A terrible opening quarter of an hour saw Slough fail to get to grips with the conditions at Winterfield Road – with a poor playing surface and strong winds making life difficult for both sides – and Paulton settled quickly, with Mawford twice taking advantage of poor defending to put his side into a strong lead.
Slough rallied though, with Eddie Smith pulling one back almost immediately after, and the Rebels will be disappointed not to have won the game after dominating the second half and turning the game on its head thanks to a fortuitous strike from Lewis Putman and an own goal.
As early as the fourth minute, Mawford found himself in front of goal with only Mark Scott to beat, but he lifted his shot over the bar.
But five minutes later, Paulton played on after initially claiming a foul in midfield, and Darren Mullings’ pass was flicked on by Solomon Wheatley to find Mawford in space, and he slid the ball into the bottom corner.
And then on 14 minutes, Mawford was allowed another clear sight of goal, and again found the back of the net – Scott looked to have made a block with his legs, but the striker was able to watch the ball bounce into the net.
Smith’s goal two minutes later pulled Slough straight back into the match. Jhai Dhillon ventured upfield and received a throw-in from Putman, and the left-back chipped an accurate cross into the middle, where Smith looped a header over Ben John in the Paulton goal.
After a breathless opening quarter of an hour which had left Slough a little shell-shocked, the Rebels worked their way into the game and went close to levelling on 23 minutes, but Lee Barney lobbed the ball over the advancing John and wide of the goal.
Paulton responded as Leon Jeanne made good progress down the left and cut the ball back for Mullings, whose shot was blocked.
Just past the half hour mark, Mawford almost had his third goal as his volley bounced awkwardly off the surface and hit Mark Scott, who got sufficient contact on the ball to turn it wide.
Chances continued to come for Paulton’s danger man. After Guy Hollis made a mistake in not clearing the ball for a throw, Mawford blocked and advanced toward goal before trying his luck, and Scott produced a good save to push it wide.
With half time approaching, Sean Fraser’s pass set Barney clear, but he was forced wide and John saved the striker’s attempted chip.
Then, the first flashpoint arrived. Play stopped as Barney and John clashed, with the Paulton goalkeeper appearing to have struck the Slough striker. Eddie Smith unwisely became involved, and the end result was a yellow card for Smith only.
Paulton spurned a good chance to restore their two-goal lead five minutes into the second half. Mullings played the ball through for Mawford – who else – and this time Scott made a good stop with his legs.
Eight minutes later, Slough were level as Putman played in an attempted cross from the left wing which Ben John completely misjudged, and the ball ended up in the back of the net via the far post.
Slough then started to dominate the match. Smith miscontrolled the ball on the hour mark from Warren Harris’ pass, when a better touch would have seen him with a free shot at goal. A minute later, the industrious Leigh Rumbold had a shot pushed wide by John. From this corner, the Rebels took the lead to complete their comeback.
Dan Hicks headed the ball down and forced an own goal, with the ball hitting defender Alex Grimshaw and then the roof of the net. The goal was credited to Lee Barney, who was close by but did not appear to make any contact.
Two minutes later, Slough really could have put the game to bed, but John produced a terrific save, clawing the ball away from the goal-line from Barney’s shot following a scramble. Soon after, John made another good save from Barney after a great first touch from the striker.
In another controversial incident, the referee stopped play for an injury with Hicks poised to take a strike at goal, when a Paulton defender inadvertently struck a team-mate in the face with an attempted clearance. Paulton broke clear from the resulting drop-ball, and Warren Harris received a booking after fouling an attacker.
Paulton missed a great chance to level on 75 minutes as Jordan Ricketts headed over Wheatley’s cross from inside the six yard box when he seemed certain to score.
But Slough missed more chances and will rue the fact they did not take one of them. Nathan Webb curled a shot just wide from the edge of the box, and Putman forced John into a good save after robbing a defender. From the resulting corner, Rumbold headed narrowly over for the wasteful Rebels.
And in the final minute, the excellent Mawford pulled the home side level as he volleyed the ball low past Scott’s dive after being teed up by Mullings.
Paulton Rovers Line up
Ben John, Steve Williams, Jack Allward, Alex Grimshaw, Josh Ford, David O'Hare, Leon Jeanne, Darren Mullings (c), Jake Mawford, Jordan Ricketts, Solomon Wheatley. Subs: Joe Chandler, Mario Mateus, Kelvin Douglas, Josh Read, Nino Felix.