Late Burnell winner seals playoff berth for Rebels

| League
Att: 321
Slough Town
Swift (18), Logie (72), Burnell (87)
3 - 2
Biggleswade Town
Lochhead (40), Freshwater (42)
Danny Burnell
Slough Town will again compete in the Zamaretto Central Division playoffs, after coming from behind to seal fifth place with a win over Biggleswade Town.

Manager Steve Bateman will be pleased that his side have managed to qualify with a game to spare this season - though the Rebels’ opponents for Thursday evening’s semi-final will not be known until Easter Monday’s matches are concluded, after an extraordinary turn of events which saw Arlesey Town docked nine points, with the Bedfordshire outfit now visiting Hitchin Town on Monday in what will now be a title showdown rather than a meaningless end-of-season affair.

But for Slough, it was important to concentrate on their own affairs. The visitors started the brighter of the two sides though, and Harry Hunt, the former Hitchin and Arlesey front man, went close when he connected with a low cross, but put his effort over.

Both sides found it difficult to play on the dry, bobbly playing surface – despite the 7,000 gallons of water dumped onto the pitch on Good Friday – and early play was frustratingly erratic with many shots and crosses flying well wide of their intended targets.

Sean Sonner fired wide from a tight angle in Slough’s first opening, but with 18 minutes on the clock, Slough did open the scoring after some delightful one-touch football. Steve Perkins played the ball forward to Burnell, who chested the ball down for Stuart Swift 25 yards out - and in one movement, the midfielder flicked the ball up to set himself for a fiercely-struck volley which found the bottom corner of Dean Bull’s goal.

Soon after, Dan Burnell had a half-chance to double the lead as he latched on to a Danny Murphy punt straight down the middle, but Paul Reynolds got back superbly well to tackle cleanly.

A tame effort from Steven Gentle was saved by Bullivant as the striker was played through, before a drinks break was taken due to the scorching conditions.

Looking fairly comfortable, Slough seemed set to take the lead into half-time, but two quick-fire goals from the visitors turned the game on its head.

First, after Slough failed to deal with the second ball from a throw-in, the ball was allowed to bounce and the unmarked Stuart Lochhead capitalised, volleying a low effort in past Bullivant.

Just two minutes later, James Freshwater curled an unstoppable free kick into the top corner to change both sides’ team-talk completely.

Biggleswade almost extended their lead early in the second half as another direct free kick was lifted just over the bar – and the visitors looked the more likely to score, but Slough fought back. Danny Burnell whipped a cross in from the right, and the ball was cleared from right in front of Sonner. Substitute Simon Martin followed up, but was unable to force the ball in.

Slough were not to be denied an equaliser, though, which came after a period of patient build-up play. Burnell was involved yet again, and his cross was controlled by Adam Logie on the edge of the box with his back to goal – but he turned and slammed a low effort just past Bull’s fingertips and into the bottom corner to put the Rebels back on level terms.

Knowing that a point was not enough to seal fifth place, Slough went in search of the winner and Burnell’s magic moment arrived three minutes from time.

Ben Porter looked to be going nowhere as he was in possession on the right flank with two defenders in close attention, but he showed superb skill to beat them both, putting in a low cross which master poacher Burnell swept home from six yards to notch his 27th, and maybe most important, goal of the season.

There was still time for Chris Herron to crash a long-range volley against Bull’s crossbar as Slough looked for a fourth, but Slough had done enough to earn the win on a poor Holloways Park pitch, with an away game against the landlords to finish the season on Easter Monday.

Biggleswade Town Line up

Bull, Gatti, Radcliffe, Webster, Reynolds (c), Smith, Freshwater (Barnes), Lochhead, Hunt (Folds), Gentle, Fuller. Subs not used: Kilroy, Flack, Donnelly.

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