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Hemel Hempstead Town (A)
Sat Apr 13

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Hemel Hempstead Town (A)
Sat Apr 13 15:00
The Vanarama National League South

Cards Galore In Rebels Win

Slough Town

Slough Town

Anderson (1-1 pen), McKinnon (70)
Witton Albion

Witton Albion

Anderson (18)
League Attendance: 610 Mark Hill
There was explosive action at Wexham Park on Saturday when Witton came to play. Two sent off and an array of bookings were the talking points of the game with the Rebels' comeback and Paul McKinnon's 10th of the season taking the back seat.

With Mark Turkington missing Tony Dell was drafted into midfield as the injury crisis was stretched to its limit and Turkington's creativity was missing from the start. The match changed course drastically when Keith Mason hurtled out of his goalmouth to thwart Steve Thompson's deft header and ended up handling a fraction outside the area.

Referee Mr Norbury was left with no option but to wave the red card at Mason who trudged back to the dressing room and the Rebels were at a distinct advantage for 85 minutes. Ten men Witton though, failed to lie down and as is usual the 10 men got on top.

Thompson nipped in and sent a cross to Pluckrose but the midfielder controlled well only for the ball to run away from him at the last minute. Thompson, who had flown in from Germany that morning, looked tired but the Rebels were left to look to him for inspiration in breaking down the visitors' defence.

In one episode Colin Fielder tumbled to the ground off the ball but no one was instigated or talked to by the referee. With 18 minutes gone, Mark Mallinson's obstruction on the left gave away a free kick which was swung in, and with the Rebels' defence a total mess, Mike Lutkevitch's header hit the cross bar and Stewart Anderson followed up with a simple prod home.

Slough tried to reply but were so easily caught offside and just couldn't break down a workmanlike Witton back four which protected stand-in keeper Gary Stewart, brother of Tottenham's Paul Stewart. Slough's initial problems were in their failure to control from the back, when Witton went forward they looked vulnerable and Witton added their own version of controlling the pace with some time wasting.

Stewart raced off his line to block Thompson's effort and Pluckrose followed up to send the ball over the bar from the rebound. Darren Anderson was booked for saying something to the referee but Slough had to wait 28 minutes until their first and only, shot on target, came from Steve Whitby — the only effort Stewart managed to hold! This rate should have been improved but conditions were poor.

It was a match of rough and tumble and there wasn't much to get excited about with both Andy Grimshaw and Mallinson going into the book before the break.

Boss Alan Davies changed things around at half time with Fielder moving into the midfield from sweeper and Thompson switching to the left. Miss of the match came minutes after the restart when Dell, clean through with only Stewart to beat missed the target by feet from 15 yards.

Jim Connor then found himself in the book as he kicked the ball away to time waste. Fielder's move into the middle gave Slough more strength in the centre and Witton failed to threaten Slough as they had. The biggest threat in fact was the clock and the pressure as movement forward wasn't as dangerous as in previous weeks.

Following a free kick, Thompson's flick was smashed home by Anderson only to be ruled offside. Witton tried to slow the game down but Slough gradually began to get the game by the scruff of the neck and dominate from the middle. Paul McKinnon was a threat although he never had the time to control the ball in the box and Thompson sent a weak finish rolling across the front of goal.

Inch by inch Slough slowly advanced and dominated and eventually it paid off and Witton's non-existant discipline cost them the game. Thompson was sent through only to be upended in the box by Paul Cuddy, who promptly left the field of play at the showing of a red card. Darren Anderson thumped the ball home. Then it got worse. Lutkevitch went into the book for time wasting and the referee spent minutes talking to various players.

With 70 minutes gone McKinnon proved his quality as a match winner. Thompson's corner was flicked on and McKinnon was there to poach a goal from a small distance.

Best Slough player on the day was Mark Hill, who had a superb game at the back to deny what Witton threw at Slough in the remaining minutes and also ignore stray boots and arms in the tackle. Francis Joseph replaced Steve Whitby and his late header was just over.

Things got even nastier when Mallinson nearly lost a leg in a diabolical double challenge from Anderson and Lutkevitch who both went unpunished. There was a needless booking for Pluckrose for time-wasting and late pressure from Witton failed to punish Slough for not finishing off their opponents.

Altogether this wasn't a match that players particularly look forward to and to win a game like this is a useful achievement.

Witton Albion Lineup


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