Brighton & Hove Albion 4 Dagenham & Redbridge 3
By Tim Hodges at Withdean
Brighton & Hove Albion secured promotion back to the second tier of English football with a thrilling victory over John Still’s men.
In perhaps one of the most exciting games in The Withdean’s 11-year history as Albion’s home, it was the visitors who struck one of the fastest ever Withdean goals when John Akinde’s shot took a wicked deflection off Tommy Elphick that left Casper Ankergren completely wrong footed.
This seemed to give Dagenham confidence. Danny Green and Jon Nurse were both looking to get behind the Albion defence but the Seagulls Brightonian partnership of Elphick and Adam El-Abd were equal to the early onslaught.
At the other end Craig Noone twice went close with rasping long-range drives.
Parity was restored from an Elliott Bennett corner as captain for the night Inigo Calderon side-footed his fifth of the season to make it 1-1
Straight from kick off Albion won the ball back and Noone fired a ball into the area, Glenn Murray met it with a crisp header that almost certainly crossed the line, though Chris Wood made sure.
Albion 1-0 down on 16 minutes, 2-1 up on 19 minutes.
Wood, Murray and Noone, who again forced a great save from Tony Roberts, all went close to give Albion a two-goal cushion but it was 2-1 at half time.
Within three minutes of the restart, the Daggers’ Nurse made them feel a lot better as he side-stepped Calderon and screwed the ball past Ankergren for 2-2.
This seem to stun Albion fans and players alike. So much so, that four minutes later as Akinde made his way forward into the penalty area, he was brought down by El-Abd.
Green dispatched the resulting penalty to give Dagenham a shocking 3-2 lead just seven minutes after being 2-1 down.
The Albion tried to maintain possession but seemed to be lacking their usual flow.
However, Bennett was still his old self and crossed for Murray who rattled a header against the bar.
Bennett continued to penetrate and from his cross, and a lay-off from Wood, the ball fell to Liam Bridcutt on the edge of the area.
Bridcutt drove a quite exquisite shot into the roof of the net to draw Albion level again.
Just before the hour mark Ashley Barnes replaced Wood for Albion and less than five minutes later from a Bennett corner it was the former who put Albion 4-3 up.
Dagenham tried their hardest to get themselves back in the match and did give Albion a couple of scares later on which Ankergren and Marcos Painter had to be alert to.
In the end the sight of referee Roger East sprinting towards the tunnel as he blew the full-time whistle was treated with jubilation and signalled the return of championship football after five years.
After a small pitch invasion Albion’s players and Gus Poyet came back on to the pitch for a short lap of honour.
So it’s farewell to the Withdean floodlights and hello to the Football League Championship.
Albion: Ankergren; Calderon, Elphick, El-Abd, Painter; Bridcutt, Dicker, Noone; Bennett; Murray, Wood. Subs: Navarro, Barnes, Sparrow, Sandaza, Kishishev, Dunk, Brezovan.
Dagenham: Roberts; Ogogo, Doe, Arber, Ilesanmi; Green, Vincelot, Lee, Gain, Akinde, Nurse. Subs: McCrory, Antwi, Savage, Currie, Bingham, Lancaster, Lewington.
Referee Roger East.
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