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

Article excerpt

Byline: Jack STEGGLES

DAGENHAM'S dreams of Cup glory were cruelly shattered by a last-minute Norwich winner.

The brave non-Leaguers looked to have done more than enough to take this fourth-round tie to a money-spinning replay.

But with seconds ticking away, second-half sub Zema Abbey grabbed a dramatic winner for the First Division promotion-chasers.

Daggers may have been beaten but they were never disgraced - and you could sense the relief all around Carrow Road when Norwich snatched a winner that had never looked like coming.

A cross from Adam Drury deflected off Mark Smith and fell invitingly for Abbey to put it in the empty net.

It was the cruellest of blows for Dagenham, equal to everything Norwich could throw at them.

And what a sickener in particular for Dagenham keeper Tony Roberts, who was on the verge of joining Norwich in 1998 before a last-minute change of heart by then City boss Bruce Rioch.

Roberts had made a string of superb saves to keep his side in with a shout of another upset.

But Abbey's strike, his third of the season, ensured Norwich reached the fifth round for the first time in eight years.

Roberts had been in action in the opening minutes, going down to his left to turn away a close-range shot from Phil Mulryne.

But the Conference part-timers took over after that and had Norwich on the back foot for long periods.

All the noise was coming from the Daggers army of 2,200 travelling fans as Norwich were hurried out of their stride.

But they slowly fought their way into it and Roberts saved well again from Daryl Russell, who cut in from the right and let fly with a fierce left-footer.

Then a great tackle by Paul Heffer robbed Gary Holt after a poor ball from Mark Janney put Dagenham in trouble.

David Nielsen had a great chance to put Canaries in front when Paul McVeigh played him through with the Daggers appealing for offside. But he overran it and outstanding skipper Lee Matthews got across quickly to clear the danger.

Daggers, refusing to be overawed, were giving every bit as good as they got and keeper Robert Green had to move smartly to get to a 25-yard free-kick from Steve West.

The non-Leaguers got to the interval without a serious scare - and that made it 11 matches in a row the troubled Canaries had failed to score a first-half goal. And they could have been in big trouble in the opening minute of the second half when John McGrath hit a great cross beyond the far post. …