It has been over 13 years since the club last played at Wexham Park in Slough, with the Rebels sharing at Stag Meadow in Windsor and Holloways Park in Beaconsfield in the years since. The club’s eagerly-anticipated return to Slough was watched by over 1,400 people at the new Arbour Park Community Facility, with the last of the available tickets having sold out on Saturday.
James Dobson, a second-half substitute, guided a low right-foot shot into the bottom corner with a quarter of an hour remaining to put the Rebels into the lead for the first time in the contest, and ultimately to help his side to three more points which keeps Slough in second place in the table.
The club’s emotional homecoming looked to have got off to a shaky start though, as Hayes & Yeading took the lead with ten minutes played. The visitors had already forced Mark Scott into a fine one-handed save when Lloyd Macklin beat Guy Hollis in a footrace and got in a shot, but the keeper got a good hand to the ball.
Soon after, full-back Jimmy Shephard crossed in low and the unmarked Macklin found the back of the net from close range to become the first ever goalscorer at Arbour Park.
Slough looked for a quick response and Simon Dunn’s 16th-minute effort from 20 yards was fisted away by Louis Wells. The resulting corner fell to Warren Harris at the back post, whose shot was blocked on the line, with Mark Nisbet blazing the rebound over.
Hayes & Yeading were clearly in the mood to spoil the party, and Macklin threatened again as he looked to wriggle through, but a great tackle from Nisbet prevented him from doing so.
It didn’t take long for Slough to get back on level terms. Charlie Moone controlled the ball on the halfway line and played strike partner Lee Barney in over the top. Barney did tremendously well to stay on his feet under pressure from a defender, and lashed his shot high into the roof of the net to write his name into the club’s record books.
Moone headed wide with Slough looking to turn the game on its head, but at the other end Scott did well to tip over a strike from Melford Simpson. Then, with the visitors struggling to clear their lines, Moone chipped another effort wide of the angle of post and bar.
The game started to settle down but Barney had another great chance on 38 minutes, however his touch was too strong, taking the ball out wide from where he chipped it over the bar.
Almost immediately, the visitors went on the counter-attack and Colin Mugoya beat Hollis before forcing a save from Scott. Mugoya tried to head the rebound over the goalkeeper, but it lacked enough power and Scott recovered.
With half-time approaching, Yannis Ambroisine cleared a dangerous Lewis Putman cross behind for a corner, and shortly after, another Dunn thunderbolt from the edge of the box was turned over by Wells.
Half time brought a chance for the Rebels with Dobson replacing the injured Putman, and the left winger soon brought a save from Wells at his near post, after Scott had saved well from Tom Broadbent.
Hayes & Yeading started the second half the better side, and Scott again held a good strike from Simpson. For Slough, Moone slipped the ball through to Harris, but he skewed his shot wide.
Wells later did well to hold a deflected shot from Moone as both side traded efforts on goal, with the pace of the game dropping considerably as the heat took its toll on both sides.
The visitors’ clearest chance of the second half fell to Macklin, but he could only shoot into the side netting with the goal gaping after giant striker Simpson had nodded the ball down to him.
The game became scrappier and as the minutes ticked by, a draw looked more and more likely until Dobson’s intervention. Warren Harris picked the ball up on the right wing and played a low ball across to the edge of the box, picking out Dobson, who on his weaker right foot, sent a low shot past the outstretched arm of Wells and into the bottom corner to make Arbour Park erupt again.
Still, Hayes & Yeading refused to accept defeat and Scott had to be at his best once more to tip over a free kick from Broadbent, which looked destined for the top corner.
With the clock running down, Slough looked to slow the game down further and hold on to their slender lead, with Brad Hewitt replacing Barney in a defensive switch to try and counter the aerial threat of Simpson in particular.
The Rebels had one final scare as Broadbent lined up another free kick 25 yards out, but this time he sent the ball well over the bar and Slough saw out the remaining three minutes of stoppage time to get life at Arbour Park off to the perfect start.
Hayes & Yeading Line up
Louis Wells (c), Jimmy Shephard, Yassin Moutaouakil, Harold Joseph, Yannis Ambroisine, Tom Broadbent, Cole Brown, Colin Mugoya, Melford Simpson, Lloyd Macklin, Keir Dickson. Subs: Dylan Kearney, Mo Otuyo, Ernest Okoh, Harry Grant, Ismael Ehui.