Dagenham & Redbridge 4 v Wimbledon 0
Wimbledon’s nemesis Jamie Cureton returned to haunt them as he struck a hat-trick in Dagenham & Redbridge’s 4-0 win on Easter Monday (6 April).
The 39-year-old striker has made a habit of scoring against the Dons and it took him just two minutes to get going in this match, before his quickfire second-half brace helped give the hosts a somewhat flattering winning margin.
The Dons chose to line up with an adventurous 3-4-2-1 formation, with Barry Fuller, Jake Goodman and Deji Oshilaja at the back, George Francomb, Dannie Bulman, Jake Reeves and Sean Rigg across the midfield, and both Craig Tanner and Alfie Potter playing off the shoulder of Bayo Akinfenwa.
But any hopes the Dons had of imposing themselves from the start were thwarted as the hosts took the lead in just the second minute. Billy Bingham’s initial effort was saved by Ross Worner but fell kindly for Cureton who nudged it over the line before Barry Fuller was able to clear.
After that initial disappointment, Wimbledon went on to dominate possession for the remainder of the first half, with the hosts restricted to just the occasional counterattack. Indeed, had Wimbledon had a striker as prolific as Cureton, the outcome of the match could well have been very different.
It was a litany of half-chances for the Dons that all went begging as Dagenham were forced to keep numbers in their own box.
First Dagenham keeper Mark Cousins denied Rigg, then Francomb. Next Akinfenwa released Potter and his cross was headed only just off target by Tanner.
The on-loan Reading youngster again shot narrowly wide moments later, while Oshilaja got in on the act by rampaging forwards and unleashing a vicious, dipping effort that only narrowly went over the bar.
And Tanner went closest of all when his effort hit the bar and bounced clear.
But Dagenham made a tactical switch during the break, bolstering their midfield by bringing on Alex Jakubiak, and Wimbledon were never able to regain their ascendancy, although the hosts remained content to play mostly on the break.
They went 2-0 up in the 58th minute when a tamely conceded corner was headed home at the far post by Scott Doe.
Reeves did then produce a long-range effort that Cousins did well to turn onto the bar and behind, but then the Cureton show began with two goals in three minutes.
First he capitalised on hesitancy between Goodman and Worner to nip in and loft the ball over the stranded Wimbledon keeper to make it 3-0.
And then he capped good approach play by the hosts to curl home an effort that gave Worner no chance to make it 4-0.
Akinfenwa saw a header cleared off the line and Potter was denied by Cousins as the Dons sought a late consolation, but the final chance went begging when substitute Ade Azeez shot into the side netting.
‘We could say how unlucky we were and that we should have been four up, but we weren’t,’ mused Neal Ardley on BBC London 94.9 afterwards.
‘They had a striker on the pitch who was 37, and they had about six chances all game and he took three of them with quality – we didn’t have that and because of that we’ve lost the game.’
The Dons will be hoping to bounce back when they entertain Oxford United at Kingsmeadow on Saturday (11 April).
Dagenham & Redbridge: Cousins, Ogogo, Doe, Obileye, Widdowson, Howell, Bingham, Boucaud, Hemmings (Carr 85), Doidge (Jakubiak 45), Cureton (Jones 85). Subs not used: Chambers, Labadie, Gayle, Moore.
Goalscorers: Cureton 2, 71, 74, Doe 58.
Wimbledon: Worner, Fuller, Goodman, Oshilaja, Rigg (Sweeney 80), Francomb (Beere 87), Bulman, Reeves, Potter, Akinfenwa (Azeez 80), Tanner. Subs not used: Moore, McDonnell, Harrison, Gallagher.