Ed Smith was also shown a straight red card in the second half, and the result brings to an end Slough's recent run of six straight victories, but leaves the Rebels with a good chance of making the playoffs with two games left to play.
With Dave Woozley unavailable for the Easter weekend, Dan Sintim came back into the team to partner Guy Hollis, who was made captain, at the back.
Slough struggled to get going early on, and should have been punished in the opening five minutes. Jamie Towers, impressive all afternoon down the right, almost opened the scoring, but his strike came back off the crossbar after he surged past Ryan Parsons. Lake-Gaskin was lurking in the six yard box, but could only head the rebound straight into Jake Somerville’s arms.
Lake-Gaskin and Towers looked a threat whenever they were on the ball, with the former often dropping deep to receive it and drive forwards. Lake-Gaskin fired one effort wide from the edge of the box after turning past his man, before Towers followed suit with a strike off target.
Slough’s first sight of goal was a good one, but Niall Cooper in the Rugby goal superbly kept out strikes from first Warren Harris, and then James Dobson on the rebound, with George Short side footing the resulting corner tamely into Cooper’s grateful arms.
Slough were forced into a reshuffle with Ryan Parsons limping off for a hamstring injury which will also keep him out of the Easter Monday game at Aylesbury at a minimum. He was replaced by his brother Jake, with Dobson moving to left-back.
Rugby were well on top, and missed plenty of opportunities to take hold of the game. Somerville rushed out to save at the feet of Lake-Gaskin after he had burst clear of Hollis, and Towers sliced horribly wide from the edge of the box with the whole goal to aim at.
The last fifteen minutes of the half belonged to the ‘Valley’, and Towers really should have scored when he ran through clear on goal from the right wing, but Somerville got a crucial touch to his shot to turn it past the post. Slough’s goal led a charmed life, with Short blocking a shot from Aaron King heroically, before Towers again went close from a Kolodynski cross, but he failed to force the ball over the line from close range, with a combination of Hollis and Somerville somehow keeping it out.
Two minutes before half time, Rugby were made to pay, but Slough’s goal came completely out of the blue and against the run of play. The visitors cleared a Slough corner all the way to halfway, where Jamie McClurg controlled it, spotted Cooper off his line, and unleashed a dipping shot from around 40 yards which sailed into the top corner, giving Slough an unlikely half time lead.
Far from being a catalyst to go on and find a second goal, Slough continued to be forced back in their own half, and Somerville was again called upon to save from Lake-Gaskin, with Hollis clearing off the line. The goalkeeper was then alert to scramble across goal moments later as a deep cross from the left looked to be dropping in.
After heading a near post corner over, Kolodynski was not to be denied on the hour mark as he provided Rugby with an equaliser which had always been on the cards. His instinctive finish from around 18 yards, his 35th goal of the season, wrong-footed Somerville as he diverted King’s pass beyond Somerville and into the net.
Five minutes later, Rugby turned the game around to leave Slough a mountain to climb. This time, Slough were caught out by a simple long kick upfield by Cooper, which Lake-Gaskin controlled skilfully on the edge of the penalty area before coolly slotting past Somerville for his 26th goal of the season.
Worse was to come for Slough, after Fraser had again headed off the line after Rugby got the better of the out-of-position Dobson on the right wing. Ed Smith, frustrated with a lack of service all afternoon, attempted to kick the ball away from Cooper as the goalkeeper had it at his feet, but the referee adjudged the challenge to have been overly aggressive and produced a red card for the striker. Video replays would suggest Smith made little to no contact with him, and Cooper’s reaction to the challenge certainly made the incident appear more serious. The resulting three match ban for Smith would see him miss the playoff final, should the Rebels qualify.
A bad day for Slough became even worse as Johnnie Dyer was forced off with injury immediately after the incident, and Rugby continued to pour forward in search of a third. Slough’s attacking options became limited to set pieces and long throws, but the ball would not fall for the Rebels, with Sintim heading well wide and Harris hooking on to the roof of the net. Valley had taken control of the midfield from an early stage, with the attacking threat of wingers Harris and Jake Parsons completely nullified.
The final chance of the game was Kolodynski’s, but his effort was saved by the legs of man of the match Somerville, as Rugby closed the game out comfortably and took a big step towards securing a playoff place in front of a season’s best crowd of 402, which included a sizeable and noisy Rugby contingent.
Rugby Town Line up
Niall Cooper, Ellis Myles, Nathan Fox, Nathan Haines, Alex Gudger, Aaron King, Jamie Towers (Michael Williams), Richard Blythe, David Kolodynski, Seb Lake-Gaskin, Jared Cuniff. Subs not used: Steve Palmer, Ben Gallant.