Dagenham & Redbridge 2
Strevens (28), Reed (73)
O’Toole (4), Tounkara (6 & 70), Woodards (20),
Rovers returned home with all three points following a 4-2 win against Dagenham & Redbridge, a side they took apart in a devastating opening 20 minutes that saw them score three goals without reply.
The home side did manage to pull a goal back before the break that gave them a glimmer of hope.
However Oumare Tounkara scored his second, and Rovers’ fourth, after the break and although the Daggers scored again, they were well beaten by a Rovers side in which Tounkara excelled on his first start.
Manager John Ward made three changes to his starting lineup for the game, bringing in Fabian Broghammer for Joe Anyinsah, and handing a first start to Tounkara who came in for Eliot Richards.
The third change appeared to be forced on the manager because goalkeeper Steve Mildenhall was named on the teamsheet but failed to appear when the teams came out, which meant a start for Conor Gough.
On the bench there was a welcome return for Ollie Norburn, who picked up an ankle injury against Port Vale last month.
Ward’s side were quick out of the blocks and took a fourth minute lead.
Ryan Brunt’s long throw from out on the left caused confusion in the home defence and as the ball bobbled around in the area it fell at the feet of John-Joe O’Toole, who rifled the ball high into the roof of the net.
A minute later Rovers doubled their lead when a long ball out of defence saw Scott Doe try to back head the ball to his keeper, Jonathan Miles. The keeper rushed off his line to gather but was beaten to the ball by Tounkara who calmly sidestepped his challenge and rolled the ball into an empty net.
A shell shocked Daggers defence were struggling to cope with Tounkara at this point and although Ben Strevens tested Gough with a long range effort, they fell further behind on 20 minutes when Danny Woodards scored at the end of a penetrating move.
Tounkara played in Brunt who waited before rolling the ball into the path of Woodards, and he sidefooted the ball into the net with some aplomb.
The Daggers did manage to pull a goal back with 28 minutes on the clock. When Gavin Hoyte crossed from the right, Strevens got his head to it and although it looked as though Gough had prevented it from crossing the line, a goal was given, with Medi Elito, on the far post, making sure it crossed the line.
Play became a little bit scrappy after that goal, though Abu Ogogo did fire a shot wide of the target and Toni Silva hit a shot high over the bar.
Mo Sharif curled a free kick into the side netting as the home side tried to get back into the game at the start of the second half, and Louis Dennis fired wide of the target.
At the other end, Broghammer’s shot from a tight angle was touched round the post by Miles. However the fourth goal arrived on 70 minutes and it was Tounkara on the scoresheet again.
It was gifted to him by the home side, when they were awarded a free kick deep inside their own half. For some inexplicable reason it was played straight to the Rovers striker who advanced a couple of yards with the ball and, as it sat up for him, hit it on the volley and saw it go in off the post.
The home side’s response was swift and they pulled a goal back three minutes later when Oluafemi Ilesanmi’s low cross from the left was swept home from close range by substitute Jake Reed.
Gough then pulled off a superb save from the goalscorer, touching his ferocious drive on to the bar. The clearance was completed by Woodards, at the expense of a corner, and Luke Wilkinson should have done better with his powerful header that drifted wide of the upright.
Tounkara was unlucky not to complete his hat trick before the end of the game, but his downward header was comfortably saved by Miles and then, when played in by Tom Hitchcock, he tried to square the ball to Ryan Brunt rather than shoot.
Rovers: Conor Gough, Michael Smith (Tom Lockyer, 78), Tom Parkes, Mark McChrystal, Lee Brown (Jim Paterson, 46), Ellis Harrison, John-Joe O’Toole, Danny Woodards, Fabian Broghammer (Tom Hitchcock, 81), Oumare Tounkara, Ryan Brunt.
Substitutes: Eliot Richards, Ollie Norburn, Clayton McDonald, Ollie Clarke.
Yellow Cards: O’Toole, Parkes
Dagenham & Redbridge: Miles, Gavin Hoyte (Gianluca Gracco, 87), Scott Doe, Luke Wilkinson, Oluwafemi Ilesanmi, Toni Silva (Louis Dennis, 46), Abu Ogogo, Luke Howell, Jake Caprice, Ben Strevens, Medy Elito (Jake Reed, 46)
Substitutes: Matt Saunders, Kevin Maher, Jonathan Fortune, Jordan Seabright.
Yellow Cards: Strevens, Ilesanmi
Rovers supporters: 484
Referee: Stuart Atwell