Battle of nerves



Slough Town

Slough Town

League Vic Akers
ALTHOUGH Enfield may still hold the Berger Isthmian League, Premier Division title, it moved a little further down the North Circular towards Wexham Park on Saturday, as Slough Town emerged from a tension packed match at Southbury Road with a vital and well deserved point.

With the outcome of the game so important to both camps in their championship bid, it was obvious that they would be playing under tremendous pressure. And for the entire 90 minutes it became a war of nerves, which neither side was fully able to master.

Such was the tension on the pitch that both teams were unable to relax into their normal pattern of play, and consequently the actual standard of football produced was low considering the quality of the two sides. For the Rebels it was a tremendous result, but for an Enfield side that went into the match knowing that only a victory would really be good enough it must be disappointing and virtually the end of their bid to retain the league title before joining the Alliance Premier League next season.

Slough manager Laurie Churchill, returning to one of his former clubs, named an unchanged side with Terry Reardon coming in as substitute. From the opening minutes it was soon obvious that nerves were going to play a big part in the match, and that if goals were to be scored they would probably be the result of mistakes.

After five minutes a cross from Dave Flint was mis-kicked in the penalty area by John Beyer, and Dave Yerby had to hurriedly push the ball away for a corner before Enfield could capitalise on the mistake.
Minutes later, at the other end, a cross from Johnny Bishop was knocked down by Micky Kiely and from the edge of the box Dave Russell's well struck shot was pushed away by the diving John Jacobs.

Both sides seemed unable to get a grip on the match and take control as play swung from one end to the other. Passes continually went astray and when mistakes were made no one was able to take advantage of them.

However after 13 minutes only a fine save from Richard Teale prevented Enfield from going ahead.
A Slough move broke down in midfield and Flint found himself free on the right. He passed inside to Keith Barrett and his pin point cross was firmly headed goalwards by the ever alert Lee Holmes. But, Teale was equal to the effort and pushed it over the bar.

It was Slough who came closest to scoring in the remainder of the half. An inswinging corner to the near post from Keith White was frantically pushed away by Jacobs and then after 30 minutes a cross from Vic Akers found Kiely unmarked 12 yards out. But the Slough striker seemed so surprised by his luck that he placed the effort high of the target.

The second half followed much the same pattern as the first, but with the Rebels now showing more commitment they always looked dangerous on the break, when the Enfield defence seemed at its most vulnerable. Kiely once again worked energetically up front, often fighting a lone battle, and perhaps looked the most likely player on the park to break the deadlock. Bishop showed some neat touches, but was given few opportunities to shine by his former colleagues and Russell never really got into the match.

At the other end Enfield often threatened but rarely looked like breaking down the Rebels' defence. Beyer and Eric Young had the better of the aerial battles, while Yerby and Akers were in superb form to continually stifle the home sides attacks on both flanks.

With just three minutes remaining and the game destined for a goalless draw there was drama at both ends. First a Morrissey free kick found the head of Kiely and only a desperate save by Jacobs prevented the ball from dipping in under the crossbar at the far post.

And then as Enfield pushed everybody up, except Jacobs, in a final effort to win the three points they so badly needed, the outstretched hand of Teale and the woodwork deprived them of a dramatic last gasp goal. The ball was crossed in from the right by Holmes and found John McCombe at the far post. He rose above Akers and headed what looked a certain goal, but somehow Teale threw himself across the goal and managed to push the ball against the post. It rebounded back into play and was cleared just inches from the line by Akers before an Enfield forward could pounce.

So for the second time in the space of 14 days a vital championship battle between these two sides had failed to produce a goal. Because of the importance of both matches neither side was able to produce the kind of performance they are capable of, but there have certainly been some heart stopping moments for the spectators.

The referee - Mr L. Huff from Southwark - booked five players in this latest encounter, although it was certainly not an ill tempered or dirty match. Enfield's Barrett, Oliver, McCombe and Holmes along with Yerby all entered Mr. Huff's little black book. Three of them were for dissent, while Holmes and Barrett were booked for fouls.

Both the referee and his two linesmen deserve credit for their handling of the game, which was first class. At the end a draw was a fair result and the Slough side were well worth the standing ovation the large number of supporters who made the trip to Enfield gave them. However with Wycombe Wanderers going top again after their 4-0 win at Boreham Wood, the championship is far from won for the Rebels, and their main challenge for the title now looks likely to come from the Bucks side, although it would be dangerous to completely write Enfield out of the race just yet.

Enfield Lineup


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