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Flackwell Heath (A)
Sat Sep 21
15:00

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Flackwell Heath (A)
Sat Sep 21 15:00
The Vanarama National League South
8th
18pts

Hayes pull plug on switched-off Rebels

| FA Cup
Att: 1803
Hayes
Brady (69)
1 - 0
Slough Town
Robert Smith
Slough Town will not feature in the first round of the FA Cup for the first time in six seasons thanks to Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Hayes. The Rebels' enigmatic away form - which has seen them score just seven times in eight matches and win only twice - let them down when it mattered most.

Last week's four-goal hero Lloyd Owusu made two bad misses when he had only Hayes' diminutive keeper Russell Meara to beat. And in the 30th minute Gary McGinnis became the third Rebel - Gary Abbott and Danny Bolt were the other unfortunates - to miss from the penalty spot this season.

But a bizarre injury to striker and penalty specialist Mark West in then 24th minute was possibly the real key to defeat in a game the Rebels should have won even though they did not deserve to. West turned awkwardly in the centre circle and reluctantly hobbled off unable to take any further part in the tie.

Manager Brian McDermott had already committed himself to starting with all three of his recognised strikers. The introduction of left-sided player Mark Fiore unbalanced a side already missing the influence of midfielder Gary Micklewhite who took up a post with Queens Park Rangers a few days earlier.

Struggling Hayes clinched a first round tie at Stevenage Borough with a 69th minute strike from full back Jon Brady. A long throw into the box was only half cleared by Slough keeper Paul Wilkerson and the unmarked Brady hammered the ball home via the underside of the crossbar from the edge of the area.

There had been few signs of the Slough which could have netted a dozen against Telford United a week before. Instead the Rebels struggled to make any impression even against Hayes' rudimentary defence.

Some turbulence seems to have been left in Micklewhite's wake. The vacuum in the midfield deepened after West's injury in the 24th minute. Slough, however, had looked suspect from the time skipper Gary McGinnis handled the ball on the edge of the box with the game three minutes old. But McGinnis had sufficient momentum to carry him just the outside the area and Slough survived the free kick.

Seconds later Paul Wilkerson palmed a shot from Martin Randall over the bar and then had to stop a narrow angle shot from Jimmy Sugrue with his feet as underdogs Hayes continued their brave start.

Yet Slough managed to get on top and could have scored following Gary Blackford's quickly taken free kick. But West's intelligent chip was hacked off the line.
When West went, the Rebels' spirit seemed to follow. A spate of injuries saw Abbott go down, clutching his shoulder having apparently taken a shot in the stomach, and the much-needed Rob Smith needing treatment for symptoms of concussion.

And with West went the boot which would have struck the penalty which Cliff Hercules won in the 30th minute, felled by Jason Goodliffe as he chased for Derek Simpson's little chip into the box. McGinnis shouldered the responsibility, but a languid strike hit Meara on the thigh and the ball was scrambled away.

Owusu had the perfect opportunity to make amends a minute before the break. He brushed through between two defenders on the right and cut in with only the keeper to beat. But, where he had been unable to put a foot wrong a week earlier, Owusu this time pushed his shot wide of the target.

Hayes boss Terry Brown ordered an aerial bombardment after watching Wilkerson flap at a free kick early in the second half. Wilkerson had held up well under pressure from his own players who consistently underhit the ball. Wilkerson's often hasty clearance kicks, however, were generally sound. But unlike his counterpart Mears, on the other hand, his punching was weak and Brady made it pay.

Owusu might have earned a replay two minutes later, but missed with a lob towards an open goal. The Rebels failed to stop Hayes pressing forward for a second goal and what little they did throw at Hayes was dealt with comfortably by central defenders Nathan Bunce and Andy Cox.

The performance highlighted what McDermott has described as a 'fatal flaw' in his squad - the reluctance by some of his players to take responsibility. He said: "We had too many individuals out there - not a team." Young Smith, even though ill, stood out again in terms of efficiency and commitment for the Rebels.

McDermott had spent the previous two weeks looking for an effective left sided player. He is now seeking an answer to an urgent midfield problem. A miserable end to the week which began with glory was ensured with the news that on-loan goalkeeper Ben Miles has been recalled by Swansea City.

Hayes Line up

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