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Sat Sep 26
15:00

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Wealdstone (A)
Sat Sep 26 15:00
The Vanarama National League South
18th
0pts

Battling Catlin has lukewarm Daggers rattling

| League
Att: 712
Dagenham & R.
Prindiville (1-1)
1 - 3
Slough Town
Catlin (24, 43, 60)
Neil Catlin
Neil Catlin - the very embodiment of the powerful spirit the Rebels need - lit up a scrappy game at Victoria Road with a decisive hat-trick on Monday evening.

His goals owed as much to Ansil Bushay, who set up all three in an all-too-rare display of his considerable talents as Slough wiped the unsightly and unmerited blemish of a seven-game run without a win clean away.

Once again, however, the contest was marred by some unnecessarily harsh refereeing which saw three players - including Chris Honor - leave the field without any remotely shocking tackle taking place all night.

Dagenham, for whom recent results had boded very well, were little different from the side the Rebels beat 6-0 over two legs in the Spalding Cup, despite spoiling a number of personnel changes.

Still there was the lethargy upfront which had inspired the league cup thrashing, and the defence was run ragged by Bushay, Garfield Blackman and Mark West, all three of whom shone as the visitors kept the ball firmly on the ground and concentrated on gradually breaking down the disorganised back four.

Honor curled a free-kick Just over the top corner from 30 yards on 20 minutes, and Catlin grabbed the first of his fully-deserved goals four minutes later when Paris strode manfully out of defence to slip the hall through for Bushay, whose pace left him onside. He had options in West and Catlin, but chose the latter, who tucked away from 12 yards under Gothard.

Midfield proved the battle ground where Catlin and Pye rose to prominence by winning a terrific, but mostly clean, tussle with their opposite numbers.

Dagenham decided that long shots were their best bet, and were proved right when Preddie failed to guard the top corner of his net and conceded an equaliser as Prindiville sighted the goal from 25 yards, took aim and hit the target perfectly.

The same principle almost worked again before half-time as Taylor was teed up on the edge of the area. The 'keeper never even saw it as it rebounded off the inside of the post and back out.

Fortunately Catlin, constantly busy all over the pitch the was later to earn a booking, one of seven on the evening, put his side firmly back into the driving seat just before the break when he repeated his earlier trick from 10 yards closer, Bushay again squaring the ball after being allowed the sort of space and time that can prove fatal.

Bushay's considerable contribution was profitable well into the second half and should have provided a penalty when Conner clattered him down as they ran into the area. Mr Smart was far from clever in not allowing it, and Dave Russell - who needs to he careful he does not gain a reputation as a ref basher - was again up from his seat to scream protests at the official.

West got hold of an Honor corner on 58 minutes and forced Gothard to block low with his feet, with Catlin earning the match ball on the hour with his third goal, touched in at the far post as the hall looped off the 'keeper following Bushay's powerful shot.

Most of the remaining entertainment was provided by the official, obviously some distant relative of Saturday's ref - they certainly shared the same bizarre sense of justice. Honor went for a 50-50 hall with Conner on 70 minutes and walked after earning his second booking, and it got worse from there.

Conner himself soon went through a comedy of a decision, after tussling with Bushay outside the area and being awarded a free-kick for his troubles. The linesman then called the ref - who was right next to the incident at the time-over and decided to reverse the decision, which brought a red card for an offence which Mr Smart had not even seen.

Slough kept their heads and were only momentarily worried when both Reed and Hewes fired into the side-netting, with Baron heading over at the other end. The home side's hopes were finally vanquished when they were reduced to nine men following one further flourish from the ref, Broom walking for a harmless tangle with Pye.

That soured the victory a little, but could not take the shine off the travelling support's delight at a result that had been a long time coming.

Dagenham & R. Line up

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