Football: Daggers through the Heart by Zema; Norwich ...................... 1 Dagenham & R 0

Article excerpt

Byline: Jack STEGGLES

DAGENHAM'S FA Cup dream turned into a nightmare when they were hit by a sickening last-minute goal.

It was scored by Zema Abbey just as First Division Norwich had resigned themselves to a fourth-round replay at Victoria Road.

The killer goal came when a cross from Adam Drury deflected off Mark Smith to leave the Dagenham defence wrong-footed and fell invitingly for supersub Abbey to score.

It was the only way Daggers keeper Tony Roberts - who performed heroics - was going to be beaten and it was a bitter pill to swallow.

But the most relieved man was Norwich manager Nigel Worthington, who had given up all hope of seeing a goal and was facing the ordeal of a replay.

"Did we deserve to win? I think so but who cares? We are in the fifth round and that is all that matters," he said.

"We knew Dagenham would make it tough for us and that's exactly how it turned out. I have the utmost admiration for them and they are a credit to the Conference."

The dramatic finale left Daggers boss Garry Hill claiming: "They say football can be a cruel game and it certainly was today. I'm stunned because we did not deserve that.

"That late goal, which came from a deflection, brought back memories of our third-round game at Charlton two years ago.

"We were four minutes away from a victory there when Charlton snatched a deflected goal. And they say lightning does not strike twice."

A draw was the very least the part-time Bravehearts deserved after they fought Norwich every inch of the way.

There may be 74 places between the team in the First Division and the one in the Conference. But Dagenham bridged the gap in style.

Hill went on: "My players were magnificent and I'm proud of every one of them. They fully deserved the standing ovation they got at the end and if there was any justice we would be looking forward to a replay.

"We matched them man for man all over the pitch, defended well when we had to and in Tony Roberts we have the best non-league goalkeeper in the country.

"I couldn't see a problem as the game wore on. I looked at the clock and thought it was all over. When they suddenly grabbed a goal no one in the ground could see it coming.

"We are hurt because we always seem to get kicked at vital times. But they've got guts and courage and they will bounce back from this."

Chances were few and far between at both ends. But Roberts was the busier of the two keepers and kept Dagenham in it with some outstanding saves. …