After meeting each other not so long ago in a National League South match neither team will forget in a while, with Slough winning 4-2 away from home after going down to ten men after just ten minutes, both teams knew this would be a tough match. In the end it took three excellent goals to decide it, with one of those being a goal of the year candidate.
Just six minutes into the match Ben Harris got the ball in his own half, looked up and saw Eastbourne keeper Mark Smith well off his line and tried an audacious shot. With Smith’s vision somewhat impaired by the sun, the ball flew over his head and into the back of the net. The crowd stood silent for a second before the Slough fans erupted with joy and amazement.
Once the celebrations stopped the game got back under way as Eastbourne looked to get themselves back into it. Indeed, the hosts got the first chance from the restart as Jack Turner spilled the ball from a corner but managed to gather with Harry Ransom and Alfie Rutherford not quite able to get their toes on it first.
Slough nearly scored a second before the quarter of an hour mark as Matt Stevens was played through from a headed flick-on. Bearing down on goal, it looked like the on-loan striker would score, but a questionable offside flag denied him.
A few minutes later Eastbourne were awarded a free kick in a promising position after Mark Nisbet pushed Rutherford. Dean Cox took the free kick but it was deflected and Turner was able to gather.
On 30 minutes Eastbourne had one of their best chances of the half as Rutherford played in his captain, Sergio Torres, who was one-on-one with an onrushing Turner but couldn’t squeeze his shot past the keeper and Slough were able to clear their lines. Eastbourne won the ball back but Kristian Campbell was impatient and shot from long range high and wide.
Just minutes later Eastbourne had another great chance as Lee Togwell under-hit a back pass and Rutherford ran onto it, but had to hit it first time because of the defensive pressure on him and his shot went wide of the post.
The last chance of the half came to Ryan Hall who did well to flick the ball over a defender but couldn’t control his volleyed attempt which went over the bar.
Just three minutes into the second half Slough had an early chance as a long throw from Guy Hollis was poorly cleared with the ball falling to James Dobson, who hit a low shot towards the bottom corner which didn’t have enough power as Smith got down well to save.
At the other end of the pitch Charlie Walker put in a tempting low cross but no Eastbourne player could catch up to tap it home as the ball scuttled along the six-yard box with Lee Togwell eventually putting it out for a corner.
Ben Harris was replaced by Chris Flood on 56 minutes to a huge ovation, and a minute later the Rebels broke and were awarded a throw in deep in the opposition half. Jackman found Dobson, who brilliantly flicked the ball past his defender, creating himself some room and from a good 25 yards out hit a driven shot low across goal into the bottom corner. On any other day it would have been the goal of the match, but it mattered not as Slough had doubled their lead.
Substitute Lloyd Dawes nearly made an immediate impact for Eastbourne as he got his head to a corner, but his effort was straight at Turner.
With twenty minutes remaining, the hosts pulled a goal back after a great bit of build-up play. With one touch passing starting from inside their own half - going down the right wing before cutting inside - Kane Wills played in Rutherford who didn’t get a great connection on his shot, but it was enough to beat Turner in the Slough goal.
Eastbourne were now on the hunt for an equaliser and they quickly had a good chance to get it, but Nisbet was on hand to stop Cox getting a shot on goal.
Slough weren’t happy to start sitting deep and defend their lead just yet, and instead nearly got a third themselves as Sam Togwell rose highest at a corner but his header went just the wrong side of the post. And just a minute later, Flood couldn’t keep his half volley on target.
Slough made changes, with Louie Soares and Matt Stevens making way for Warren Harris and Scott Davies, and the Rebels switched to a 4-5-1 formation for the final minutes of the match. With only a few minutes left, Eastbourne started to go more direct and a long ball forward nearly saw Rutherford played in on goal, but he couldn’t get his first touch right.
Six minutes were added on at the end of the second half, but the Rebels defended stoutly and held on to claim their spot in Monday evening’s First Round draw.
Slough Town Line Up
- 1 Jack Turner
- 2 Josh Jackman
- 3 George Wells
- 4 Guy Hollis
- 5 Mark Nisbet
- 6 Lee Togwell
- 7 James Dobson
- 8 Sam Togwell
- 9 Ben Harris 18
- 20 Mathew Stevens 14
- 11 Louie Soares 16
Eastbourne Borough Line up
Mark Smith, Tobi Adebayo-Rowling, Kristian Campbell, Kane Wills, Harry Ransom, Tom Gardiner, Dean Cox, Sergio Torres (c) (Michael West 81), Charlie Walker (Lloyd Dawes 61), Ryan Hall (Ian Simpemba 89), Alfie Rutherford. Unused substitutes: Yemi Odubade, Dave Martin, Andrew Briggs, Gregor Shaw.