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Fri Jul 5

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Virginia Water (H)
Fri Jul 5 19:45
The Vanarama National League South

Rebels Throw It Away

Witton Albion

Witton Albion

Thomas (83), McCluskie (90)
Slough Town

Slough Town

Thompson (48)
League Attendance: 814
This was one of the few Conference games on at the weekend but Slough will be wishing it hadn't been played. The Rebels managed to throw away a goal advantage to an unimpressive Witton outfit in the last seven minutes.

Prior to that they would have been disappointed to have come away with anything but three points, particularly after a first half which saw the Rebels play their best football for some time.

As ice wrecked the football programme and frosted oft a number of fixtures Slough travelled north through the rain to face relegation candidates Witton Albion.

Albion had been promoted last season but after a change of management had found things tough and were on a run of games without a win.

Their manager, Peter O'Brien was in hospital with an illness and this left coach Kevin Keelan in charge.

Slough had just found their way back to form with a win over Gateshead and were still in the position of having a number of games in hand which would swiftly move them up into the top six in the table if capitalised on.

But what a difference seven minutes can make! With 82 minutes on the clock everyone from Slough looked like they would be going borne happy with three hard fought points under their belts and a position well up in the top half of the table.

After 90 minutes all were in despondency and Slough had dropped nearer to the bottom of the table.

The Rebels kicked off with a full strength squad — a luxury after recent weeks. On a damp, tricky surface they took the game to Witton in the wet, misty surrounds of their new stadium and even then there was a question whether the game would finish.

The Rebels made all the openings. Allan Pluckrose was finding width on the left and Steve Thompson was looking as good as he had for a long time with some mazy running and skills.

Gary Donnellan powered through the midfield and he had an early shot just wide of the upright. Another good Slough move saw Paul McKinnon's shot palmed wide and the Rebels were showing some good signs. They found width and got behind the Witton defence who were left scrambling to clear Slough's forward play.

Witton failed to create anything in the way of good chances in the first half and were left to a couple of corners and some set pieces from deep.

Witton never punctured the Slough rearguard and their own offside trap was shaky and weak.

The home side were physical to say the least and a number of challenges saw Slough players close to nasty injuries.

Eammon O'Connor crossed for Pluckrose to send in a powerful far post header which was hacked away but the Slough man was adjudged offside.

As the half wore on though, Slough hadn't taken advantage of their supremacy and chances weren't as well defined as the play leading up to them warranted.

Witton were still plugging away by thrusting the ball in from deep set plays but to little avail after Trevor Bunting's solid handling.

Thompson made a fine run into his opponents' penalty area but after rounding three players found himself pushed wide of goal and as the ball ran away from him he pushed it into the path of Pluckrose whose shot was saved.

Stewart Anderson had Witton's best chance with a header that went just wide but the half ended with the visibility reduced and the ball bouncing wildly.

The second half started quietly until Slough took the lead on 48 minutes.

Messy defensive play by Witton forced a poor backpass from the edge of their box and Thompson was sharp to nip in and shoot the ball home off keeper Keith Mason.

Darren Anderson defended well after Witton's new signing Mark Hughes nipped in and caused some problems as Witton strived to come back.

Slough were leading and had no cause to doubt that score whatsoever, and with Witton hardly doing much in the way of looking dangerous and the Rebels were awarded a free kick which was wasted.

The home side got rougher and tougher as the game went on they began to have their best spell of the match. The pacy Karl Thomas was a threat but looked offside and with Anderson appealing the linesman kept his flag down only for Bunting to save well at Thomas's feet.

Slough were beginning to waste the ball in midfield whenever they got possession and Witton found a route down the right as O'Connor kept wandering and left Phil Stacey open to attack from two men.

Witton failed to look dangerous and though they had increasingly more pressure Slough didn't look too troubled.

Slough still broke well though they often wasted possession for themselves and Donnellan twice missed good shooting opportunities.

Mallinson sold himself at one stage as the game drew into the final ten minutes and Bunting had to save from Anderson.

Then it all went wrong for Slough with substitute Jim McCluskie replacing Groves and Witton pushing the extra man forward and leaving three at the back.

With 83 minutes gone Slough lost out in midfield and Thomas nipped in to race clear and prod the ball past Bunting to level.

Slough came back with McKinnon shooting into the side netting after Donnellan's good work but O'Connor was still affording little protection on the right and often found play had gone past him.

From dismay at dropping two points, Slough slipped to a fruitless trip in the last minute when sub McCluskie was on hand at the far post to volley home after Bunting missed the ball.

Slough pushed Stacey forward to get something back from the game but it was too late.

Witton Albion Lineup


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