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1997/98 season review

Season Review 1997/98
by Michael STFC on 04/04/2005

A season review of our 1997/98 season, out best ever in the Conference that ended in contraversy.

1997/98 Season Review

The 1997-1998 season is viewed by many as one of - if not, the - most successful campaigns enjoyed by the Club. Brian McDermott had generated modest success from his first season in charge and to prepare for his second, he reshuffled his playing personnel. Gone were Bateman, Micklewhite, Blackford and Stapleton and in were significant newcomers former Fulham centre-back Terry Angus, Stevenage Borough's pacy forward Corey Browne, Exeter City's midfield hardman Danny Bailey and young wingback Lee Randall from Oldham Athletic. Gary Brazil, Lloyd Owusu and Paul Hardyman were all starting to become regulars in the line-up.

The opening day brought a veritable thriller at Kettering Town's Rockingham Road, where six goals were shared in a 3-3 draw, although Gary Abbott was denied a last minute winner to seal the win and hattrick by the linesman's flag. We were then taken apart by a pacy Dover Athletic side at Wexham Park, goals from Brazil and Owusu couldn't prevent a 2-4 hammering. A point earned against Halifax Town at home (1-1) was followed by a 1-2 defeat at Woking, where the hosts scored within seconds of the match starting. Gary Abbott's solitary goal won the points at Stalybridge Celtic as we ended August on a high note.

September brought an indifferent string of results; we were beaten 1-2 at home by Rushden & Diamonds before stealing a 2-1 win at Southport on a Sunday, with young Lloyd Owusu scoring at the end of each half. A rather disappointing 1-2 home defeat to Welling United was followed by a tight FA Cup scoreless draw at Baldock Town, whom we then trounced 5-0 in the replay before hitting form against Northwich Victoria, who succumbed to a 3-0 defeat at Wexham Park. This was the start of a nice unbeaten run for the Rebels, who held the Title-favourites Cheltenham Town 1-1 at Whaddon Road before becoming entangled in a another Cup replay scenario. Having drawn 0-0 at Walton & Hersham, the replay went to penalties and the Swans, who contained many former Slough players, lost out in the lottery, ex-captain Trevor Baron's miss sent his old side through.

October saw our good form continue with a 2-0 victory at Leek Town, a 1-0 midweek Spalding Cup home win against Welling United and a thumping 6-1 FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round home victory over Tilbury. The visit of Morecambe saw a thriller at Wexham Park, Slough trailing 1-3 with ten minutes left before goals from Fiore then Brazil equalising at the death to maintain the run. Next up was the disposing of Kingstonian from the FA Cup by a 2-1 scoreline, thereby setting up a 1st Round tie with Cardiff City.

November saw us start off on the right foot with a 1-0 victory at Rushden & Diamonds thanks to a Paul Hardyman effort. We were finally beaten at home by Cheltenham Town by a 1-2 scoreline but it's fair to say the players' minds may well have been on the FA Cup match with Cardiff City, which saw us more than match our Football League opponents, who fashioned a goal in the first half, forcing Slough to attack in numbers, with Danny Bolt's equaliser unbelievably the only goal in reply as we threw everything at them on the gluepot of a pitch, earning ourselves a replay, which we got to via a 0-2 Spalding Cup defeat at Hayes and a 1-2 defeat at Hednesford Town. Many Rebels travelled to South Wales on a Tuesday night to see Slough Town amazingly go ahead inside five minutes, then 1-2 behind before captain Angus' header levelled things, only for an extremely dubious extra-time winner from veteran striker Steve White to save the Ninian Park side's blushes and knock us out. By way of consolation, we got back on the winning trail before the month was out, Lloyd Owusu scoring the winner in a 1-0 home win over Southport.

December saw us squander two points with a late goal conceded at Welling United in a 1-1 draw before we saw off Kidderminster Harriers at Wexham Park 2-0 with Owusu grabbing a brace. The usually fruitless trip to Yeovil Town proved once again to be pointless, losing 1-2 at Huish Park before the festive period set in. Our Boxing Day 0-0 home draw against Hayes (who had eventual Rebel Junior Haynes dismissed) was followed by a 1-0 home victory against Farnborough Town, winger Danny Bolt leading the scoring charts with the solitary goal. He provided the superb finale to the New Year's Day win at Hayes, popping up to score the only goal in injury time.

January saw the start of our FA Trophy run, starting with Welling United, from whom we salvaged a draw at Park View Road after having Paul Wilkerson dismissed minutes into the second half. Stand-in goalkeeper Owusu kept the score at 1-1, before we finished them off in the replay, 2-1. Another nice win at Telford United, 1-0 thanks to Bolt again was followed by an unsurprising 0-1 at League leaders Halifax Town. A comical distraction came in the 2-6 Berks & Bucks defeat at Reading's Elm Park before we returned to Halifax Town in the FA Trophy, Mark West equalising in the dying minutes to secure the replay, which we somewhat comfortably won 2-0.

February saw Hereford United despatched 3-0 at The Park before a Gary Brazil goal won the points at Northwich Victoria. A 0-1 defeat at Farnborough Town set us up for the FA Trophy home tie with Boreham Wood who earned a creditable 1-1 draw, the replay showing us the darker side of football fandom. A section of racist youths, clearly not regular home fans, spoiled the proceedings somewhat, but this did make Mark West's injury time equaliser extremely sweet and Abbott's extra-time winner even sweeter. We ended the month tripping all the way to Morecambe for a 1-2 defeat.

March brought many memories indeed for long time Slough fans. After beating Telford United 1-0 and Hednesford Town 2-0 at Wexham Park, we succumbed once again to Woking 1-3 before our FA Trophy Quarter-Final at a rampantly in-form Stevenage Borough. With Slough fans crammed into the yet undeveloped away end, we could scarcely believe our eyes as Danny Bolt scrambled the ball home and then waited on tenterhooks, chewing our knuckles for the best part of an hour, even having to deal with a Stevenage penalty in the dying minutes. Paul Wilkerson made the save and we were through. We bizarrely returned there just two days later for the League meeting and were beaten 2-4. A 1-1 draw at Hereford United later and we faced Southport in the FA Trophy Semi-Final 1st Leg, unfortunately surrendering 0-1 at home to leave an uphill struggle in the 2nd Leg. Back in the League, another late West goal secured all three home points against Gateshead in a 1-0 win.

April saw us contend the 2nd Leg of the FA Trophy Semi-Finals at Southport's Haig Avenue, attracting a near-5,000 crowd with accompanying Police presence and inevitable trouble. On the pitch, Danny Bailey's searing volley looked to have swung the tie in our favour, only for Southport to equalise in most dubious fashion, the goalscorer blatantly offside. Skirmishes ensued and Brian McDermott was sent to the stands for his troubles. We lost 1-2 on aggregate and felt incredibly hard done by. There were rumours that the referee had sent off two Southport players at the same ground in a previous round and had bottled the decision to award offside but, truth be told, we had lost the match in the first leg. The month continued indifferently once we were out of the Trophy. Another encounter with Stevenage Borough, this time a 3-1 home victory at Wexham Park, was followed by a 1-1 home draw against Yeovil Town and away defeats at Gateshead (1-5 - what a wasted journey!) and Dover Athletic (1-2). The season drew to a close with a slurry of backlogged matches which brought 1-1 home draws against Kettering Town and Leek Town and case of shooting practice in the 4-0 home victory over relegated Stalybridge Celtic. The final day of the season was bizarre in retrospect, given the ensuing events that saw us voted out of the Conference for purely non-footballing reasons. One of the more impressive youngsters to forge into the first team, Matthew Stowell, scored a long range thunderbolt winner and in the post-match celebration, captain Gary McGinnis motioned his thumbs up, suggesting next season would be the Title year. How wrong can you be?

Ply Won Drew Lost GF GA GA Pts
42 18 10 14 58 49 +9 64

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