It was an incredible end to a contest in which Merthyr goalkeeper Oliver Davies saved two second-half penalties – one from Ben Harris and the second from Lench – but he could not prevent the Slough midfielder slotting home the rebound to win the match.
It was an emotional day for the Rebels, with tributes paid to ‘Super Kev’ McGoldrick before and during the match.
After an impeccably-observed minute’s silence, Slough started on the front foot and took just six minutes to score the opening goal. Lench showed superb composure to control a dropping ball on his shoulder before thrashing a volley past Davies at his near post.
The Rebels then missed a glut of chances to extend their lead. Davies spilt a shot from Ben Harris and recovered well to block Manny Williams’ follow-up. Just a minute later, Chris Flood should have done better than hit a post after Williams had seen his shot blocked.
Then, Harris squandered an even clearer chance as he put the ball wide at the far post following a long throw.
The home side were also unfortunate not to have been awarded a penalty after a Merthyr defender appeared to punch clear a cross as Slough kept the pressure up.
But Slough reached the half hour point with just the single goal to show for their dominance, and Merthyr made them pay with an equaliser out of nothing. The visitors’ first corner of the match should have been dealt with comfortably, but instead a near post flick from Corey Jenkins was diverted into his own goal by Alan Inns to level the scores.
And Jack Turner needed to be alert to stop the visitors scoring a second minutes later, clawing away Ian Traylor’s deflected strike after a forward pass had played him in on goal.
Slough started the second half on the front foot, and again Ben Harris had a great chance to hit the back of the net, but Davies denied him after doing superbly to bring the ball into the box.
But Merthyr stunned Slough again on 54 minutes Traylor capitalised on a lucky deflection – Inns’ header hitting a Merthyr player – taking the ball into the box and beating Turner with a low shot which went in off the far post to put the Welsh side ahead.
Minutes later, the game looked to be swinging back in Slough’s favour with the award of a penalty as Ban Harris was adjudged to have been bundled over in the box. Harris got up to take the kick, but his effort was saved by Davies with Harris unable to force the rebound in.
Almost immediately, Slough made a double change, with James Dobson and Warren Harris introduced in place of Nathan Webb and Manny Williams to give the side more width. And within four minutes, this decision had paid dividends.
It was apt that Slough supporters were just rounding off a minute’s applause and chanting for ‘Super Kev’ when Ben Harris worked the ball out to the left, and Dobson drilled a low effort beyond Davies and into the net to rejuvenate his side and bring the scores level again.
Slough still had 27 minutes to win the game at this point, but time ticked by with Merthyr defending well and restricting the home side. Dobson charged towards goal and worked the ball onto his right foot but was frustrated as his effort rolled wide.
Merthyr caused a major scare as a low ball across goal from Lee Price evaded the onrushing strikers, but Slough went closer still with Wadkins diverting Lee Togwell’s shot into the net, but from an offside position.
And just as the game looked destined to end all square, Davies dropped a high ball under pressure from Brad Wadkins and was then adjudged to have impeded the striker, leading referee Phillip Stayings to award Slough another spot kick.
Image: Gary House
Merthyr Town Line up
Oliver Davies, Miles John (Liam Martin), Adam Davies, Ashley Evans (c), Scott Tancock, Connor Hanford, Jaye Bowen (Lee Price), Harry Franklin, Corey Jenkins, Harrison Lewis (Ryan Prosser), Ian Traylor. Unused substitutes: Cameron Clarke, Gavin Williams.