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Sat Aug 24
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The Vanarama National League South
20th
2pts

Town need a miracle

| FA Trophy
Dagenham
Fox (35), Dunwell (75), Harkins (77)
3 - 0
Slough Town
Terry Reardon
Slough Town now need a 'miracle' in the second leg to prevent them crashing out of the F.A. Trophy semi-final, yet for 75 minutes they had looked capable of leaving Dagenham on Saturday with a score line that would have given them a great chance of reaching the final for the first time.

Town, although trailing to a first-half goal in this tense first leg, were carrying the game to the Daggers after the break.

But they know from past experience that Dagenham, who knocked them out of the 1971 Amateur Cup semi final, need only half a chance to swing a game. Slough allowed them two and the Daggers snapped up both in a dazzling two minute spell to virtually ensure a place in the Wembley final where their opponents should be Scarborough, who beat Altrincham 2-0.

Although a three goal margin slightly flattered Dagenham, their strong all-round performance deserved victory, and while Slough played their part in an exciting tussle, they have only themselves to blame for not turning the promising build up work into goals.

Slough weathered a barnstorming Dagenham start - and a snowstorm - with skipper Dennis Malley and John Beyer marshalling the defence with customary composure.

Keeper Trevor Porter thwarted Dagenham's best effort in the opening spell when he brilliantly turned over a 20 yard drive by ex-Spurs man Frank Saul.

Kieran Somers and Terry Reardon went close as Slough began to find their feet, but Dagenham took the lead after 35 minutes. A cluster of players jumped for Peter Wellman’s long, high free kick into the Slough penalty area, and the ball fell at the feet of Daggers centre forward Neville Fox, who turned swiftly to hit a rising volley past a helpless Porter.

Slough played their best football after the interval, when they pushed midfield man Reardon into a more attacking role. Paul Lee worked his way into some good positions, but sadly his final cross or pass went astray too often.

Lee did everything right, however, when he set up Town's best chance in the 58th minute. He latched on to a Mickey Cooper header, carried the ball to the bye line, and crossed to give the busy Dave Russell an easy chance from six yards.

Russell didn't hit the ball cleanly, but his shot seemed goalbound until keeper Ian Huttley stuck out an arm and pushed the ball against a post for an incredible reflex save. Russell, Lee and the tireless Roy Davies worked hard as Slough continued to press, but found little support from striker Somers, a gentle, ineffective giant who rarely made his presence felt.

Slough gradually let Dagenham off the hook, and allowed them to come bursting into attack again. Porter did well to hold a chip from Paul Currie - brother of Leeds United's Tony – when he was caught off his line, but had no chance in the 75th minute when midfield man Joe Dunwell made it 2-0 by prodding home Saul's near post cross at the second attempt.

Two minutes later Mal Harkins powered the ball home from close range, after Fox had headed on Currie's long throw, for the goal which seems to put the tie beyond Slough's reach.

To their credit, Slough battled bravely on until the bitter end in the hope off snatching a goal but it was not to be their day.

Slough, who had Terry Reardon booked for a 57th minute foul on Wellan, were left to reflect upon what might have been. If Russell's shot had gone in and if substitute Terry Brown lead been brought on to add more punch to their attack, they - and not Dagenham - could be approaching the second leg confident of reaching Wembley.

Dagenham Line up

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