Second best again

Slough Town

Slough Town

Hercules (41)


Trott (11), Harkus (44 pen)
League Attendance: 768 Alan Paris
Do you ever get the feeling you're running out of excuses? Some Slough fans must know a fair bit about that at the moment. They've tried the refs (that was fairly plausible on Saturday, but a conspiracy theory's going a bit far). They've blamed Dave Russell (for what, exactly, getting promoted?), and they've brought about Ansil Bushay's rapid demise - and still their side keeps losing at home.

How uncomplicated it would be if there was a single reason. As it is, pure bad luck seems to he the best explanation (no doubt part of a devilish pact being masterminded by Wycombe Wanderers and the FA).

The ball just wouldn't go into the net for Slough - and how they tried. Another day might have seen them score six or seven in the second half, but instead they lost their seventh home league game from 12. An abysmal record by anyone's standards.

They have only themselves to blame for letting the pretty mediocre Gateshead take the lead on 11 minutes, as Trott capitalised on some laughable defending to nip in ahead of Trevor Bunting and tap in a Hine corner, a very poor goal to concede.

But playing catch-up seems to be what the Rebels do best and they knuckled down quickly to the task in hand. Mark West headed one chance wide and saw another bobble onto a post before a failed chip of Sherwood, while Mark Fiore shot inches over after a stylish turn.

Neil Catlin and Mark Pye continued as an effective midfield engine, leaving West and Cliff Hereules less isolated up front than they have been recently, and Alan Paris again proved his worth at the back.

Barry Rake was conspicuous by his absence, and replacement Chris Honor was mysteriously hauled off after 37 minutes, looking somewhat displeased at the decision.

Substitute Garfield Blackman almost made an instant impression when his first touch sent Catlin's failed shot at the tar post, but he was quiet thereafter and is perhaps not the answer Russell is looking for on this showing.

And then, on 41 minutes. Trevor Baron scooped the ball goalbound from 30 yards and single target Hercules leapt above his diminutive marker and with one well-practiced nod found the top corner. All looked well again.

Point the finger, if you like, at Mr Jordan of Pinner for the second goal on the stroke of half-time. Trott tripped over Fiore's legs after the Slough man had already taken the ball from him, and Harkus tucked the penalty home after justifiable protests were waved away.

The seeond half lived up to all expectations - the Rebels battled away and tried every conceivable means to heat Sherwood, but failed each time. The visitors were suitably outclassed and reduced to some desperate hacking, but they were laughing by the end.

Fiore, Catlin and Pye all lined up for shots within the space of 10 seconds - all struck defenders. Pint-sized Blackman couldn't reach what would have been a great heading opportunity, and West's lunge for a Pye crossfield ball was frustratingly close.

Defender Hine was sent off on 84 minutes for a second bookable offence following an incident in which Hercules was booked, but it made little difference. In injury time, Bushay (on for the over-tired and overworked Fiore) blasted straight into the 'keeper's body from a couple of yards out.

Possibly the best advice, insufficient though it may seem, is just for Slough to keep trying. There's no point in changing just for the sake of change, and they are one of the most attractive attacking sides in the Conference. It's just a pity that nothing goes right for them.

Gateshead Lineup


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