Road To Ruin

| League
Dulwich Hamlet
Ward (43)
1 - 0
Slough Town
Paul Waites
It was clearly not going to be Slough's day with their match at Dulwich doomed to failure long before the game. The Rebels' team coach arrived late and hurricane torn London's traffic problems ensured they did not arrive at Dulwich until 15 minutes before the kick-off. And from then on the players proceeded to be late for everything on the park to boot as they fell to an ignominious defeat against their lowly hosts.

"It did not help with the coach arriving late and getting to Dulwich at 2.45 p.m. but from the time we got to the ground things went from bad to worse," said manager Alan Davies. "Dulwich are second from bottom and had won only one game this season. These are the games we've got to win if we want any success."

Davies had no illusions as to the reason for his side's dismal performance and explained: "At the end of the day we were outbattled. Dulwich wanted to win it more than us and got players around the ball to good effect. We only needed one goal and we might have got two or three. But if you do not get the ball in the net you do not win."

Meanwhile, the rest of the Vauxhall Opel League Premier Division front runners appeared to be doing everything in their power to help Slough's title challenge. Unfortunately the visitors displayed a crucial flaw in their championship chasing credentials as they surrendered the points to the type of opposition they must crush in unmerciful fashion if they are to secure the prize that has eluded them for seven seasons.

However, it was Dulwich who displayed the grit and raw determination that has been one of Slough's hallmarks in many a memorable cup triumph. And the inconsistent Rebels simply allowed themselves to be rattled by the home side's uncompromising style of play. The playing surface certainly did not favour the Rebels who always try to play constructive football but that was no excuse for some of the diabolically poor passing that consistently allowed Dulwich to break down any promising attacks.

The disease appeared to be catching, as even Tony Knight and Jeff Bateman sank to the level of the rest as they took a 90 minute break in their recent return to form. Nevertheless, in the early stages, Slough appeared relatively unaffected by the state of the pitch and their late arrival as they began to take the upper hand.

Dulwich left-back Ray Purvis almost gifted them the lead in the opening minute when he forced a good save from his own keeper with a header from Paul Waites's cross. Seven minutes later, the home side's new keeper marked his debut with another solid save when he got down well to Wayne Wanklyn's firmly driven shot from 20 yards.

Then in the 19th minute Neal Stanley pushed a good ball through for Jimmy Brown. The Rebels' top scorer had his parting shot blocked by Purvis and with the ball ricocheting goal-wards and Kenny Wilson ready to pounce, full-back Dave Porter jumped in to clear the danger.

Encouraged by their survival of the early exchanges, Dulwich steadily grew in confidence and were soon creating chances of their own. A Dave Taylor volley was deflected wide in the 21st minute and a fine move was wasted when Shane Ward sliced his shot high and wide after Paul Kenny had chested down John Murphy's pin point cross to the far edge of the area.

In the 27th minute Ronnie Stevenson was the provider with a good cross for Murphy centrally placed in the Slough area. Murphy's volley was well struck but woefully off target.

Although he had little service throughout the contest Waites' tireless running was much to his credit and it was a good run down the left that produced a half-chance for Gary Dodd who clipped a 20 yard effort just over.

The Rebels could have grabbed the lead in the 40th minute but when a well weighted through ball left him in the clear, his lack of pace was all too evident as Alan Roughan strode across to recover the ball and knock it back to the keeper.

Then only two minutes before the break, Ward showed a contrasting turn of pace to score a splendid solo effort to give Dulwich the lead. Ward ran at the Rebels defence and soon had them in disarray. He wrong-footed Dodd, dummied Bateman and calmly slotted home to the left of Trevor Bunting and inside the far post.

In the second period, the hustle and bustle of the home side continued to rattle the Rebels. However, despite their lack of ingenuity going forward Slough still had one or two chances. Stanley's 53rd minute through ball gave Wanklyn another opportunity to equalise but this time he screwed his shot wide.

Waites hit a 25 yard lob just over but keeper John Sexton had it covered and Brown should have done better when he headed wide from Wilson's chipped cross in the 63rd minute. Gary Woodcraft came on for Wilson two minutes later but the chance made no noticeable difference and Dulwich nearly sealed the result when the ball was bundled into the net after Bunting had blocked Kenny's header. Fortunately for Slough the referee had spotted an infringement and they were still in with a chance of salvaging a point.

However, another good save from Sexton denied Waites in the 73rd minute and frustration got the better of him four minutes later when he was booked for dissent. Slough's second substitution came with Des McMahon replacing Dennis Powell in the 78th minute but the Rebels still failed to breach the Dulwich defence.

The closest they came was four minutes from time when a tremendous volley from Wanklyn was headed onto the bar by Roughan and Wanklyn followed Waites into the referee's book for dissent soon after.

Dulwich Hamlet Line up

Sexton, Porter. Purvix, Taylor, Roughan, Murphy, Spark, Kennedy. Ward, Kenny, Stevenson.

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