Stalybridge Celtic

Stalybridge Celtic

Slough Town

Slough Town

Hercules (52)
League Attendance: 558 Brian Lee
Cliff Hercules celebrated a dream debut for Slough Town with the goal which gave the Rebels their sixth Conference victory on the road at Stalybridge Celtic's Bower Fold on Saturday.
The powerful 32-year-old striker who signed from Aylesbury United last week was smack on target from a comer in the 52nd minute.
It was also a feather in the cap for Rebels manager Dave Russell who pinpointed before the match the exact strengths which made Hercules an instant success with the travelling fans.
After signing Hercules last week Russell said: "He is a big boy, good in the air and at set pieces. We need someone like him to rough up a few centre halves."
Russell's credibility has been well and truly restored after two wins and a moral victory in the 1-1 draw with Northwich Victoria following a nine-game run in the Conference without a win.
He made three changes for Saturday, including that of his new forward, though another was forced at the 11th hour.
Alarm bells rang at Wexham Park when Delroy Preddie failed to meet the deadline for departure.
Goalkeeper Preddie certainly had not heard his morning call and his oversleeping allowed Trevor Bunting to make his first appearance between the posts since September 23.
It could prove a costly mistake - for Bunting, in his Testimonial year, recorded the first clean sheet for the Rebels in eight games.
Andy Clement also returned after a three-match ban to provide Russell with his strongest line-up since taking over the managership of Slough 18 months ago.
If Russell wanted to be fussy he could complain that Saturday's win was not more emphatic. Celtic keeper Graham Willetts had plenty to do to keep his side in the game while the Rebels created a host of chances.
The Rebels quickly established control with Lee, Paris and Baron never in any serious trouble throughout the game.
Paris continues to impress both with the ball on the floor and in the air, though Baron dealt tidily with the bulk of Saturday's aerial missiles.
Lee was additionally given comer kicking duties - a it was his inswinger which produced the goal.
Between the three attacks were routinely repulsed, the ball usually finding Mark Pye who dictated the play from the centre of midfield while the aggressive partnership of Catlin and Clement outside him gave the Celtic engine room an uncomfortable ride.
Hercules and West soon developed an understanding, though without Bushay and Blackman, the Rebels lacked a little pace.
Russell, however, had that up his sleeve for a little later on in the game. And with Ross Pickett and Barry Rake unable even to make the bench on Saturday, the Rebels look set to become one of the toughest sides for the final 10 minutes.
Revelling in a more attacking role, Catlin had the best chance in the first half but after carving an opening just lacked the finish.
Revelling in a more attacking role, Catlin had the best chance in the first half but after carving an opening just lacked the finish.
Hercules, too, saw one shot whistle past the wrong side of the post - but was more deadly seven minutes after the restart, rising above the pack to nod joyfully home.
Celtic boldly replaced defenders with forwards, only for smart-thinking Slough to reply with an extra forward themselves in the shape of Bushay. There was a voracious bite during Bushay's brief appearance when he created five clear-cut opportunities to crush Celtic.
West hit the upright with one, Catlin should have converted another while Bushay himself had only Willetts to beat on a couple of other occasions.
There is now the sense of a storm threatening to break around Wexham Park and if Russell can further strengthen his squad to improve his side's less productive home form, then some club may soon be blown utterly away on the winds of change.

Stalybridge Celtic Lineup

Willetts, O'Shaughnessy, Coathup, Bauress, Jones, Hall, Higginbotham, Goodacre, Frain, Arnold, Ryan. SUBS: Edmonds (for Coathup, 62), Ellis (for Bauress, 62), Wheeler (for Higginbotham, 77).


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