Ten-man FC Halifax Town came from a goal down to earn a hard-fought 1-1 draw at Dagenham and Redbridge thanks to Nathan Clarke’s equaliser.
Josh Staunton was sent-off at his former club after 35 minutes: before that Town had edged the game and kept Dagenham quiet, after it, The Shaymen were forced to try and preserve a point against the odds.
That task was made even harder when Jack Munns scored on the hour mark, but Town’s fighting spirit was rewarded when Clarke rose brilliantly to head in a corner with 10 minutes to go.
Dagenham also finished the game with 10 men when captain Ben Nunn got a second booking.
A poor first-half was only brought to life when Staunton was dismissed 10 minutes before the interval.
The former Dagenham man certainly lunged for the ball, and caught Alex McQueen near the halfway line after winning it.
The challenge looked reckless, but whether it was of sufficient force and malice to warrant a red rather than a yellow card was unclear on first sight.
Town boss Jamie Fullarton was in conversation with referee Richard Hulme as they walked down the tunnel at half-time, and presumably they weren’t discussing the weather.
Staunton’s red card was the main, and pretty much only, talking point of a first-half devoid of quality from both sides.
However, The Shaymen were disciplined in their work-rate and organisation, effectively nullifying a Dagenham side that came into the game with 18 points from their last 21 available.
Striker Connor Wilkinson had scored four in four since joining on loan from Gillingham, but hardly had a sniff against Matty Brown and Clarke.
Munns did force Sam Johnson into an excellent save with a well-struck free-kick after 15 minutes, but other than that The Daggers were blunt.
Town won three corners in the first five minutes and had some free-kicks in dangerous crossing positions, but didn’t create a clearer goalscoring chance from them than Matty Kosylo’s blocked shot from 15 yards.
Cameron King’s absence through injury meant a first start for Mekhi McLeod, barring the West Riding County Cup, since November 7 last year.
The midfielder looked bright and tricky when on the ball, but was sacrificed for Joe Skarz after Staunton’s sending-off.
McQueen should have done better when a cross was flashed across goal shortly after the restart, but didn’t make enough contact to direct it goalwards.
The pressure from Dagenham was building, as a cross was flashed across goal begging for a touch, before Wilkinson’s shot from near the penalty spot was bravely blocked.
Ryan Sellers, now playing in central midfield, produced two superb defensive interceptions inside the Town box to keep Dagenham at bay, while Angelo Balanta’s cheeky back-heel effort was tipped over by Johnson.
But Town could hold out no longer than the hour mark, when Munns found a yard of space on the left of a crowded penalty box, not helped by the again impressive Jacob Hanson’s unfortunate slip, and drilled a shot back across goal into the top right corner.
Balanta nodded over from eight yards soon afterwards, but the hosts were hardly turning their territorial and man advantage into a glut of chances.
And they were made to pay for not making more of their upper-hand when Clarke met Sellers’ corner with a terrific header at the far post.
Substitute Tomi Adeloye could have broken Town hearts in the 90th minute but crashed a rising drive over the bar when the ball fell at his feet 10 yards out. But it would have been harsh on Town to come away empty-handed.
Dagenham captain Nunn was then sent-off for a second booking in added time.
Dagenham: Justham, Nunn, Robinson (Gordon 90), Onariase, Goodliffe, Clark, McQueen, Phipps (Harefield 46), Munns (Kandi 90), Balanta (Adeloye 88), Wilkinson. Subs not used: Moore.
Scorer: Munns (60)
Shots on target: 4
Shots off target: 8
Halifax: Johnson, Hanson, Clarke, Brown, Sellers, Staunton, Maher, McLeod (Skarz 39), Preston, Kosylo, Southwell (Edwards 66). Subs not used: Rowley, Duckworth, Odelusi.
Scorer: Clarke (80)
Shots on target: 1
Shots off target: 5
Referee: Richard Hulme
Town man of the match: Ryan Sellers