11:01AM, Monday 15 November 2021
Slough Town’s players showed they now have the belief and confidence to challenge the best sides as they claimed an impressive 2-1 win over Dorking Wanderers at Arbour Park on Saturday.
Dorking are many people’s picks for promotion this season and have been flying high in the play-off positions for much of the season, but they were brought down a peg or two by a Slough performance characterised by hard work and desire.
Aaron Kuhl smashed home a first half penalty, after Matty Lench was brought down in the box, and Freddie Grant headed home from a corner for his fourth goal this season to make it 2-0 at the break. And the Rebels had enough spirit and resilience to see the game through, despite Dorking scoring a late goal through Alfie Rutherford.
They may have been languishing towards the bottom end of the table for much of the season, but four wins in five matches has lifted the Rebels to 12th, just three points off the play-off spots, ahead of Saturday’s trip to Eastbourne Borough.
Reflecting on their turnaround in fortunes, Baker said it’s down to the players picking up confidence from recent performances and victories.
“Honestly, today was a tremendous performance,” he told the Slough Town website. “Dorking are up there with Ebbsfleet and Dartford as one of the outstanding teams in this league.
“They had some players missing but they’ve got depth and quality and for us to get a win is beyond where we thought we’d be. For us to pick up 13 points from 15, having beaten Havant and Maidstone as well is brilliant.
“As managers we had to ask ourselves a few questions, but we believed in the players. They’re a good, honest bunch, but sometimes they just need that belief.
“It starts to become difficult as managers because you need to see results, and it’s difficult striking that balance between being hard on them and trying to be positive with them. I feel that we’ve tried to be positive with them throughout, except for Whitehawk, and we just felt they would come good, but they needed that belief. That win at Havant was huge, because if we’d ended up drawing that game, mentally it would have been difficult.
“But now they’ve got that belief, momentum and confidence and that’s massive in football.
“You see that with Dartford right now. I think they’re five without a win, but they were absolutely flying at the start of the season. That’s football and we have to enjoy it while we can as I’m sure it will change.”
Whether the joint bosses employed a carrot or stick approach to motivate the players, it appears have had the desired effect, with the club claiming much-needed victories over Havant, Bath City, Maidstone and now Dorking. The players have also shown a desire not only to win games, but crucially according to Baker, to keep the ball out of the Slough net, typified by Josh Jackman’s brave blocks against Dorking, and Sean Fraser’s goalline clearance in the latter stages of the side’s win at Havant.
“From the 15th minute on we were really good, and the work rate was absolutely incredible,” he said. “It was a really strong first half performance and I thought we managed the last 30 minutes really well.
“But a side like that, who’ve got untold amounts of quality, they were always going to have a go. I thought we’d see the game out for a 2-0 win but, to be honest, we never like to do things easily.
“We had a desire to stop the ball going in the back of the net. Josh has thrown himself at the ball to make a block and we had midfielders chasing things down.
“A shout out to Warren Harris. That was his 300th game for the club today and he’s one of the easiest players I’ve ever had to manage and one of the best players. I’m delighted for him.”