Rovers 1-2 Dagenham
Bristol Rovers’ six match unbeaten run came to an end at the Memorial Stadium this evening, as they lost 2-1 to Dagenham and Redbridge.
Rovers took the early lead through O’Toole in an evenly matched contest, but goals either side of half time from Adebayo Azeez secured all three points for the visitors.
Manager John Ward named the same side that secured an impressive win against Plymouth Argyle at the weekend.
It was a competitive first half with both teams fairly evenly balanced.
The visitors had all the possession in the opening five minutes, but it was Rovers who took the early lead from a short corner routine.
The ball was played back to Lee Brown who whipped a cross in to an unmarked O’Toole who rose to fire home a powerful header.
The goal galvanised Rovers, who forced a string of corners in quick succession, before at the other end Brian Saah headed wide for the visitors.
The Daggers pulled off a good block to deny David Clarkson’s first time ball as Rovers looked to double their lead.
At the other end, Steve Mildenhall pulled off a great reaction save to keep Rovers in front.
The cross in from Luke Norris found the feet of Adebayo Azeez who turned and shot, but was denied by the fast acting keeper.
But minutes later Azeez found his name on the scoresheet to draw things level for the Daggers.
The corner was swung in by Medy Elito and Azeez was the first to react and rose highest to fire home.
Rovers were then awarded a free kick right on the edge of the area after a foul on Clarkson – but the striker’s low free kick across the box took a deflection and was saved by the keeper. Michael Smith pounced on the rebound, but his effort went wide.
The Pirates then had a great chance to re-establish the lead just before the half time whistle. The cross in from Brown was met by the head of Mohamed, whose header across the face of goal went very narrowly wide.
The visitors had the first effort of the second half; Luke Norris lashed a shot from 30 yards that went just wide of the upright.
Dagenham keeper Chris Lewington then pulled off a fantastic one handed save to touch away Chris Beardsley’s header, before the visitors raced straight down to the other end on the counter attack and Mildenhall was forced to pull off a low save.
Rovers forced another couple of corners, and O’Toole headed over the bar, before Rovers made the first change of the game; bringing Matt Harrold on for Ollie Clarke.
Dagenham then took the lead just before the hour mark through Azeez who notched up his second goal of the game. The striker was given too much space and shot into the top corner.
Rovers were then awarded a free kick just outside the area, after a foul on Beardsley, but Brown’s ball to the far post was headed over the bar.
There was a let off for the home side when the visitors again broke on the counter attack. Norris made a good solo run for the Daggers, but his shot was wild and flew over the bar.
Rovers then forced a save from the Daggers keeper; the low shot from Clarkson was spilled by Lewington, but he gathered at the second attempt.
Some good build up from Rovers led to a great chance to level things with just under 20 minutes to go. After some patient hold up play by Mohamed, the ball fell to substitute Steven Gillespie whose shot fizzed narrowly wide of the post.
Substitute Chris Dickson hit a first time volley from out wide for the visitors, but the ball flew into the side netting.
John Ward made his final substitution on 85 minutes, with Alefe Santos coming on to replace Mohamed.
In the last minute of normal time Rovers won a free kick 40 yards out for a foul on Lockyer. The ball was laid off to Brown, but his shot did not trouble the Dagenham keeper.
Bristol Rovers: Steve Mildenhall, Michael Smith, Tom Parkes, Mark McChrystal, Lee Brown, Kaid Mohamed (Alefe Santos), Ollie Clarke (Matt Harrold), John-Joe O’Toole, Tom Lockyer, David Clarkson (Steven Gillespie), Chris Beardsley.
Substitutes: Danny Woodards, Steven Gillespie, Ellis Harrison, Matt Harrold, Conor Gough, Seanan Clucas, Alefe Santos
Dagenham and Redbridge: Chris Lewington, Gavin Hoyte, Luke Wilkinson (Scott Doe), Brian Saah, Femi Ilesanmi, Adebayo Azeez, Billy Bingham (Ashley Bingham), Abu Ogogo, Medy Elito, Luke Norris (Chris Dickson), Luke Howell.
Substitutes: Jordan Seabright, Lawson D'Ath, Sean Shields, Jack Connors.