Having reached the League Two play-offs in successive seasons the Robins have struggled to replicate that kind of form this term, starting the day down in 22nd place with just two league wins to their name.
They came up against a Dagenham side who had been in terrific form but goals from veteran striker Jamie Cureton and Keith Lowe sandwiched Abu Ogogo's leveller to hand Town precious three points.
Yates said: "Make no mistake, this is a really tough place to come. Dagenham have been on a great run and a lot of people might not have fancied us to get much here.
"But we scrapped hard, we fought and we passed the ball really well at times. Our work-rate was first class and in the end I think we've full deserved the result.
"We knew we'd have to stand up toe-to-toe with Dagenham. We did that and we've earned our rewards.
"I know it's not been the best of seasons so far, but we can kick on from this result now."
Yates also praised 38-year-old frontman Cureton, who scored his 250th career goal at Victoria Road.
"It's a terrific achievement for Jamie to have scored that many goals at this level," Yates said.
"He certainly knows what he's doing when he's in and around opponents' penalty boxes.
"His was a cracking goal. I'm sure he'll enjoy that one."