United picked up their first point of the season in an entertaining encounter with Dagenham and Redbridge at the Kassam Stadium this afternoon. An early goal from Alex Jakubiak and a brace from top scorer Danny Hylton, one from the spot, saw the U's do enough to win the match but goals from Ashley Hemmings, Jamie Cureton and Abu Ogogo meant that Michael Appleton's side had to settle for a point.
United got off to the ideal start. They would have given anything for an early goal, and they would have given a little bit more for the first goal in a game: two things that had so far evaded them this season. The workaholic Hylton had set the tone with an early driving run past his man before the perfect third-minute opener. Carlton Morris did well to hold the ball and tee up Joe Riley for a wicked low cross. Jakubiak had made a neat run into the six yard box and provided precisely what was needed, a scrappy finish past the stranded Liam O'Brien.
Surely United now had lift off? Well, maybe but so far this season they have regularly been hurt by familiar faces: Stuart Beavon for Burton, Adam Murray for Mansfield, Kevin Ellison for Morecambe and now the evergreen Cureton, so often a thorn in their side over the years. Having held the lead for just four minutes the U's lost the lead when they lost Cureton inside the box and his low cross presented Hemmings with a chance he could hardly miss in front of the empty net to make it 1-1.
It was fast, it was furious and there was some great football to admire, as shown in the 17th minute when a majestic ball from the once again superb Michael Collins set Alfie Potter in for a run at goal. His low shot beat O'Brien but bounced back into play from the base of the right-hand post. Dagenham then salvaged the ball, broke upfield and after a swift one-two Luke Howell was in on goal but planted his shot a foot over George Long's bar.
The two sides continued to trade chances throughout an enthralling first half. Hylton rose well but couldn't keep his header down in the 20th minute but that was matched on 23 as a Chambers shot fizzed just wide of the mark at the other end. There were two shots blocked almost on the line on 32: the first to keep out Potter's volley, the second to somehow take Hylton's follow-up wide with the keeper stranded, swiftly followed by a rising effort from Hemmings that went close once more.
Mullins' 36th-minute blast was palmed over the top by O'Brien, Riley had two long range efforts go close and it had been 45 minutes full of good intentions. Letting the initiative slip away after the early breakthrough will have annoyed head coach Michael Appleton and a minute after the break he will have been turning the air blue as Cureton once again proved United's nemesis. From the moment he received the ball on the edge of the area in space there was only one thing on his mind and a rapid turn, a low shot past Long and United were 2-1 down.
It needed steady nerves and stout hearts now, but back came the U's and on 55 minutes they were level. The chance seemed to have gone when Hylton somehow forced his way to the line and crossed, only to see Potter unable to steer the ball home. However, Tom Newey never gives up a lost cause and was there to recycle the ball and cross to the far post where the hanging Hylton headed back across O'Brien and into the net for his fourth goal of the season
Five minutes later and he had his fifth, this time from the spot. Again the energy and pace of the highly promising Jakubiak asked the questions. Back to goal, Jakubiak showed plenty of strength and Scott Doe baulked his progress as he tried to turn towards goal. Down went Jakubiak under pressure and up stepped Hylton to drill the penalty into the corner of the net and make it 3-2.
That first win was back on the cards and the U's were playing some good stuff while looking strong at the back, but when you are where they are at the moment freak goals and worldies tend to find their way into your net. The equaliser was certainly the latter of those, a magnificent strike from Abu Ogogo that flew over the helpless Long from all of 30 yards to make it 3-3 in the most startling of fashions.
Credit to the Daggers who play an adventurous style of football that made the game end-to-end throughout. United had penalty shouts waved away and threw everything at their visitors but a fourth goal proved just beyond them despite plenty of late pressure. A first point, a first step if you like, and still all to play for as we move on to the second month of the season.
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Report by Chris Williams, Pictures by Steve Daniels
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