This fixture had been billed for months as being pivotal in the battle for the title, and whilst in reality both Slough and St Neots have more big tests to come before the end of the season, the hype resulted in a huge turnout from supporters of both clubs, with around 200 Rebels fans making the journey to be part of a crowd of 1,060.
As expected, the hosts looked to play the ball around quickly on the immaculate surface, but were ultimately frustrated by a Slough side which slammed the door shut time and time again and recorded their 16th clean sheet in 33 league games.
The hosts forced a series of early corners, which were repelled comfortably by the dominant Slough defence.
Slough goalkeeper James Warrington rapidly became a busy man in the first half; Stefan Moore wriggled through and had a shot saved by Rebels’ player of the month for the last three months, and the visitors survived two more blocked shots before Ben Mackey sliced the rebound wide.
Junior Konadu began to exert his influence on the game, and his shot from distance was tipped wide at full stretch by Warrington.
Slough’s first sniff of goal arrived on 16 minutes from their first corner, but Nathan Bowden-Haase headed Danny Murphy’s corner well wide.
At the other end, Warrington was alert again to deny Moore, rushing out to meet the striker and snuff out the threat.
The game settled down somewhat after a frenetic opening, and it seemed as if St Neots were becoming frustrated at not having turned their possession into a goal. For Slough it was important not to afford the hosts too much time on the ball, and the Rebels set about their task with some tenacity.
Ten minutes before half time, Dan Burnell got his head to a Paul Coyne corner and saw his effort come back off the bar. The striker had a second effort blocked but, whilst it looked as if the attack may have fizzled out, Simon Sweeney crossed back in to the middle. Sean Sonner beat his marker and guided a superb looping header past the despairing dive of Michael Duggan and into the back of the net to give his side a 36th-minute lead.
Slough got to the half time interval still ahead, with St Neots frustrated time and time again as they tried to work the space around the edge of the box. Indeed, the hosts were reduced to shooting from distance on a number of occasions.
Chances were at a premium for either side in the second half, with Slough proving why they have the best defensive record in the league this season, but Warrington produced another fine save from Konadu just past the hour mark, diving to keep out the midfielder’s fierce effort from distance.
St Neots manager Dennis Greene made a double substitution in a bid to change the game, introducing Rashid Kamara and Shane Tolley, and it was the former who almost capitalised on a mix-up in the Rebels defence, but his shot was well blocked. Shortly after, Tolley had a penalty appeal waved away by the referee, with the forward being booked for his actions.
Whilst Slough’s approach seemed to unsettle the hosts, it also brought about a number of yellow cards, with Brown, Woozley and Coyne all cautioned.
Steve Bateman replaced his strike force, who had worked so hard throughout, with Lloyd Owusu and Jerome Anderson - and the latter produced a full-length save from Duggan with a strike from distance after a run at the defence with seven minutes left.
The hosts had largely been reduced to hopeful long shots, all well off target, but Slough survived a couple of scares near the end - including a Tolley effort which was ruled out for offside - and held on to seal the league double over St Neots and move back to the top of the table.
Slough Town Line Up
- 1 James Warrington
- 2 Alex Brown
- 3 Danny Murphy 16
- 4 Adam Logie
- 5 Nathan Bowden-Haase
- 6 David Woozley
- 7 Simon Sweeney
- 8 Paul Coyne
- 9 Danny Burnell 12
- 10 Sean Sonner 15
- 11 Ollie Burgess
St Neots Town Line up
Duggan, Webb (c), Steer, Sear, Gent, Hope, Hilliard (Kamara 64), Konadu, Moore, Mackey (Tolley 64), Jacob. Subs not used: Greene, Henebery, Scully.