Pools year-long wait for back-to-back wins continued as a goal midway through each half earned Dagenham & Redbridge all three points at Victoria Road on Tuesday night.
However, despite an encouraging start against a nervous-looking home outfit, Pools didn’t manage to manufacture enough in front of goal and were left to make the long trip home empty-handed.
Pools began the game at pace and pushed their hosts on to the back foot from the very first moments, looking particularly lively down the left flank where Jack Compton was running at full-back Damian Batt who was only starting after a late injury to skipper Abu Ogogo.
One such dangerous moment from Compton saw the winger skip to the byline and chip a ball up to the far post where Aaron Tshibola’s downward header would have caused a problem for keeper Mark Cousins had it not hit defender Ayo Obileye and gone behind.
Compton wandered over to the right to try his luck moments later, exchanging passes with Tshibola on the edge of the box before firing a powerful shot which was deflected wide of the far post.
The home side were struggling to get a foothold but did break through loan star Shamir Fenelon who pounced on some sloppy Pools play in midfield to drive forward but his snatched shot from range went well wide.
Fenelon turned provider after that as The Daggers threatened to find their feet, spinning skilfully to the right byline before feeding a low ball across to Ashley Hemmings who should have done better but miscued an awkward effort against Jamie Cureton and Pools were able to clear.
There was a stoppage midway through the half when home keeper Cousins fell heavily against the post and received some treatment for a head injury before making way for back-up stopper Liam O’Brien.
The punctuation in play seemed to help Dagenham clear their heads and almost immediately from the restart they stormed up field and fed the ball wide for Hemmings. His cross was curling away from goal as Scott Harrison attempted to hook it clear but he got the connection wrong and prodded it past the helpless Scott Flinders and in to the net for an unfortunate own goal.
After that there was more balance to the game, Michael Duckworth coming close to testing the home keeper but his powerful low drive was blocked on the penalty spot by Obileye.
At the other end, The Daggers came close to extending their lead in the closing stages of the half when Hemmings headed Andre Boucaud’s deep left-wing corner against the upright.
Ryan Bird almost pulled Pools level with a spectacular equaliser which would have been out of keeping with a scrappy start to the second half; the striker hitting a crisp volley which skipper up on O’Brien who did well to parry and smother.
Flinders had to be equally alert at the other end moments later though as Boucaud’s imaginative ball gave Cureton the space to fire a shot from the right of the area which the Pools keeper got down well to stop.
Ronnie Moore decided to try and inject some impetus for his side and a double change that saw Jordan Jones and Marlon Harewood introduced seemed to do the trick; the former looked a threat drifting in from the right and the latter got in the faces of the home defence.
However, any initiative gained by the roll of the dice was lost on 66 minutes when Billy Bingham swung an incredible long-range free-kick in to the top corner of the net via the post – it was a stunning strike and enough to knock the stuffing out of Pools.
Fenelon could have punished the visitors further when he got on the end of Bingham’s next left-foot strike but the front man headed just wide of the post with Flinders looking beaten.
Harewood teste O’Brien with a low drive from the left of the penalty area from which the keeper produced a smart save, while Duckworth saw a shot deflected wide and cutting in from the right on to his left foot.
Batt smashed an effort in to the side netting after quick thinking from a short corner before Duckworth came closest of all for Pools but saw his goalbound left-footed drive glanced over the cross bar by the head of centre-back Scott Doe.
In truth though, the game had been lost by Pools in the opening twenty minutes when their failure to turn their total dominance in to goals came back to haunt them.