|Dagenham & Redbridge||3-1||Havant & Waterlooville|
|Wilkinson 7, 49' Balanta 74'||Ayunga 84'|
By Henry Deacon (@H_Deaconmedia)
Dagenham came out the traps flying and condemned the Hawks to a handful of chances throughout.
Havant rallied towards the end, but Jonah Ayunga’s late goal would be in vain.
The result puts the Hawks 19th, two points clear of the bottom four ahead of Saturday’s trip to Salford City.
Lee Bradbury made the solitary change from the 5-2 win over Maidstone. Andreas Robinson returned from the off, coming in for Theo Lewis.
Dagenham started brightly and had the first opportunity of the game four minutes in when Balanta played in Alex McQueen, who broke free from the defensive corden before firing his his effort just over the bar.
The Hawks would be dealt with an early blow just seconds later, with Rory Williams on the deck, and that would put pay to his night, being replaced early on by Bradley Tarbuck.
In a frantic opening salvo for the hosts, Dagenham took the lead just seven minutes in when from a set piece the ball fell for Conor Wilkinson, who from an acute angle curled the ball into the top right hand corner, past Dudzinski in the Hawks goal.
Five minutes later and the Hawks had their first opportunity of the game with Justham forced into action, after the lively Ayunga got a shot away from the edge of the area and bought down by the man between the sticks.
Back up the other end however, the Hawks were reliant on ‘keeper Ben Dudzinski with Balanta teeing up Wilkinson again, which was steered goalwards, but Ben would be level to the effort.
In a frantic opening quarter to the game, the Hawks went up the other end with Rutherford forced Justham to tip over the bar with a cross come shot, following a sublime ball by Bradley Tarbuck from 45 yards into the youngsters path.
Just before the twenty minute mark, a mix up at the back nearly cost the Hawks with Cordner and Dudzinski both jostling over the same ball with Balanta in close proximity and instinctively Balanta saw him win the ball and presented with an open goal before Cornder makes a brilliant recovery to clear the ball from danger.
Up the other end Cordner came close to levelling for the Hawks, as his header from a Brian Stock free-kick forced Justham into a goal-line save.
But for every Hawks action, seemed to come a Dagenham reaction as the flooded the Hawks half with bodies once more with Balanta beating Cordner and this time electing to shoot, forcing Dudzinski again into action.
Just after the half hour mark came the Hawks had a decent chance to square the game up as Tarbuck laid on yet another of his trademark teasing balls into the path of Alfie Rutherford, who couldn’t steer his header on target.
Dagenham would come forward towards the end of the half, but couldn’t string anything to trouble the Hawks backline
The gaffer would make a half time switch with Aaron Cosgrave replacing Djamel Leeflang.
Havant had the opening chance of the half, just seconds after the restart with Jonah Ayunga given acres of space to roam around before dragging his effort just wide of goal.
Dagenham would double their advantage five minutes into the second period with Wilkinson bagging his brace, drilling the ball past Dudzinski in the Hawks goal from 25 yards out.
Just before the hour mark, and the Hawks would have two big opportunities, both coming from set pieces.
The first fell to Aaron Cosgrave from 12 yards out after evading the Dagenham defenders before having his effort deflected for a corner.
From the resulting kick the ball was played into Tyler Cordner, who headed his effort wide of the target.
Dagenham should have made their lead three with 25 minutes left to play when Wilkinson played the ball across the face of goal into Goodliffe, who couldn’t connect to the ball with the goal at his mercy.
With a quarter of an hour left, the Daggers put in the dagger, scoring their third with Balanta this time the scorer after breaking free of the Hawks defence before getting his shot away on the edge of the box to put the game past the Hawks.
There was a late resurgence, but it came with little time to play.
Six minutes before the end Jonah Ayunga made it two goals in two Hawks appearances after chipping the ball past Justham.
Despite a spirited late flourish, it would be as good as it got for the Hawks as they were left to taste defeat.
Disappointing night at the office for Lee Bradbury’s side, but will be looking to put that record right on Saturday when we make the trip to the Peninsula Stadium to take on Salford City.