Rebels' mud and guts triumph

Northwich Victoria

Northwich Victoria

Slough Town

Slough Town

Bateman (30)
League Unknown
A gutsy battling performance brought a severely depleted Slough side an important away win at Northwich. And it seemed a fitting twist, given the absence of four front-players, that the only goal, a stunning 25-yard effort, should come from centre half Steve Bateman.

After that it took some gritty defending from the Rebels to hold on to that lead, but every player dug deep and fought for the points.

Last week at Gateshead Slough were without the regular striking partnership of Mark West and Gary Abbott, and Lloyd Owusu and Byron Walton led the line.

After that game both those names were added to the injury list, and Cliff Hercules and Danny Bolt had to step in against the Vics.

And even at Northwich, Slough did not escape with Mark Pye, only just returned to action after a long lay off, forced to come off after 12 minutes, and Gary Blackford also injured.

On a cold afternoon that saw persistent rain and even a hailstorm, it would prove a test of strenght and determination for the Rebels - and they passed with flying colours.

Slough created their first chance after just three minutes, when good work from Blackford set Garry Smart up to cross in for Hercules, but his header was aimed straight at the keeper.

On 11 minutes an excellent tackle from Derek Simpson released Bolt, but he was all alone and shot wide.

Mark Pye then came off to be replaced by Mark Fiore and Northwich began to press forward, with Delwyn Humphreys making some good runs, and danger-man Lee Steele always lurking.

A cross from Humphreys almost found Steele unmarked in the box but was cut out by the merest of touches from Gary McGinnis.

Just before the half-hour mark Andy Clement was booked for a two-footed tackle just outside the box. But it was a free kick at the other end that set up the crucial goal. The ball came back out to Bateman who struck a sweet shot that looped into the top right-hand corner.

The goal set up a spell of pressure from Slough who won three successive corners and ended the half looking more determined now they had a lead to defend.

The Vics started the second half brightly and could have equalised eight minutes in but for some brave goalkeeping. Shane Reddish was put clear and was one-on-one with Paul Wilkerson. but the Slough keeper came out and made an excellent block with his legs.

Slough had a chance 10 minutes later after a neat one-two between Hercules and Bolt, but Bolt shot wide of the near post. From then on Slough had to roll their sleeves up and battle to keep an increasingly threatening Northwich side out - but that was exactly what they did.

With most of the Vies' attacks coming down the right through Humphreys and full back Derek Ward, Simpson and McGinnis in particular were put under pressure and responded with some excellent tackling.

On 76 minutes Blackford had to be treated on the pitch as he injured himself stretching unchallenged to meet a cross from Bolt. He was eventually replaced by Grant Eaton.

Slough kept going and ignored the crowd's anger as they ran the clock down. They had a final chance in the last minute to make the game safe when Fiore put Bolt clear on goal, but again Bolt was off target.

The win lifts Slough to third place in the Conference table. and sets them up for the clash with second-placed Macclesfield on Saturday.

Northwich Victoria Lineup


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