Following two comprehensive defeats in the Berks & Bucks Cup and the first league fixture a few weeks ago, won 5-1 and 6-3 by Didcot respectively, manager Darron Wilkinson was mindful of the fact that the hosts were scoring freely and re-arranged his defence accordingly, dropping Dean Harper to the bench in favour of Adrian Browne. Dave Barratt recovered from a groin injury suffered at Oxford last Saturday, playing a supporting role to lone striker Chima Eberendu.
Slough have come unstuck as a result of conceding early goals this season, and Didcot had the first chance after 3 minutes as Andrew Williams got his head to a cross, but sent the ball looping over the bar.
The Rebels started fairly brightly, Woodruffe forcing a corner from which Dave Barratt saw a shot blocked. However, once again Slough were caught napping at the back, and conceded the opener on 13 minutes. Patient build-up play from the hosts resulted in the ball being headed across goal by Michael Bartley, and finished off by Jack King with the goal gaping. Nick Roddis went into the referee’s book for his protestations.
Slough tried to come back into the game, with Eberendu wide from a corner. However Didcot were causing the Rebels problems at the other end, with Bartley cutting in from the right and firing straight at Barnard. Soon after, Richard Witt fizzed the ball low across goal where Bartley again fired goalwards only to see Barnard beat the ball away with his knees.
Darron Wilkinson was forced off by an ankle injury on 26 minutes, to be replaced by Christian Metcalfe.
The chances kept arriving for the hosts, with Jack King hitting the top of the bar with a curling drive. Minutes later, Daly was turned by Bartley, with the striker running into the box and cutting back for King. The ball got past two Slough players far too easily and the midfielder’s shot hit the outside of the post. Slough went on the counter-attack as Barratt flicked on a long ball for Riddell to latch onto behind the defence, but he could not keep his shot down and blazed well over.
Just before half time, Riddell saw a free kick blocked, with Metcalfe forcing Watkins into a save low to his right from the rebound.
Didcot came strongly out of the blocks in the second half and continued to threaten the Slough goal. King broke through the middle but could not get enough on a shot to trouble Barnard who collected comfortably. Soon after, Bartley fired just wide again, and a far post header went just wide from Williams as the Rebels goal began to lead a charmed life.
A second goal was on the cards, and came after 55 minutes. Adrian Browne was cautioned for holding back Bartley when clean through on goal, and appeared to be more than a little lucky to stay on the pitch. From the resulting free kick, former Rebel Matt Bicknell doubled the home side’s lead with a low drive. In the aftermath, Woodruffe, Murphy and Barratt were all shown yellow cards as a number of Slough players protested at the referee’s decision to allow the free kick to be taken quickly.
Slough almost grabbed a fortuitous goal on 61 minutes as a corner went all the way through the penalty area and was cleared off the line.
Lee Charles replaced Nick Roddis in an attempt to get back into the game, but not before Didcot carved through the away defence again with a through ball. The ball was lofted up to the back post, but Vine could not get enough direction on his header and the ball went wide.
The second half was a largely comfortable one for the hosts, who threatened further following a poor kick by Richard Barnard by the corner flag. The ball fell to Paul Powell, who delivered an early strike from just outside the centre circle which saw Barnard scrambling, but ultimately make a comfortable save.
The game petered out with Richard Pierson, another ex-Slough player, dragging a shot wide, as Slough once again failed to get on the scoresheet and overturn a deficit. The Rebels must now pick themselves up for a vital game against Hillingdon Borough.
Didcot Town Line up
1. Michael Watkins, 2. Jamie Heapy (c), 3. Matthew Bicknell, 4. Scott Davis, 5. Andrew Williams, 6. Andrew Parrott, 7. Richard Witt, 8. Jack King, 9. Michael Bartley (12. Matthew Jack 69'), 10. Ashley Vine (14. Liam Hope 82'), 11. Paul Powell (15. Richard Pierson 82'). Sub not used: 17. Lee Farrow.