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The Vanarama National League South
5th
60pts

Sucker punch hits Rebels after Tony leads fightback

| General Motors A Cup
Att: 503
Slough Town
Dennis (76, 81)
2 - 3
Bognor Regis Town
Earles (2), Poole (57), Burtenshaw (120)
Tony Dennis
Russell Burtenshaw put a sting in the tail of Tuesday's GMAC Cup thriller. With his side struggling for survival, the Bognor forward cracked home the winner in the final minute of extra time to make sure there was no happy ending for Slough.

It was a sickening way for the Rebels to lose a dramatic second round tie after rallying from 2-0 down with a pair of goals from Tony Dennis in the final 15 minutes of normal time. They had chances to complete their comeback before 90 minutes were up and plenty more during the extra 30 minutes, only to lose to what manager Alan Davies described as a "sucker punch".

"In the last 25 minutes of normal time and or most of extra time we outplayed them," said Davies, whose side had been distinctly second best for the first hour. "But the game is about putting the ball in the net. Jimmy Brown should have scored the winner before 90 minutes and we had three good chances in extra time." Davies admitted that a Bognor side who looked quick, direct and skilful had held the upperhand for much of the game. He said: "I like Bognor. I think they are a good footballing side and if you stand off them they can play, which is what we did."

Bognor's dominance lasted until the double substitution of full backs Dennis Powell and Gary Woodcraft for the speedy duo of Dennis and Neal Stanley after 65 minutes. Not only did Dennis hit his first two goals for the Rebels, but Stanley proved a handful for the Rocks defence and almost got the winner, while Keith White and Jimmy Jacobs slotted in well in the full back positions.

Davies commented: "When we made the substitutions we got a lot more from White and Jacobs. They started hitting good balls in behind the defence."

The transformation the game underwent at that point was certainly a startling one. The Rebels went from looking indecisive and ponderous to dynamic and eager, overwhelming opponents who suddenly looked like bewildered weathermen trying to stay on their feet in the face of a hurricane which had suddenly sprung up out of nowhere.

Which made it all the more difficult to swallow when, in the 120th minute, Burtenshaw picked up the ball on the right edge of the box and fired across Trevor Bunting to the far corner of the net, leaving the Rocks unbeaten on their last four visits to Wexham Park.

It also left the Rebels cup record this season at three down, two to go — the FA Trophy and Berks and Bucks Senior Cup following early exists in the FA and AC Delco Cups.
"Nobody likes going out of cup competitions," said Davies. "We want to be involved in everything that's going. But we've got to be a little more professional and make sure we don't lose games in that situation."

The Rebels looked unlikely to reach that situation when, after 57 minutes, Kevin Clements got to the byeline to set up David Poole for what seemed like the decisive second goal. Slough had been struggling to cancel out the goal Pat Earles scored with an unmarked header from Geoff Cooper's second minute cross and a two goal recovery looked beyond them.

With Kenny Wilson unable to get round the back of the Bognor defence the Rebels' hopes lay in beating the offside trap, which they did only occasionally. The best such chance had fallen to Paul Waites after 23 minutes, but he was denied by keeper Simon Steele.

Yet once Slough injected new blood and switched players around it was a different story. Bognor's main apparent aim now was to waste as much time as possible as Dennis had a glancing header cleared off the line and White half-volleyed just over.

Brown headed wide six yards out from Wilson's cross, before Slough finally halved their task after 76 minutes. Stanley helped Tony Knight's pass down the left for Brown, who knocked the ball past a defender to the dead ball line and found Dennis arriving at the far post to fire high into the net.

Bognor's John Price joined team mate Mark Bird in the book when he kicked the ball away before Slough's 81st minute free-kick on the edge of the box, but his actions merely delayed the Rebels equaliser for a few seconds. White hammered the ball through the wall and when Steele could only parry it Dennis pounced for the second time.

Six minutes later the home crowd were left holding their breath in anticipation as Brown raced on to White's long ball for what seemed certain to be the winner, only for the 13-goal striker to delay too long and finish with a poor shot off target.

Waites, delighting in tormenting the rattled Bognor defence, found himself in a similar position a minute into extra time after a one-two with Stanley, but gave the keeper time to get out and interfere with his shot.

Steele didn't have time to do anything but stick out a hopeful arm two minutes after when Dennis beat his man and crossed for Stanley to head, but the keeper managed to make contact and prevent the elusive third.

That goal was to remain elusive until everyone's mind was turning to a trip to Sussex — everyone's, that is, except Burtenshaw's.

Bognor Regis Town Line up

Steele, Price, Bird, Quinn, M. Pullen, P. Pullen, Burtenshaw, Poole, Earles, Clements, Cooper. Sub: Guille (for Clements 86 mins).

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