Rebels get scent of life in Conference

Welling United

Welling United

Glover (40), White (48), Booker (54), Handford (4-0)
Slough Town

Slough Town

FA Trophy Unknown
It was just before Christmas that the Times correspondent for non-league football was inspired to write a long article concerning Slough Town's opportunity to bridge the gap between the Vauxhall Opel League and the G.M. Conference. Now, less than a month later we all know the truth and unpalatable though it might be, this is not a gap but an ever widening gulf.

Somehow, in this period of time, a very competent looking side had disssolved into a shadow of its former self and to make matters worse, without the club experiencing anv of the problems that change the course of a season.

There is no long injury list, the side that produced little on Saturday was to all intents and purposes the same as that which destroyed Ashford Town down at Folkstone back on December 3rd. On that same day Welling were lucky to survive at Leyton Wingate, and only just managed to win the replay by the odd goal of five.

Why this should happen is a mystery. Perhaps soldiering on through the season without a recognised target man may be the root of the problem. Certainly it has been a time of wasted opportunities and four missed penalties, the sort of thing that puts the defence under greater pressure.

On Saturday at Welling the same old story turned the pages once more, for Slough looked to be gaining a platform for success during the first half hour. Not only that but luck ws on their side too... for a change.

In the fifth minute Paul Barron had to be swift to grasp the ball off the foot of Tony Dennis, and six minutes later a marvellous cross from Mark Adams was met on the volley by Steve Thompson and sent whistling into the crowd past the near post with Barron well beaten.

Tony Knight, sweeping up competently at the back, dealt with the occasional threat from the home attack, then Brian Greenaway spoiled two openings with poor crosses from the right. Neal Stanley shot from twenty yards hopelessly wide, then came the first warning.

Stuart White left a statuesque Keith White standing as he whipped over a perfect centre onto the head of Terry Robbins. Somehow, with the goal at his mercy Robbins floated his header over the bar to the relief of the Slough supporters. Within minutes Welling again attacked through White who split the Slough defence completely with a perfect pass to leave Tony Reynolds in front of goal with only Bunting to beat. His shot was fierce, but against the post, the ball rebounding back to the relieved Bunting.

Slough continued to attack down the slope, but sloppy passing and lack of imagination played into the hands of the Welling defence and then with five minutes left of the first half came the opening goal for the home side. Tony Knight felled Trever Booker with a wicked tackle and from the free kick Gary Dodd nodded away for a corner as the Slough defence got itself in a tangle. The flag kick was only partially cleared and as the ball was returned from the right, John Glover had no difficulty in finding the net with Bunting well out of position.

From the restart Slough launched a counter attack, but Greenaway shot weakly and the interval arrived with the game still in the balance. This was soon spoiled as within three minutes of the interval a swift move between Booker and Ray Burgess that made the Slough defence look as static as telegraph poles ended with Stuart White crashing the ball past Bunting.

Six minutes later Welling struck again. A muddled looking foray into the home penalty area ended with a Stanley flick to no one in particular. Unfortunately the recipient was a Welling player and the ball was whipped up field to Trevor Booker who showing the Slough defence a clean pair of heels went through to score a delightful goal placing his shot well out of Bunting's reach.

With the "Rebels" now lost and punch drunk, Terry Robbins fired against the bar as Slough tried and tried again to get the ball away into touch. Everything was now falling apart, clearances being hit against Welling attackers, all sense of pattern gone. Mark Adams and Steve Thompson tried to create, but the home defence hardly raising a sweat seemed untroubled.

It was no surprise when Phil Handford again found a way through a static defence, once so reliable, to score a fourth, although this effort had a touch of offside about it. Welling, with the game buttoned up, used their two sub stitutes while John Watt replacing Greenaway looked just as lost as the other Slough players in the latter stages.

In the dying moments a corner from Mark Adams slipped through Barron's grasp, but away for another fruitless corner, while the good humoured Slough supporters taken to their limits of endurance changed their song to "Alan Davies buy us a pint", something that they at least deserved. For them and the players the season has suddenly turned sour. For them the season has turned so sour. Their continued support among the crowd of 1106 should have earned a better response from the players who must be just as mystified by their incredible loss of ability. Meanwhile — there is a rumour that the reserves, who are top of their league, have a goalscorer in their midst. Is there salvation round the corner?

Slough boss Alan Davies admitted that the stamina and strength of a determined and well organised Welling side illustrated the standard the Rebels have to reach before achieving Conference football after Saturday's trophy tie at Bexley. "For the first 25 minutes we had the best part of the game and were pushing them back but didn't create many chances, he reflected.

"They were strong and worked very hard for each other and had two very good front men (Booker and Robins) — the difference between us and them on the day was the difference between the two leagues," he said. Wings manager Nicky Bridgen had, obviously, picked up on Slough's style of play by playing five men at the back with the two full backs marking the two Slough wingers. "I was disappointed — it goes without saying, but during the last three weeks we've had a bad time of it and it's up to me and the players to pull through it. We're confident we can do it," said Davies.

Welling United Lineup


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