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Archive 2007/08: Season Review

Archive 2007/08: Season Review
by Nathan on 31/10/2008

Read about how the Rebels fared in the Southern League Division One South & West as they looked to recover from the disaster of the previous season.

2006/07 Season Review
2007/08 Season Review
The summer of 2007, contrary to previous years, was a relatively quiet one for a Slough fan. A groundsharing agreement with Beaconsfield SYCOB was agreed nice and early so there was no worry as to where the Rebels would be playing, if they were to be playing at all. On the field there were signs of real progress as manager Darron Wilkinson welcomed back Jamie Jackson, Carl Dennison, Iain Duncain, Mark Bartley, Adrian Browne, Jon Mills, Mark Hokan, Andy Deaner, George Moleski, Danny Jefferies, Terry Davies and Matt Miller from the previous years squad, as well as new recruits Leon Woodruffe, Christian Metcalfe (both of whom were making their Rebels return), Dean Harper, Glen Faricluth, Lucas Bizon and the highly experienced Nick Roddis and Lee Charles for pre-season training. A real sense of optimism and high hopes of an immediate return to the Ryman Premier Division was abundant at the club. Things were further looking up for the Rebels with news of a possible new ground at the Arbor Vale site in Slough.

Pre-season began with a short trip to Holyport and despite a lengthy break a short way into the game to deal with a broken leg for Holyport's Tom Dontai, the Rebels came away with a satisfactory 2-0 win. However, this was where the pre-season optimism quickly evaporated. as defeats to East Preston (2-1), Boreham Wood (5-0), Guildford City (2-0), Dorking (1-0), Neasden Foundation (2-3), and Canvey Island (3-1) meant that the Rebels entered the season proper off the back of 6 straight pre-season defeats.

The opening day at home to Taunton Town saw the surprise return of Clement James (pictured left) to the Rebels squad as Darron Wilkinson looked to up morale ahead of the new season, which didn't start to well as Slough went behind after only 15 minutes courtesy of a penalty. Terry Davies equalised during the second half, but in an all-to-familiar scenario, the Rebels conceded a last minute goal following a poor backpass to lose 2-1 and pick up where they left off last season.

3 further away defeats followed (2-0 Thatcham, 2-0 Marlow, 3-1 Paulton Rovers), leaving the Rebels faithful wondering when their pain and misery was ever going to end. Some saw hope in the FA Cup Preliminary Round tie at home to Fleet Town on 1st September, hoping that a bit of FA Cup magic was just what was needed to kick-start the season. Rebels manager Darron Wilkinson donned the 'keepers gloves for this encounter, as loaned 'keeper Aaron France was stuck in traffic. This failed to inspire the Rebels however, and the fans were to be left disappointed as a 4-1 defeat saw the Rebels out of the competition and morale at an all-time low. It also saw the last goal and appearance of veteran Rebels forward Andy Deaner, and Mark Bartley, who had left to join Bracknell Town who were now Slough's prime rivals in the battle for survival from the drop.

So into September, and the Rebels were out of the FA Cup, and the only side still to pick up a point. September 8th however saw the Rebels first league win since January 27th, as goals from Leon Woodruffe and Terry Davies secured a 2-1 win at home to Andover, in what was Michael Murphy's 3rd debut for the club. With three points finally under their belts, the Rebels looked to build on their second competitive win of 2007. But luck was still not on Slough's side; despite a spirited performance, a late goal saw the Rebels defeated 2-1 at home to Gosport Borough the following week, in veteran 'keeper Richard Barnard's debut. The remainder of September saw the Rebels dumped out of another cup competition, this time 6-1 at AFC Hayes in the Errera League Cup, and yet another league defeat, 3-0 at Abingdon United.

On 2nd October, the Rebels hosted local rivals Bracknell Town in what was already been dubbed a relegation "six-pointer". Even though the Rebels looked less-than-impressive throughout, they did what was needed to be done as Lee Charles netted his first goal for the club in a 3-1 win. Then came the FA Trophy Preliminary Round at home to Hillingdon Borough. A Terry Davies penalty saw the Rebels a goal up, but in the end Slough were lucky to escape with a replay as the Middlesex club looked the better side throughout. The replay saw another 1-1 draw, and only a last minute winner deep into extra time saw the Rebels defeated 2-1 AET.

With the Rebels already out of 3 cups, league form really needed to make a quick recovery but this was not to happen as yet more defeats followed; 5-0 at title-hopefuls Farnborough and 0-2 at home to Bridgwater Town before Slough were dumped out of their final cup competition, going down 5-1 at Didcot in the Berks and Bucks Senior cup. Ahead of another relegation "six-pointer", Darron Wilkinson signed Chris Robinson from Staines Town on a dual-registration basis before the Rebels entertained basement side Newport I.O.W.. Again the Rebels looked ordinary, but they did the job required of them and came away with a 2-0 win. Yet again the Rebels failed to build on this as a 3-1 defeat at local rivals Burnham immediately followed.

Going into November, with the Rebels hanging very dangerously above the bottom two and out of every cup competition at the first hurdle, the Rebels entertained Didcot Town, hoping to avenge the Berks & Bucks cup defeat. This was not to be as Slough were soundly beaten 6-3. The following 2-1 defeat at Uxbridge saw the return of another former Rebel to the team in Lee Riddell. Despite the scoreline, the Rebels were very unlucky not to come away with all three points as Slough dominated large parts of the game. With inconsistency in our performances being a major talking point on the terraces, the Rebels couldn't make it two good performances in a row, as two trips into Oxfordshire resulted in two more defeats; 5-0 at Oxford City and 2-0 at Didcot Town.

The latter game was to mark the end of Darron Wilkinson's (pictured above left) time in the hot seat at Slough Town FC after 11 months. Following him through the exit door was his assistant Nick Roddis (pictured right) and Leon Woodruffe. Roddis and Wilkinson tendered their resignations early in the morning of 27th November, leaving in-term manager Mark Betts precious little time to prepare for our home game against Hillingdon Borough later than evening. A 3-1 defeat not only meant the Rebels 14th league defeat in 17 games, but also the end of Michael Murphy's, Christian Metcalfe's and Matt Millers time with the Rebels.

Into December and the Rebels were bolstered by a fresh approach from acting manager Mark Betts, with Richard Barnard as his assistant. New signings in Mark Janes, Lee Rendell; Meddie Nsubuga (brother of Abby, who had also made his Rebels return in October), Jermaine Gumbs, Tom Windsor, Kyle Jeffery, Donnell Allen, Chima Eberendu and Luke Van Spall, and a new coach in Calvin Maye amongst others saw a new look Rebels outfit take on Abingdon United at home in Mark Betts' first proper game in temporary charge of the team. A outstanding team effort saw the Rebels romp home by the slightly flattering scoreline of 4-1, with debutants Tom Windsor and Jermaine Gumbs both getting on the scoresheet. But, in a spectacular return to form, the Rebels then travelled to Hillingdon Borough and were beaten by the same scoreline. Another highly experienced ex-Rebel returned for our 2-2 draw at home to Winchester City. Brian Connor made his return after 13 years, having previously been with the squad during our Diadora title winning season of 1994/95, and our Isthmian title winning season of 1989/90 before that.

With 4 wins from 20 games, all 4 at home, the Rebels were well overdue for an away win, having not experienced one since January 27th when we beat Heybridge Swifts 3-2 in what turned out to be our final win of the 2006/07 season. The wait of almost 11 months came to an end on 15th December as Jermaine Gumb's goal secured a 1-0 win at Taunton Town, in a game that also saw the debut of defender Laurence Brown (pictured left).

With a sudden change of manager resulting in 7 points from 12 available, Mark Betts and Richard Barnard were appointed manager and assistant manager respectively. Things really starting to look as though they've changed for the better after all this time, the feeling of optimism that had been abundant towards the beginning of pre-season was back at the Rebels camp ahead of the festive period. Our local derbies against Marlow, Windsor & Eton and Thatcham Town were all deemed winnable and, with a reasonable points return from the 3, would propel the Rebels well away from the drop zone and (hopefully) onto greater things. But, just as the previous feeling of hope had been spectacularly burst, this new feeling didn't wait long to follow suit as 3 defeats (0-2 Marlow, 2-1 Windsor and 1-2 Thatcham) left the Rebels nervously looking over their shoulders at chasing Bracknell Town going into 2008.

Slough's 2-1 defeat at home to Thatcham Town on new years day made our trip to fellow strugglers Andover all the more important. Much to the relief of the travelling Rebels support, goals from Dean Harper and Abby Nsubuga meant that Slough returned home victorious ahead of another trip to Hampshire the following week.

Steve Daly's last minute free-kick earned Slough a precious 2-2 draw at Gosport Borough in what turned out to be Lee Charles's (pictured right) final appearance for the club. Another trip, this time to a resurgent Bracknell Town followed. With the Rebels new-found ability to pick up points and our Berkshire rivals showing recent signs of recovery, this was to be another "six-pointer" at the bottom end of the table. Unfortunately, the Rebels failed to deliver on the day and despite Terry Davies' second-half equaliser, the Rebels gifted Bracknell 2 goals, and therefore the three points in a 3-1 defeat. It was a defeat that would cost the Rebels dearly come the end of the season.

The need for consistency in results was now greater than ever as Slough themselves only 2 points above the bottom 2 following the defeat to Bracknell Town. The team did manage to pick themselves up to gain a credible 1-1 draw at home to Uxbridge, but them followed that up with yet more defeats. Losing 3-2 at home to Farnborough doesn't tell the full story, as the Rebels led twice and lost only to a last minute goal. A 3-0 home defeat to AFC Hayes however, does tell the full story, as the Rebels were completely outplayed from start to finish in a vital match. However, mixed fortunes were to end February, with the Rebels 2-0 defeat at Winchester City preceding a second-half fightback at home to league leaders Fleet Town, as the Rebels turned the league table upside down to win 2-1.

It was a deserved victory that, like so many others during the season, was to bring false hope upon the long-suffering Rebels faithful. A 2-0 defeat at Godalming followed, and Mark Betts and Richard Barnard's 3 months in charge of the team came to an end with a 2-1 home defeat to Paulton Rovers on 22nd March, both tendering their resignations following the abandonment of the Bridgwater game the following week.

Experienced manager Derek Sweetman (pictured left) was immediately bought in from local rivals Burnham in time to face his first opponents in charge of the Rebels which, ironically, was against Burnham. The appointment was one of many steps been taken off the field to secure the future of the club, with the formation of a management committee and the election of a new Chairman, Steve Easterbrook, also taking place in the recent weeks.

Sweetman immediately went about bringing emergency loan signings, having declared that the Rebels had "eight cup finals" in order to avoid relegation. Steve Roberts was bought in as Assistant Manager. Experienced goalkeeper Lee Carroll and midfielder James Pritchard were bought in in time to face Burnham, with the Rebels losing 3-0 to get Sweetman's tenure as Slough manager off to a losing start.

Windsor & Eton completed the double over Slough as a goal from ex-Rebel Matt Seedel (pictured right) meant that the Royalists came away from Holloways Park with a 1-0 win. Usif Bangura made his debut in our subsequent goalless draw at AFC Hayes, and Roy Gumbs a week later in our 2-1 home defeat to Oxford City; a result which saw the Rebels effectively relegated with 4 games remaining. Goalkeeper Jamie Jackson returned for his 3rd spell with the club as the Rebels won 3-2 at home to Godalming Town, but with Bracknell Town winning, the Rebels took yet another step towards relegation. A 3-1 win at already relegated Newport I.O.W. saw Slough win consecutive games for the first time since October 2006. A goalless draw at Bridgwater Town left the Rebels fate out of their hands going into the final game of the season at Fleet Town.

At half-time it looked as good as over for Slough with Bracknell beating Taunton Town, meaning that the 0-0 scoreline at Fleet wasn't good enough. News of a Taunton equaliser bought hope to the Slough fans, but with Fleet then taking the lead, the Rebels had to all to do. Try as they might, their efforts were in vain as Fleet held out for the 1-0 win to secure 2nd place in the table, condemning Slough to successive relegations.

And so ended a whirlwind season, at least as far as the Rebels squad was concerned. Only 3 of the team that lined up to face Taunton on the opening day were still with the club come the final day at Fleet (Steve Daly, Dean Harper, Terry Davies), with Terry Davies leaving to join Fleet, only to return 3 months later. The season saw the use of no fewer than 8 goalkeepers (Aaron France, Darron Wilkinson, Richard Barnard, Alex Tuttle, Simon Dean, Carl Dennison, Jamie Jackson, Lee Carroll), with several players (Billy Sentance, Aston Ventura, Julian Dale, Bill Fishenden, Richard Orlu) signing but never playing. Even then there was still hope; hope that for a change turned out to be well founded as news of Halifax Town's demise and subsequent expulsion from the Blue Square Premier Division meant that, on 18th June 2008, Slough Town FC received confirmation of a relegation reprieve.

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