Slough hold on for win over Ashford

Slough Town

Slough Town

Burnell (10), Bowden-Haase (34), Perkins (56), Herron (80)
Ashford Town (Middx)

Ashford Town (Middx)

Thomas (47), Lodge (82), Bitmead (87)
League Attendance: 271 Steve Perkins
Slough Town again moved to the top of the league after victory over Middlesex visitors Ashford Town.

The victory, coming despite a late Ashford comeback, was all the more impressive as manager Steve Bateman had a number of his squad missing, with Sean Sonner, Paul Coyne and Adam Martin suspended, Danny Murphy and Simon Sweeney still nursing ankle and Achilles injuries respectively, and Stuart Swift unavailable. Rob Kean, now involved with coaching at Crawley Green, was called upon to take a place on the bench and increase Bateman’s options, and recent signing Ollie Burgess was handed his first start.

Dan Burnell gave the hosts a tenth-minute lead with a well-struck goal. Steve Perkins, in a holding midfield role, strode forward and played the ball to Steve Sinclair, whose cross found Burnell in a good position.

Dan Brown forced James Warrington into a simple save and Harry Knock blasted over from 30 yards, but chances were at a premium in the first half, with the pitch making it difficult to play neat football. Burnell had a half-chance, but couldn’t make full contact on Ben Abbey's knock down.

Nathan Bowden-Haase doubled the lead from a corner on 34 minutes. Chris Herron’s corner was not dealt with at all by the Tangerines, and the defender stuck out a leg to divert the ball into the back of the net.

Despite the two goal deficit, Ashford were still trying to play some good football, but without much end product as Slough defended well. Burgess and Perkins in particular looked impressive throughout for the much-changed hosts.

But two minutes into the second half, Ed Thomas pulled one back for Ashford with a shot that slipped past Warrington.

Slough hearts were in mouths minutes later as Pietro Palladino went down in the box, but the referee elected to show him the yellow card for simulation.

After this scare, Slough picked up where they left off in the first half, and the excellent Steve Perkins scored a goal of the season contender to restore his side’s two-goal cushion with 56 minutes on the clock. Ashford lost possession in midfield, and Perkins beat his man and strode forward, getting the ball on to his right foot and lashing a shot into the top corner from well outside the box, giving goalkeeper Paul McCarthy, who was sent off in the respective fixture last season, no chance.

Burgess had an effort from outside the box saved as Slough looked to kill the game off, but McCarthy saved easily. Ashford themselves were by no means out of the contest, and Adam Logie had to put a dangerous-looking cross behind, before Shane Graham fired over after a goalmouth scramble.

But Chris Herron looked to have made the game safe with another powerful finish ten minutes from time. Ollie Burgess cleverly played a quick free kick in to the wide player, and Herron blasted the ball beyond the advancing McCarthy to make it 4-1 – a score which did not accurately reflect the contribution of the visitors.

Indeed, Ashford rallied and, after the visitors missed a glorious chance from an albeit difficult angle with Warrington in no man’s land, Slough conceded a soft goal, Ashley Lodge with the finish past Warrington, coming soon after the stopper had beaten out an effort from Graham.

Harry Knock fired another screamer just wide with Slough looking a little tired and lacking in concentration.

With just three minutes remaining, Ashford netted again, with the comeback looking a distinct possibility. Substitute Mark Bitmead got the better of Alex Brown on the left side, and his fiercely-struck effort flashed past Warrington, who seemed surprised to see the strike come in towards his near post.

Slough, though, managed to hold their nerve and see out the remaining few minutes for another crucial three points.

Ashford Town (Middx) Lineup

Paul McCarthy, Harry Knock, Takahiro Kirhara, Russell Canderton (c), Jim Mann, Jack Mullan, Shane Graham, Ashley Lodge, Dan Brown, Pietro Palladino, Ed Thomas. Subs: Shaad Kazi, Mark Bitmead, Rinor Sopjani, Josh Andrew, Steve Windegaard.


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