For those present at Victoria Road for the corresponding fixture last year it was a case of deja vu.

Chester FC were four minutes away from a massive three points in their battle for survival but ended up coming away with none after two minutes of madness. The same scenario and scoreline as last season.

Chester had fallen behind on 11 minutes to Fejiri Okenabirhie’s strike but levelled just after the half hour mark through Jordan Archer.

Matty Waters fired the Blues into the lead on 62 minutes and they had looked on course to seal the spoils until Okenabirhie netted his second with six minutes of normal time left.

But disaster struck on 88 minutes when Andy Halls headed into his own net from a cross to hand the game to the Daggers as one more nail was hammered into Chester’s season. It seems a near impossible task to remain in the National League now.

After Tuesday’s 1-0 home loss to Leyton Orient, Chester headed into the clash in desperate need of maximum points if they were to cling onto their faint survival hopes.

The Daggers, who had been riding high earlier in the season, had unravelled in recent weeks after details of their own financial crisis became apparent, with John Still’s men losing four of their five games leading up to the clash with the Blues.

Key players such as Morgan Ferrier, Corey Whitely, Scott Doe and Sam Ling had all departed to ease the financial burden, but if there was one opponent who could relate to the struggles it was Chester.

Marcus Bignot made one change from the team that lost to Orient, with Matty Waters changing places with Craig Mahon in the starting line-up, the Irish winger dropping to the bench.

The opening 10 minutes was played at a pretty frenetic pace with both teams looking to counter. and although there were a flurry of corners - including three for Chester - there was little in the way of a product in the final third.

But that changed on 11 minutes when space opened up for Fejiri Okenabirhie 20 yards out with the Daggers man composing himself before curling an effort goalwards that crashed off the inside of the post before nestling in the back of the net.

The home side were providing a real threat coming forward, not least from Okenabirhie, and his right wing cross found the head of Dan Sparkes on 16 minutes but the Daggers man could only nod well wide at the far post.

At the other end the Blues came close on 20 minutes when Waters twisted and turned on the edge of the area before chipping an effort goalwards that hit the top of the crossbar before being hacked to safety.

But the Daggers should have extended their lead shortly before the 25-minute mark when Okenabirhie found room to whip in a delightful ball into the six-yard box where Luke Howell was lurking, just needing to get a touch, but the ball evaded him and trickled out, much to Chester’s relief.

At various points this season conceding the first goal has lead to heads going down and the game getting away from them very quickly. But the Blues were back level on 32 minutes.

Gary Roberts had room on the right to curl in a superb ball into the danger area where Jordan Archer was on hand to finish well from eight yards to restore parity.

The goal gave the Blues an added spark for the remainder of the half as they hustled Dagenham into a series of mistakes and snuffed out their quick break, although Matt Robinson did go close from 20 yards just before the interval.

The Blues were beaten 3-2 at Victoria Road


The start of the second half was a scrappy affair for the opening exchanges.

But the Blues had to be alert on 49 minutes when a short corner was worked into the box, catching the defence out before being shifted across to Howell who pulled the trigger from 10 yards only to see his effort blocked by the outstretched boot of Myles Anderson.

The Blues came close at the other end, though, when a Roberts corner found the head of Ryan Astles at the far post, but the big defender couldn’t steer it on target and his effort dropped wide.

But there was joy in the away end just after the hour mark when, after a period of sustained pressure, Dominic Vose’s effort from the edge of the box was spilled by Mark Cousins only as far as a lurking Waters who was on hand to fire home from close range to hand the Blues the advantage.

The Blues, not used to finding themselves in the ascendancy often this season, found some gaps in behind the Daggers defence after the goal and Ross Hannah got behind on more than one occasion only to be denied by Craig Robson while Archer and Tom Crawford both went close with long range efforts.

The home side did have the ball in the net on 68 minutes but Michael Cheek had already been flagged by the time he fired home high into the net from close range.

Chester had a great chance to make it 3-1 on 73 minutes when a long ball forward found Archer galloping forward, but the big striker was denied his second of the afternoon when his touch evaded him and the ball ran too far into the grateful grasp of Cousins.

Dagenham were still a threat coming forward, though, and applied plenty of pressure with substitute Chike Kandi going close from a scramble in the box before Bondz N’Gala lashed over when well placed moments later.

Kandi went close with 10 minutes left when he picked off a loose pass while Vose saw a 20 yarder saved low by Cousins after he broke from midfield with a neat piece of skill.

But the memories of last season’s trip to Victoria Road came flooding back when, on 86 minutes, Daggers drew level when Okenabirhie fired home from the edge of the box after the Blues were put under pressure.

And if that wasn’t enough of a sickener then the gut punch was still to come.

The Blues were pulled apart at the back and Matt Robinson found room to put in a deep cross that found the head of Halls who could only direct his header beyond Hornby into the back of his own net.

It was the tale of Chester’s season, and while it was another battling display, it’s looking bleaker by the week.


Dagenham & Redbridge: Cousins, Nunn, Robson, Robinson, Howell (Kandi 67), Adams, Okenabirhie (Bloomfield 90), Sparkes, N’Gala, Cheek, Howells. Subs not used: Moore, Bloomfield, Gordon, Bonds.


Goals: Okenabirhie 11 & 86, Halls OG 88.

Chester: Hornby, Halls, Astles, Hobson, Waters, Crawford, Anderson, Roberts, Vose, Archer, Hannah (Akintunde 79). Subs not used: Firth, Mahon, White, Dawson.

Bookings: Vose, Roberts, Anderson.

Goals: Archer 32, Waters 62.

Referee: Savvas Yianni.

Attendance: 1,254 (137 from Chester).

Star man: Matty Waters.