01:00PM, Friday 20 March 2020
Jon Underwood fears Slough Town’s chances of promotion could well be thrown out of the window if the National League South season is declared null and void due to coronavirus.
The Rebels joint manager can’t see the side playing again this season and, if the campaign isn’t resumed later in the spring or summer, he thinks the club could be denied their shot at promotion through the play-offs.
The side was beaten 2-0 at Weymouth on Saturday in the final round of matches before the league was suspended until April 3. However, they remain fifth in the table and looked a good bet to extend their campaign by finishing in the top seven.
“I personally can’t see us playing again this season,” said Underwood.
“I cannot see a way that we will be back playing football in May. I think once you reach that point the season has to end.
“It’s so difficult because whatever decision is taken, some people will feel hard done by. We’re in a play off spot but we’re one of six teams in there.
“There’s no guarantee we would get promoted. Of course we would love the opportunity to try and play and win them. But I think if we’re denied that opportunity, we’ll just have to accept it and go again next year.
“We’ve had a brilliant season and to be honest, to finish in fifth is still a tremendous achievement. We want to remember it for some great performances and a real consistency throughout the season that we’ve shown.”
If Saturday does prove to be the side’s last game this season it’s a sour note to go out on. The Rebels were beaten by their fellow promotion hopefuls with Josh McQuoid and Andy Robinson sealing the three points for the Terras. However, the game’s biggest talking point came in the second half when Slough won a penalty which was missed by the goalkeeper Jack Turner. The missed opportunity to level the scores prompted a volley of abuse from a handful of supporters that was aimed at the management team.
“All the drama happened in the second half,” said Underwood.
“They were awarded a penalty after what was a bit of a clumsy challenge from us and ended up scoring. But then we got a penalty ourselves which Jack Turner stepped up to take. He hit the underside of the bar and it was a fraction of an inch away from being an absolutely brilliant penalty.
“We were really coming into the game at that point and if we had made it 1-1, I think we would’ve at least expected to get a point from the game. We continued to have a real go, we put a lot of bodies into the box and delivered a lot of corners. We threw all we could at them and they scored again towards the end as we were pushing people forward. It was disappointing to lose obviously and it made it two defeats in a row which is not something we’re used to.”
“We had a few people come to the dugout while the game was going on and express their disappointment, shall we say, at the decision we had taken to let our goalkeeper take a penalty, added Underwood.
“Every decision we take is for what we believe to be for the good of the team and for the good of the club. We have no problems with anyone disagreeing with us or even criticising the decision. People are entitled to do that. It was more the manner of which we received that feedback. Some of the words that were used were just well over the top. What I really don’t want is this to be the thing that gets remembered if its the end of the season.”
The National League fell back in line with the rest of professional football by suspending the league on Monday until April 3 at the earliest. In a statement the league said it was clearly not practical for fixtures to be fulfilled in the immediate future.
The Isthmian League, which includes Marlow FC in the South Central Division, called off matches before the weekend until April 3, and said it would work with officials in the game to ensure all of its clubs are kept updated with the latest information. Hellenic League matches have also been suspended with immediate effect until March 31. Brian King, chief executive of the league, said the situation would then be reviewed when more is known about the coronavirus. Windsor. Burnham, Flackwell Heath and Holyport all play in the leagues.
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