Published: 21:30, 15 August 2017 |
Updated: 10:39, 16 August 2017
Ebbsfleet extended their unbeaten league run to 30 matches after twice coming from behind to draw with much-fancied Dagenham on their own patch.
The visitors battled back from 2-0 and 3-1 down at Victoria Road, where Nathan Ashmore also saved a penalty on a night of unbelievable drama in the National League.
Danny Kedwell's third goal in as many games rescued a point for Daryl McMahon's side, who replicated the comeback they produced four days earlier against AFC Fylde.
The visitors arrived in Essex facing something of a defensive crisis. Already without club captain Dave Winfield, who's facing at least three months out with knee ligament damage, they were also missing Kenny Clark who picked up a hamstring injury in the 3-3 draw with Fylde on Saturday.
In their absence, Yado Mambo started just his second league game since rejoining Fleet in December 2016, playing at centre-half alongside Sam Magri, who spent last season playing on the right-hand side of Dover's defence.
On-loan defender Kevin Lokko started for Dagenham, less than two weeks after leaving Maidstone to sign for Stevenage, while Michael Cheek replaced Oliver Hawkins up front in one of three changes by John Still.
Ebbsfleet made a confident start with Dagenham looking edgy by contrast.
Darren McQueen, back in the team after being dropped at the weekend, headed a Marvin McCoy cross wide on the stretch before Myles Weston tested goalkeeper Mark Cousins with a shot from 25 yards.
Cousins then flapped at a Weston cross but from Dagenham's first attack, McCoy needed to be alert to cut out Cheek's low centre from the right.
Daggers' leading scorer Corey Whitely saw his long shot swerve just over via a deflection but the opening quarter was dominated by Fleet, who looked lively whenever they went forward.
It was therefore against the run of play that Dagenham took the lead on 22 minutes.
Whitely picked up the ball on the right-hand side of the box and arrowed a low shot across Nathan Ashmore into the corner for his fifth goal of the season.
It should have been 2-0 moments later when Bondz N'Gala was left totally unmarked at a corner but his header was kept out by Ashmore. Luke Pennell rifled the follow-up wide.
But the goal didn't knock Fleet out of their stride as they kept looking to pass the ball and be positive in their play. Weston and Luke Coulson, encouraged by manager Daryl McMahon, looked to take on their full-backs at every given opportunity.
Ebbsfleet then had two players booked in quick succession, Weston for bringing down Morgan Ferrier as he broke at pace and Mambo for a clumsy foul when he got caught the wrong side of Cheek.
Ashmore dived high to his right to claw Whitely's free-kick out of the top corner and he performed more heroics when Dagenham were awarded a penalty moments later.
Whitely struck his spot-kick well but Ashmore guessed correctly and pushed the ball out.
But he was beaten for a second time when Fleet failed to deal with a right-wing corner on the stroke of half-time and Lokko forced the ball into the roof of the net.
Fleet went probing after the restart and Kedwell hooked a shot wide after Coulson had turned McCoy's cross into his path.
But Dagenham started to turn the screw, pushing Ebbsfleet back, and McMahon changed things by sending on Jack Powell for Drury just as the visitors won a free-kick 25 yards out.
Powell's impact could not have been more immediate. With his first touch he curled the free-kick over the wall and although Cousins got a hand to the ball, he couldn't keep it out.
Five minutes later Dagenham restored their two-goal lead in style. Ferrier cut in from the left and curled a wonderful shot beyond Ashmore into the far top corner.
But Ebbsfleet refused to lie down though and it was 3-2 when Coulson swept in a corner from the right.
The visitors were howling for a red card when McQueen got the wrong side of his man from Kedwell's flick and was dragged down but it was yellow which came and Powell's free-kick hit the wall.
Ferrier drove a long shot wide with his last touch before being substituted and Ashmore pulled off another astonishing save when Lokko looked certain to strike from close-range following a Whitely free-kick.
Dagenham's narrow lead almost disappeared when Jack Payne fired against the post after Weston had found him in space on the edge of the box.
And the travelling Fleet fans went wild when Daggers failed to deal with a cross from the left and Kedwell squeezed a header inside Cousins' left-hand post for the equaliser.
On came Aaron McLean for the last six minutes and Fleet survived a couple of late scares, including another Whitely free-kick in the sixth minute of stoppage-time, but the final whistle sparked a huge roar from the 300 behind Ashmore's goal.
Dagenham: Cousins, Pennell, Robson, Ferrier (Romain 72mins), Okenbirhie, N'Gala, Boucaud, Lokko, Ling, Cheek (Hawkins 70mins), Whitely. Subs not used: Justham, Robinson, Howells.
Ebbsfleet: Ashmore, McCoy, Mambo, Magri, Connors, Weston, Payne, Drury (Powell 57mins), Coulson, Kedwell, McQueen (McLean 84mins). Subs not used: Miles, Mills.
Attendance: 1,686 (316 away).
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