Boxing Day defences play Scrooge role

| League
Att: 1219
Slough Town
0 - 0
Hayes
Unknown
Given their record against Hayes this season and last, perhaps Slough would have been satisfied with a point from a dour encounter on a heavy pitch that would never allow pretty football.

And with the New Year's Day clash at Church Road imminent, it may be that the Rebels have the edge. having created the better chances. Hayes had to play the last 15 minutes with ten men, after Junior Haynes was sent off for clashing with Cliff Hercules.

Slough can take heart from their defensive performance, with Gary McGinnis having an outstanding game with some crucial tackles, and Garry Smart and particularly Paul Hardyman working well on the flanks.

With Terry Angus still suspended, manager Brian McDermott named an unchanged side from the previous Saturday's defeat at Yeovil, although Gary Abbott found his way back to the substitute's bench.

Mark West, still looking for his comeback goal, showed why he is keeping Abott out of the team with a typical piece of skill on 14 minutes, almost setting up a goal for Danny Bolt. West picked up a ball into the box from Hardyman, and held it up well with his back to goal before touching it off for Bolt, whose shot was well held by goalkeeper Russell Meara, diving to his left.

And minutes later West pounced on a defensive mistake to hit a cross in for Hardyman to meet with his head — his effort was blocked, as was Danny Bailey's powerful follow-up.

Garry Smart came close to opening up the scoring on 35 minutes, after good work from Bolt and Lloyd Owusu found him clear on the right of the box, but his shot sailed just over the bar.

Owusu managed to come even closer from a similar position four minutes later, again set up by West's deft touch. Owusu's shot got caught in the swirling wind and moved so much in the air it could have gone either side of the bar — in the end it was inches over.

After the rain that had soaked into the Wexham Park pitch on Christmas Day, it was hardly surprising that the first half was a little scrappy, but although Slough looked to be on top, it was the visitors who came out stronger after the break.

The impressive Martin Randall first forced a fingertip save from Paul Wilkerson, and then shot wide from a cleared cross, while Bryan Hammatt's shot flashed across the face of the goal. But when Randall looked to he through on goal after 73 minutes with a dangerous run, McGinnis brought off the finest tackle of the game to win the ball cleanly at his feet and stop him in his tracks.

The game swung again in Slough's favour when substitute Junior Haynes was sent off two minutes later - after barely seven minutes on the pitch. In the last three games between the sides, Slough have had four players red-carded, now the boot was on the other foot, as Haynes made a reckless challenge then took a swing at Hercules after the defender had remonstrated. Haynes is already on the transfer list at his own request — his behaviour at Wexham Park suggested he felt a move wasn't coming quickly enough.

Slough should have had the advantage then, but the pitch was taking its loll and Hayes seemed to feel they had weathered the storm. With six minutes to go Slough produced perhaps the best move of the game, when Wilkerson cleared to Hardyman, a long ball was flicked on by West and Owusu's drive was well saved.

Owusu was nearly in again a minute later hut Nathan Bunce out in a vital tackle, and with four minutes to go substitute Corey Browne saw his attempted curler just clear the bar. With both Abbott and Browne on the bench it was surprising that McDermott waited so late to bring on another striker. West, having started brightly faded by the second half, and was replaced six minutes from the end.

Hayes Line up

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