A radical reshuffle saw the likes of Joel Colbran, Joe Rye, Pearce and Cal Kealy all start as subs, with Cam Tutt, Danny Barker, Dan Bowry and Reece Myles-Meekums all recalled. Adam Adam, Nodirbek Bobomurodov and, for the first time this campaign, Club Captain Darren Budd completed the row of replacements. Javaun Splatt and Conrad Honore were both cup-tied.
Paying their maiden visit to Arbour Park, Reds made the better beginning, thanks to Myles-Meekums racing down the right, only for his cross to miss the back post by inches with no teammate able to get there in time.
That was after just four minutes and, a couple more further on the home Rebels replied via a burst through the middle by Imran Kayani but Aarran Racine got his body between player and ball to shepherd the latter out of play and behind for a goal-kick.
Meeky threatened again within a matter of seconds when he cut inside and curled an effort agonisingly close to the far top corner of Jonathan North’s net.
If the right wasn’t bearing gifts, perhaps the left would procure profitability.
So, following the awarding of throw-in on the opposite wing, Cam Tutt distributed to Mo Jammeh with Tuesday’s two-goal hero showing some nifty footwork before feeding Sammie McLeod who picked out the incoming Myles-Meekums, though the winger’s luck deserted him a third time as, despite a desperate late lunge he couldn’t quite get on the end of Macca’s back stick delivery.
Approaching the midway mark of the opening period, Ben Harris’ header didn’t appear overly concerning until a dramatic dip forced Harrison Male into a two-handed push over the bar.
Play soon returned to the Red Rebels and that man Myles-Meekums in particular.
Leading a swift counter-attack he supplied the equally rapid White to surge upfield and spot a well-timed run by Kane Wills, leading to a rear upright-directed floater that Jammeh impressively applied his head to but the tight angle proved a little too tight; brushing the top of the net.
Tutt’s forward pass rebounded off a Slough shirt and eventually resulted in Man of the Match Matt Lench slipping in Harris, although the offside flag would rule his attempt invalid.
Then, a couple of minutes before the break, the visitors failed to clear their lines and Aaron Kuhl forced Male into a low scrambling save to stop his edge-of-the-box daisy-cutter sneaking inside the right-hand upright.
Town were first to test the opposition’s resolve after the turnaround, when both the unfortunate Tutt and host’s Skipper Josh Jackman missed the ball, allowing an alert Kayani to take full advantage. Regrettably for the homegrown youngster he pulled his final finish wide of the mark, once he’d created the room for it by drifting in off the right flank.
Reds returned the favour thanks to the influential Myles-Meekums looking up prior to sending White scurrying clear, as he broke the offside trap. However, North was instantly out of the traps and, although our number seven was able to lift his shot over the onrushing ‘keeper, he couldn’t direct it on target.
The deadlock broke just shy of the hour; Bowry’s miscue offering an opportunity for Guy Hollis to fling one of his trademark long throws into the penalty area, which he duly did. Racine’s headed clearance only went as far as Wills who fared no better when his attempt landed in the lap of Lee Togwell, twenty yards out. A dipping volley, before the ball hit the deck, left Male rooted to the spot and euphoria erupted amongst the locals.
Cometh the hour. Cometh the men and the cavalry of Pearce and Kealy were introduced to the fray.
Ollie’s opening gambit saw him size up the opposition – thanks to Cal’s persistence producing a reverberation off Kuhl – and a shot from distance not missing North’s right-hand apparatus by much.
Less than ten minutes to go and, with their FA Cup hopes increasingly evaporating, it needed some quick thinking by the guests if they were to stay in the competition.
Step forward Tutty, as the left-back snatched the ball off Lench to take a quick throw-in that saw Kealy receive and soon return to sender. A short pass went into the box for McLeod to take, turn and hand the baton on to Wills to hit on the run, a slight deflection deceiving North; the experienced custodian unable to keep out the low drive and the scores were level once more.
Moments later, Wills turned provider via a left-sided flag-kick that was flicked on by Bowry and nodded in by Pearce from close-range.
Then, the coup de grace, the icing on the cake and la piece de resistance all rolled into one with a breakaway third, four minutes into a minimum of an additional six.
Though it actually emanated from a Town attack.
Lench left McLeod floundering and sidestepped Bowry in the box, only for his pull-back to the recently introduced James Dobson to be blocked by Racine and fired upfield by Kealy. Pearce shook off the close attentions of former Bognor foe Joe Dandy and drove towards the eighteen yard area, where he briefly paused to dump the defender and netminder North on their backsides, then cool as you like stroke home a match-defining third.