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Oxford City (A)
Sat Oct 26
15:00

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Oxford City (A)
Sat Oct 26 15:00
The Vanarama National League South
3rd
24pts

Rebels Denied At The Death

| League
Att: 251
Barking
Quail (66)
1 - 1
Slough Town
Mallinson (62)
Mark Mallinson
Only a brilliant save in the 89th minute stopped Slough making history at Mayesbrook Park on Saturday. Trevor How must have thought that his well-directed header from Steve Thompson's free kick was going to creep inside the posts and end the Rebels' bogey at Barking when keeper Peter Bruce produced cat-like reflexes to push it away.

"I really thought that Trevor's header was going in," admitted frustrated Slough boss Alan Davies. "But all credit to the keeper. It was a great save." Slough may still be seeking their first win at Barking after 17 visits but they at least had the consolation of extending their unbeaten away run in the Vauxhall League to 15 matches and keeping their position at the top of the Premier Division.

The Rebels failure to beat a side battling at the wrong end of the table must also be viewed against a crippling injury list that left Davies without five players he had planned to use. And his problems escalated after just 19 minutes at Barking when winger Mark Adams limped off with a hamstring injury.

"I'm having to play the fittest of the bunch at the moment," bemoaned Davies, who expects all the injuries — Gary Lester (hamstring), Jeff Bateman (groin), Kevin Rowe (damaged ligaments), Gary Dodd (ankle) and Tommy Langley (groin) to have cleared up by the middle of next week. "It helps when you can pick a settled team every week," he continued. "Up until the end of last year I was able to do that. Unfortunately I haven't had the luxury in recent weeks."

In light of these problems it is perhaps surprising that Davies allowed former Fulham stalwart Brian Greenaway to join Marlow on a rnonth's loan last week. Once Adams departed early, Slough lost much of their direction and bustle, as muscle had the better of imagination for most of the time so that Barking's second biggest crowd of the season saw more incident than quality.

There was solid defensive play from both teams, although Trevor Bunting in the Slough goal at times still seemed to be rebuilding his shattered confidence after a disasterous performance against Redbridge Forest three days earlier.

It was hardly surprising that chances were rare. Slough's best opportunity of the first half fell to Steve Thompson as early as the eighth minute. Gary Crampton misheard keeper Bruce's call and played the ball straight to the feet of Slough's RAF man. But Thompson couldn't capitalise on the chance and from an acute angle saw Bruce parry his shot round the post.

An unexpected burst of cultured football from Barking on the stroke of half-time should have seen them take the lead. Robert Gammons' raking pass picked out Paul Rogers on the wing and his well-directed cross found the unmarked Perry Coney. Coney, however, spurned the time and space he was allowed by the Rebels and fired straight at Bunting.

With a new-found confidence, the Blues ripped into Slough at the start of the second half and were unlucky not to score in a spirited 10 minute spell. Simon Quail drove a half-volley inches wide of the post in the 46th minute and seven minutes later Slough skipper Mark Hill nearly deflected a header past Bunting.

Slough's goal in the 62nd minute was scored by substitute Mark Mallinson, an underrated and versatile midfielder who still has to be given his chance this season. His hard work on the left was largely ignored and although he may have lacked Adams' flair he was a worthy deputy.

His Combined Services colleague Thompson whipped in a cross which Mallinson nodded home via Timmy Cooper's head — for his first goal for the Rebels. The lead lasted only four minutes because of a fatal lapse of concentration by Slough left-back Robbie Johnson. He was caught flat-footed as Quail stole in behind him to collect Laurence Holmes' pass and drive the ball under Bunting for the equaliser.

Slough's championship challenge may have faltered slightly, but if they were looking for encouraging omens they should bear in mind that last time they threw away a one—nil lead at Barking in 1980-1981 they went on to lift the title a few months later.

Barking Line up

Bruce, Cooper, Crampton, Makin, Day, Coney, Flynn, Holmes, Rogers, Quail, Gammons. Subs: Heifer, James.

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