This was a promising start for the Rebels, looking to make it fourth time lucky in their quest for promotion, and in many ways the final scoreline flattered the hosts, as the visiting Northwood team caused Slough plenty of problems in the first half and the early part of the second - but wilted in the scorching hot conditions after Steve Bateman’s side had doubled their lead with 63 minutes played.
Slough had the first glimpse at goal with five minutes played, as Sean Sonner’s header across goal from a set piece was hooked onto the crossbar and over by Nathan Bowden-Haase.
The action switched to the other end, and Oliver Hawkins flicked on a long pass from James Reading, and forward Adamson Ajayi raced through on goal. His low shot was turned away by James Warrington, just far enough to deny Romaine Walker a goalscoring chance with the loose ball.
But Slough took the lead with the next opening, with 13 minutes on the clock. Dominic Rhone, a summer signing from AFC Hayes and one of three debutants in the side, fed Danny Burnell down the left. Burnell opted to try and pick out strike partner Sonner in the penalty box. Woods defender Lee Grant looked certain to cut out the pass, but opted to leave it – a decision which proved very costly as Sonner ran on to it and side footed past Reading from six yards.
Predictably, the game was not a fast-paced affair in the 30 degree heat, but Northwood showed plenty of effort and skill, only to be denied consistently by a solid Slough defence, looking to carry on the good work from much of last season. Hawkins flashed a shot over the bar from outside the box, and James Fraser blasted a shot wide, but Slough held firm.
A minute before half time, Slough could have doubled their lead but Ashley Deeney, able to get forward, beat his marker Marsh-Brown but shot at Reading, who spread himself well. There was a scare to follow for Warrington at the other end, as the keeper had to tip a corner from Romaine Walker over his own crossbar as it looked to be dropping in.
Alex Brown headed a Murphy corner narrowly over early in the second half, but the first fifteen minutes or so belonged to Northwood. Walker embarked on a solo run and tried to find Ajayi with a cross, which Murphy had to intercept and head narrowly past the post for a corner.
Ajayi was in the thick of the action again, and his endeavours led to the ball running for John Christian, who shot wide. Christian had a better chance shortly after as the ball ran loose to him following a corner, but he blazed the ball over from a good position.
But despite all this pressure, Warrington was largely a spectator in the Slough goal and, after weathering this storm, Slough should have scored a second. David Deeney, apparently mis-hitting a free kick delivery, found Sonner unmarked with his low effort across the face of the six yard box, but the striker's shot was turned wide by Reading.
But with 63 minutes played, Northwood centre back Brad Hewitt succeeded only in booting the ball high into the air 25 yards out instead of away from goal. Sonner won it and headed on for Burnell on the edge of the box, and he got sufficient power on his finish to put the ball into the back of the net despite Reading getting a hand to the ball and Hewitt attempting to clear off the line.
Northwood then introduced striker Spencer Bellotti and defender Danny McDonnell, but for the latter it was to turn into a nightmare debut. With Northwood committing players to attack, they were caught out at the back as Sonner beat the offside trap and slid the ball across in the direction of Burnell. Under pressure, the young defender got a telling touch to divert the ball into his own goal and make it 3-0, though referee Adrian Gillett would credit the goal to Burnell.
The game was ended as a contest, and both sides made further changes. The scoring was not complete though and, after Fraser fired a fierce shot wide from distance, Slough scored two more goals in the final five minutes as Northwood fell apart. First, Ashley Deeney’s chipped cross was turned in expertly by substitute Ollie Burgess, who hooked the ball over his shoulder and past Reading.
At the other end, Romaine Walker was unlucky to see a shot crash back off the bar, but there was still time for another Slough substitute, Ben Abbey, to grab a goal. As Slough broke away, a long pass from Burgess was seized upon by the veteran striker, who bore down on goal and fired past Reading from just inside the penalty box, despite the keeper getting a hand to the ball.
Slough Town Line Up
- 1 James Warrington
- 2 Ashley Deeney
- 3 Danny Murphy 18
- 4 Alex Brown
- 5 Nathan Bowden-Haase
- 6 David Woozley
- 7 Adam Logie
- 8 David Deeney
- 9 Danny Burnell
- 10 Sean Sonner 14
- 11 Dominic Rhone 12
Northwood Line up
James Reading, Scott Raper, Ronayne Marsh-Brown, Lee Grant (Danny McDonnell), Brad Hewitt, John Christian, James Fraser, Craig White (Spencer Bellotti), Oliver Hawkins (Gary Senior), Adamson Ajayi, Romaine Walker. Subs not used: Ryan Phillips, Dean Norman.