The tie hinged on the controversial dismissal of Guy Hollis just after the Rebels had scored their second goal, with the away side seemingly in control and heading for a meeting with Hungerford Town in the final.
Both the Rebels and the runaway National League South leaders fielded strong teams in this tie, neither having played a first-team match in ten days and both eager to claim bragging rights. And the Rebels started confidently before Chris Flood opened the scoring with his first Rebels goal with a quarter of an hour played.
James Dobson came inside and played a low ball into the box which Maidenhead failed to clear, and Flood pounced, turning smartly and firing the ball out of Carl Pentney’s net with an accurate first-time finish.
Dobson then went close as he forced Pentney into a save from a free kick, with former Magpie favourite Mark Nisbet heading the resulting corner at the goalkeeper.
Slough’s lead was doubled on 29 minutes as Gavin James – another former Maidenhead player – got up before Pentney to head the ball into an open net as Lee Togwell flighted it in, much to the delight of the sizable travelling Rebels contingent behind the goal.
However, the Rebels’ hopes of making the final diminished significantly within minutes with the dismissal of Guy Hollis after he robustly went in for a tackle on Rene Steer. The decision divided opinion and came shortly after Maidenhead full-back Ryan Peters appeared fortunate to escape a second booking, but the referee deemed the challenge to be out of control and Slough were suddenly under pressure.
James was sacrificed in order to bring on Dan Hicks at centre-back, and within four minutes Maidenhead had taken advantage. Magpies danger man Dave Tarpey was alert to pinch the ball away from Hicks after it was played forward from the back, before racing clear and finishing past Mark Scott from just inside the box.
To their credit, Slough went close to restoring their two goal cushion, but Nathan Webb was just unable to poke the ball into the net before Pentney rushed out to block following a high ball forward.
Maidenhead kept the pressure up as the first half neared its end, with Sam Barratt fizzing a shot just over the bar from distance and firing a free kick straight at Scott.
Peters was replaced at half time as Maidenhead reshuffled, but Slough continued to hold firm early in the second period whilst also mounting the occasional attack – Simon Dunn shooting wide from 25 yards and Flood hitting a half volley from distance.
Pressure started to build from the hosts without result – the Magpies won a number of corners and put a shot wide from a tight angle on a break.
But the introduction of Jordan Cox in place of Harry Pritchard quickly paid off, with the substitute bringing the scores level on 69 minutes. A long throw from Barratt was inadvertently nodded on by a Slough defender and Cox was able to skilfully hook a volley in off the underside of the crossbar to provide relief to the home side and break Slough’s stubborn resistance.
The Rebels were unable to hold out much longer, as Maidenhead completed the comeback on 72 minutes. The ball was played into the right channel for Barratt to run on to, and his precise cross was met in the six yard box by the head of Sean Marks, who powered it past the helpless Scott.
Slough made changes in an attempt to get back into it, with Lewis Putman and Charlie Moone emerging from the bench, and put in a spirited final ten minutes as they dominated the play. Putman drilled a free kick into the wall with three minutes remaining and won a number of late corner kicks, which was the signal for Scott to join the attack.
Maidenhead thought they had killed the game off with a fourth when Cox bundled a cross from Tarpey over the line with Scott stranded upfield, but it was ruled out for offside.
However, as Slough launched one final attack, Scott again made his way up the pitch and when Maidenhead cleared the danger, was powerless to stop substitute James Mulley from running towards the empty net and finishing from distance to end all hopes of an equaliser.
Maidenhead United Line up
Carl Pentney, Ryan Peters, Rene Steer, Kieron Forbes, Ryan Upward, Dean Inman, Dave Tarpey, Sam Barratt, Sean Marks (c), James Hammond, Harry Pritchard. Subs: Jordan Cox, James Mulley, Max Kilman, Isaac Olorunfemi, Remy Clerima.