Slough were giving a first start to striking pair Jason Marney and David Ocquaye and this combination linked after 5 minutes before Marney was clumsily challenged about 32 yards out and Slough were awarded a free kick. Skipper Lee Riddell stepped up to fire the free kick wide.
The remaining of the opening quarter was played out in a cagey fashion with neither side using the ball well and creating any clear opportunity. The game was sparked into life on 18 minutes when a horrendous challenge from Jeffries on Abbey Nsubuga earned a straight red card from the referee who did well to control the situation and avoid an all out brawl.
However, Slough failed to make the extra man tell and a comedy of errors lead to a corner when Slough could so easily have been punished further. Ketteridge miskicked and a despairing challenge from Connor saw the ball just avoid a Paulton forward before running for a corner.
On 38 minutes a goalmouth scramble saw Paulton appeal for handball against Dean Harper but the referee ruled that it had flicked his chest and went behind for a corner. The corner was met sweetly by Cleverley and Ketteridge was forced into a fine full length save. From the resulting corner another fine shot was well saved by Ketteridge. After a brief Slough revival Paulton managed to play in Claridge down the left side and he pulled away from Harper only to fire his shot hopelessly wide. It was Slough who were hanging on against the 10 men of Paulton.
Slough’s luck was not to last. Right on the stroke of half time Lee Riddell brought down Claridge, not a cauliflower florets width away from the penalty area. Danny Boys strode forward from the left back position as if the pipes, the pipes were calling and blasted the free kick straight through the wall and into the back of the net leaving Ketteridge with no chance.
The Rebels were expecting a reaction after half time and in fairness Slough tried to get themselves going with Meddie Nsubuga teeing up John Gray who fired high and wide. On the counter attack Paulton threatened and on 55 minutes Claridge again tried to wriggle free only to be halted by a crunching challenge by Harper.
Minutes later Slough worked their best opportunity of the game when Gray was played in down the left and his cross was met by Marney who headed over. This was Gray’s last contribution as he was immediately replaced by Barrett. One eagle-eyed supporter noted he was limping and this must explain the change.
On 60 minutes Slough’s defence was torn apart by a simple diagonal pass and Ben Cleverly struck the post and Shepherd was on hand to tuck the ball home to make it two nil.
Slough tried to hit back immediately and a long throw was flicked on by Ocquaye only for Harper’s header to loop comfortably into the arms of Dyson.
On 68 minutes Slough replaced Abbey Nsubuga and Lee Rendell with Gumbs and Attrell. The immediate impact was Paulton’s as they immediately struck the bar twice in ten seconds, the second effort with the goal gaping really should have put the game beyond Slough.
Attrell did show some neat skills, and was able to test the Paulton defence on several occasions with his pace and crosses but sadly this did not amount to anything clear-cut.
However, we were not to be denied a grandstand finish when Marney on the right flank whipped in a cross which looped over Dyson to nestle in his top right hand corner. Slough fought frantically in injury time to create an equalising opportunity and with seconds remaining Slough were awarded a free kick about 40 yards out on the right flank. Even Ketteridge came forward but Paulton executed the perfect offside trap catching at least 6 Rebels offside and that was the last chance of the match.
To add to the dismal display and disappointing result Dean Harper talked himself into a red card after the final whistle for protesting the offside decision. The only positive note was that Bracknell lost heavily to Farnborough and Slough remain two points ahead of the relegation places.
Paulton Rovers Line up
1. Dave Dyson, 2. Lee Bryant, 3. Danny Boys, 4. Lee Marshall, 5. Dale Peckham, 6. Rob Cousins, 7. Ben Cleverley, 8. Josh Jefferies, 9. Rob Claridge, 10. Dan Cleverley, 11. Pete Sheppard. Subs: 12. Mark Harrington, 14. Mark James, 15. Chris Lane, 16. Dean Penory, 17. Andrew Jones