Dagenham joy turns to despair

Slough Town

Slough Town

Hercules (33), West (2-3)
Stevenage Borough

Stevenage Borough

Browne (4, 7), Webster (10, pen), Hayles (47), Barrowcliff (62), Venables (2-6)
League Attendance: 1126 Cliff Hercules
It seems Brian McDermott has inherited more than just a first team squad from Dave Russell - he also has the same self-destruct button just waiting to be pressed.

League leaders Stevenage came with an awesome record, but scored only one real goal all evening - they were gifted the other five by four infuriating defensive errors and one refereeing mix-up.

In between, the Rebels attacked in earnest and fully deserved the two goals they managed in reply, but their efforts were overshadowed by an unfortunate and somewhat unjust scoreline.

Slough did particularly well to come back from a disastrous opening 10 minutes which might have broken another team. The horrors began in just the fourth minute and were the start of a personal nightmare for Alan Paris.

He was caught in possession when he should have cleared the ball, and Hayles nipped in with a shot that Ben Miles pushed over his head and right into Browne's path for him to nudge in on the line.

And then a Miles goal kick never got off the ground and rolled straight to the grateful Browne 35 yards out - he raced into the box and hammered it straight past the hapless 'keeper. There was no time to regroup, as a Barrowcliff through-ball released Hayles and when Miles collided with him a yellow card and penalty was the result, to the amazement of the sizeable crowd. Webster tucked the kick away.

Unfortunately, none of that was in the script and left the Rebels a little shaken, but they soon began to bite back. Miles stopped well from Barrowcliff, Cliff Hercules planted a header over, Mark West brought a good save from Wilmot and Paris was inches wide from 25 yards.

At times, Slough matched the visitors in most parts of the field yet still faced an uphill battle, with Stevenage defending deeply to contain their lead. It wasn't deep enough for Hercules, however, who finished a swish move started by Steve Bateman on 33 minutes. Mark Fiore provided the ball across the goal which found Ansil Bushay, and he, when confronted by the 'keeper, managed to square it to his strike partner, who touched in on the line.

Then Hercules' crunching tackle allowed West to charge down on Wilmot but for once his finish eluded him and he struck the outside of the post. But when Sodje conceded a needless freekick for handball, the game opened up again and for a while could have been a cracker. Borough never cleared the kick, Kenny Sansom put it back into the box and poor marking saw West left with an easy chance.

Sadly, all efforts to equalise were in vain. Another Paris error led to the fourth just two minutes after the second-half restart, as he was again caught and robbed, Hayles taking the ball into the area before finishing.

Brian Lee's rising shot kept Wilmot busy and there remained hope until the 62nd minute, when Browne broke down the right, got past Bateman and allowed Hayles to hold the ball until Barrowcliff arrived to thump one past Miles.

The spirit was still there, but when Bateman's back pass dropped invitingly for Venables the job was completed and all the good work done against Dagenham three days earlier was put back into perspective.

This was be both a crucial lesson and an important test; the ability to bounce back is vital and Northwich will be very keen to take advantage on Saturday.

Stevenage Borough Lineup

Richard Wilmot, Kenny Webster, Robbie Mutchell, Efetobore Sodje, Mark Smith, Paul Barrowcliff, Dave Venables, Corey Browne, Steve Berry, Shaun Marshall, Barry Hayles. Substitutes: Des Gallagher, Scott Cretton (for Sodje), Stuart Beevor (for Barrowcliff)


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