On a day of contrasting fortunes for teams in the top six, Slough were left counting the cost after losing Nathan Smart to a red card and Sean Fraser and Matt Lench to injury, leaving them to chase the game with nine men late in the second half.
The early pressure was all Slough’s, but Stortford took the lead against the run of play with Afolabi Akinyem’s header taking a massive deflection off Smart which wrong-footed Jack Turner, and the Slough keeper was helpless as the ball bounced into his goal.
Slough went straight back on the attack and were a constant threat with cross-field passes releasing Warren Harris out on the right – on one such occasion, the winger expertly controlled Wells’ long pass before getting in a low shot which Tyler McCarthy saved.
Chris Flood mishit his attempted volley from James Dobson’s corner and Smart went closer still, seeing his shot – also from a Dobson corner – cleared off the line.
By this point Slough had already lost Fraser, who was forced off and replaced by Josh Jackman, and whilst the home side continued to carry the greater threat, Slough needed Turner to make a crucial save from Darren Foxley as Stortford broke away.
But Slough’s deserved equaliser arrived five minutes before the break with James Dobson side-footing past McCarthy from Harris’ low ball into the middle.
Slough will have been reasonably happy to go into the break all square, but the visitors then caught Slough cold in spectacular style at the start of the second half.
Jason Williams fired a screamer into the roof of the net from 25 yards as the visitors regained the lead, capping off a super team move involving Foxley, who received a pass from the striker on the edge of the box and then laid it off for him to strike.
Back came Slough again, and Harris saw a shot blocked behind whilst Wells later played a perfect ball across the face of goal, but none of the Rebels players had gambled and made a run to connect with it.
Slough’s hopes of a comeback were dented with a double blow on 64 minutes. Smart was caught in a race with Williams as he bore down on goal, and was adjudged to have fouled the striker, resulting in a red card for Smart as the last defender. To make matters worse, up stepped Southend United loanee Tom Clifford who beat Turner with an expert strike from the free kick to make it 3-1.
The home side only stayed in the game thanks to a spectacular double save from Turner minutes later, the Slough keeper showing typically excellent shot-stopping abilities and reactions.
Slough introduced the returning Brad Wadkins in place of Manny Williams, and despite being a man light the Rebels remained a threat – but Stortford almost put the game beyond doubt as Turner again made a critical stop from Dean Ager.
An interesting finale was in prospect when Wadkins reduced the deficit to just one on 77 minutes, heading Dobson’s corner past McCarthy with the ball bouncing in off the far post. And just minutes later, the big striker slid the ball across goal but Lench was inches away from making contact.
But Slough’s hopes of a comeback were dashed as Lench was forced off on crutches with an ankle injury, and with the home side having made all their substitutions, it was nine against eleven in the closing stages.
Afolabi Akinyem slammed over a golden chance but Stortford sealed the win with a fourth in stoppage time from Williams, who had time and space to capitalise on his side’s numerical advantage.
Bishop's Stortford Line up
Tyler McCarthy, Jordan Westcott, Tom Clifford, Josh Simpson, Marvel Ekpiteta (c), Joe Robinson, Dean Ager, Jack Thomas, Jason Williams, Darren Foxley, Afolabi Akinyem. Unused substitutes: Callum Taylor, Alfie Mason, Alex Brassington, Joe Ryan.