Lessons Still To Be Learnt As Slough Crumble Away



Rowlands, McKenna, Hughes.
Slough Town

Slough Town

League Attendance: 761 Steve Thompson
Yet another long trip for the Rebels ended in disappointment on Saturday when the mighty Altrincham proved too strong for a Slough team which is still learning how to settle down at the higher level.

No-nonsense Slough boss Alan Davies made sweeping changes to try and pull in his first away points in the Vauxhall Conference but to no avail. One surprising move was to keep faith with wildly erratic new goalie Sean Lahiff but patience must be wearing thin after another bizarre performance.

During the first half Slough proved themselves able to match the football produced by their illustrious hosts, and the defence, bolstered with England non-league captain Dave Howell, and Phil Stacey, both on loan from Barnet looked more competent than hitherto.

Frank Murphy, a striker, also of Barnet, had been included in Slough's plans, but was excluded due to a heavy cold. Darren Anderson, Tommy Langley, and Kevin Rowe were all left in the cold for this clash and in the early stages Slough more than held their own with the Barnet newcomers settling down quickly, and Barry Rake caused the home side problems with an electrifying run down the right that left the Altrincham defence in a tangle.

At the other end Ken McKenna created difficulties for the Slough defence but, on the whole, Howell was able to keep him out of shooting range.Unfortunately for the Rebels, referee Peter Roberts (from the nearby Wirral) provided some eccentric control, and Mark Mallinson found his name in the book for not retreating from a free kick at the double, and it became quickly obvious that southern tackles were outside the law.

Nevertheless Slough persevered and Howell's far-post header had Jeff Wealands stretching. With half-time approaching it looked as though Slough would return to the dressing rooms with the scores level when suddenly the home side took a shock lead when a long cross from the right found sweeper Paul Rowlands unmarked on the edge of the box. Hitting the ball on the volley, the shot was perfect and the net bulged before Lahiff could move.

With the wind behind them in the second half there were hopes that the Rebels would benefit, but before they could draw breath they were further behind. Straight from the kick off, Altrincham attacked down the left flank, and Sean Lahiff, racing from his goal, hammered the ball into the crowd. From the resultant throw-in the defence got itself into a tangle and McKenna, one of the Conference's star strikers made no mistake.

There seemed no way back for Slough now, and Steve Thompson was surprised to find his name in the book after a fearsome challenge had floored him! This was the prelude to the Slough defence losing their composure which was not helped by Lahiff human torpedo performance between the posts that left him wildly stranded time and time again although it did produce one save that was absolutely tremendous.

Slough made two substitutions that saw Mark Adams and Naseem Bashir replace Trevor How and Mark Hill, no doubt in the hope that it would open up a defence that has yet to concede a home goal. Sadly Slough continued to look too lightweight against the strapping home rearguard although Wealands was grateful to see Thompson's header from a free kick go wide of the post.

During the late exchanges Slough were fortunate when Paul Showler twice ripped through the defence and his crosses were missed by Lahiff. In the final minute Altrincham had their own piece of luck when Mark Hughes' shot cannoned off the body of Young to wrap the match up.
This, and the additional booking of Phil Stacey, again for no obvious reason, brought the afternoon to a sad conclusion following a promising first half.

Nevertheless there is a quiet confidence in the Slough camp that things will improve as the season progresses and as the players absorb the experience of moving into a league which makes so many demands on part-time players.

Altrincham Lineup


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