When the draws for the FA competitions were made in the summer, there seemed an inevitability that the Rebels would meet the ‘Gs’ at some point in the season, with the management team and the majority of the squad having made the switch from Wey Court to Holloways Park following Steve Bateman’s departure. Slough lined up with seven players who featured prominently for Godalming last season, with a further four on the bench.
The early pressure was from Slough, with McClurg firing well wide from distance, and Wheeler seeing a number of whipped set pieces dealt with well. With around 20 minutes played, Slough’s best opening was created by Scott Harris, who slipped a pass through for his brother Warren, but he could only shoot at Zaki Oualah.
Godalming threatened rarely, and their first shot at goal was sliced well wide from distance.
Slough looked the more likely to score, but Scott Harris narrowly failed to get his toe on to Michael Blount’s header into the six yard box, before Smith volleyed an ambitious effort over the bar from outside the box after skilfully knocking the ball over a defender’s head.
As the first half drew to a close, both sides had their chances, with the hosts growing in stature. Jake Somerville had to make his first good save to tip over a fierce strike from former Woking youth prospect Jack Mazzone, and later easily dealt with a long-range strike from Dan Read - whilst Smith had a strike fisted away by Oualah, before cutting the ball back into the middle, only for Warren Harris to put his shot too close to the keeper.
Slough dominated the early stages of the second period, and deservedly took the lead five minutes in after superb play from Smith. The top scorer went on a run down the left before bringing the ball inside the box and cutting back for Scott Harris, who had the simple task of side footing past Oualah for his first competitive goal for the club.
The Rebels created further chances and could have doubled their lead when Wheeler got free of the last defender, but his shot from a tight angle was saved by the legs of Oualah with players waiting in the box. From the resulting corner, Blount had a powerful header tipped over by the keeper, and from the next, Burgess put a header straight at the keeper.
Slough continued to create, but were frustrated, as first Scott Harris shot over after controlling Sean Fraser’s cross, and then Smith put a difficult chance straight at Oualah from another Fraser cross.
George Short made a welcome return in place of Scott Harris after suffering an elbow injury against Beaconsfield in late August, and minutes later, Slough extended their lead. This time, Smith made no mistake after creating the chance himself, bursting through the Godalming defence and coolly beating Oualah. In the build-up, Guy Hollis had been instrumental in snuffing out a chance for the hosts and then calmly bringing the ball out of defence.
But with seven minutes left, Godalming pulled a goal back in highly fortuitous circumstances, giving the possibility of a nervy finish. A deep cross from the right appeared to pose little threat, but Fraser got his attempted clearance wrong, instead putting the ball beyond the despairing dive of Somerville.
In the closing stages, Slough looked the more likely to score again and wrap the game up, but Smith wasted two good chances, including a one-on-one with Oualah – but in the end, Godalming could not make Slough pay for their profligacy and the Rebels will go on to host either Yate Town or Merthyr Town in the next round.
Godalming Town Line up
Zaki Oualah, Jack Broome (c), Nick Hutchings, Victor Kiri, Gavin Miller, Chris Musgrove, Tarome Hemmings, Sam De St Croix, Jack Mazzone, Dan Read, Adam Everiss. Subs: Mark Watkins, Jack MacFarlane, Dan Seabrook, Jon Palmer, Justin Courtnage.