After winning promotion in dramatic fashion at King’s Lynn just under three months ago, this was the Rebels’ first taste of Step 2 football since relegation from the old Isthmian League Premier Division in 2001, three years before non-league restructuring led to the introduction of the National League North and South divisions.
And on this evidence, Slough will have what it takes to compete in their new league.
The Rebels ended up with a point but will feel unfortunate not to have taken all three after Chris Flood and Sam Togwell both hit the woodwork in the second half against Gary McCann’s new-look Hampton team – many of which battled Slough to two 1-1 FA Trophy draws last season.
James Dobson fired a very early free kick over bar and then three minutes in, the Beavers took the lead. Recent signing Craig Dundas found himself on the Arbour Park turf but still managed to play Joseph in on goal, and the winger smashed the ball inside Jack Turner’s near post.
Dundas later saw a header cleared off the line by Lee Togwell, before Joseph forced Turner into a fine save with a dipping volley from distance.
Slough had a lot of the ball in good areas but struggled to break the visitors down until George Wells swung in a deep cross from the left which Warren Harris connected with, heading down to give goalkeeper Tom Lovelock no chance.
Hampton started the second period with more purpose after being forced deep in the first half, but Slough quickly re-established their grip on the match.
Warren Harris saw a header cleared in the goalmouth before strike partner Flood almost produced a goal of the season contender after weaving his way past several defenders – but his stabbed effort rebounded back off the inside of the post and across goal with no other amber-shirted player able to tuck it away.
Dundas got up to head a cross wide, but Slough continued to look the more likely, and Flood hit the crossbar albeit from an offside position after a through pass from substitute Perry Coles.
Lovelock needed to save at full stretch from Scott Davies’ free kick, whilst Flood also headed off target.
Then in stoppage time, Sam Togwell rose highest to head the ball off the top of the crossbar as the Rebels were denied an opening day win.
Hampton & Richmond Line up
Tom Lovelock, Oliver Sprague, Josh Mcleod-Urquhart, Ricky Wellard, Rian Bray, Dan Bowry, Zak Joseph (Taurean Roberts), Casey Maclaren, Craig Dundas, Chris Dickson, Rhys Murrell-Williamson (Danny Uchechi). Unused substitutes: Charlie Burns, Michael Corcoran, Jake Eggleton.