Underwood critical of first half display after Slough Town fight back for victory

Aaron Kuhl netted the Rebels’ winner.

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Their first half performance was one of the worst joint manager Jon Underwood can remember, but somehow the Rebels managed to turn things around to claim a very important 2-1 win over Tonbridge Angels at Arbour Park on Saturday.

A sloppy, error-strewn first 45 minutes saw them fall behind to a strike by Jake Embery in the eighth minute, and the performance was reminiscent of their awful FA Cup exit earlier this season to step 4 side Whitehawk.

That's become the barometer on which poor performances are now judged, and Slough weren't far off it as they laboured against hard-working opponents in the opening period.

But, for all their faults, they went in level at the break, Alfonso Tenconi turning the ball home in stoppage-time from a long throw in, and they stepped things up after the interval enabling Aaron Kuhl to slot home the winner in the 77th minute. Few could have begrudged Tonbridge an equaliser, and they had their chances, but the Rebels held on for a result the performance didn't really merit.

Speaking to Ade Gomm for Sloughtown.net afterwards, Underwood admitted the Rebels have struggled to raise their game for matches against sides below them in the table, and added that it's a issue that's been with them for a few seasons now.

“The first half was at Whitehawk levels,” he said. “It was as bad as I can remember us being to be honest.

“We just started really poorly. From the centre of our defence, we didn't take control of any situation.

“They matched up to us shape wise and obviously knew how we'd been playing and what had been working for us.

“Credit to them they set themselves up well and were sharper than us for the first 20 minutes.

“They got in front, a terrible goal from our point of view, and they should have had more, let's be honest. We could have come in at half-time 3-0 down. We were very lucky to go in level after scoring from a long throw in. If I'm Steve McKimm I'm devastated about that because his team were really good in the first half, and we didn't show any quality to get that goal.

“It's why we work on set pieces because, sometimes, when you're playing poorly, a set piece can get you back into the game. It was great timing and I'm sure it changed their half-time team talk but it didn't change ours if I'm honest.

“We were still very critical of our performance, and we demanded an improvement. I think we got that from them, although it wasn't brilliant, but I feel we were the better side in the second half.”

In recent weeks they've beaten the so-called big boys in Havant & Waterlooville, Maidstone United and Dorking Wanderers, rising from second bottom of the National League South to 14th - and only two points off the play-offs - in the process, but the same level of desire and work rate hasn't been replicated against teams Slough would hope and expect to pick results up against. It's something Underwood is desperate for them to rectify if they're to stand any chance of competing for a play-off place this season.

“Whether we played brilliantly and won 2-1, or played poorly and won 2-1, it doesn't affect anything,” added Underwood. “The table will still look better than it did this morning.

“But there’s something we need to improve in us. We've beaten Havant, Dorking and Maidstone, the so-called big boys and we've been up for those games. But when we play teams around us or just below us there’s something in us and I don't know what it is.

“For whatever reason we think we can just turn up and win a game like this and you cannot do that in this league. Tonbridge are a good side,

“We're frustrated by that today, and we have to find a way to take it out of the side because there's no point in beating Havant and Dorking if you then lose at home to Tonbridge because that makes you a mid-table side, and we want to be pushing for the play-offs. We’ve found a way to win today but we’ve got to find a way of being better.”

The Rebels have won five of their last seven league matches and they’ll look to keep that good run going when they travel to Hemel Hempstead Town on Saturday.

“We know we’ve got a tough Christmas looming,” said Underwood. We may be near the top of the form table, but we’ve got Hemel away, Oxford City twice and Hampton.

“We showed a different side to us today. We played badly and won, and we don’t tend to do that too often. We managed to get the three points and are in a good position in the league. Six weeks ago, we were second bottom and struggling to get a win, but now we’re back in the mix. Those wins have kept our season alive and given us a chance.”

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