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Eastleigh (H)
Tue Jul 9
19:45

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Eastleigh (H)
Tue Jul 9 19:45
The Vanarama National League South
17th
0pts

Emphatic win for Rebels over Rugby

| League
Att: 275
Slough Town
Sonner (3), Preston (o.g. 44), Bowden-Haase (70), Abbey (72)
4 - 0
Rugby Town
Steve Perkins
Manager Steve Bateman shuffled his pack after the disappointing FA Cup exit in midweek, and was rewarded with an emphatic win over a Rugby Town side suffering a poor run of form.

Slough move up to third in the league table as a result, just one point behind leaders Bedworth United, after this match, which had been re-arranged due to both clubs having a free weekend as a result of early FA Trophy exits.

Sean Sonner had already gone close before he got the ball rolling with just three minutes played, turning in a header down from Alex Brown from a corner - though the Rebels striker may have known little about it as the ball rolled into the net.

Brown, returning to the team in a three-man defensive unit with Nathan Bowden-Haase and skipper Dave Woozley, slotted back in seamlessly, and was on hand to clear the danger as Richard Wesley managed to get around Warrington and cross the ball into the middle.

Hesitation between Brown and Warrington soon after almost let Rugby in, but Luke Keen’s effort hit the outside of the post in perhaps the visitors’ best spell of the game.

Slough themselves also hit the frame of the goal in the first half. Ben Abbey, displacing top scorer Dan Burnell in the starting eleven, headed Sinclair’s perfect cross towards the top corner, and was unlucky to see the ball bounce off the outside of the post and behind.

Slough continued to pose the greater threat in the first half, and the change in formation and personnel appeared to be the telling factor, with the experience of Steve Perkins in a holding midfield role allowing full-backs Murphy and Sinclair the freedom to overlap and cause Rugby problems which they were not troubled with at Butlin Road the previous month.

Another experienced head, Ben Abbey, put in a teasing cross which neither Sonner nor Murphy could get a touch to in the middle. The visitors were restricted well, but a combination of Warrington and Bowden-Haase kept out a fierce shot from Wesley.

When Slough’s second goal came, there was a large slice of luck about it. On the stroke of half-time, Valley skipper Nick Preston sliced a cross from Paul Coyne into his own net after the September player of the month had been set free on the right hand side.

Rugby - without a win in their last six games since beating Slough 2-0 on 10 September - were clearly deflated by this, and Slough piled on the pressure in the second half. And unlike so many games this season, the Rebels managed to kill their opponents off with further goals.

Sonner saw a header brilliantly blocked by Louis Connor from another Sinclair cross – the winger back to his best following two frustrating games against Hanworth Villa.

Slough should have extended their lead when Ben Abbey missed at the far post after Coyne had done brilliantly to win the ball in midfield, the striker choosing to shoot with his right when he was better placed on his left.

Well marshalled by the imposing Rebels defence, Rugby offered little, save a long-range effort from Tyrone Fagan, whilst Slough went on the rampage time and time again. Bowden-Haase had a powerful header blocked in the goalmouth, before Connor made a fantastic save to turn an exquisite shot from Coyne around the post.

From the resulting corner, Bowden-Haase headed the ball wide when it looked easier to score – but the big defender did not have long to wait for his first goal of the season. He stayed forward from a previous attack, and Murphy swung over a deep cross which Bowden-Haase nodded in with ease at the back post, his tenth for the club.

Two minutes later and Slough notched a fourth, as a poor attempted pass from Harry Harris was intercepted by the excellent Perkins. He slipped a simple ball through to Abbey, who made the finish into the bottom corner look easy.

Late changes for Slough freshened things up further, and the Rebels should have added a fifth when Chris Herron’s cross clipped the face of the bar and fell for Charlie Mpi, whose shot was blocked on the line, with Abbey unable to follow up. But Slough had done enough to put the disappointment of Tuesday evening behind them and maintain the pressure on the leaders.

Rugby Town Line up

Louis Connor, Garry Moran, Luke Leamy, Nick Preston (c), Melvin Gourlay, Robbie Banks, Ben Steane, Harry Harris, Tyrone Fagan, Luke Keen, Richard Wesley. Subs: Jemel Wilson, Adam Cayless, Michael Williams, Lynval Da Costa.

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