npower League 2 action from the Pirelli StadiumA pre-match dance performance to 'Thriller' proved prophetic as Burton Albion and Dagenham & Redbridge served up a five goal feast for the spectators who watched a see-saw encounter that saw Albion fall behind just before the half hour mark to a Dwight Gayle finish only to turn the game on its head with two goals in as many minutes early in the second half from Damien McCrory, against his former club, and substitute Matt Paterson. When another substitute, Sam Williams put the Daggers back on level terms in the 78th minute it looked as if a tiring Brewers side would have to settle for a share of the spoils but a magnficent strike from Billy Kee just a minute later secured Albion's first home victory against the East London side in eight attempts in both the Conference and Football League.
Goalkeeper Dean Lyness was handed a full Football League debut after a hand injury forced Mark Oxley to return to parent club Hull City prior to the game. Nathan Stanton was recalled to the centre of defence in place of Marcus Holness who dropped to the bench. Albion reverted to 4-4-2 as Billy Kee returned to the starting line-up at the expense of Cleveland Taylor with Chris Palmer operating on the right hand side of midfield and Jacques Maghoma slotting in on the left.
Burton put themselves under immediate pressure as a poor back header from Anthony O'Connor gifted the visitors a corner as Lyness failed to keep the ball in. Albion settled and an early chance went begging as Jacques Maghoma opted to try and seek out Calvin Zola in the centre when a shot may have been a more productive option.
The Brewers suddenly found their stride and could easily have scored three times in the space of a minute. Billy Kee pounced on a poor defensive header from Femi Ilesanmi to head over keeper Chris Lewington only to see the ball bounce back into play off the post and moments later Zola had a header saved by Lewington who then proceeded to deny Robbie Weir from the rebound.
Albion were dealt a blow on twenty minutes when leading scorer Zola had to be substituted as a result of an earlier clash that clearly left him feeling dazed. Looking like he knew little about where he actually was, the striker was replaced by Matt Paterson just before a Chris Palmer free kick caused consternation in the Dagenham penalty area with Lewington's goal again leading a charmed life as Albion failed to quite capitalise on the opportunity.
Lyness, thus far, had enjoyed a relatively quiet afternoon but he had to be smart in the 27th minute when Medy Elito tried his luck from the edge of the box. The keeper though was centre of attention a minute later as he was involved in the visitors taking the lead. Michael Spillane tried to find Jake Reed in the box and although neither he nor Lyness made contact with the ball the Albion stopper just clipped the Daggers man and referee Trevor Kettle had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and yellow carding the Albion keeper. Spillane stepped up to take the kick but Lyness reacted brilliantly to tip his spot kick onto the post but his luck ran out as the ball cannoned back out to the feet of Dwight GAYLE who tapped home from close range.
Lyness then did brilliantly to produced a double save as he palmed away a teasing shot from the left and got up quickly to clutch the ball from Spillane's follow-up header.
Matt Saunders blasted a free kick over the crossbar as Abu Ogogo was adjudged to have been fouled just outside the box despite appearing to handle the ball in the build up. The Daggers midfielder then drilled a low shot just wide of Lyness' post as the visitors sought to double their lead.
Half time came with Albion missing another opportunity as the ball flashed across the box and they went off at half time rueing the earlier chances that went begging meaning they went in trailing to their old foes.
Half time: Burton Albion 0-1 Dagenham & Redbridge
Albion needed a positive start to the second half and they got it with two goals in as many minutes to turn the game on its head. Fifty one minutes were on the clock when former Dagger's left back Damien McCRORY did well to retrieve the ball on the touchline, exchange passes with Maghoma and run on before hitting a deflected right foot shot over the bewildered Lewington.
With Dagenham rocking Albion stunned them with a second as a poor Luke Wilkinson back header was seized upon by PATERSON who pounced to reach the ball first, before Lewington, and slide it into the empty net.
It was a remarkable turnaround and just what Albion needed having finished the first half a little flat. Dagenham tried to get themselves going but Medy Elito was wayward with a shot from the edge of the box that failed to trouble Lyness.
Dagenham kept pressing forward and had Burton on the ropes for a period. McCrory doing very well to get a back header in to clear his lines and also Nathan Stanton making a couple of solid clearances. It was the signal for Albion to make another change and Chris Palmer was the man to make way for the fresh legs of Jack Dyer who settled into the right side of midfield role, the area where Dagenham seemed to be getting most space.
The Daggers introduced Sam WILLIAMS who dropped onto the same side of the pitch and it was he who grabbed a stunning equaliser with twelve minutes to play. Dagenham had Albion penned in and when the bandaged Luke Wilkinson headed down into the path of the substitute, a swing of the right boot sent the ball high into the roof of Lyness' net.
Parity was only achieved for a minute. The ball landed at the feet of Billy KEE and from the edge of the penalty area he produced a sublime curling shot that went over the head of Lewington and dipped beneath the crossbar.
Albion tried to take the sting out of the remainder of the game although Maghoma was not far wide with a low shot from the edge of the area. Marcus Holness was brought on for the closing moments in place of Paterson as Burton tried to resist any late pressure from the visitors.
A late period of keepball down near the Dagenham corner flag ensured that five minutes of added time passed without incident to ensure that Albion secured a precious three points.
BURTON: Lyness; O'Connor, Diamond, Stanton, McCrory; Palmer, Weir, Bell, Maghoma; Zola (Paterson, 21), Kee. Substitutes: Atkins, McGrath, Taylor, Richards, Holness, Dyer.
DAGGERS: Lewington, Wilkinson, Ilesanmi, Doe, Spillane, Elito, Reed, Saunders, Howell, Ogogo, Gayle. Substitutes: Williams, Maher, Hoyte, Caprice, Woodall, Bingham, Seabright.
Referee: Mr. T.Kettle (Rutland)
GOALS: Albion - McCrory (51), Paterson (53), Kee (79); Daggers - Gayle (28), Williams (78)