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Virginia Water (H)
Fri Jul 5

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Virginia Water (H)
Fri Jul 5 19:45
The Vanarama National League South

Rebels halt Royston's run

Slough Town

Slough Town

Bowden-Haase (35), Swift (49), Smith (68)
Royston Town

Royston Town

Fehmi (66)
League Attendance: 234 Edward Smith
Slough Town, playing catch-up with a number of games in hand over other teams, continued their good progress in the league with a deserved victory over top-of-the-table Royston Town.

In doing so, the visitors' fine seven-game winning streak came to an end, but the Crows carried a threat throughout - particularly in the first half, with Slough goalkeeper James Warrington making a number of saves to keep the score level.

Nathan Bowden-Haase put Slough ahead ten minutes before the break with a powerful header from an in-swinging Stuart Swift corner, and the lead was extended four minutes into the second half with a free kick from dead-ball specialist Swift.

Substitute Kaan Fehmi pulled one back for Royston with a heavily deflected shot on 66 minutes, but Ed Smith restored the two goal lead a couple of minutes later with a fine run and finish past Will Norris.

Both sides showed attacking intent early on with chances at both ends. Dan Burnell's appeals for a penalty fell on deaf ears as he was challenged at the near post, with Jake Parsons instrumental in creating the chance and cross.

Ed Smith forced a save from Norris from a tight angle after getting the better of right-back Taylor Parr, whilst Warrington made the first of a few important stops, keeping out Carl Edwards' strike before skipper Ross Collins fired well over.

Smith again got past Parr and into the box, with Norris saving again. But top scorer Dan Burnell spurned a much clearer chance when he headed Sean Fraser's whipped cross wide from six yards.

The game settled down after a fairly frenetic start, but Ryan Lockett twice went close to opening the scoring for Royston before Bowden-Haase's 35th-minute goal. The Crows striker shot just over and soon after was denied by Warrington, with the rebound being put wide by Collins, who should have done far better. The Slough stopper also did well to keep out a deflected shot from Royston defender Joe De La Salle.

But the Rebels survived and took their lead into half time - and in an open start to the second half, Burnell again wasted a glorious chance to make it 2-0 when he fired straight at Norris after Smith had teed him up. Play switched to the other end as Royston broke away, but Warrington made another save with his legs.

However Slough did double their lead with 49 minutes played through Swift's free kick, won after Dominic Rhone was dragged down on the edge of the box. With David Deeney also standing over the ball, Swift stepped up to bend the ball in, deceiving the rooted Norris.

Slough were in control and looked to kill the game off, Burnell again heading wide after diving in bravely to meet Bowden-Haase's cross, and only excellent defending from De La Salle and Jack Bradshaw stopped the Rebels from extending their lead - the latter making a superb last-ditch tackle to stop Swift having a clear run at goal.

Royston made a double substitution in an effort to get back into the game, and soon did with Fehmi's deflected effort from outside the box to halve the deficit.

But Slough would not be denied their win, and two minutes later Smith scored the third goal, which was as much about poor Royston defending as it was about the striker's movement and skill. Smith chested the ball down on the halfway line and Deeney's touch set him clear down the right. Smith drove into the box before beating Bradshaw, who had chased back, and firing past Norris at his near post.

Royston were by no means out of the contest at this point, and an acrobatic effort was kept out by Warrington, whilst Luke Robins was unsuccessful with an attempted chip over the advancing Slough keeper.

Despite playing slick passing football, the Crows were unable to breach the Slough defence again, and the Rebels saw out the remainder of the game to emerge deserving winners - but the visitors demonstrated in spells why they have had such a strong start to the season.

Royston Town Lineup

Will Norris, Taylor Parr, Lewis Endacott (Lee Wilson), Jack Bradshaw, Joe De La Salle, Ross Collins (c), Carl Edwards (Kaan Fehmi), Sam Spencer, Ryan Lockett, Matt Standen (Tom Malins), Luke Robins. Subs not used: Ryan Ingrey, Harry Reynolds.


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