Title hopes all but ended as Slough tumble to Runcorn marksman K



Thomas (10, 34, 38)
Slough Town

Slough Town

Sayer (28), Hazel (3-2)
League Attendance: 563
It was perhaps inevitable but for Karl Thomas the satisfaction was immeasurable as he exacted sweet and swift revenge on Slough at Runcorn on Saturday.

Thomas who missed a succession of gilt edged chances at Slough, grabbed a first half hat-trick to savour as Runcorn bounced back from their 3-0 defeat at Wexham Park a month ago.

But this was no five-goal thriller, far from it. On a heavy pitch in bitterly cold conditions, the two sides spent the majority of the game thumping the ball from one end of the field to the other in as quicker time as possible. Littered with mistakes, particularly defensive ones, this was not the way Les Briley would have wanted to follow up the devastating victory on New Years Day and more disturbing for Briley was the sending off for the second time this season of Alan Dowson.

Slough paid dearly for their often ponderous attitude, it was as if their hosts wanted the points that tad more than Town. Even the usually excellent Mark Fiore was below par.

His best moment came on 28 minutes as Slough, a goal behind, put together a slick passing move that shredded die home defence, Quamina's slide rule pass set Fiore galloping free on the left, he didn't need to check his stride before clipping a first time low cross into the near post where Sayer arrived and somewhat fortuitously saw his effort bounce over Arthur Williams and loop into the unguarded net.

They scarcely deserved to be on terms, but who cares perhaps this would be the boost that spurred them to greater deeds.

Indeed it looked so as lan Hazel stooped to meet Darren Hancock's inswinging corner but though Williams was beaten Robertson was able to kick clear.

Slough had gone behind in the tenth minute to a strike they gifted to Runcorn. Morrys Scott gave Les Briley a woefully underhit pass and Briley lost the resulting challenge with Gary Anderson. Ian Brady picked up the pieces and immediately delivered a precise ball inside of Ian Hazel for Thomas to dart on to and drive a shot beyond Trevor Bunting.

Thomas was clearly in the mood and he put Runcorn back in front on 34 minutes again making the most of poor Slough defensive work.
After Jamie Bates had crossed unsuccessfully lan Mclnerny was allowed to give him a second chance, this time Hazel intercepted but got height rather than distance on the header. Thomas waited for the ball to drop and then thumped a shot — slightly deflected —past the unfortunate Bunting.

Four minutes later Runcorn doubled their advantage as Thomas took his season's goal tally to 16.

Between them Hazel and Hancock failed to pick up Thomas' run and then missed the ball through from Mclnerny. Thomas rifled his shot past Bunting to claim an emphatic hat-trick.

At the other end there was little joy for Slough, Sayer and Morrys Scott —alternately — coming up against Runcorn's bulldog like central defender, Gary Brabin. Brabin for a relatively small man was phenomenal in the air and Slough's front pair will be glad they don't have to face him again — FA Trophy draws permitting —this season. It would be a great surprise if Brabin was not a league player next year and Manchester United have already had a look at the stocky star.

Bunting error free thus far was lucky to escape punishment when after making an initial save from McKenna he let the ball slip from his grasp and only desperate rearguard stuff prevented a fourth for Runcorn.

Les Briley decided to change things around at the interval, he took himself off, brought Brian Lee on and pushed Ian Hazel back into his preferred midfield role, at least Hazel would be free from the predatory Thomas now.

Almost immediately Hazel had a headed opportunity as Morrys Scott flicked on Fiore's cross but Williams gathered comfortably.

Hazel clearly enjoying the opportunity to get forward combined with Stanley to give Quamina a shooting chance that he rather hurried and consequently pulled wide.

Thomas might have had a fourth but after Andy Lee's perfect pass put him through on Bunting, the Slough man did well to deny him.

Brian Lee unintentionally drove the ball a yard wide of Slough's goal as Runcorn continued to press but the visitors still had intentions of their own.

Briley withdrew the out of touch Stanley and replaced him with the more bludgeoning tactics of Lee Walker and within a minute Slough had narrowed Runcorn's advantage.

Darren Hancock's free kick was only half cleared and Ian Hazel rammed home an 18 yard rising half volley that surely burned the fingers of a stunned Williams.

Slough didn't really have the style or wit to get back in it though and their cause wasn't helped when Alan Dowson who'd spent most of the game testing the patience of the 563 audience, but not apparently until now the ref, bought down Ken McKenna. as the Runcorn man bore down on Bunting and he was dismissed.

Runcorn Lineup


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