11:49PM, Tuesday 17 January 2017
Maidenhead United 4, Slough Town 2
Guy Hollis' first half dismissal, for a reckless challenge on Rene Steer, had a massive bearing on this cup tie as Maidenhead United fought back from two goals down to book their place in the final of the Berks & Bucks Cup at the expense of rivals Slough Town.
In a contest dubbed the SL Classico before kick-off Slough shot out of the traps and quickly into a two goal advantage thanks to well taken goals from Chris Flood and former Magpie Gav James.
Flood controlled James Dobson's low cross to open the scoring on 15 minutes with a low shot beyond Pentney before James doubled the visitors advantage with a header from Lee Togwell's raking long ball from deep on the half-hour.
Ryan Peters who had already been booked, was lucky to escape with only a warning after mis-timed lunge on Nathan Webb but the referee deemed fit to pull out a straight red when Hollis clattered into Rene Steer as the fullback advanced on the Rebels' penalty area a minute or two later.
It looked a 50/50 challenge and it was clear both players were committed to the tackle, but Hollis' boot was high and caught Steer painfully on the shin, making him a doubt for Saturday's home clash with Eastbourne Borough.
In an instant the complexion of the game had changed. James, who'd pulled the Magpies makeshift defenders one way and another in the opening half hour was withdrawn in favour of Dan Hicks, but within moments of coming on the defender was outpaced by Dave Tarpey who nicked the ball off his toes and slotted it past the advancing Mark Scott.
Sam Barratt cannoned a shot over the by as the Magpies looked in vain for a leveller before half-time and, having received instruction from Neil Baker and Jon Underwood during the half-time interval, the visitors took the sting out of the game in the opening minutes of the second half.
United struggled to breakdown a reorganised and resilient Slough backline, marshalled well by former Magpie captain Mark Nisbet. But the 10 men were eventually overan in the 69th minute when substitue Jordan Cox brilliantly hooked Sam Barratt's long throw in over Scott's head and in off the crossbar.
The home side continued to press and their third goal on 75 minutes was a delight. Cox cushioned a well weighted pass down the right hand side of the Slough penalty area for Barratt whose first time cross was headed home by a diving Sean Marks.
To their credit Slough rallied in the final stages, testing the Magpies defence through a series of set pieces which the home side just about dealt with, however, with Scott having come forward in a last ditch attempt to salvage something from the tie and take it into extra-time, the Rebels were caught with their keeper way out of his area not once, but twice. On the first occasion Cox was adjudged to be offside as he tapped home Tarpey's cross from the left, but on the second there was no reprieve for Slough Town as Tarpey again hooked the ball on for the advancing James Mulley who kept his cool, with Slough defenders around him, and rolled the ball into the empty net to complete a memorable comeback win.
United will face Hungerford Town in the final of the competition with the date and venue of the contest yet to be decided.
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