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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

Never Say Die Slough Are Simply Fantastic

Slough Town

Slough Town

Pluckrose (19), Fielder (90+2), McKinnon (90+3)


Williams (71), Gooding (81), Taylor (86)
FA Cup Attendance: 3990 Trevor Bunting
Never say die Slough staged one of the most dramatic FA Cup comebacks against Third Division Reading on Saturday.

The incredible injury time double rocked Reading and sent thousands of Rebels' supporters crazy
with delight. It was the most dramatic of finishes to one of the most enthralling games ever seen at Wexham Park.

The local GM Vauxhall Conference side gave their third division opponents a run for their money in the battle of Berkshire's best teams.

Reading started the favourites but no-one wanted to write off Slough who were determined to be giant killers and gain some glory for themselves.

Near on 4,000 people packed Wexham Park and the atmosphere began to build well before the kick off. What lay in store though was to prove a dramatic, exciting and highly entertaining match that was a credit to both sides arid the FA Cup.

Prior to the start the teams were announced and Slough were to benefit from the injury to Michael Gilkes — Reading's biggest threat.

The sale of Phil Burns to Airdrie in the week meant that Trevor Bunting kept his place to have a storming game and injuries to Mark Hill and Mark Turkington saw both Francis Joseph and Tony Knight return to the side with Steve Whitby on the bench.

As the match kicked off on a chilly and sunny autumnal afternoon, the crowd couldn't have imagined the feast of excitement that was to unfold. Slough made a nervy start and Reading moved forward menacingly.

Kevin Dillon had his shot well saved when he nipped in on a mistake and Bunting did well to save Mark Holzman's far post header. Things were looking ominous as Reading found space and freedom on the Slough left and caused a number of problems.

Holzman was left unmarked but missed badly after 15 minutes when Dillon weaved into the box and crossed to him at the far post.

Slough slowly got a grip on the game and showed some real class touches. Target Man Francis Joseph nipped in to cross and Paul McKinnon's far post header was blocked and went out for a corner. The Rebels from here forced a succession of corners and suddenly silenced the travelling fans.

With 19 minutes played, Thompson sent over a corner which Slough skipper Allan Pluckrose launched himself at and the Reading side were left standing as the ball bounced in the back of the net.

Now Slough were causing problems and getting on top. There were class touches from the Slough midfield who refused to give the ball away in their own half.

Colin Fielder was magnificent in the middle and had his best game in a Slough shirt so far. Thompson was his usual class and Gary Donnellan was exceptional on the right of midfield, playing a dynamic game. But star of the show was Francis Joseph. The former Reading striker was magnificent. He may be remembered for a second half miss but his performance was superb. His vision, ability to hold the ball up and two superb turns were simply magic and some of the passes he knocked off were breath taking.

Joseph was the main architect of Slough's forward movement and proved a handful for the visiting defenders. Slough moved swiftly forward with inch perfect passing and pace and left some people wondering who were exactly the league side.

Tony Knight and Mick Gooding both went into the book for a scuffle but Reading were hardly threatening Slough at all as the half went on. The biggest disappointment of the afternoon was the barely audible Slough supporters who left the encouragement and singing to a small section of Slough fans to do their best.

Donnellan had a fine shot well saved after some good skills and another fine move saw Fielder and Joseph link and Pluckrose set up for a shot which was saved low. The Slough side were looking more and more competent as the match rolled on and produced a stirring team performance and held a solid shape.

During the break the fog showed signs of rolling in and doubts began to arise as the games' chances of finishing. The next 45 minutes and more were to prove surely one of the most dramatic halves at Wexham Park. It all started well when Paul McKinnon capitalised on an error and raced through on the left. His low pass picked out Joseph in space but the Rebels' forward saw his shot well saved and as the ball rolled towards the goal he was beaten to getting in the last touch by Keith McPherson on the line.

Joseph produced a superb effort when he flicked the ball over his head with back to goal and forced Steve Francis into a fine low save.

Reading started to go forward well though with Slough fighting all the way. The Rebels' clearances were distanced and positive but slowly they gave away too much ground in defence and allowed Reading to create more space in Slough's final third of the pitch.

Darren Anderson continued a superb game when he twice mopped up far post problems with ones fine last ditch tackle to deny what would have surely been a goal. Reading were well on top in the middle of the second half and Donnellan found himself in the book for following through on a challenge.

But the Slough hearts sunk somewhat on 71 minutes when Reading finally equalised. Adrian Williams rose at the far post to head home a cross and sent the Reading supporters into raptures and a mini pitch invasion that was to ultimately cost them the game.

After getting the supporters off the pitch the match continued.

Francis was forced into another superb save as Joseph turned on a sixpence but Slough still battled courageously and their football was as good as Reading's.

Mark Mallinson handled when he fell on the ball but the referee looked kindly on the incident, but soon after Reading had taken the lead. Gooding's free kick on the Reading left was swung in and everybody missed the ball as it found the back of the net with nine minutes to go.

Now here Slough were getting ready to hand a lesson to people that have the habit of leaving before a game is finished!

Clutches of fans began leaving the ground and more did so when, with four minutes left, Scott Taylor finished off a superb move from a cross.

It could have been so different when Mallinson made a mistake and let in Taylor, who blasted just over the bar from there it could have been 4-1 and nobody would have batted an eyelid.

Referee Mr Phil Don had controlled the game admirably and the match reached the final minute with Slough looking down and out — then came the history that will be remembered for years to come.

Colin Fielder fired home what looked like a consolation strike after Phil Stacey had hooked in a cross and the watch said 91 minutes played.

The Reading fans who had spent so long celebrating now tried to whistle the time away and encourage Mr Don to do the same.

As the crowd stood up, sat down and swayed around, shouting encouragement and the Reading supporters pleading with the ref, Slough moved forward.

Some fans were in their cars or walking down Wexham Road when Thompson was upended in the 92nd minute. As the seconds ticked away. the ground suddenly hushed as Thompson stepped up and swung the free kick to the near post. There was Paul McKinnon, he met the ball with a bullet like header, it hit the underside of the bar, arms went up, the ball bounced on the line, arms went down, and then the ball bounced up again and into the roof of the net and half the ground was a sea of amber and blue and ecstatic supporters.

Nobody could have believed that Slough were two goals down to a third division side two minutes previously —nobody cared, it was just Cup magic!

Reading Lineup

Steve Francis, Steve Richardson, Mark Holzman, Keith McPherson, Mick Gooding, Adrian Williams, Floyd Streete, Kevin Dillon, Mark McGhee, Craig Maskell, Scott Taylor. Substitutes: David Leworthy, Neil Cooper.


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