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The Vanarama National League South

Choker From Cheltenham

Slough Town

Slough Town

Cheltenham Town

Cheltenham Town

Burton (73), Vircays (78), Payne (81)
League Attendance: 985 Darren Anderson
Unfortunately for Slough their home defeat against Cheltenham wasn't a bank holiday's April fools joke and after looking good for survival, they find themselves plunged back into trouble.

A three goal blast in the last 17 minutes saw the Rebels succumb to their second double beating from a team below them in the league, Cheltenham emulating Sutton's achievement after a December 2-0 victory.

Again the Rebels have had it proved that in the Conference chances have to be finished. Starting problems were the loss of Mark Hill and Gary Donnelan, both injured against Runcorn. They join Barry Rake (Hamstring) and Vernon Pratt (gashed eye) on the list.

This forced Slough to reshuffle and home advantage saw a bold approach with a flat back four in which Darren Anderson was to prove outstanding. The Rebels other performer above the average was Jon Hunt, replacing the injured Donnellan in the midfield.

A swirling wind didn't help matters but both sides got down to a gritty battle. Cheltenham ultimately looked the more dangerous side with room to operate in midfield and some penetrating through balls from deep positions that had the Rebels scrambling back.

Trevor Bunting pulled off a good save from Mark Buck-land who had got in on a poor clearance from Mark Mallinson. After a difficult start, Slough managed to find space and moved forward more positively. But it was left to Steve Thompson to cause problems in the box as the forward line looked weak.

Tommy Langley has struggled to find accuracy of late whilst Jon Sissons proved no competition for Anton Vircays in the air and for all his running failed to pose a threat against his old club. Thompson was unlucky not to give Slough the lead when a tremendous low drive flew across goal and wide at the far post.

At the other end Knight's slip let in Kim Casey who blasted over with only Bunting to beat. A goalmouth scramble then saw Knight do well to clear off his line. Neither side managed to gain a grip on proceedings but Thompson was slowly being battled out of the attacking stakes with Derek Payne and England semi-professional International Steve Brooks keeping a tight rein.

The pair managed to dominate the middle of the park as Tony Dell's accuracy of distribution became wayward. Despite a late first half flurry, Slough just didn't have that presence up front to cause any problem.

The second half saw the Rebels start well, Darren Anderson, who was keeping the defence sewn up, went close with a flick from a free kick. Tommy Langley found himself in with a chance from close range after a good piece of play but fired recklessly wide and the game was drawn into a lack of definition with neither side looking good enough to score.

Suddenly though, Cheltenham scored from an inswinging corner which was flicked on at the near post with substitute Chris Burton rising unchallenged at the far post to head home with 73 minutes gone.

Two minutes later Cheltenham should have doubled their tally when Chris Camden found himself clean through, rounded Bunting and with the goal at his mercy caught a bobble and put the ball wide to the astonishment of the crowd.

The Rebels were in disarray and just not functioning as a unit when the visitors grabbed a killer second on 78 minutes, Vircays not being picked up on the edge of the box as he raced in to head home another Brooks corner.

If that wasn't enough, the ground with the exception of a few Cheltenham fans was stunned into silence when Payne weaved circles in the Slough box, wasn't tackled and shot home at the second attempt on 81 minutes.

The Rebels were in pieces and the points were gone as Cheltenham couldn't believe their luck, but picked up reward for good set pieces. With two minutes to go Thompson pulled a fantastic save out of Mike Barrett from a storming 30 yard free kick but the day belonged to the visitors.

Cheltenham Town Lineup


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