In an even opening to the match, Ashford started brightly with Slough a little sluggish. The tricky Pietro Palladino looked a threat from the off, and had the first real opening a few minutes in, but his shot was well blocked. From the resulting corner, James Warrington fumbled the ball onto his own crossbar but gathered at the second attempt.
Slough worked their way into the game and, after good work from Jerome Anderson to keep the ball in play, Steve Sinclair sidefooted powerfully over the bar from a good position.
Ashford goalkeeper Paul McCarthy then produced a superb block from Anderson soon after to keep the scores level as Steve Bateman’s side looked to commit men forward and break the deadlock.
But the Rebels fell behind with 20 minutes played in unexpected fashion. An Ashford attack down the left led to a shot from Matt Harmsworth which was turned behind comfortably by Warrington; but from the resulting corner the kick from midfielder Alex Duffy appeared to evade the Rebels number one and fly straight into his goal.
Shortly after, the Tangerines had a half chance to double their lead through Harmsworth, who lifted the ball over Warrington as the goalkeeper rushed out to meet him, but the effort lacked power and was cleared well before it reached the goalmouth.
Slough settled down and ended the half by far the stronger of the two sides. Dan Burnell headed a chance straight at McCarthy from Sinclair’s cross when Dave Woozley may have been better placed to attack it.
Two minutes before the break, McCarthy tipped an Anderson header over the bar as Slough heaped on the pressure, but Slough were deservedly level on the stroke of half time. McCarthy saved a point blank blast from Sinclair at the back post, but the hosts failed to clear and the ball came back in to Burnell, who controlled well and fired past McCarthy from a narrow angle.
Slough carried this momentum into the second half, and moved into the lead just three minutes in. A ball over the top put Anderson clear, but McCarthy saved well again, only for the ball to fall invitingly to Ollie Burgess outside the box. The midfielder volleyed through a crowd and into the bottom corner of the net to register his first Rebels goal.
In response, Ashford worked hard and Ashley Lodge fired over after going on a solo run. Palladino also fired a shot not far over the bar, whilst McCarthy denied Woozley, who flicked a header from Nathan Bowden-Haase towards goal.
But Slough held firm and in truth, did not look like conceding again despite a raft of substitutions to try and change the game. Slough were unlucky not to register again in the closing stages, being denied by a dubious offside decision as Burnell slipped Murphy in down the left.
Substitute Sean Sonner saw a late header saved by McCarthy as it looked to be heading toward the bottom corner, but Slough took all three points to stay in the title race and secure a playoff spot at least, for the third consecutive season.
Slough Town Line Up
- 1 James Warrington
- 2 Simon Sweeney
- 3 Danny Murphy
- 4 Steve Perkins
- 5 Nathan Bowden-Haase
- 6 David Woozley
- 7 Steve Sinclair
- 8 Ollie Burgess 16
- 9 Danny Burnell 12
- 10 Jerome Anderson 14
- 11 Stuart Swift
Ashford Town (Middx) Line up
P McCarthy, S Kazi (P Luckins), E Thomas, R Canderton (c), J Mullan, H Knock, M Bitmead (M Fountain), A Lodge, M Harmsworth (P Rapson), P Palladino, A Duffy. Subs not used: C Moody, S Windegaard.