Not even the loss of Paul Hodges to a controversial red card could stop the Rebels, who scored three of their five goals after having been reduced to ten players, and move back up to second place in National League South as a result.
After a tough loss on Wednesday night against Havant & Waterlooville on a heavy pitch, the Rebels made the relatively short trip around the M25 to Dorking. Looking to avenge their opening day loss, Slough were able to pick from a full squad with George Wells back into a back four.
With Sean Fraser making his 330th appearance on Wednesday and joining the club’s top 10 all-time appearance makers, it was Guy Hollis’s turn to reach a significant milestone. The central defender made his 250th appearance for Slough having followed Neil Baker and Jon Underwood over from Godalming Town.
On a familiar 3G surface – following two poor grass pitches – the Rebels got into the game quickly and had a free kick on the edge of the box after a Dorking defender blocked with a hand. Wells and Matt Lench stood over the ball with the latter seeing his tame low effort easily saved by Slavomir Huk.
A few minutes later a quick throw from Lench found Warren Harris in space to combine with Paul Hodges, who in turn found Roberts in space in the box. However, despite having a few yards of space the striker scuffed his shot.
Whilst Slough had the early chances, Dorking were very much in the game and causing the Rebels problems. On 12 minutes the Wanderers caught the Slough defence napping. A good through ball from James McShane split the Slough defence and Jack Barham’s pace found him on goal and able to neatly place the ball past Jack Turner to put the home side ahead.
The hosts’ lead didn’t last long though, with Roberts equalising on 16 minutes. Warren Harris won a flick-on to put Roberts in space on the edge of the 18 yard box to smash in a half volley and level the scores.
George Wells nearly gave Slough the lead, but saw his 20 yard effort go the wrong side of the post.
But on 27 minutes it would be Dorking who regained the lead. Jimmy Muitt found himself in space in the Slough area, and after seeing his initial shot come off the post he was the quickest to react and tap in from close range.
Both sides were quite open and intent on getting on the front foot, often leaving gaps in their respective defences. Dorking nearly extended their lead on the half hour mark when James McShane saw his long range attempt narrowly miss the top corner.
Josh Jackman was able to push forward down the right for Slough having more space than usual with Warren Harris moving more infield. And Jackman came close on 34 minutes but saw his shot blocked. Four minutes later, Matt Lench tried his luck from 25 yards but it was too close to Huk in goal.
Then in true basketball fashion it was Dorking’s turn to have two chances. The first was deflected just wide with Turner scrambling and then the second came a minute later when Turner had to palm away a low drilled shot.
The final chance of the half came Jackman’s way. Driving into the box, he saw his first shot saved by Huk before his second came back out off the post with the keeper rooted to his spot.
Slough made a change at the break with Mark Nisbet replacing Ryan Bird, who was struggling with an injury.
The second half got off to the perfect start for Slough, if somewhat fortuitously. The ball popped up for Roberts to shoot from outside the box, with his dipping effort looking like it would be easily saved - though somehow Huk in Dorking’s goal allowed it to slip through his legs and in for 2-2.
The Slough celebrations would be quelled just five minutes later. A Dorking ball forward saw a foot chase between their striker and two Slough defenders. With the Dorking man going to ground, referee Mr. O’Donnell waved play on and told the player to get up. However, the assistant referee was waving his flag vigorously and called over his colleague. Following a chat they decided to award Dorking the free kick and send off Paul Hodges, despite him not appearing to be the last man nor denying a goalscoring opportunity.
Reduced to ten men, the Rebels sat a little deeper but remained confident of grabbing a goal on the counter. And on 66 minutes they did get that goal, but from a long throw.
Slough had been getting joy from set pieces all game and another Guy Hollis throw was flicked on to the back post where Roberts was lurking to head home and complete his hat-trick and give Slough the lead for the first time in the match.
Again though, the lead didn’t last long with Dorking equalising on 72 minutes. Matt Briggs was getting joy down his right hand side and delivered in some magnificent crosses throughout the second half. Whilst most were expertly dealt with by Guy Hollis and Mark Nisbet, this time it was too good for them and Jason Prior had an easy tap in ahead of Jack Turner to make it 3-3.
On 75 minutes the Slough fans had their heart in their mouths. Having stayed under the only piece of covered terracing all game by one of the corner flags they spent the second half watching the team defend. What seemed to be a routine clearance from outside of his box, Jack Turner was weak in his effort and beaten to the ball by Prior. Fortunately, the ball was close to the corner and gave Jackman time to get in between the striker and the goal to block his shot.
Slough then took off hat-trick hero Roberts for Ben Harris to bring some added strength to hold up the ball. Just a few minutes later from another long throw, Ben was able to flick the ball onto Warren Harris to head in magnificently at the back post, giving Slough a 4-3 lead.
Dorking came close on a few occasions but it would be the Rebels to get the next goal and extend their lead.
Substitute Max Worsfold delivered a corner almost back out to the edge of the 18 yard box and found Ben Harris, who produced a powerful header into the top corner with Huk beaten at full stretch.
Dorking didn’t give up hope and continued to push forward but more than often their shots failed to trouble Jack Turner. However, deep into injury time Jason Prior looked to have a golden opportunity only to be brilliantly denied by Sam Togwell who was somehow able to stretch out a leg and clear the ball ahead of the striker when he was about to shoot.
This was an extraordinary match for the neutrals but more importantly for Slough a hard-earned but deserved three points, taking their tally up to 60 with nine games to go.
Dorking Wanderers Line up
Slavomir Huk, David Ray (c), Samuel Beard, Daniel Gallagher (Jerry O’Sullivan 80), Niall McManus, Matt Briggs, Jack Barham, James McShane (Giuseppe Sole 90), Lewis Taylor (Jason Prior 60), Luke Moore, Jimmy Muitt. Unused substitutes: James Dickson, Tom Richards.