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The Vanarama National League South

Cruel Double Whammy Dampens Fiery Start

Slough Town

Slough Town

Bushay (3), Sayer (37)


McKimm (1-1), Egbe (1-2)
League Attendance: 911 Andy Sayer
After the hype, the hope and the expectation, Saturday was the day when Slough needed to click and the Russell magic really needed to work.

And in front of a fine 911 crowd, Slough showed both sides of their nature, answering their detractors with some fine attacking football and fuelling their arguments with some slapstick defending.

Without the injured Whitby, Russell brought in Trevor Baron to partner Bateman and Roberts in central defence, leaving a three-man midfield of Bushay, Catlin and Hazel to support the dream ticket of West and Sayer up-front.

Not even in the minds of the most optimistic of the Rebels faithful, however, could their team have clicked within three minutes of the kick-off.

This is what happened, though, as Hazel's ball found Mark West, who held off his marker and laid the ball off for Bushay to blast home.

Slough buzzed with a confidence which has been lacking for as long as can be remembered. Sayer, rejuvenated and reborn after his injury worries, played like a man possessed, and gave the Hendon defence of accountants and estate agents some real headaches.

On 12 minutes, Clement's cross saw Baron and Catlin ruin each other's chances of a clean contact. Seconds later and Sayer created space for himself to thrillingly blast wide. Clement, given space on the left wing, then manoeuvred an opportunity for Bushay to test tormented 'keeper Dave Hudson.

Bunting, for so long a spectator, only got into the action on 20 minutes, taking the sting out of an Uche Egbe shot. The Rebels faithful smiled, anticipating the coming season with glee.

Suddenly, the flames of footballing passion were dampened and then extinguished by a cruel double whammy.

Egbe dispossessed Bateman and produced a fine save from Bunting, only for Steve McKimm to tap home the rebound.

Hendon sensed a chance to gain a foothold in an entertaining game and sure enough, the ball became caught up in Rebels' feet and Uche Egbe took full advantage.

The last terrible season began to return to harrowed Slough memories.

Soon, though, all was calm, as on 37 minutes, the phoenix-like Andy Sayer rose, quite literally to the occasion as he headed home a Graham Roberts flick-on with venom.

If the scoring rate was beginning to resemble a park kick-around, the football itself was of the highest quality, with Slough, free from the shackles of relegation and managerial doubts, stringing together some distinguished moves, such as the Sayer cross on 39 minutes that saw Catlin head onto the crossbar.

By half-time, there was finally time for the crowd to draw a collective breath after an exhilarating first 45. By contrast, the second half was sluggish to start, as if the efforts of the first half had drained both teams.

Bushay, by far the Rebels' most vibrant and dangerous player, provided the half's main talking point, as he left the pitch on the hour to make way for fellow summer signing John Richardson. His entry, however, failed to kick-start the game into life.

Clement stepped up on 65 minutes to let fly from fully 20 yards, but gave more trouble to an advertising hoarding than he did to the Hendon goalkeeper.

At the other end, Hendon were stolid in attack, and even the frenetic Uche Egbe caused Bunting little worry.

Catlin provided the best chance of the half, serving up a delicious hall for Andy Sayer, who did not have the legs to capitalise.

Soon, Slough were resigned to a useful, if disappointing, draw. Roberts looked useful at the back, while Sayer and West were as potent as predicted. Bunting was as reliable as ever, and Bushay looks like an inspired buy.

Russell will know, too, that if Hendon are the standard of opposition that the Rebels must face this season, then things really are looking up.

Watch this space

Hendon Lineup


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