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Dartford (H)
Sun Jul 19
15:00

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Dartford (H)
Sun Jul 19 15:00
The Vanarama National League South
5th
60pts

KNIGHT-MARE!

| FA Trophy
Slough Town
Stanley (6), Dennis (8), Brown (27)
3 - 3
Saltash
Howe (2-1), Briggs (29), Durham (70)
Trevor Bunting
Slough manager Alan Davies was left devastated after watching his side throw away what should have been the simplest of passages into the first round of the FA Trophy. Blunders from the usually reliable Tony Knight and Jimmy Jacobs saw the Rebels twice surrender a comfortable two goal advantage to leave them having to do it all again in an unwanted replay down in Cornwall on Wednesday evening.

Understandably, Davies had plenty to say about the way his side threw it away. "We have got to look at ourselves. It was the best start to a game we have had in a long while. The way we let them back into it was Sunday football stuff," fumed Davies. "Saltash should never have been in the game. We played really well for the first half hour. But what annoys me more than anything else is that those were the worst two goals we have given away in a long long time," he added.

Davies had no hesitation in singling out Knight and Jacobs as the two offenders but could hardly believe it. "They are two of the most reliable players in the side. I just can't understand it. Saltash have got some experienced players," added Davies. "They are used to scoring a lot of goals and winning. Once they were back in it their confidence was sky high. But it should never have got that far - we should have buried them!"

Davies went on to add: "If you score three times in the first half hour, you have got to think you are going to win. I never thought I would end up saying that Trevor Bunting kept us in the competition. But that was just what he did with a couple of super saves."

"There is not a lot else you can say about it," he added. "We let them back with two goals, and after that it became a typical cup tie. At the end of the day, either side could have snatched it."

However, equally galling for Davies was the fact that a Wednesday night trip to Cornwall could see the Rebels lose the initiative they have gained towards the top of the Vauxhall-Opel League table.

And who would have believed Slough would not have been in league action in midweek after making a phenomenal start against Saltash. Bunting was called upon to make a fine save from John Durham in the fifth minute, but seconds later, the Rebels made the ideal start thanks to a goal from Neal Stanley. A long free-kick was sent wide to Tony Dennis who sent a well measured cross to the near post for Stanley to end his perfectly timed run with a nonchalant first time finish at the near post.

Slough grabbed the second only two minutes later when skipper Keith White supplied a splendid through ball for Jimmy Brown as he ran across the edge of the Saltash area. Despite the close attention of Nigel Menhenick, Brown rifled an excellent angled shot towards goal. It was a credit to keeper Dave Philp that he managed to parry the shot. However, the ball ballooned up and on towards the far post where Dennis patiently waited for the ball to drop, and sent his half-volley into the back of the net under pressure from full-back Derek Fowler.

The Rebels were positively buzzing by this stage and the two goal lead allowed them to play with extreme confidence. The player to benefit most seemed to be Gary Dodd. The midfielder has yet to show his best in a Slough shirt, but he finally appeared ready to make amends. He and Jacobs almost carved number three between them after 12 minutes. A brisk exchange on the right flank resulted in Jacobs sending a driven cross to the far post, but Brown's header ricocheted to safety.

It was all one way traffic up to this point. However, the visitors started to show he fighting spirit that earned them a memorable victory against mighty Yeovil in the same competition two years ago. A promising attack resulted in Alan McSweeney's cross being headed out by Jeff Bateman. Derek Fowler followed up and sent a poorly struck effort through the crowded area that Bunting turned around the upright for a corner.

However, a minute later came Knight's costly blunder. He received the ball midway inside his own half, dithered on the ball and was dispossessed by Durham who raced into the area and sent an angled pass for an unmarked Kelvin Howe to run into the empty net.

The action continued to come thick and fast with Brown almost restoring the two goal advantage in the 26th minute. But the Rebels were not to be denied in the following minute. Another incisive crossfield ball from Dodd set them in motion. Saltash were caught square at the back and Stanley raced through the offside trap. His low shot across goal was going wide but Brown arrived late to tap in from close range to put Slough 3- 1 up.

But Slough contrived to let the Ashes back into the contest for a second time. This time Jacobs was the offender. Only two minutes after restoring the two goal advantage, Jacobs poor short ball along the line was easily cut out by Howe. Jacobs was then beaten by Howe as he made his way along the goalline before crossing to the near post where Bradley Swiggs knocked home under Bunting's body from point blank range.

It was always going to be tough to produce a second half with anywhere close to the calibre of the first. Nevertheless, both sides still had their chances. A good move through the middle eventually left Howe with some space in the Slough area, but he lofted his shot way over from 15 yards.

Five minutes later, another silly ball by Jacobs allowed McSweeney through on the left. McSweeney's cross caused chaos in the Slough box. Steve Thompson's initial header was blocked, Mark Rowe hammered the rebound goalwards only to see another desperate block. He latched onto the ball again and saw Bunting parry his powerful shot. However, this time Durham nipped in to tuck home the rebound from close range to level matters with 20 minutes remaining.

Bunting pulled off a splendid save from Rowe in the 73rd minute and then made another fine save from Swiggs. Slough had a lucky escape in the 77th minute when a White header back to Bunting was fumbled by the keeper under pressure from Thompson. The midfielder pulled the ball back for Howe, who with only Bateman on the line sent his shot directly at the solitary defender.

Saltash Line up

Philp, Fowler, Lowe, Pooley, Menhenick, Swiggs, Thompson, Howe, Durham, Rowe, McSweeney. Subs: Batley and Rogers (not used).

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