In doing so, Steve Bateman’s side ended a poor recent record against their Buckinghamshire neighbours – since joining the Southern League in 2007, Slough had lost six of the eleven previous encounters with the Blues, and had never beaten them at Holloways Park – but the Rebels rode their luck in the opening fifteen minutes, as Burnham started brightly and full of attacking intent.
James Warrington was the hero as early as the first minute, as Burnham top scorer Ryan Bird was set clean through, but the Slough stopper blocked with his legs.
Stuart Swift fired a free kick wide, but Burnham continued to have the better of the play. Lee Togwell fed Stafforde Palmer, whose shot hit the heels of Alex Brown and rolled just wide of the post with Warrington beaten.
Warrington again needed to make a good save from centre-back John Mundy, who stretched a leg out to fire a half-volley towards goal after a corner was headed away.
Yet another clear chance came when Burnham broke away after a Slough corner, with Will Hendry leading the charge. He fed Dan Bailey, who charged toward goal and fed Josh Webb who, at the second attempt, crossed to the far post for the Palmer, who looked certain to score – but Warrington got across to block and somehow keep the ball out.
The misses proved crucial as Slough came in to the game with spells of possession. With 21 minutes on the clock, after a neat passage of play which saw the ball played out right and then into the box, the ball was cleared to Brown, 40 yards from goal. He floated a long pass back in to the box, for Burnell to control beautifully and place past Michael Watkins for his 20th goal of the season.
Burnham were forced into a reshuffle soon after as midfielder Hendry picked up an injury, and manager Martin Stone opted to replace him with striker Lee Barney, moving Bird back into central midfield. The move appeared to unsettle the Blues, who seemed stunned by the Slough goal which had come against the run of play.
Slough started to move the ball around confidently, with the Deeney brothers influential in setting up a chance for Jake Parsons, who dribbled his way into the box from the right flank and produced a save from Watkins. Soon after, trickery from Danny Murphy allowed him space to play a pass in to the feet of Burnell, who drew another save from the Blues stopper.
A goal up, Slough continued as the better side in the second half and eased to three points after Smith scored the second goal with an hour gone.
Before this, Smith found himself in space and rounded the onrushing Watkins, but failed to get enough power on his shot from 30 yards, faced with a difficult angle. However later on, the same player ran on to a pass and outmuscled Mundy before unleashing a superb strike from the edge of the box which looped over Watkins and dipped just under the crossbar – a strike which earned Smith congratulations from Watkins himself.
Dave Woozley almost found himself on the scoresheet but his shot from the impressive Ashley Deeney’s low cross was blocked, and soon after Burnell had another strike ruled out due to an offside flag, before Watkins denied him again with an instinctive one-handed save from a close-range header.
Burnham were thwarted as a couple of shots were cleared away from the line late on, as the Slough rearguard stood firm to claim a well-earned clean sheet and three points which meant Slough ended the year in tenth place, but with several games in hand, after the postponement of the Guildford City match.
Burnham Line up
Michael Watkins, Lee Togwell, Tom Baddeley, Tom Willment (c), John Mundy, Dan Bailey, Josh Webb, Will Hendry (Lee Barney), Stafforde Palmer (Jordan Dowdican), Ryan Bird, James Dobson (Aaron Couch). Subs not used: John Gray, Nevin Saroya.