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The Vanarama National League South
2nd
33pts

Bateman And Thompson Goals Seal Slough Win

| League
Att: 405
Slough Town
Bateman, Thompson
2 - 0
Grays Athletic
Neal Stanley
Slough kept on course for a place in the Vauxhall Conference with a nervous 2-0 win over Grays which was about as exciting as a striptease for a blind man. Supporters had trouble staying awake for the goals, one in each half from Steve Thompson and Jeff Bateman, which punctuated this bore. Whether or not the responsibilities of leadership have driven the Rebels into a protective shell, their refusal to engage the enemy left them looking unconvincing Conference material.

The pattern was predictable — a couple of front-runners chasing breakaway opportunities and a competent defence which tidied up against a side which on this occasion had collected 22 of their last 24 points. Busy Grays were left to provide the entertainment as full back Robbie Johnson and centre back Bateman, back from a groin injury, made tentative starts.

Johnson made a hash of a clearance as Richard Cherry burgled into the box and the full back almost conceded an own goal, while Lambert Joseph was twice given the room to get in some early target practice. The swaggerless Rebels took 23 minutes to come up with their first realistic chance, Mark Mallinson, in for the injured Mark Adams, throwing himself headlong at a corner and glancing his header just over the bar.

Grays central defenders Tony Witter and ian Durant were made to look impressive against this feeble approach. Meanwhile Johnson continued his nightmare by rnisjudging another when he had the option of using players inside him. Phil Sammons then charged the ball down as Barry Rake tried to hoof clear and he was unlucky to loose his footing in the box which denied him the finishing strike.

But the Rebels then had the nerve after all this to take a 42nd minute lead with a goal as bizarre as it was unmerited. Steve Thompson made a quick break from inside his own half and slipped the ball inside to Rake whose fierce shot was blocked by Durant. In the confusion which followed the ball found its way out to the flank where Mallinson crossed in, Thompson threw himself along the floor and slid to meet it with enough power to send it over the line with keeper Barrie Delf wrong-footed.

Briefly aroused, Slough then had Rake a header before the break. A leveller looked odds on as Grays pressed with a series of corners after the restart but the finishing touch eluded them as Paul Timpson finally tapped over the bar from close range.

The Rebels made it 2-0 from a set move in the 66th minute which followed a foul on the left on Rake. Thompson floated in the cross and Bateman poached neatly from an unmarked position close in.

An otherwise inert session was brightened up with the introduction of one Maverick Bailey who come on for midfielder Dave Stittle as Grays threw bodies forward.

Bailey, whose claim to soccer fame includes a hat-trick on his first appearance at Bridge Road after returning from Leyton Wingate and a spectacular winner against Southend in the Esssex Thames-side trophy, is principally a clown. His slapstick routine gave spectators something at last to cheer about and he almost grabbed a late goal when he blasted a piledriver against Trevor Bunting from point blank range.

It was never going to be Grays day and Nicky Crown netted for the Essex boys on the whistle only to be ruled offside. Results are important and Slough got this one to remain level on points but a position above neighbours Wokingham at the top of the Vauxhall Premier Division.

Grays Athletic Line up

Delf, Fox, Timpson, Durant, Witter, Stittle, Sammons, Sheringham, Joseph, Cherry, Crown. Subs: Bailey (for Stittle), Deadman.

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