11:33PM, Monday 04 December 2017
Credit: All photos by Gary House
Slough Town 0, Rochdale 4
Rochdale scored twice in the final minutes to bring an end to Slough Town’s memorable FA Cup run at Arbour Park this evening.
The Rebels were looking to straddle the 84 league places between themselves and Keith Hill’s side but, despite matching their League One opponents for long periods in front of the BT Sport cameras, they weren’t quite able to do it.
A bright start from the hosts was dimmed slightly when Calvin Andrew anticipated Joseph Bunney’s brilliant low ball into the box to side-foot past Jack Turner in the 13th minute. Rochdale saw plenty of the ball after that, but did precious little with it, and Slough slowly got themselves back into contention.
Mark Nisbet’s clever run and powerful volley from James Dobson’s 37th minute corner brought the best out of visiting keeper Josh Lillis. But the moment that might have swung the tie Slough’s way arrived a minute before the break when Nathan Smart’s surging run down the right was matched by a fabulous cross to the back post which Lee Togwell – Slough’s stand out player on the evening – headed just wide.
Had the Rebels got themselves level, it might have been a different story, but the full-time professionals began to create clearer, better openings as the game wore on. Their captain Ian Henderson clattered a shot against Turner’s upright five minutes after the interval before Dobson responded with a backwards header from George Wells’ free-kick which very nearly caught out a back-pedaling Lillis a few minutes later.
Rochdale’s passage into the third round, and a trip to Doncaster Rovers, was confirmed in the 68th minute when Callum Camps’ punished a softly conceded free-kick on the edge of the Rebels’ area. Camps sent a dipping low free-kick through the wall and past Turner before he had time to react. Later in the half he very nearly bagged himself a second with a carbon copy set-piece, this time the ball just skimming over the bar.
Slough had their moments as well. Smart nearly capped a fine personal display with a wonderful goal. In the 74th minute he raced out from central defence, exchanged passes with substitute Manny Williams and clipped a shot over Lillis and off the underside of post and bar. Guy Hollis then escaped his man to head Matt Lench’s free-kick just wide with 10 minutes to play. Had either of those gone in it might have given Slough a sniff of a comeback.
Instead the scoreline was given a harsh complexion in the final minutes when Henderson’s shot from Andrew’s header across goal was deflected in off Wells in the 88th minute. Then, with almost the final kick of the game Matthew Done raced onto Andrew’s through-ball and kept his composure to lift a shot over Turner and in off the underside of the bar.
The final score was lopsided, given how well Slough Town had played in patches, but, for most of the 90 minutes at Arbour Park, the Rebels gave their league opponents a very decent game. Slough can be proud of the way they acquitted themselves tonight, and throughout this season’s run to the second round. But now they have to forget about this disappointment and get back to the bread and butter of league football, with promotion to the National League South now the main agenda.
Slough Town: Turner, Smart (Fraser 78'), Wells, Hollis, Nisbet (c), Togwell, Dobson (Webb 75'), Lench, Flood, Harris (Williams 59'), Dunn.
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