Waites' return steers Slough to best yet

Slough Town

Slough Town

Thompson (18), Bateman (55), Stanley (58, 73)


League Unknown
Frustrated Paul Waites provided the perfect pick-me-up for Slough's ailing fortunes on Saturday — inspiring them to their biggest win of the season to close the gap on leaders Farnborough to six points.

Four days after the Rebels' humiliating county cup exit to Burnham, Waites celebrated starting his first match for 11 months with an exuberant, all action display that lifted the gloom surrounding Wexham Park.

Slough boss Alan Davies knew that victory over bottom of the table Croydon was imperative to restore his side's confidence as the pace begins to hot up at the top of the Vauxhall-Opel League.

And after an even first 45 minutes which saw Croydon bely their lowly status by causing the Rebels problems on several occasions, Waites took the match by the scruff of the neck and ensured a three goal second-half blast, to earn himself a rousing ovation when cramp finally forced him to leave the action with just two minutes remaining.

Davies was understandably relieved that his gamble to pitch Waites into action four months after his return from Finland had worked — and that his side had begun to ease fears that another slump was on the way.

"Waites plaved well today," he said afterwards. "Indeed, everyone did well. We needed a win and we got one with some style."

Centre-back Tony Knight was ruled out by suspension, and Davies suffered an unexpected setback when on-loan keeper Gary Lester was recalled by Wycombe to replace injured first choice, John Granville.

"We had an idea on Thursday that Granville had pulled a muscle in training," explained Davies. "But it wasn't until 12 o'clock that Wycombe called me and let me know that Gary was definitely playing in their FA Trophy tie at Wealdstone. "It's ironic really, Gary doesn't play for the first team for nine months, but he comes to Slough and they want him back after two weeks."

A flurry of Rebels chances led to Thompson putting them ahead in the 18th minute. How nodded Adams corner towards the unmarked Thompson and he did the rest by directing his 14th goal of the season past Bailey on the goalline.

If the 316 crowd expected Croydon to cave in, they were sadly mistaken, the visitors could have levelled just nine minutes later when Jeff Bateman sliced a clearance into the path of Ian Paterson, whose cross was dropped at the feet of Reece Culpit by Rebels' keeper Trevor Bunting. Fortunately for Slough, Waites was on hand to block Culpit's powerful shot as it flew towards the top corner.

Sensing the chance of a rare goal, Croydon began to play with the panache of a championship chasing side and Ian Simpson, Mick Kennedy, Tony Hoy and Neil Missen all set alarm bells ringing in the Rebels' defence.

However, Slough started the second period in dynamic fashion with visiting keeper Julian Gray pushing away Tony Dennis's 20-yard shot in the 55th minute.

But there was little he could do with the resultant corner as Bateman directed Adams flag kick just inside the post for his first goal in over a year.

A piece of quick thinking in the 58th minute killed off any remaining Croydon that the visitors weren't expecting a hastily taken throw-in and they were made to pay for their moment of hesitation, as Thompson crossed low for Stanley to crash his shot past Gray.

With Waites dictating the pattern of play, Croydon were rarely able to break out of their own half, and only some splendid saves from Gray kept the score down to a respectable total.

But Slough had the last word in the 73rd minute thinks to Stanley drilling home his 17th goal of the season from the edge of the penalty area.

Croydon Lineup

Gray, Matthias, Kennedy, Gillam, Double, Patterson, Missen, Hoy, Culpit, Simpson. Subs: Thornton (for Patterson 75 mins), Holman (for Gillam 61 mins).


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