Dagenham and Redbridge 0-0 FC Halifax Town
Halifax could have caused the upset they believed was possible had Liam King taken a gilt-edged chance in the first-half.
But The Shaymen deserve another crack at their National League opponents, who won’t relish the prospect of a replay at The Shay the week after next.
Billy Heath’s side were overawed against a team in third place in the division above, and were arguably the better side, producing a hard-working performance that frustrated the hosts and gives Town room for optimism of an upset at the second time of asking.
Most of Dagenham’s attacks were no more sophisticated than a high ball up towards the lanky Ollie Hawkins, which were dealt with consummately by the excellent Scott Garner and Nathan Hotte.
The tricky Luke Guttridge had seen little of the ball early on in the number 10 role for the hosts other than when it flew above his head, but carved out their first good chance when his cross was met with a bullet header by Corey Whitely which Steve Drench acrobatically tipped over.
The pacey Jordan Maguire-Drew then dribbled past Josh Wilde before charging into the box and forcing a corner, but it was hardly backs-to-the-wall stuff for Halifax.
The visitors had offered a threat on the break, mainly through the pace of Josh Macdonald and the sheer awkwardness of Tom Denton, who won about as many headers at one end as Garner and Hotte did at the other.
And from one of countless superb Denton knock-downs, Liam King should have put Town ahead midway through the first-half, but the captain skied his shot no more than four yards out, while unmarked, in the middle of the six-yard box.
Cue hands-on-heads in the Town dugout, while King stood rooted to the spot in disbelief at his miss.
If anything, that seemed to spur The Shaymen on though with Denton forcing Mark Cousins into a decent save with a header back across goal from Macdonald’s cross.
Playmaker Guttridge impressed more than anyone for the hosts, but that wasn’t saying much, with the National League team doing little to justify their higher-league status, too often lacking the guile to break down the Town back-line.
Halifax deserved credit for that though, with a disciplined defensive display that gave Dagenham little time or space on the ball in their final third; the only complaint from the opening 45 minutes being Town should arguably have gone in ahead.
Whitely had another chance seconds before the break to the left of the six-yard box, but Drench got down well to save his right-footed shot.
Town had a penalty appeal rejected a few minutes after the interval for an alleged push by Frankie Raymond on Macdonald as he charged into the box.
Town’s third forward player, Alex Simmons, was struggling to make an impact.
But Macdonald and Denton continued to impress in attack, with the Dagenham defenders at a loss as to how to neutralise the Town striker’s aerial prowess, and well on the way to figuring out they couldn’t.
Maguire-Drew had a couple of long-range efforts easily saved by Drench, and then forced a more impressive save from the keeper with a swirling low free-kick just after the hour-mark.
But the fact that Dagenham were coming closest through set-pieces spoke volumes about their lack of threat from open-play.
There were more fireworks in the sky than there were on the pitch as the clock ticked down, with few chances for either team; Town pretty much had Dagenham where they wanted them, bound for The Shay in 10 days’ time.
Dagenham and Redbridge: Cousins, Widdowson, Doe, Robinson, Raymond, Guttridge (Benson 85), Hawkins, Maguire-Drew (Ling 74), Boucaud, Whitely, Staunton. Subs not used: Justham, Hyde, White, Mitchell.
Shots on target: 5
Shots off target: 5
Halifax: Drench, Roberts, Garner, Hotte, Wilde, Macdonald, Lynch, King, Sinnott (Hibbs 76), Simmons, Denton. Subs not used: Nicholson, Moyo, Barrows, Peniket, Burrows, Kosylo.
Shots on target: 2
Shots off target: 7
Town man of the match: Scott Garner
Referee: Neil Hair