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Fri Jul 5

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Fri Jul 5 19:45
The Vanarama National League South

Welcome Win In The Valleys

Merthyr Tydfil

Merthyr Tydfil

Webley (1-0)
Slough Town

Slough Town

Anderson (60), Scott (64)
League Attendance: 594
Slough maintained their magnificent league form with this hard earned victory in the Welsh valleys on Saturday.

The Rebels are cruising in the Conference after notching up their ninth win in 15 league matches and they sit in a useful sixth place with a hatful of games in hand on their nearest rivals.

Though they won't want these games to pile up too much towards the end of the season, they are currently in a great position to pull clear from the mid table pack.

But it wasn't all Slough's way in a sunny Wales that was far from the foggy shroud that hovered over Southern England.

Two completely contrasting performances in each half saw the Rebels overcome a goal deficit for their fourth away win of the season.

But that wasn't the only early problem that Slough encountered. Paul McKinnon limped off after only eight minutes of the game on Saturday after what looked a premature return from injury. Despite a week's rest, Slough still had a number of faces missing, Phil Stacey, Gary Donnellan and Colin Fielder and were forced to reshuffle, with Anthony Dell coming into the midfield.

Merthyr were at full strength and had the bonus of Swansea City youngster Mark Coates on the bench should the need arise.

But it was a lacklustre start to the game for Slough who just couldn't create the openings despite having much of the possession and holding the upper hand territorially.

The pitch looked a problem when Slough went forward with control tentative and difficult and Slough failed to break down the Merthyr defence around the box.

Neal Stanley replaced McKinnon early on but Slough failed to hold the ball upfront and Merthyr were able to deal with what Slough threw forward.

But the home side rarely looked dangerous and the Slough defence wasn't too often troubled, Ceri Williams their main threat on the flanks.

But as the game wore on, the midfield opened up and there was plenty of space which Slough failed to exploit. This handed the initiative to Tommy Hutchinson, the ex-Scotland international and veteran of 44 years who was in total control of the situation and was the best player on the park in the first half.

The ease with which he made and found space was left wanting by a Merthyr side that failed to back him up and create much.

Without their normal width the Rebels final ball into the box was often wasted and the game began to lose shape and direction.

Then, out of nothing, the home side took the lead with an extraordinary goal. Williams broke down the Slough right and whipped in a cross which Darren Anderson cleared up and passed back to Trevor Bunting in the Slough goal. The referee decided to award a free kick for Mark Hill's challenge after the move.

The free kick was swung in to the far post where little David Webley rose to head home via a defender's back and suddenly the Rebels were behind to a side that had created so little.

Slough then set about causing their own problems and began to look shaky at the back. Bunting did well when Mark Mallinson's wayward back pass almost exposed the defence and Merthyr began to gain in confidence and find space as they pushed forward.

Slough missed the ability of Colin Fielder to hold the ball up in midfield and they found themselves back pedalling.

Route one almost caused disaster for Slough when Gary Wager's huge drop kick bounced awkwardly and Hill was well placed to stop Mallinson's back pass from going over the line. A disjointed and frustrating first half finally came to an end with the temperature dropping and the pitch slowly freezing to make conditions more difficult.

But it was certainly a rejuvenated Slough that took the field in the second half. Despite being exposed by the long ball through the centre of defence and worried from set pieces, Slough moved forward with more cohesion and found a lot more width.

Steve Scott, making his full league debut for Slough, began to find space on the right and his shot was deflected into the path of Allan Pluckrose with Wager pushing his effort wide. Slough began to get an edge to their play and posed more problems as they pushed forward, though Merthyr played to their strengths and used Williams' pace to counter attack well.

Francis Joseph held the ball up well when the Rebels' pushed forward and Neal Stanley aided him by finding some good space in wide positions. Pluckrose found more room on the left and Slough began to create and the Merthyr defence suddenly looked weak.

A great move saw Steve Thompson cross, Pluckrose pick out Stanley and the latter have his shot well saved.

The Rebels were now completely in charge and forcing the pace which the home side looked so uncomfortable in. With 60 minutes gone the Rebels scored their first ever goal in Wales.

Joseph's corner to the near post picked out Anderson and in a textbook move the central defender powered home a header.

Just four minutes later and the Rebels had taken the lead.

Stanley battled for the ball on the left and won, turned his man and stepped inside to lay the ball off to Scott and his first time strike hit the back of the net for his second goal in two games.

By now Slough were cruising as Merthyr offered nothing, but that was to change with the introduction of Coates. Hutchinson was replaced by the Swansea player and the home side began to push forward in earnest.

Both Anderson and Hill were forced to do some sterling work in defence as the home side's speed through the centre caused problems and both did just enough on a number of tricky occasions.

But Slough wrestled the upper hand from their hosts and pushed forward again, finding the home side committed and working into space.

But they couldn't improve on their goal advantage and the Martyrs came steaming back and caused some late problems in the goalmouth.

Hill was forced into a goal-line stop from Williams but the original attack was adjudged offside.

Williams then found himself through after neat play but Anderson did just enough to put him off and he shot wide.

The home side had probably their best chance to equalise in the dying minutes when Coates headed inches wide with the goal at his mercy and the seconds running out.

The final whistle heralded another great win for Slough off their own turf against a side that had only lost one game at home prior to the match.

Merthyr Tydfil Lineup


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