Wearing the green change strip, just as at Margate in the previous round, the Rebels looked to get off to a bright start following the goalless draw at Holloways Park in the original tie on Sunday. An early corner provided the Gosport defence some worry, but as Nathan Bowden Haase’s header came crashing back off the crossbar, the referee’s whistle brought a halt to play due to a foul by the big defender.
Sammy Igoe fired over for Gosport, and James Brown sent a header from Igoe’s cross towards goal, but into James Warrington’s arms. For Slough, Dan Burnell fired one effort well wide and David Deeney sliced a shot well wide from 25 yards.
The build-up play from the hosts was neat, but without end product until the 30th minute. A free kick was awarded around 40 yards from goal following a foul on Dan Woodward, which was swung in to a dangerous area. Brown, beating Warrington to the ball, powered a header through the goalkeeper’s hands and just inside the post to put Gosport ahead and signal cheers from most of the 635 present in the ground. Slough, however, were unhappy with Brown’s challenge on Warrington, claiming the goalkeeper was fouled as he got hands to the ball.
Gosport nearly doubled their lead a matter of minutes later, as Dan Wooden headed Igoe’s cross wide, but Alex Brown spurned a great chance to level the scores as his downward header from a corner bounced up off the sand and mud in the goalmouth and over the bar.
Another source of frustration for Slough was a number of the referee’s decisions, as Gosport won free kicks for innocuous-looking challenges, allowing the hosts to play high balls in to the box – though Warrington dealt with most comfortably.
After a tight first half in which the hosts got their noses just in front, Slough started to come to life, sensing their long run in the competition was coming to an end.
Steve Bateman had urged his side to put pressure on the Gosport defence, which was holding firm. It seemed as if set-pieces would prove critical for Slough’s ambitions of finding an equaliser, and so it proved on 57 minutes. Ollie Burgess swung in a corner, which fell invitingly to the feet of Dominic Rhone. The left full-back steadied himself and swung his left foot at the ball, sending it in to the goal off the underside of the bar to give the Rebels faithful real belief.
Just minutes later, Rhone teed up Burnell from Smith’s cross, but the striker’s fierce effort was fisted away by Nathan Ashmore. Rhone then put in another dangerous ball which needed to be dealt with by Brett Poate before Burnell could pounce.
Justin Bennett’s yellow card for simulation, as he fell to the turf very easily looking to win a penalty, was perhaps a sign of Gosport’s increasing desperation and, on 72 minutes, Burnell turned the game on its head with a goal to put Slough into the lead. The Rebels top-scorer ran on to Ed Smith’s flick-on, held off Lee Molyneaux and fired past Ashmore to put Slough in touching distance of a trip to Mansfield.
In the closing stages Gosport applied most of the pressure but were still vulnerable to the counter-attack. After Brett Poate had dragged a long-range shot well wide, Ashmore had to be at his best to tip over a goalbound shot from Smith after excellent hold-up play by Burnell. Slough also survived a big penalty appeal from Gosport after Alex Brown appeared to handle a strike at goal.
Later on, Smith was denied by Ashmore again after Burnell had cleverly spotted him in space – the striker was perhaps surprised to be onside, and could not find a way past the goalkeeper.
This was a golden chance to seal the victory, and in the final minute, Danny Smith caught a half-volley sweetly 30 yards out, but his strike crashed against the crossbar and over to safety, much to the relief of very nervous Slough supporters behind the opposite goal.
In the final moments Gosport won a free kick down by the corner flag and packed the penalty area, including goalkeeper Ashmore, but Slough saw out the five minutes additional time signalled by the fourth official, and secured the club’s passage to the First Round for the first time since 2004 - in the process denying Gosport a first ever appearance in the competition ‘proper’ and gaining revenge for a heavy defeat in the FA Trophy.
Picture: Paul Paxford (www.pitchsidephoto.co.uk/)
Slough Town Line Up
- 1 James Warrington
- 2 Sean Fraser
- 3 Dominic Rhone 18
- 4 Alex Brown
- 5 Nathan Bowden-Haase
- 6 David Woozley
- 7 Ollie Burgess 16
- 8 David Deeney
- 9 Danny Burnell
- 10 Edward Smith
- 11 Stuart Swift 15
Gosport Borough Line up
Nathan Ashmore, Dan Woodward, Ellis Martin, Brett Poate (c), Lee Molyneaux, James Brown, Sammy Igoe, Danny Smith, Dan Wooden, Justin Bennett, Steffan Gaisie (Dean Stow). Subs not used: Aaron Cook, Adam Wilde, Bradley Norton, Luke King, Stephen May, James Ford.