Rebels held by Hawks at Arbour Park

| League
Att: 1028
Slough Town
Lench (45+2)
1 - 1
Havant & Waterlooville
Ayunga (64)
Matthew Lench
It ended honours even in this meeting of the second and third placed teams in National League South.

Three months after the original match against Havant & Waterlooville at Westleigh Park was abandoned with two further attempts cancelled due to a waterlogged pitch, the two sides finally met at Arbour Park under the menace of storm Dennis.

Slough welcomed back Max Worsfold and reverted back to 4-5-1 with Dan Roberts leading the line.

The Rebels started the match well and thought they had taken the lead on 8 minutes. A long Guy Hollis throw was not dealt with by the Havant defence and the ball fell to Roberts at the back post. Roberts scuffed his initial shot but was able to have a second which was tapped in by Sam Togwell before being ruled out by an offside flag.

Continuing on the front foot, it wasn’t long before Slough were challenging Ross Worner’s goal again. Worsfold beat his man and drilled in a low cross which Roberts met ahead of the front post but his flick hit the outside of the post and went into the side netting.

Just past the quarter hour mark, a corner was whipped in with the ball dropping in the middle of the six-yard box where Sam Togwell stretched out a leg. The ball was travelling into the bottom corner but was pushed away at the last second by Worner to again deny Slough the lead.

The Rebels were finding joy with balls over the visitors’ defence, with the wind helping the ball on its way. Matty Lench was played in but Anthony Straker just got ahead of him to put the ball out for a corner. That corner was nearly turned into his own net by Josh Taylor, who had risen highest but headed the wrong way. His blushes were spared when the ball bounced off the foot of the post before being cleared.

Havant & Waterlooville were clinging on at this point but nearly got a goal themselves on 30 minutes. A deep free kick was put back into the box and headed by Jonah Ayunga but Jack Turner reacted quickly to adjust his feet and save.

The visitors’ manager Paul Doswell was shown a yellow card a few minutes later following a physical altercation with Hollis, after the Slough centre back had used a towel to dry the ball before throwing it back into play.

Slough settled and regained control of the game. Lee Togwell had a good chance from a long throw but sliced his volley into the air.

On the stroke of half time, Worner shanked a goal kick straight to Worsfold, who headed it forward first time for Lench to run onto. From a narrow angle, Lench hit his shot across goal and into the opposite side netting to give the Rebels the lead.

Slough had a bright start to the second half but it wouldn’t last long. Roberts was played through down the left by Worsfold but Worner was equal to him and parried the shot.

Then began the dominance of the visitors. Turner was quickly into action, as a wayward cross fell just under his crossbar to test him, but a strong palm away showed he was alert.

After a few close scares without Turner being called upon, Havant & Waterlooville got an equaliser on 64 minutes. A long throw was this time not dealt with by Slough despite three opportunities. Havant top scorer Jonah Ayunga was lurking at the back post to tap in when the ball came his way.

Slough made a change after the goal, bringing on Ben Harris for Roberts. Harris was involved immediately as he closed down a defender to win the ball before whipping in a dangerous cross, but his teammates were unable to catch up and the ball sailed across the box.

Not long later, Ben Harris held off his defender to cut onto his left foot, attempting a curled effort which nearly beat Worner. However, the keeper pushed the ball into the air rather than away, having to quickly back-pedal to catch it before it crossed the goal line.

Despite Slough having those chances, it was Havant clearly in the ascendancy - and they created another chance themselves on 75 minutes. Straker, running down his right hand side, evaded tackles from George Wells and Lee Togwell. He got in a low cross to Ayunga, who put his chance jut inches wide of the post.

In the final few minutes the Slough fans’ anger towards the referee erupted when Ben Harris was denied a free kick moments before Havant were awarded one in a dangerous area for what seemed like a very soft foul. The experienced Danny Kedwell stepped up and hit a thunderous strike, but he could not control it and the ball sailed over the bar.

There was one final chance for each side. For Slough, Turner showed quick thinking to take a free kick short to Lench to provide him a better angle to cross from. The ball was a good one, but Ben Harris couldn’t guide his header on target. Then Havant had a long throw which went across the box to the back post where Wells was just about able to get across and block the shot for a corner.

Speaking after the game, Neil Baker commented:

“We caused them lots of problems in the first half and hit the post a few times. We needed to get ourselves in front, and Lench getting the goal on the stroke of half time was perfect.

“Today it was always going to be a game of two halves and we knew we would need to dig in second half.”

“Today’s result is brilliant for Wealdstone and they have it all to lose now. For us it was important we didn’t lose today and getting the point is a good point for us. It’s important for us to get into those playoffs. We just need to keep chalking games off and picking up points when we can.”

Report: Will Tuck
Image: Aaron Walster

Havant & Waterlooville Line up

Ross Worner, Benny Read, Anthony Straker, Dean Beckwith, Wes Fogden, Danny Kedwell (c), Jonah Ayunga (Andy Drury 80), Bradley Tarbuck (Alfie Rutherford 60), Nicky Bailey, Craig Robson, Josh Taylor. Unused substitutes: Oliver Eyres, Chris Paul.

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