Port In A Storm

Slough Town

Slough Town

West (35), Blackman (40)


Gamble (1-0 pen, 30 pen), Haw (19, 71, 79)
League Attendance: 942 Unknown
A strange one this. It's not often you watch a team concede five goals yet applaud them off the pitch, nor the scoreline be considered less important than the fact that, for the most part, the lads did great.

OK, so three points would have been nice, but when a side tipped as being amongst the front-runners in their league are so confidently and determinedly disregarded by a team primed - or so they say - for relegation, it's not the winning that counts.

The defence proved Slough's achilles heel, a back-line crying for (in a couple of cases braying) out for some leadership, coming a cropper three times too often when it came down to it. Playing five at the back may well prove unnecessary and wasteful, for so convincing do the Rebels look when they concentrate on that first line of defence - attack - that the sight of Harvey and Lee dragging their heels on the half-way line is a saddening spectacle.

And there were certainly some rich-pickings for the fans to chew over. Fiore's crossing is a delight, often leaving the visitors' defence standing in awe, while fellow winger Blackman is a yellow-shirted fruit finally ripe for consumption, his carefree running and joyous jinxing just daring Dave Russell to leave him on the subs' bench again.

Bressington as sweeper is a mixed bag but a promising signing looking far better when filling a straight midfielder's role than trying to do 10 things at once. Find of the season, however, is Delroy Preddie. Already causing Trevor Bunting sleepless nights and a 'keeper so dextrous that greater things must surely beckon if only he can tame a strange tendency to come charging 40 yards from goal at the slightest provocation, a trait regarded with considerable suspicion outside Colombia.

But not only did the team play well, they played as a team too and showed a fighting spirit long missing. On 30 minutes they were 3-0 down and staring with disbelief at an array of errors which began after Harvey first allowed Griffiths to round him and then needlessly tripped him from behind as he stole along the touchline in a fairly innocuous manner. Gamble stroked the penalty past Preddie and a crowd of we've seen all this before, shook their heads.

On 19 minutes, it went from had to worse. Baron booted the hall into West's back, it rebounded kindly and Haw gave chase before firing round Preddie. Three, to be reasonable, was excessive and unfair.

True, Whittaker was allowed another glaringly clear run on Preddie, but Bunting's understudy did well to steal the ball cleanly away from his feet on the penalty spot. which was exactly where it returned 10 seconds later when Mr Green of Henley decided he had committed a highly dubious foul. Gamble, once again. converted with glee.

That Slough came back from this was extremely commendable: that they outplayed, out thought and generally outdid Southport for the remainder of the game is simply superb. Within five minutes of the third effort going in, they had returned with a goal of genuine quality and intelligence, a splendid example of quick thinking and fluid execution.

Bressington flicked a speedy free-kick into the path of Fiore, who volleyed a cross over into the area where West stooped, dove and headed the hall past McKenna and into the corner of the net.

They chased, they harried and they ran for the rest of the half. Not only did Clement release West with a Hoddle-esque 50-yard ball, the striker's flight being arrested only by a charging McKenna, but Pye fired one yard wide and Harvey headed directly onto the crossbar.

Rarely had the side at any point last season reached such heights of competency, culminating on 40 minutes when Blackman lashed a stinging half-volley from 12 yards which left the 'keeper beaten all ends up as it soared into the top corner.

Three-all fixed firmly on the horizon, there ensued a second half where the hall went everywhere but the Southport net, the visitors withering further into themselves with every near miss.

Fiore proved an inspiration source of ammunition, twice leaving Bushay with a virtually empty net and twice seeing him fall to his knees in disbelief when he saw the ball whizz past him. Pye and Bressington's crafted passes all added to the threat, with Harvey and Baron menaces in the air from corners and free-kicks.

But would it all come together? Of course not. When they finally got into the Slough area, Southport made the most of it. Haw turned Harvey inside out on 71 minutes and had ample time to shoot underneath Preddie and eight minutes later the same forward fired teasingly home after dragging a humiliated Baron halfway across the pitch. 30 seconds later and six was thankfully avoided when Griffiths' shot was kept out by Preddie's feet.

But it matters not, for the Rebels did enough to win over a sceptical public and need only to believe in their own ability to really see the points tally mount.

Maybe the Conference isn't so special after all or maybe Southport are just a had example of it. but it seems that if Slough take the game to their opposition. drop the unnecessary five-man defence (and Lee Harvey with it) and concentrate on their attack strengths, they will get the results. They'll he alright and they know it.

Southport Lineup


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