by Rob McNichol
NOT for the first time this season, Ryan Brunt has shown himself to be the man to step up during injury time.
The Argyle forward, on as a half-time substitute, scored his second league goal of the season, with about 30 seconds remaining of three minutes of added on time, as Argyle rescued a point from a scrappy match at Dagenham and Redbridge. Brunt's only other league goal this season came deep into stoppage time at Luton.
With a goal from former Torquay United midfielder Joss Labadie, Dagenham looked to be on their way to recording their first home win of the current season to defy the 27-point gulf that existed between the teams at the start of play.
The Greens never found their rhythm, but they are able to summon up spirit, personified by Brunt's latest late'un. This time, he picked up a bouncing ball around 40 yards from goal, and headed forwards. His 20-yard effort took a slight deflection, but found its way into the net in front of nearly 1000 rapturous members of the Green Army.
Following the midweek draw with Leyton Orient, manager Derek Adams made just one change. Oscar Threlkeld, who picked up a knock and had to go off in that game, began the afternoon in East London on the bench, with Josh Simpson filling in on the pitch.
Argyle had the better of the opening quarter of an hour, but despite their control of the ball, found it difficult to create clear chances. Curtis Nelson's header from Graham Carey's clipped free-kick was perhaps the best opening of the early exchanges, but goalkeeper Mark Cousins gathered.
Nelson was busy at the other end, too, as Dagenham bared their teeth for the first time, getting in two quality crosses from the right side. Each time, with established predator Jamie Cureton lurking, the Argyle skipper got there first, and the home side's sortie was over.
One of the providers of the crosses, Jodi Jones, had a lively start to proceedings. On receipt of the ball on the right once again, he motored inside and fired in a shot which was not too far over Christian Walton's goal.
Five minutes later, Jones got one on target, having received the ball following a lengthy run by former Argyle loan winger Ashley Hemmings. The ball came through a crowd of players, but Walton got down to it to push it round the post.
Sadly, the game descended into the kind of stodgy affair that will resemble your Christmas pud in about a month's time. Dagenham's main tactic looked to be to get the ball over the top and get Argyle turned, but more often than not that saw the ball either headed clear by Nelson or Luke Croll, or being overhit and reaching Walton.
At the other end, Jake Jervis, Gregg Wylde, Craig Tanner and Carey seemed to take turns in trying to pick their way through the Daggers' sizable backline, but each time it ended with frustration, as either a cross was cut out or a dribble cut short.
Half-time saw a distinct shake-up. Carey had picked up an injury towards the end of the first period, so to see Ryan Brunt replace him was not the biggest shock in the world. However, Ben Purrington on at the break to replace Simpson might well have been something that few saw coming.
Speaking of not seeing it coming, Nelson will have felt very relieved when Dagenham thought they had taken the lead. Thought no fault of the skipper's, the ball rebounded off of him after Walton saved Cureton's effort, and trickled just wide.
The relief lasted all of two minutes, though, as Labadie broke away down the channel, and slotted past Walton into the net. The goal came on the hour, leaving Argyle with a third of the game to salvage something from the game..
The response began immediately. A pair of corners were forced, with one very nearly reaching a lurking Nelson at the far post. Tanner then curled wide from 20 yards as the Pilgrims trying to force themselves level.
Adams added Tyler Harvey to the fray with a little over quarter of an hour remaining, and continued to push men forward, but Dagenham were resolute. A free-kick by Tanner, though, powered hard into the danger area, caused panic, and the Daggers spent a full minute trying to eject the ball from their half, as Argyle kept looping the ball back in, but to no avail.
At the other end, the home side looked to break and add to their lead, with Cureton scraping one wide from a narrow angle, and Hemmings forcing Walton into a good save.
Dagenham were beginning to look, and feel comfortable.
Until it reached Brunty Time.
Dagenham & Redbridge (4-2-3-1): 30 Mark Cousins; 2 Josh Passley, 29 Ayo Obileye, 6 Clevid Dikamona, 3 Jack Connors; 8 Andre Boucaud (capt), 26 James Dunne; 17 Jodi Jones (10 Ashley Chambers 77), 4 Joss Labadie, 23 Ashley Hemmings; 7 Jamie Cureton. Substitutes (not used): 12 Christian Doidge, 18 Frankie Raymond, 22 Jake Mulraney, 24 Josh Pask, 32 Justin Hoyte.
Booked: Dikamona 86.
Argyle (4-2-3-1): 31 Christian Walton; 2 Kelvin Mellor, 5 Curtis Nelson (capt), 28 Luke Croll, 3 Gary Sawyer; 4 Carl McHugh, 8 Josh Simpson (16 Ben Purrington half-time); 27 Craig Tanner, 10 Graham Carey (17 Ryan Brunt half-time), 11 Gregg Wylde (15 Tyler Harvey 73); 14 Jake Jervis. Substitutes (not used): 18 Deane Smalley, 19 Aaron Bentley, 21 James Bittner (gk), 26 Oscar Threlkeld.
Booked: Croll 61, Sawyer 73, Purrington 75.
Referee: Darren Deadman.
Attendance: 2,344 (991 away).