STOCKPORT COUNTY 1, DAGENHAM & REDBRIDGE 1
Just how costly Stockport County’s failure to beat Dagenham & Redbridge at Edgeley Park will become known in 18-days’ time.
The loss of two valuable points may have dealt a fatal blow to the Hatters’ hopes of securing the one automatic promotion spot to the EFL.
Equally just how important could the unbelievable save County goalkeeper Ben Hinchliffe made it stoppage time to deny Daggers’ substitute George Saunders.
It helped preserve a point and, with it being such a tussle for top spot involving Torquay, Sutton and Stockport, it could still prove a precious point with three games left, even though Stockport were second best for most of this match.
When Paddy Madden gave Stockport the lead, it looked as though they would use that as a launchpad for victory.
However, Daggers drew level through dangerous striker Paul McCallum and were good value.
It was a clash involving two of the National League’s form teams, Daggers arriving on the back of six straight wins which had propelled them into mid-table.
County, meanwhile, were unbeaten in 14 games going into the game, a run which had lifted to third place and with a shout of automatic promotion back to the EFL 10 years after they lost that status.
The visitors were by far the more dangerous side as McCallum went close with two headers, both from crosses by William Wright, while former QPR player Angelo Balanta fired narrowly over and Matthew Robinson’s effort was scrambled away by Hinchliffe.
It was against the run of play that County snatched a 35th minute lead through Madden, the big-money buy from Fleetwood who was brought in to score the goals to win promotion.
Madden finished off a great move involving John Rooney and Elliot Newby, sweeping home the latter’s cross, the seventh goal since his arrival in March and his sixth in the last eight games.
Daggers were down but not out as they equalised two minutes before the break when the ever-dangerous McCallum headed home Wright’s corner from inside the six-yard box, the 15th goal of the season for the 27-year-old who once had four-and-a-half years at West Ham.
Madden, injured late in the opening period, didn’t reappear as he was replaced by Alex Reid.
Dagenham, lifted by their leveller, had the momentum behind them at the restart.
And they were unlucky not to be ahead when Balanta’s drive whistled past the upright and Mauro Vilhete forced a decent save from Hinchliffe.
There was a huge let off for County midway through the second period when a cut back from eight found Robinson who rattled the crossbar with a fierce shot which had Hinchliffe comprehensively beaten.
And there was another scare in the second of four added minutes when Saunders looked certain to score only for Hinchliffe to display unbelievable reflexes to somehow manage to deflect his goalbound shot over the crossbar.