Magnificent Rebels serve up Boxing Day feast

Wokingham Town

Wokingham Town

Slough Town

Slough Town

Dodd (14), Wilson (0-2), Bateman (0-3)
League Gary Dodd
The Rebels showed they could cope with Conference League football next season should they win promotion, turning in a scintillating performance on Boxing Day morning.

Indeed, if they play like this throughout the remainder of the season, no-one will be able to stop them progressing to the higher league.

Before the match, optimistic hopes of picking up a draw at Finchampstead Road were expressed by the faithful. Wokingham were unbeaten at home in any competition and only Windsor and Eton and Leytonstone/Ilford had held them to a draw there, so the task before Slough was pretty formidable.

The Rebels were able to name their strongest side, but had the match been played in the afternoon, Gary Dodd would not have been available, and that would have made a vital difference as things turned out.

The match itself was one of great incident, of end-to-end football, and of great performances, particularly by Slough's magnificent Trevor Bunting, Jeff Bateman, Wayne Wanklyn, Gary Dodd and Paul Waites, and also one of pure eccentric entertainment by Dennis Powell.

During the early stages both sides took a little while to settle down, as they battled with the freshening wind.

After eight minutes the home side went within inches of taking the lead, when the ball deflected off Keith White's foot and Bunting had to dive swiftly to palm the ball away for a corner.

Spencer was the next to trouble Slough but Bunting was equal to his effort-then, in the 14th minute, came a classic goal to set the Rebels on their way.

A deep cross from the right found Gary Dodd perfectly placed just inside the penalty area with a defender on each side of him in close attendance. Despite this, the tall, classy midfielder showed great composure as he coolly controlled the ball and shot low past the diving 'keeper into the corner of the net.

Wokingham fought back, and a quarter of an hour later, should have levelled the score. Tony Knight had some difficulty with a bouncing ball inside the penalty area and somehow contrived to handle it right in front of the referee.

Bobby Purser, noted for his fierce shooting ability, stepped up to hammer the ball to Bunting's right - only to be thwarted by a magnificent diving save. The ball ran loose and back to Purser, who was so surprised that he mis-hit his effort wide of the post.

And that miss was to prove costly for Wokingham. Soon after, Paul Waites placed a long corner just beyond the reach of 'keeper Bracey who had both hands on the ball, only to lose his balance. Dropping the ball, it ran on to Kenny Wilson, who struck fiercely on the half-volley through a tangled mass of defenders and the Rebels were two goals ahead and looking well worth it!

The remaining minutes of the first half clearly belonged to Slough, chances were there to increase the lead and Bracey found himself continually in action.

Things changed at the beginning of the second period though as Wokingham, desperate to regain the initiative, put the Slough defence under constant pressure.

Dennis Powell cleared off the line, and made two magnificent clearances in difficult situations with over head kicks. Wokingham should really have scored when Gary Smart missed an absolute sitter, before Slough went within an ace of scoring a third.

Gary Dodd, who was having a superb match, collected a loose clearance and striding through, still managed to control the ball despite the close attention of Smart.

Cleverly shooting low across the goalmouth he hit the inside of the Wokingham far post, only to see the ball rebound along the goal-line and Bracey, diving at Dodd's feet, just managed to prevent him scoring his second.

Slough scored their third following the best move of the match that began with Wayne Wanklyn and involved the Slough runners making mincemeat out of the home defence which resulted in yet another corner.

Waites again had the measure of the home defenders as he picked out the tall figure of Dodd. The Slough man back headed the ball towards the goal where Jeff Bateman, perfectly placed, was able to nod it into the empty net.

Still, Wokingham, their pride hurt, were not finished. And they brought on Andy Nunn, a tricky winger, who began to give the Slough defenders a torrid time.

Bunting saved a fierce shot at the foot of the post, and then made a Shilton-like save from a tremendous volley from Nicky Colliet.

Slough should really have scored a fourth, when Jimmy Brown was put clear. He rounded the 'keeper and had the easiest of chances to just roll the ball into an unguarded net. Sadly, he decided to try and power the ball home and shot wide of the near post into the crowd.

Wokingham Town Lineup


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