01:11PM, Sunday 10 April 2022
Slough Town 2, Eastbourne Borough 2
U23s academy graduate Alfie Anderson scored on his senior debut, and Kurtis Cumberbatch also netted his first in a Rebels shirt as Slough Town held play-off contenders Eastbourne Borough to a 2-2 draw at Arbour Park on Saturday.
With Josh Jackman and Ben Harris missing the game through injury and illness, Underwood again turned to the club’s successful u23s academy to cover the gaps, bringing through Anderson and Joe Dandy for their full debuts.
In a game of shifting momentum, the Rebels took the lead in the 16th minute when Anderson latched onto Alfonso Tenconi’s pass and marked his debut with an assured left-footed finish.
It was just the start joint manager Jon Underwood would have been looking for after last weekend’s 5-0 hammering at the hands of Dorking Wanderers, but the lead was always a precarious one, and it was wiped out on the half-hour. The visitors created some space for Trent Mahorn to whip in a cross and Chris Whelpdale was there to convert past Jonathan North.
Five minutes later and Eastbourne were in front when Charley Kendall – the scorer of a hat-trick in Borough’s 3-1 win over the Rebels back in November – coolly slotted past North after going one-on-one with the keeper.
The visitors might have extended their advantage on the hour mark when Kendall again put the ball in the back of the net, but on this occasion, Slough were spared by the offside flag. North did well to deny the Eastbourne striker again moments later, getting across his goal to keep out a low strike.
These were seemingly the lifelines Slough needed to revive their challenge and Cumberbatch – brought in as a goal-scoring midfielder for the final third of the campaign – was on hand in the 71st minute to turn home Freddie Grant’s cross. Tenconi very nearly scored a spectacular winner, when he attempted to overhead kick Matt Lench’s cross, but he didn’t quite get his angles right and the ball bounced through to the Borough keeper.
There was still time for one heart-in-the-mouth moment for Slough, when Kendall somehow missed the target from just three yards out in the 75th minute, and Slough played out the remaining 15 minutes plus stoppage-time for a hard-earned, and well deserved, point.
It lifts them to within seven points of the play-offs with six matches to play, a gap that will surely be too big to bridge, but, as Underwood rightly pointed out, they must be happy with this performance from a young, inexperienced team featuring several new faces.
Afterwards he tweeted: “Have to be pleased with a point against a good side who will be in the play-offs. We are a team in transition with players missing but it gave an opportunity for two positive first starts for Joe and Alfie today and we’ll take the positives.”
Next up for the Rebels is a trip to Tonbridge Angels on Friday.
Closures are planned on the M4 between Langley and the M25 this weekend for smart motorway works.