04:37PM, Thursday 20 January 2022
They may have failed to get the rub of the green in Saturday's FA Trophy defeat to York City, but joint manager Jon Underwood says the experience will have been good for the players, especially the younger ones who have come up from the u23s.
The Rebels made a weekend of Saturday's fourth round tie, staying in a hotel on the Friday and Saturday night, and, while they bowed out of the competition to a controversial first half goal from Clayton Donaldson, Underwood was pleased enough with the effort shown by his players.
The Minstermen took the lead in the 19th minute, when Donaldson headed home Sean Newton's cross from a position which looked suspiciously offside. But the goal was given and, although the Rebels stepped up their efforts in the second half and saw several half chances go begging, they weren't able to force the tie to a penalty shoot-out which Underwood feels would have been just about deserved on the balance of play.
“Everything, apart from going out of the competition, was really good,” said Underwood.
“We started two players who had come out of our u23s and had four more on the bench, so it was a really good experience for them of a big game with us staying in a team hotel.
“York were a good side as we knew they would be. They're a full-time side who have aspirations of going up, and they were better than us in the first half. We didn't really get going in the first half, despite working hard, but the disappointment came from the goal which we felt was offside.
“It's difficult from the video to be 100 per cent sure, but their assistant manager thought it was offside and certainly our players were convinced.
“But it is what it is. Sometimes they go for you. We had a real go in the second half, and we challenged them to find another gear which I think they did. We had much the better of the second half but couldn’t create that one clear opening. We had lots of half chances and balls in the box where the ball would ricochet to them rather than us and you need things like that to go your way. They got a bit edgy as we were pushing, and our support was fantastic, but we weren't able to get that equaliser. On another day we could have taken them to penalties, but I don't think we did enough to win the game. To finish stronger against a full-time side says a lot about our fitness but it just wasn't meant to be.”
Having now gone out of all the cup competitions this season, Slough are free to focus on their National League South campaign with the side only four points off the play-offs with nearly half the season still to play. They lost their last league match 6-1 at Chippenham Town but can bounce back with two potentially winnable games this week, away to second bottom second bottom Braintree Town on Saturday, then home to bottom club Billericay Town on Tuesday evening.
However, Underwood will be warning the players not to take either game lightly.
“It's a cliche to say we're concentrating on the league but that's exactly how it feels now,” added Underwood.
“It’s still very tight, I think we’re four points off (the play-offs) but everyone has played a different number of games so it’s quite hard to read the table.
“We had a good run that took us from second bottom to 11th and we’ve got to try and go on another unbeaten run, but everyone is looking for that consistency and trying to edge closer to those playoffs.
“There are a huge number of teams who will be looking at that table, just as we are, and we’re thinking can we sneak in there?
“Billericay have been bottom for a long time. but have had some good results recently drawing with Maidstone and beating Oxford which we know is one of the toughest games you can play in this league. And Braintree away, wherever they are in the table is always a tough place to go. That game is a good indicator of where we are as a team.
“We’ve had some great results on our pitch, but can we roll our sleeves up and go to places like Braintree and get a positive result?”
Maidenhead and Slough travellers have long been waiting for the arrival of Crossrail to whisk them quickly into central London.