Late goal denies Shrimps' victory
MORECAMBE conceded with virtually the last kick of the game as Dagenham & Redbridge ended the Shrimps’ four-game winning streak.
Abu Ogogo had given the Daggers a first-half lead, but goals from Padraig Amond and a first Shrimps’ goal for Mark Hughes put Jim Bentley’s side into a deserved lead.
But with seconds left on the clock former Preston North End striker Rhys Murphy salvaged a draw for the visitors and prevented the Shrimps from winning five on the bounce for the first time since December 2009.
The point sees Morecambe drop to eighth in League Two, but a fifth game without defeat means the Shrimps are only outside the play-off places on goal difference.
Bentley named an unchanged starting XI following last weekend’s 3-2 win at Newport with Andy Fleming and Marcus Marshall missing out through injury once again.
In reserve, the Shrimps boss called upon seven academy graduates including full-back Aaron McGowan and promising striker Tom Woods.
Just like Morecambe the Daggers have made a bright start to the season and both sides immediately set about continuing that good form at the Globe Arena.
It was the visitors who threatened first though as Zavon Hines found himself free in the box, after Alex Kenyon had surrendered possession, but the former West Ham forward – under pressure from Andy Wright – struck his shot onto the outside of the post via a deflection.
From the resulting corner midfielder Billy Bingham hit a powerful shot which whistled just yards over the Morecambe crossbar as the Daggers looked to build on their 2-0 win against Bristol Rovers last Saturday.
Despite that early pressure the Shrimps also pushed men forward in the opening 10 minutes and Daggers’ goalkeeper Chris Lewington had to be on his guard to keep hold of a low drive from Jack Sampson after a clever flick by Amond.
The roles were then reversed five minutes later as Sampson became creator but after a quick turn in the box Amond’s instinctive effort crashed off the top of the crossbar and behind.
With Bentley’s side failing to take advantage of those early chances the Daggers grew in confidence and with 20 minutes on the clock they raced into the lead after a powerful run by Afolabi Obafemi.
The former Watford trainee carried the ball forward from the halfway line before then supplying a defence splitting pass to captain Ogogo who slotted the ball under the onrushing Barry Roche.
The Shrimps were then handed a further blow two minutes later as the in-form Andy Parrish had to leave the field through injury, with youngster Chris Doyle coming on in his place.
That did not appear to dishearten Bentley’s side too much however as they created chance after chance as they tried to find a way back into the game.
Forwards Sampson and Amond linked up well again but the former saw his well hit shot comfortably held by Lewington, before Sampson then met Kevin Ellison’s left-wing cross but despite beating the Daggers’ keeper his header went across goal and was cleared behind for a corner.
From that resulting Ryan Williams set-piece former Stanley striker Amond sent a free header narrowly over the Dagenham crossbar and then from another Shrimps’ corner Lewington failed with his attempted punch but Tony Diagne could only head wide at the back post.
With Bentley’s side now camped in the opposition half they desperately went in search of an equaliser before half-time, but with Lewington in fine form there was no beating the ex-Dulwich Hamlet stopper.
First, he got a strong hand to a long range strike from Ellison, before acrobatically tipping a dipping 25-yard Williams’ effort over his own crossbar as the Daggers went in ahead at the break.
There was no let off from the Shrimps after the half-time interval and just seven minutes after the restart Bentley’s side finally beat Lewington and found themselves back on level terms.
Following a foul on Ellison near the corner flag, Williams delivered an inch perfect free-kick into the box which Amond rose highest to meet and head across the Daggers’ keeper and into the bottom right corner.
With the home fans now sensing the lead for the first time in the game Ellison headed over after losing his marker in the box, before the winger then hit a shot high over the Dagenham crossbar following a poor clearance.
The visitors struggled to gain any sustained spells of possession after the break but with their defence sitting deeper and being well marshalled by former Torquay centre-back Brian Saah the Shrimps did not enjoy the freedom that they had in the first 45.
Bentley’s side began to grow frustrated at that lack of creativity, with an Amond header – which was comfortably held by Lewington – the best they could muster in a dire 15 minute spell.
Those frustrations soon turned to jubilation however, as the Shrimps took the lead 13 minutes from time, albeit in scrappy circumstances.
The Daggers’ defence failed to deal with another Williams’ corner and after Ellison battled to win possession in the six-yard box the ball fell to captain Hughes who lashed the ball into the roof of the net to give Morecambe the lead.
Full of confidence Amond then hit a curling shot which Lewington did well to handle, before the Daggers began to find a way back into the game.
Former Arsenal youth striker Murphy found himself free in the Shrimps’ six-yard box but his header was too central and Roche pushed it aside, with Brian Woodall blazing the rebound over.
Substitute Joe Mwasile then hit a ferocious low shot which Lewington pushed aside, before the Shrimps were hit by a major blow.
With just 30 seconds remaining, the dangerous Hines outpaced Diagne and then supplied a near post cross which Murphy was quickest to meet and divert past Roche to earn a last-gasp point for the Daggers.
Morecambe: Roche; Wright, Parrish (Doyle 23), Hughes, Diagne; Drummond, Kenyon, Williams; Amond, Sampson (Mwasile 72), Ellison
Subs not used: Arestidou, Bell, McGowan, McGee, Woods
Dag & Red: Lewington; Hoyte, Doe, Saah, Connors; Bingham (Elito 81), Ogogo, Howell; Obafemi (Woodall 61), Murphy, Hines
Subs not used: Seabright, Wilkinson, Ilesanmi, Reed, Saunders
Referee: S Mathieson