fracas. Also seeing yellow were Stones’ assistant manager Matty Saunders and his brother Craig!
With 20 minutes remaining, Jake Hessenthaler had a great chance from Effiong’s flicked header but shot woefully over the crossbar.
But it was Wealdstone who sealed the points just as eight minutes of injury time was announced: Dangerman Allarakhia broke free onto Bowen‘s pass and, with the defence in full retreat, placed his shot beautifully into the far corner for 2-0.
Suddenly we were transported back to the glorious awaydays of last season, Stones returning to those clever and gritty displays - and fully deserving of the ovation from the 200-odd travelling fans.
Even the substituted Max Kretzschmar sprinted from the technical area to join the celebrations and was booked for his pains!
WEALDSTONE: Dewhurst, Cook (c), Barker (Barrett 31), Mundle-Smith, Mason (Ilunga 54), Charles, Bowen, Allarakhia, Kretzschmar (Dyer 89), Obiero, Adarkwa.
Subs not used: Ferguson, Campbell.
Attendance: 1,318 (including 173 Stones supporters)
Report by Tim Parks