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The Vanarama National League South

So Near And Yet So Far

Slough Town

Slough Town

Bushay (50)
St Albans City

St Albans City

Clark (80)
League Attendance: 1118 John Richardson
For fans with their heads stuck in the clouds, Saturday must have seemed a trifling little distraction to the promise of FA Cup glory, but in fact , in many ways, this top of the table clash was far more important.

The world and his wife seemed to be at Wexham Park passionately debating and probing every angle of Dave Russell's side. Whether this little outbreak of Rebelmania can be sustained after the Birmingham game remains to be seen, but the enthusiasm sweeping Slough at the moment can only be good for the future of the club.

And whether you were a diehard or a newcomer, everyone left the Park knowing that they had seen a game and a half, as Slough clawed their way to a point.

In the November rain, it was the City dwellers who looked most likely to provide first blood for a crowd of 1118 (Slough's best home gate of the season), creating some useful chances through Stein and Blackman, with Richardson and Bushay pushing the full backs to the limit.

The first half served mainly as a timely reminder of all the promising and disappointing aspects of Slough this season - some superb wing play, some stylish running from Bushay, lots of commitment, but a niggling susceptibility to the well-crafted counter-attack.

Clark must have been odds on to start the ball rolling with a blistering 20-yard strike from just such a situation, but Bunting produced a equally breathtaking save. For the army of umbrellas that made up the standing crowd, expectancy rather than excitement was the over-riding emotion.

Sayer and West covered a huge amount of ground in the Town cause, but it was Bushay who carved up a delicious double strike for Catlin on 33 minutes,. The midfielder hit one shot against a defender and another wide.

Last real chance of the half went to Bushay, after Richardson had run 40 yards to let Ansil slice wide, and Blackman forced another great save from Mr. Ever Ready, Trevor Bunting, in the final minute.

And as the second half began, so did the fireworks. Barely was the half five minutes old than West had thread the ball through for Bushay to blast home from point blank range. If anyone from Birmingham was there watching, that was the moment when the worrying really began.

Within a few seconds of the restart, a dozen players were involved in a melee in front of the St.Albans dugout. A lot of strong language and heavy-handedness later, Stone was booked.

His close friend John Richardson was having a better day, however, and was playing a blinder. He ran fully 80 yards before shooting just round the post, and Catlin also had an effort scrambled away.

With 20 minutes left, Slough seemed to know what they had to do to hold on. The back line looked sufficiently organised to sustain any onslaught, aided by a busy Sayer, and everything looked to be winding down nicely when we came to ten minutes left on the clock.

West finished a well-worked move with a slightly off-target shot after the game had been stopped for a spate of injuries, and the Rebels pushed the balls down to the corners to fritter away time.

Arid then it happened. St.Albans aren't sponsored by Roy Of The Rovers for nothing, and their hero today was top scorer Steve Clark. Put through by Gurney, he volleyed past Bunting to equalise.

That forced the Rebels to revise their game-plan dramatically, and in the end, there really wasn't time for such a re-think.

West, put clear through on a couple of occasions, lacked support, while Sayer drove past the post late on. Bushay volleyed over the bar, and Catlin had his final effort scraped infuriatingly off the line.

But the game was only really a sideshow anyway - as I left Wexham Park, someone began explaining to me, quite seriously that "of course, we didn't want to win today, because that would have given Birmingham all our secrets." Oh dear......

St Albans City Lineup


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