07:00PM, Thursday 07 October 2021
Slough Town will be looking to beat one of Jon Underwood's pre-season tips for promotion, Ebbsfleet United, this Saturday as they seek to put a disappointing run of results behind them and get their campaign back on track.
The Rebels sit 18th in the table, with just five points collected from their first six matches, but had they had the rub of the green in just a few of those matches, Underwood believes they would have been much higher in the table.
They've collected just two points from their last four league games against Chippenham Town, Welling United, St Albans City and Hungerford, which the joint manager acknowledges is a disappointing haul from what looks on paper a friendly run of fixtures. They've conceded injury time goals and been on the wrong end of their fair share of dodgy refereeing decisions, but the upshot is they've been struggling for results, even if the performances haven't been too bad.
Throw in a woeful FA Cup exit at the hands of step 4 Whitehawk a few weeks ago and there's a general feeling of frustration and dissatisfaction that can only be lifted by the club winning games of football. They'll now look to do that against some of the more fancied teams in the division and a run of fixtures that certainly looks daunting.
“I think I said before the start of the season they were my tip,” Underwood said of Ebbsfleet. “They have the potential to win the league. Dartford have started well but I still think Ebbsfleet will be in that top two.
“They play attack minded football and have got some very dangerous players. They scored five in their last league game at Chippenham so, yeah, we're under no illusions as to how tough it will be.
“We've not collected the points we feel we deserved from our last four league games, but what that means is that we now have to go out and beat a team like Ebbsfleet, or Havant who we play in a few weeks. We have to win one of those games that people don't necessarily expect you to win. These teams are very good, but they're also beatable and they do get beaten by other sides in this division so, we've got to think, why not us? We're at home and we're going to be positive.”
The Rebels were much improved in their 1-1 draw at Hungerford on September 25. Only a stoppage time goal denied them what would have been a morale-boosting three points and Underwood is hopeful they will carry some of the momentum from that improved display into Saturday's clash at Arbour Park. To stay match sharp the Rebels have played friendlies against Hanwell and Ashford this week, while Fleet edged through to the next round of the FA Cup with a 1-0 win at Aylesbury United on Saturday.
“I thought we were really good at Hungerford, but they got a 93rd minute equaliser,” he said. “I thought we defended really well but when you put that many balls into the box and get that many people forward, there's always a chance that the ball will break for one of their players and that's what happened. It was no one's fault, it's just what happens in football.
“We wanted to keep that momentum with a couple of friendlies games, and we'll look to take the Hungerford form into Ebbsfleet.”
Reflecting on their recent form, and the luck that's seemingly deserted them in crucial moments, Underwood added: “We could have played the same way and had five more points. We'd probably be in the top half and knocking on the play-offs, so we're not too down, but we can't be saying the same things in a month's time.
“No disrespect to the last four sides we’ve played but two points isn’t a good enough return. We need to get better at winning games. If you continue work hard and your performances are to a certain level, I think the wins will come. All you can do is try and be consistent and stick together as a team. If you think you’ve got a good enough side, and we do believe that, the results will come.”