Slough's young Rebels will suffer from inconsistency, but that wasn't the issue against Braintree

Jon Underwood didn't really see Saturday's poor display and 2-0 defeat to Braintree Town coming, although he admits that inconsistency is something he and the fans will have to live with as this young, inexperienced squad find their feet in the National League South.

The Rebels have probably the youngest squad of Underwood and Neil Baker's tenure as joint managers, while Underwood also acknowledges this has been a season of transition for the club, with so many of their seasoned players either moving on or missing large chunks of the campaign through injury.

Since the start of the season, they've lost Warren Harris to retirement, and Ryan Bird to a season-long knee injury, while Guy Hollis, Max Worsfold and Mark Nisbet have all departed for pastures new, having had their own individual reasons for seeking a new challenge.

As such, the Rebels squad is somewhat different to the one which kicked off the campaign and Baker and Underwood have also actively chosen to utilise the talent in the club's u23s academy, rather than go out and spend money on more experienced players.

Although coming off the back of a financially destabilising period with the pandemic, when matches were played behind closed doors, they also haven't had the funds to mix it with some of the bigger clubs in the league.

“We've been pretty good and consistent recently and have had some good results to show for that,” said Underwood. “I didn't see Saturday's performance coming, but they do come.

“If we get that kind of performance every second or third game, we’d be disappointed, but we've been pretty consistent of late. We just have to move on and learn from it.”

Saturday's result leaves the Rebels six points off the play-offs - with a game in hand on many clubs - heading into what looks a daunting trip to second placed Dorking Wanderers on Saturday, however, these tend to be the matches in which Slough produce the goods.

“The game we have coming up is probably a good one for us, and one where we know we have to be really focused,” he said. “They're the sort of tests we enjoy and it's a good game to try and bounce back in.

“We've done the double over Maidstone, who are top, and we beat Dorking earlier in the season.

“That doesn’t mean we’re going to win on Saturday, but I do always believe we’ll give a good account of ourselves in these games.

“The flip side to that is that people always say, ‘why can’t you do it against the likes of Braintree and other sides?’.

“But I guess if we knew the answer to that we wouldn’t be managing Slough, we’d be managing somewhere else. There is that element of inconsistency about us, which we’ll try to improve on.”

Underwood added: “This is the youngest side we've had since we've been at the club to be honest, and I think you're always going to get an element of inconsistency with younger players.

“But on Saturday, it wasn't the younger players that let us down. Young or old we just weren't good enough collectively on the day.

“We’re also a squad in transition, we’ve had a turnover of players this year. The side we’re putting out now is very different.

“We’ve lost Warren Harris to retirement, Ryan Bird for the season to injury, Guy Hollis moved on and more recently, Max Worsfold and Mark Nisbet have moved on. Ben Harris has also been out for a lot of the season through injury.

“Senior players who have been a mainstay of the team aren’t in there now.

“It’s just the transition of the squad but some of our young players have been really good for us this season. I think we’ve got a reasonable balance and good leaders, but it’s not as settled a squad as we’ve had in recent years.”

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