Tuesday’s controversial match at Dunstable, which saw the end of a long unbeaten run, seemed to be fresh in the minds of the Rebels team, who in truth never seemed to get going against an AFC Hayes side who won the midfield battle and never allowed Slough time to settle and play their game. Despite a late rally from Slough, the visitors emerged as deserving winners.
Hayes enjoyed the better of the first half against a Slough side denied the services of Dave Woozley and top scorer Eddie Smith through injury, the latter feeling the effects of a heavy tackle suffered on Tuesday evening, and despite moments of wing play from Warren Harris, the visitors kept strikers Johnnie Dyer and Scott Harris quiet.
Adam Foulser shot well over the bar from 20 yards, but Hayes created the better chances, with Ben Edwards having to get back to clear in the goalmouth as Tashman Jordan burst into the box.
The danger signs were there for Slough before Hayes opened the scoring with 31 minutes played. Jordan’s deep free kick was missed completely by Jake Somerville, and full-back Jerome Eccleston headed in at the back post.
Hayes were in no mood to sit back and defend their lead, and instead Rhys Rabess was denied only by the quick reactions of Somerville to come out and smother the ball at his feet, and minutes later the same player burst through on the right, but shot well wide from a tight angle.
Slough’s injury concerns only deepened, with Scott Harris limping off and midfielder Ollie Burgess replacing him. Within minutes of his introduction, Burgess put in a pinpoint cross which Dyer should have buried, but he misdirected his header in front of goal.
The Rebels looked disjoined, and almost handed Hayes a second goal when Darren Wheeler’s attempted backpass put Lawrie Shennan through on goal, but Somerville saved well and Foulser mopped up the danger.
Hayes were certainly good value for their lead, and whilst Slough threatened early in the second period with Warren Harris shooting wide, Rabess should have extended his side’s lead, but shot wide with just Somerville to beat.
Looking ragged and unable to keep the ball for any length of time, Slough were lucky to be still in the game, but started to create chances of their own and put Hayes under pressure. Jamie McClurg volleyed over, and Wheeler curled another effort well over after Burgess had turned expertly and engineered the chance.
Somerville made another superb double save before the last roll of the dice saw Ryan Lake replace George Short, with Ben Edwards moving into midfield. Slough started to look livelier, with Dyer so close to equalising as his header rebounded back off the bar before being scrambled behind for a corner, from which the striker had another shot blocked.
With ten minutes to go, Slough’s spell of pressure paid off which an equalising goal which had looked unlikely for so long. Slough won another corner which Wheeler swung in, and the ball fell for Edwards, who fired in a half volley through a crowd of players and into the net.
At this point Slough seemed favourites to go on and find a winner, but within a minute, the hosts were caught out as a long pass forward found Shennan onside and through on goal. Looking certain to score, the striker rounded Somerville and was tripped by the keeper for a clear penalty. Somerville was able to stay on and face the kick, having been shown only a yellow card, but Shennan himself stepped up and coolly sent the keeper the wrong way to restore the lead for AFC Hayes.
Still, Slough had chances to snatch a point, and Burgess sliced horribly over the bar in front of goal, and Ben Goode, who really had little to do all game, made an important block from Warren Harris.
In the dying moments, Slough’s week went from bad to worse as McClurg was dismissed for his part in a scuffle as tempers flared following the award of a Slough free kick. Hayes were also reduced to ten men with the dismissal of Jordan, but were able to hold on and claim all three points.
AFC Hayes Line up
Ben Goode, Jerome Eccleston, Charlie Crane, James Walters (c), Joe Debayo, Lee McManus, Tashman Jordan, Paul Underwood, Lawrie Shennan, Jake Cass, Rhys Rabess. Subs: Mike Vincent, Romayne Thomas, Chas McKee, Andrew Hayward.