Still working in the dark

Slough Town

Slough Town

Abbott (4)
Kettering Town

Kettering Town

Woodsford (25)
League Attendance: 1032 Gary Micklewhite
Gary Abbott briefly joined Welling's Lennie Dennis as the Conference's top marksman with a fourth minute gem which gave Slough an early edge over Kettering Town at The Park on Tuesday night.

But his joy after zooming in on a Danny Bolt free kick to head home his ninth league goal of the season was short-lived. First the Poppies levelled in the 25th minute through Jamie Woodsford, a loan signing from Luton Town who punished the Rebels following a free kick with a swivelling shot from five yards. And during a half-hour delay caused by a second floodlight failure in three midweek matches at Slough, Dennis potted his 10th of the season at nearby Hayes to give Welling a 1-0 win.

Slough's technical hitch - which changed the nature of this game - hinted that the club's underlying problems after a third summer of upheavals may have only faded into the background. Manager Brian McDermott is increasingly frustrated by the continued absence of defenders Cliff Hercules and Gary McGinnis who suffered injuries five matches ago at Southport.

This combined with lacklustre performances from Steve Bateman and Danny Bolt has left the Rebels weak at the back and lacking the extra bite up front which might compensate. Bolt's deft free kick from just inside half way which set up the goal stood out in an otherwise poor display by Slough at set pieces.

Exchanging the plush facilities at Eton College, which has no floodlights, for less handsome surroundings at Wexham Astro has coincided with this deterioration. The blackout dampened spirits lifted only momentarily by the thought which ran through the crowd of midfielder Gary Blackford - an electrician by trade - to play Mr Fix-It.

The promise of an entertaining encounter by two sides with plenty of football skill among their ranks quickly subsided into a rush to get the night over with and get back home. The first half finally ended 100 minutes after the kick off and the second half, while full of end-to-end incident, left the result to chance.

The busy Poppies simply resorted to big boot tactics in a bid to cash in on their all round pace.

Fortunately for Slough they had not the finish to match from four clear chances, though Ben Miles had to make one smart save to deny Woodsford repeating his first half trick in the 65th minute.

With Mark West and Gary Abbott continually lassoed like steers at a rodeo, Slough posed few problems for Kettering's second string keeper Kevin Shoemake who pouched everything bar one which came his way.

It was left to skipper Gary Micklewhite to hold together a hounded defence, which again included the impressive youngster Rob Smith under the bombardment. Under the circumstances, a point taken against a side which cost McDermott's predecessor his job after four defeats last season, was a fair measure of the distance the side has come since then.

The club's floodlighting problems however, may be the tip of an iceberg which has moved hardly at all.

Kettering Town Lineup

Shoemake, Marshall, Norman, Stock, Nugent, Berry, Mustafa, Myamah, Woodsford, Pope, Lynch. SUBS: Harmon (82, for Stock), March, Judge.


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