By Nick Teale
A late winner from substitute Roarie Deacon saw an Arsenal XI to a 2-1 victory over Dagenham and Redbridge on Wednesday evening.
Sanchez Watt had given Neil Banfield's side a first-half lead but that was cancelled out after the break by Romain Vincelot. At the death Deacon's goal was the decider.
Coach Neil Banfield made four changes to the side that lost 4-1 at Welling United on Saturday. Cedric Evina, Ignasi Miquel, Nacer Barazite and Jay Simpson all returned to the starting XI with Martin Angha, Jernade Meade, Chuks Aneke and Benik Afobe dropping to the bench.
The hosts were first to test their opponent's keeper with a brace of efforts in the 14th minute.
Stewart Lewis tried a dripping volley from 20 yards, though James Shea didn’t need to move to catch it. Sixty seconds later Gavin Tomlin produced a swivelling shot within the area but it again proved comfortable for the Gunners' stopper to swallow.
Arsenal's opener came in the 19th minute.
Simpson fed Watt through the middle and the striker, who spent the final months of last season on loan at Leeds United, rounded the keeper to slot home at the near post.
The Daggers were unlucky not to equalise in the 28th minute. Mark Arber headed a corner at Shea. The keeper couldn't get enough on it and the hosts' captain collected the rebound himself, but this time Ignasi Miquel prevented his effort on the line.
As the first half neared its conclusion the League One side came close again. Tomlin fed Danny Green on the edge of the area but the Dagenham midfielder saw his fearsome drive crash just wide of the post.
At the other end, Arsenal almost doubled their advantage.
Rhys Murphy received a return ball from Watt and fired at goal from a central position inside the area. His effort cannoned off the crossbar and into the ground just inches short of the goalline before bouncing clear.
Four minutes after the break, Dagenham equalised.
Left back Damien McCrory crossed from deep and the delivery was met by Vincelot in the six-yard box. The Frenchman leapt high to produce a towering header that gave Shea little chance.
Moments later Hoyte had to be quick across to concede a corner against Tomlin, who was bearing down on goal.
Dagenham had started the second period with impetus. But they didn't carry their momentum through what became, at times, a cagey half.
Chances for both sides were limited. But Barazite blazed over after being teed-up by Simpson and Mark Randall tested Tony Roberts. But the Daggers keeper, was doubles as Arsenal's Reserve team goalkeeping coach, found no issue in collecting the low drive.
Banfield introduced Deacon and Benik Afobe with 17 minutes to go, and they almost had an instant impact.
Deacon got past his man on the left and cut a low ball back to Afobe. Turning, the striker aimed for the roof of the net. Roberts did well to tip it over the bar.
From the resulting corner Dagenham raced down the other end and Jon Nurse was close with a drive across goal.
Then, with six minutes to go, Arsenal won it.
Substitute Deacon tried his luck with a left-footed effort 20 yards out. It was well-placed but despite lacking power trickled into the bottom corner.
Arber went close with a header in the final minute, but he direct his effort just wide of the near post.
Deacon then raced away down the right only to be prevented by Roberts, who got to his feat to stop Randall's follow-up drive.
Dagenham clearly didn’t like the thought of going home losers. As two minutes of stoppage time were announced, Vincelot twisted and turned inside the area. He was denied by Shea who then did brilliantly to thwart Nurse's follow-up.
The game had sprung to life in the final 10 minutes, and Arsenal had capitalised.
- Miquel (C)
- Boateng 79
- Ozyakup 79
- Watt 79 Goal!
- Murphy 73
- Simpson 73
- Angha 79
- Aneke 79
- Deacon 73
- Afobe 73
Dagenham and Redbridge
- Arber (C)
- Green 81
- Tomlin 70
- Vincelot Goal!
- Benson 41
- Scannell 81
- Scott 41
- Nurse 70