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The Vanarama National League South

Anderson makes a fairytale return

Slough Town

Slough Town

Anderson (15), Donnellan (90)


League Attendance: 750 Darren Anderson
Slough displayed a welcome level of commitment to stop a rotten run of four consecutive Vauxhall Conference defeats and beat Gateshead 2-0 at Wexham Park.

Relief was written all over a less than convincing performance which saw burly central defender Darren Anderson head the Rebels in front in the 15th minute and Gary Donnellan widen the margin over the Tynesiders in injury time. "The result matters more than how we did it — and I admit it wasn't very pretty," said Rebel manager Alan Davies afterwards.

"Injuries have made life hell for us over the past month after we started the season with a settled side. Now we are back on track with what at least looks like a first team which came through unscathed. I am just pleased that the players showed resilience after a bad spell — the rot stops here we hope."

Davies was relatively flush with players to field. Mark Mallinson and Alan Pluckrose were back from a trip to Saudi Arabia with the Combined Services, Paul McKinnon, Mark Hill and Donnellan from trips to the physio. But the greatest advantage for Davies was the return of Anderson after a hip injury.

The former Aldershot player has been a revelation this season and his sixth goal of the campaign was the most significant contribution of the afternoon for the Rebels. Gritty Gateshead were no pushover. Bristling with sponsorship and Newcastle United recruits, they are making a firm bid to rejoin the Football League after being voted out in 1960.

The Tynesiders were relying largely on two Magpies to extend their unbeaten away run which goes back to last August. Billy Askew came in to run the midfield and was involved in most of the engineering work which, fortunately for Slough, the North Easterners failed to convert into goals.

But Askew was shaken up in only the second minute by a tough tackle by Donnellan which earned him one of the quickest bookings of the season. The other was Alan Lamb, scorer of five goals in three games since joining Gateshead in December, but he was effectively if untidily silenced by his Mallinson shadow.

Slough's six corner to nil tally in the first half tells the story, and it was from the fourth of these that Anderson struck. Pluckrose pressured Mark Farrey into conceding the kick, then curled over the cross to the far post where Anderson rose above Saddington, threading his header between the keeper and full back on the line.

But Slough's lack of fluency in clearing their own defensive lines still gives cause for concern. It gave former York City striker Kevin Dixon four first half chances but he failed to trouble Trevor Bunting into even one save. And all that Simon Smith was called on to do in the same period was to get behind the second effort from McKinnon, a glancing header from an Eamonn O'Connor cross which lacked power.

Still, McKinnon showed, as earlier that he is beginning to find the spaces again. Gateshead gamely went after a point at least in the second half, trading Charlie Butler for ex-Hartlepool striker Phil Linacre in an effort to solve the impotency up front.

The Rebels were restricted to breakaway opportunities and surging runs by Donnellan and Pluckrose signalled that Slough still had something in reserve with a shot from O'Connor on the volley forcing Smith into action. Dixon meanwhile missed the target on two more occasions and Linacre sent Bunting sideways to save a shot which, in any case, was the skipper's low cross from the right eventually found Donnellan poaching at the far post.

The scoreline flattered. Gateshead were profligate wastrels but hungry Slough worked for the points they so badly needed.

Gateshead Lineup


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