09:48AM, Thursday 03 May 2018
Slough Town 3, Kettering Town 1
James Dobson netted twice from the penalty spot as Slough Town beat Kettering Town to book their place in the Southern League Premier Division play-off final.
The Rebels came into the clash off the back of Saturday’s narrow 2-1 win over Royston Town, and they backed that up with another committed, if workmanlike display.
At no point did Jon Underwood and Neil Baker’s side really turn on the style that we’ve been accustomed to this season, but they got the job done, and that’s all that really matters.
They’ll now travel to Kings Lynn Town for the final on Bank Holiday Monday, after the Linnets overcame Weymouth 3-0 last night.
Both sides made a tentative start at Arbour Park, which suggested a tense evening was in prospect for both sets of supporters.
The Poppies looked the more lively in the opening 10 minutes, and Matthew Stevens was a whisker away from turning Rhys Hoeness cross from the left past Jack Turner.
But, this was an evening when the Rebels made the most of the opportunities that were presented to them. Perry Coles pounced on Orrin Pendley’s weak header back to his goalkeeper and nipped in to lift the ball beyond Paul White to make it 1-0 in the 14th minute. The goal was the striker’s ninth in as many games.
George Wells, excellent throughout in a resilient rearguard display, hooked the ball off the foot of Aaron O’Connor when it looked like the Poppies’ player might be in on goal, and Stevens had the ball in the net from Lindon Meikle’s cross in the 28th minute, but, fortunately for the hosts, the referee’s assistant had raised his flag.
There was no such reprieve for the Rebels six minutes later however, when O’Connor beat the offside trap to roll home the equaliser past a helpless Turner. The visitors now had their tails up and Turner had to be alert to push away another effort from O’Connor in the 39th minute, after the midfielder had robbed Matt Day on the left touchline and driven his way into the penalty area.
Stevens capped off a half to forget from a personal point of view when he blazed the ball over the bar with only Turner to beat in the 45th minute. The Rebels defence were once again caught flat footed from Rene Howe’s lofted pass.
The half would have given Baker and Underwood plenty to consider, but, whatever was said to the home team at half-time, it clearly had the desired effect.
The Rebels had already been on the front foot when Dobson’s darting run into the area was obstructed by Michael Richen’s foul in the 55th minute.
Dobson kept his cool from 12 yards to restore Slough’s lead, sending White the wrong way from the spot.
Sean Fraser was in the right place at the right time to hook the ball off the line in the 65th minute, as the Poppies attempted to mount another comeback, but Slough took a firm grip on the tie in the 70th minute, when Chris Flood was brought down by the sliding White. Again the referee was lenient, when he might have reached for a red card, but Dobson exacted maximum revenge, sending the ball high into the top corner to make it 3-1.
Now on a hat-trick Dobson attempted to curl home a free-kick with 15 minutes to play, but lifted it just over the bar.
Kettering had little left to trouble the Rebels’ backline. Richens’ shot from distance took a deflection as it zipped wide of Turner’s goal but that was the best they had to offer. At the other end Flood stretched to take on a volley from the edge of the area, but it drifted harmlessly wide.
The home side then played keep ball down in the corners to see out the four minutes of stoppage time quite comfortably.
Slough Town: Turner, Fraser, Wells, Day, Nisbet (C), Togwell, Dobson, Davies, Coles (Williams 79’), Flood, Harris (Lench 90’). Subs not used: Hollis, Dunn, Smart
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