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Long Crendon Ladies (A)
Sun Dec 6
14:00

Next match

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Long Crendon Ladies (A)
Sun Dec 6 14:00
Thames Valley Counties Women's Football League
1st
18pts

Slough's Christmas Cheer

| FA Trophy
Att: 647
Slough Town
Brown (5, 88) Stanley (22)
3 - 1
Dagenham
Fitt (57)
Jeff Bateman
Jimmy Brown has scored plenty more spectacular goals than his 23rd of the season, but few have brought such cheers of relief from the Slough fans. The ball had to travel only five yards off Brown's boot, but it produced a crescendo of sound that put more Christmas spirit into the Rebels camp than the most lustily rendered carol. The goal, Brown's second of the game, came two minutes from time and ended the increasingly unbearable tension that had been building since Dagenham pulled back to 2-1 and threatened to delay the Rebels' path into the second round of the FA Trophy.

It also gave the Wexham Park crowd the revenge they had been waiting for since 1977, when the Daggers ended Slough's best ever run in the competition in the semi finals. After taking a two-goal lead in the first quarter of Saturday's cracking tie, Slough had appeared unlikely to be run so close by a team who are struggling near the foot of the GM Vauxhall Conference, are still searching for a manager and were fielding four reserves. Not to mention the fact that the reserve goalkeeper was their second substitute.

But Rebels manager Alan Davies was in no doubt that Slough deserved their second round tie at Fisher Athletic. "Over the 90 minutes it was the right result," he said. "We scored three goals, but anyone watching the game knows we should have had five. We should have made sure of the game a long time before we did. If you don't stick your chances away it is going to be battle all the time. Dagenham have had their problems and they didn't trouble us in the first half. But they created one chance and it was in the back of the net. That shows the gulf between our league and the Conference. We should have had no anxiety about winning the game. With two goals we should have had it under control."

Until Dagenham's 57th minute strike, the Rebels had been cruising through. They were doing their best to play constructive football in heavy conditions and, led by a monumental performance by centre back Jeff Bateman, were limiting Dagenham to a few harmless efforts from long range. Davies accused his front two, Brown and Neal Stanley, of trying to do too much on occasions instead of simply holding the ball and laying it off.

It was difficult to play good football in those conditions. Jimmy and Neal didn't always do what was required and in the second half we gave the ball away too much." Slough fans were relieved to see injured defenders Tony Knight and Dennis Powell on the field and it was a cross from the latter that Bateman headed down for Brown to fire into the side netting after four minutes.

A minute later Brown gave the Rebels the start the home fans among the crowd of 647 had been hoping for. Kenny Wilson breezed past John Campbell and his cross was hooked back out to him by Wayne Wanklyn. This time the winger crossed the ball over keeper Darren Williams far post, where Brown was waiting for easiest of headers.

Trevor Bunting was almost caught unawares in the Slough goal a minute later, as he scrambled across his line to save after Stacey had surprisingly tried a shot a 30-yard free-kick. Dagenham looked a poor second, worse than many Vauxhall-Opel League sides Slough have encountered this year, as Gary Dodd and Wayne Wanklyn hustled them in midfield and it was Dodd who initiated the second goal with a superb ball to spread the play to Paul Waites on the right after 22 minutes. Waites checked just long enough to make sure Stanley had not run into an offside position before delivering a perfect cross which Stanley guided past Williams with looping header.

The visitors appeared to have little fight in them, despite Frank Coles throwing a punch at Slough skipper Keith White, who spent the match nursing a bloody nose and eyes. Then an 18-yard effort from John Fitt that forced Bunting to make a diving save in the opening moments of the second half didn't fit the pattern of the game. Slough continued to dominate and Nick Bissett had to be on his toes to rob Brown after Wanklyn had nudged a neat pass to him in the box.

But the afternoon took on a different appearance 12 minutes into the half as John Bolle touched the ball off cleverly for Frank Coles, whose cross was punched to the edge of the box by Bunting. Fitt swiftly sent the ball back towards the Slough goal and saw it nestle in the net off the underside of the bar.

The Daggers suddenly found their cutting edge and Bunting did well again to keep out Stacey's drive from 20 yards. Within seconds, though, the Rebels had wasted a chance to blunt the visitors revival as Stanley battled past Bissett to make room to shoot, only to direct his carefully set-up shot outside the post.

There were further scares for the Rebels, with Bunting saving Docker's low shot and Bolle fining high and wide, before substitute Dennis failed with a glorious chance to restore the two-goal advantage.

Brown, in acres of space on the left, delayed his pass until Dennis had come steaming unmarked into the area, but saw his team mate dither too long before slamming the ball against the legs of Williams from almost point-blank range.

In the space of two frantic minutes Wanklyn headed over from a deep Waites cross; Stacey was booked for kicking the ball away after grounding Stanley; and Coles raced away from Powell, possibly fouling the Slough full back en route, only to find Bunting as formidable as he had been all match long and seeing his stabbed shot turned away.

Two minutes from the end came the goal that sent 600-odd sighs of relief rising into the winter evening. Wanklyn knocked the ball to the feet of Dodd on the left edge of the box. His left foot drive was palmed away by Williams, but Brown followed up inside the six-yard box to make the beginning of Slough's merry Christmas.

Dagenham Line up

Williams, Stacey, Martin, Horan, Bissett, Campbell, Fitt, Coles, Docker, Bolle, Nelson. Subs: Weekes (for Nelson 63 mins), Osborne (not used).

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