Chalfont, forced into a number of changes due to injury, weathered a first half storm, in which Slough had plenty of opportunities to take a comfortable lead into the half time break, but were stunned by Clarke’s 85th minute winning goal after a poor second half display.
Slough set about the difficult task of trying to win as many points as possible to close the huge gap between themselves and the top five, and started brightly enough – but had James Warrington to thank for superbly keeping out a header from Aaron McLeish after a swift attack down the right hand side. The keeper scooped the ball away from the line when it looked as if the downward header had passed him.
At the other end, the former Beaconsfield goalkeeper Michael Power-Simpson, who frustrated Slough in last May’s playoff semi-final, again kept the Slough attack at bay with a string of good saves. First, he saved with his legs to deny Dan Burnell after good work from Ollie Burgess. Burnell put another half-volley wide before Power-Simpson again parried a shot away from the Rebels top-scorer, only for Ed Smith to side foot the rebound wide when he really should have scored.
Power-Simpson was in the right place at the right time again to smother a shot from Burgess, before both Jake Parsons and Kyle Anthony, slotting into the heart of the midfield in a 4-4-2 formation, weaved their way into the box and past a number of challenges, both found the keeper in the way.
One more good chance came Slough’s way before the half-time whistle as the impressive Anthony led a breakaway, feeding Burgess who in turn teed up Burnell to fire in a volley which Power-Simpson kept out.
The start of the second half offered hope to Slough that more of the same would follow, and Burgess forced yet another save from the busy Chalfont goalkeeper. But the visitors grew in stature as the second half wore on and Slough grew more and more frustrated, perhaps summed up with a yellow card for Alex Brown for arguing with the referee.
Michael Lewis had Warrington worried with a long shot which flew not far wide, and the Slough keeper later made a superb double save, but Slough were rescued by an offside flag.
Manager Steve Bateman brought on Ryan O’Toole in place of Smith, who suffered a frustrating afternoon, but still the Chalfont back line, marshalled by Adam Louth and Jerome Okimo, held firm.
As Slough grew increasingly desperate for a goal, Chalfont’s moment of glory came with five minutes left. The visitors had refused to sit back and hold on for a point, and their play in the second half suggested that they could sense a winning goal. It arrived when Daryl Atkins turned and sprinted past Brown before pulling the ball back for substitute Clarke to arrive and score past Warrington, who was offered little protection. This was to prove insurmountable for the Rebels, though they almost replied instantly but Power-Simpson yet again kept out a volley from Burgess.
With Slough committed to pushing numbers forward, Parsons was tackled by Glenn Yala before he could get a shot away, and as Chalfont broke, Warrington superbly saved from Daniel Hughes.
Slough threw everything forward in the closing stages, including Warrington himself for a late corner, but were unable to rescue the game and now look forward to two home games in quick succession this Tuesday and Thursday as they look to put this disappointment behind them.
Chalfont St Peter Line up
Michael Power-Simpson, Terrell Lewis, Jerome Okimo, Glenn Yala, Adam Louth, Alan Hedley, Daryl Atkins, Luke Brook-Smith (Remmel Clarke), Aaron McLeish (Hailu Theodros), Daniel Hughes (c), Michael Lewis (Jamal Lattan). Subs not used: Troy Powell, Connor Spaans.