After the disappointment in the result, if not necessarily a lot of the peformance, at Chester, there was no better way for Sutton to bounce back than with a victory against one of the early pacesettrs in the Vanarama National League, and they achived this on Monday with a performance of fluency in the first half, and battling spirit and character as the game went on and Dagenham & Redbridge pressed for an equaliser. Even after going down to ten men for the last ten minutes when Simon Downer was sent off for a foul on substitute Paul Benson, U's had enough to protect their lead in a tense finish and end Dagenham's four match winning run.
As expected, Ross Stearn and Max Biamou returned to the starting line-up, with Downer also recalled in place of Dan Spence, while there was also a start for Bradley Hudson-Odoi, whose early strike proved to be the match-winner. Early on it was Dagenham who looked dangerous, with Corey Whitely shooting just wide and Oliver Hawkins failing to make good contact with a low right wing cross, but it was U's who struck first. Daggers' skipper Scott Doe misjudged the bounce of a quickly taken throw by Kevin Amankwaah, leaving Stearn free to race down the left and cross from the by-line for Hudson-Odoi to volley in as he arrived at the far post. U's might have been two ahead withing two minutes as goalkeeper Elliott Justham had to stretch back to tip away a fine chip from Ryan Burge after a long throw in hadn't been cleared, and they continued to impress with some good football even if they didn't create any really clear cut chances. Near half time Hawkins, whose aerial threat was evident every time the ball was propelled forward but who found little end product, headed a free kick across goal, the ball eventually running to Jordan Maguire-Drew, whose shot was cleared from the six yard box by Jamie Collins with Ross Worner beaten.
Dagenham's best chance came early in the second half when a corner was cleared as far as Frankie Raymond, who drove the ball back in to the penalty area. It fell for Hawkins twelve yards out, but having scored a hat-trick in Saturday's defeat of Wrexham his finishing deserted him as he blazed a shot high and wide.
Although the visitors were enjoying more of the game, U's still had chances to double their lead, with Burge just failing to make decent contact with a header from a Stearn cross, and then shooting tamely at Justham after the ball fell to him inside the penalty area. Craig Eastmond also sent a low shot wide from twenty yards, but as the half went on U's found themselves more on the defensive. Eleven minutes from time they conceded a free kick just over 25 yards out, and Maguire-Drew's superb effort looked to be heading for the top corner until Worner flew across to turn the effort over the bar. There was a heart-stopping moment for Collins, who slipped under pressure from Maguire-Drew but managed to stick out a foot while on the ground to knock the ball away from the Dagenham player, and with five minutes to go Downer's tired hack at Benson left U's to play the closing stages, including five minutes of stoppage time, with ten men, but they were determined to hold on and Dagenham were unable to find a way through to rescue the game.
Dagenham: E Justham, J Staunton, J Widdowson, S Doe, C Robson, M Robinson, F Raymond, F Okenabirhie(sub L Gutteridge 59), O Hawkins(sub P Benson 74), J Maguire-Drew, C Whitely(sub C Assombalonga 82). Subs n/u M Cousins, L Donnellan. Booked: Hawkins, Widdowson.