The Rebels took a two-goal lead in the first half with Sam Togwell and Manny Williams on target, but Thierry Nevers pulled one back to reduce the deficit at the interval. Josh Jackman put the seal on the victory with a spectacular strike from the edge of the box with three minutes remaining as Slough ensured the trophy would make its way to Arbour Park.
It is the 15th time the Rebels have won the competition – but the first since April 1981, a 2-0 win against Milton Keynes City at Aylesbury United, and their first final since losing to Reading in 1995.
Having been reinstated to the competition following the removal of Marlow, Slough looked to make the most of the opportunity against the Royals – but found themselves limited to a squad of 12 players due to the strict eligibility criteria. Francis Amartey, Matt Lench, Dan Roberts and Billy Clifford were all ineligible, whilst Guy Hollis and Sean Fraser were unavailable and George Wells was ruled out with a knee injury.
Scott Davies, having left the club earlier in the season stepped in to help out, taking a place on the bench – and a defensive reshuffle saw Jackman move to left back, with Nathan Smart playing only his second match of the season for the Rebels at right back. Meanwhile, Ben Harris returned from his injury lay-off and played the opening 45 minutes.
Lee Togwell blazed a volley over the bar in the opening seconds, and Ben Harris was soon in the thick of the action as he forced Reading’s keeper Tyler Roberts into a fine save at his near post.
At the other end, Slough needed to be mindful of the pace and power of Reading’s counter-attacks, and Smart did superbly to get a touch on the ball and divert it back to Jack Turner as a cross came in from the right.
A thunderbolt free kick from Ben Harris on 19 minutes produced an important save from Roberts, who managed to tip it over the bar.
The Royals went on the attack and Cameron Green cut the ball back to Conor Lawless, who could only fire well wide from the edge of the box.
A minute later, Slough had the lead. Simon Dunn’s corner kick bounced around in the six yard box, where Sam Togwell was on hand to smash the ball into the open net.
Four minutes later, a rash tackle from Reading skipper Tom Holmes on Ben Harris led to the award of a penalty, and up stepped Manny Williams to coolly side foot the kick just out of Roberts’ reach from 12 yards, putting Slough in command.
But six minutes later, Reading reduced the deficit as Nevers finished off a flowing attacking move by sweeping home a low cross from Jamal Balogun, giving Turner little chance.
Reading broke at pace again just minutes later, and Nevers forced Turner to push aside a fierce strike. And a minute before the break, the striker found himself with a chance after a short pass back, but he took too long to get the ball under control and Jackman got back to block.
Slough started the second half with Dunn testing Roberts with a free kick, but the intensity failed to match that of the first half and both sides found chances harder to come by.
Jackman got up to head a corner goalward on 62 minutes, but Roberts was equal to it, tipping over the bar.
Roberts produced a fine instinctive save from Louie Soares later on, although the Slough man was in an offside position.
Five minutes remained when Turner was called upon to race out of his goal to put in a crucial tackle on Nevers, as faint Reading appeals for a penalty were waved away.
Then, minutes later, Jackman scored the goal of the game, curling into the top corner from the edge of the box after Mark Nisbet let Soares’ pass run through to him.
Reading Line up
Myles Roberts, Jamal Balogun (Marcel Elva-Fountaine 64), Cameron Green, Akin Odimayo, Tom Holmes (c), Andre Burley, Conor Lawless, Royin Omolabi, Thierry Nevers, Ethan Coleman (Oliver Pendlebury 60), Ethan Bristow (Khalid Simmo 72). Unused substitutes: Roberto Nditi, Jokull Andresson.