Chesterfield made two changes from the side beaten at Barnet last Monday, bringing Danny Hall into central defence for Austin, who moved to left-back with Picken dropping out. Up front Jack Lester returned for his first game since January.
With a smattering of Chesterfield fans on the Cross Street end the game got underway in a good atmosphere. Chesterfield started the more attack-minded of the two sides and Small won a corner off Uddin on 5. Derek Niven looked to be baulked a little as he ran into the box to challenge for the clearance.
Lester and Small linked well on 10 and the ball was knocked out for another corner. At the other end, Lee's clearance was charged down by the alert Benson but the angle narrowed on the Daggers man and the best he could do was to hook it back into play, where it was safely dealt with. The moment of goalkeeping uncertainty switched to the other end, Where Roberts spilled a Demontagnac ball, reclaiming on the bye-line and just preventing a corner.
Rundle won a corner off Agogo on 15 and played it short to Allott, but his cross was comfortably held by Roberts. Vincelot shot over and Dagenham won their first corner of the game, off Austin.
The game swung Dagenham's way on 25 after a ghastly and uncharacteristic aberration from Mark Allott. A cross into the Spireites box went deep, and Allott and Nurse chased it. The ball was not really within playing distance of Nurse but he stopped; Allott continued and pushed Nurse out of the way to concede one of the softest but most obvious penalties that the referee could hope to see. Green sent Lee the wrong way from the spot.
Scott came through Hall's challenge on 29 and fired a shot against Lee's left-hand post; fortunately for the home side, Green put the rebound over. Chesterfield regained some composure and began to put moves together again, and the referee was forced to book Green and McCrory in quick succession for fouls.
Lester broke on 36 and Small's perseverance helped him win an aerial duel with Roberts; the loose ball was crossed but there was no-one in the Daggers' six-yard box to convert. The last ten minutes of the half belonged to the home side; their efforts to find an equaliser brought five corners in the space of three minutes and saw headers from Lester, Niven and Breckin come close. Whing was yellow-carded for a foul on Nurse, while the referee commendably showed a low tolerance of timewasting, booking Roberts for that offence in injury time.
Green took a free kick from all of 30 yards but struck the ball wide. In the last action of the half Lester turned and volleyed from close range but the ball struck the Daggers' bar and went over.
Halftime: Chesterfield 0 Dagenham & Redbridge 1. Attendance: 3588 (82 from D&R)
Dagenham's halftime message must have been that the greatest chance of preserving their lead would be to extend it. They were first out of the traps in the second period; Gain shot against the bar on 49 and the ball was stroked home by Benson, but the linesman's offside flag kept the scoreline unchanged. But only momentarily, though; when a questionable foul was given against Hall on Benson, Green stepped up to thrash a free kick from 30 yards past Lee and into the top corner of the net. The quality of the shot will remain in the memory long after a house is plonked on the spot that he hit it from.
Four minutes later the Chesterfield management made a double-substitution, bring Conlon and Boshell into the game for Rundle and Niven. With Conlon to win the long ball for Lester and Small, Chesterfield began to reclaim the greater share of possession. Boshell soon made an impact in midfield too, with a steady stream of passes to blue shirts. One, to Demontagnac, allowed the tricky winger to cross to the far post on 55; Conlon held the defence at bay for Small to shoot on a narrow angle, but he fired over the bar. Boshell again featured on 66, finding the hard-working Small this time; his cross to Conlon was headed just over.
On 68, Chesterfield found a way back into the game that their graft deserved. A Boshell corner was flicked on by Hall but cleared by Doe. The loose ball came to ISHMEL DEMONTAGNAC, who controlled and crashed a shot past Roberts from around 25 yards. The equaliser nearly came on 77 when Demontagnac's shot was parried by Roberts; Small shielded the ball for Conlon, this time, and his shot shaped wide. Lester, at the back post, flung himself into a diving header but to no avail, as the ball flew into touch.
Boden replaced Danny Hall on 83 but the move very nearly contributed to Chesterfield's undoing, as Vincelot broke through unattended in the Spireite centre. He had the time to compose himself before settling the match but shot wide, across the face of Lee's goal. With two minutes left Dagenham's defensive wall repelled a Chesterfield free kick but the ball ran across the box; Allott chased it and Walsh unaccountably stuck a leg out to bring Allott down. BARRY CONLON stepped up with nerves of steel to blast the ball beyond Roberts and into the net.
Breckin was booked for a late foul on Benson. Each side had a chance to win it in stoppage time; Lester and Small combined with Boshell to give the latter a chance to fire wide and Agogo did the same thing at the other end as Chesterfield were unable to clear fierce Dagenham pressing. The final whistle brought relief to the home side, who were able to capitalise a little on other results going their way, but it left the Daggers with a bit to do to make up ground on the play-off contenders.