The Rebels tasted defeat for the first time at their new home and for only the second time all season, but the result was harsh on Slough, who at least matched their National League South opponents for most of the game and were the better side for large spells.
After losing Gavin James to injury in the opening minutes - Charlie Moone his replacement - Slough took the lead with just under five minutes played. James Dobson won a free kick on the left touchline and whipped in a superb free kick which Darts skipper Elliot Bradbrook got his right foot to, only to turn the ball into his own net.
Dartford’s response was almost immediate with Danny Harris producing a good save from the legs of Mark Scott.
The visitors improved as the first half wore on, but Slough looked the better side and won the midfield battle despite giving the ball away a little too often.
Dartford found it tough to create openings. Alex Brown worked the ball onto his right foot but struck it well wide from outside the box, and a minute later, the visitors pressured Slough into a mistake, which led to Harris running into space but blazing well over the bar.
Paul Stonehouse fizzed a shot just past the post as Ronnie Vint’s loose clearance fell his way, and on the stroke of half time Warren Harris’ volley from the edge of the box rippled the roof of the net.
Slough came so close to doubling their lead early in the second half when Dobson sliced a fierce shot just wide of the post from Harris’ low cross.
And within two minutes, Dartford made the Rebels pay for that miss. Elliott Bradbrook’s far post header from a Hayes corner left Scott rooted to the spot, and the Darts dangerman celebrated his 100th goal for the club.
This was a huge boost to the visitors, who then could have taken the lead in the 53rd minute, but Andy Pugh headed just wide after a strong 60-yard run from Luke Wanadio to take the ball up the pitch. Wanadio volleyed over from around 15 yards shortly after as Dartford stepped up the pressure.
But Slough found themselves with an opportunity to regain the lead through a penalty needlessly conceded by Darts’ Gibraltarian goalkeeper Deren Ibrahim, who pushed Moone to the ground. Dobson stepped up and tucked his spot kick into the corner, just past the keeper’s reach for his seventh goal of the season.
Hayes was inches away from levelling again when he curled a 25-yard shot just past the post with Scott well beaten, but the game entered the final quarter of an hour with Slough still ahead, and the visitors made an attacking switch with Duane Ofori-Acheampong introduced in place of defender Vint.
Ofori-Acheampong was left frustrated ten minutes after his introduction when he thrashed the ball into the net, only to see his effort ruled out for offside.
The turning point of the game came when Dartford were awarded a penalty seven minutes from time. Slough had felt that Moone had been fouled at the other end of the pitch, but instead the Slough man was cautioned. Dartford got the ball forward and Sean Fraser was adjudged to have tripped Pugh. Bradbrook converted the spot-kick, but only just – Scott got a good hand to the ball to turn it onto the underside of the bar, but the ball crossed the line before the keeper could claw it away.
A tense finale was inevitable, but it looked like Slough would take their National League South opponents to a replay – which would have been the least the Rebels deserved on the balance of play – until the Darts struck in the final minute.
Pugh had sent a warning shot dipping just over the bar in the 89th minute, but made no mistake a minute later. Lee Noble’s perfectly-weighted pass put Pugh in the clear, and the striker touched the ball past Nisbet before slotting it into the bottom corner to break Slough’s hearts.
Dan Hicks was thrown on and into attack as Slough desperately sought an equaliser, but Pugh almost scored a fourth for Dartford as he dragged a shot wide after being teed up by Hayes.
Slough Town Line Up
- 1 Mark Scott
- 2 Sean Fraser
- 3 Paul Stonehouse 14
- 4 Guy Hollis
- 5 Mark Nisbet
- 6 Lee Togwell
- 7 James Dobson
- 8 Simon Dunn
- 9 Gavin James 18
- 10 Nathan Webb 19
- 11 Warren Harris
Dartford Line up
Deren Ibrahim, Tom Gardiner, Keaton Wood, Tom Bonner, Ronnie Vint, Alex Brown, Ryan Hayes, Elliot Bradbrook (c), Danny Harris, Andy Pugh, Luke Wanadio. Subs: Duane Ofori-Acheampong, Lee Noble, Ellis Brown, Tony Coxall, Temi Eweka, Henry Fulton.