The journey down the M40 to Slough took me back to pre-pandemic times when my office was based in Wexham, a stone's throw from Slough Town's old ground. The new ground is a little further away from my old stomping ground, but 90% of the journey was the one I made day in, day out until March 2020. The first thing I saw when I arrived the ground was The Knife Angel, the sculpture created to highlight the negative effects of violent behaviour, which is currently on a nationwide tour. You can find out more about this impressive structure by clicking on the photo
As I said, Langley currently play their home games at Arbour Park, home of National League South side Slough Town. The ground was opened in 2016 but Langley did not begin their groundshare until 2020, after spending two years at Holyport's Summerleaze Park. The ground is situated just to the North of Slough town centre and no more than half a mile from their former Wexham Road ground. The football stadium is part of a complex which also houses facilities for corporate events such as meetings as well as rooms for weddings or parties. The main stand, on the Stoke Road side of the ground, is built into the main building of the complex. This is where the bar and conference facilities are housed as well as the players and officials facilities. There is a large car park outside this stand, which is also where the Knife Angel sculpture is located. Access to the ground is available through turnstiles at each corner. As far as I could see, only one was open this evening but, with a small crowd expected, that is hardly surprising. Opposite the main stand, which provides a great view of the pitch, there is also a lower seated stand which runs about half the length of the pitch, straddling the halfway line. Behind each goal there is also covered standing running the full width of the pitch. Its an extremely well appointed footballing facility which, of course, you would expect being the home of a Step 2 side.
Langley top by four points from FC Deportivo Galicia. However, teams below them all have games in hand. Third-placed Sandhurst could go top if they won all of their 4 in hand. Westside started the evening in 12th spot but had only played 15 games, fewer than anyone in the league. Winning them all would leave them just four points adrift of the leaders.
The rain was still coming down when the teams made their way onto the pitch. Thankfully it is a 3G surface because, with the amount of rain we had seen during the previous 24 hours, a grass pitch woudl not have been playable. It was the visitors who seemed to settle into the game first, although both sides appeared to be having aome issues with the speed of the surface early on. A number of fairly straight-forward passes were being overhit when played along the ground. The first decent chance of the game fell to Westside after the forced a corner on the right. The ball was played in towards the penalty spaot where an unmarked Sean McDonnell met it with a flying header which flew over the bar. Not the easiest of chances, but a warning to the hosts.
Westside then had a shout for a penlty in the 17th minute. The referee waved it away and, to be fair, there was not too many protests. As it happened the ball ran on to McDonnell just inside the right-hand side of the area. His rasping drive was on target but well blocked by Jacob Cowler.
Langley had to wait until a few minutes past the halfway stage in the first half before they managed to get a shot on target. A free-kick some 30 yards out was fed in low to Kushon Lewis-Thomas. He turned and fired a shot in but it was blocked well by Seb Hunt. The effort marked the start of the home side coming more into the game. After being on the backfoot for the first half hour they woke from their slumber. They had a big penalty shout on 33 minutes when a snapshot seemed to strike the arm of a Westside defender. However, the shot was from close range and there didn't seem to be any movement of arm to ball. Nothing given. Four minutes later there was an even bigger shout from the home side and support. A long ball caught out the Westside defence and forced Hunt to rush out of his box, clearly handling the ball just outside the area. After some serious discussion with his assistant, the referee issued a yellow card to the goalkeeper. Many locals felt it was a clear goal scoring opportunity and should have been a red. A tough decision for the officials but, in my opinion, the correct one. Nothing came of the resulting free-kick and, aside from a James Curran header that went over for Westside, there were no more goal scoring opportunities in the first-half.
HT Langley 0 Westside 0. An even half with not much to choose between the teams. Westside looked to be getting on top earlier in the half but Langley came back stronger as the game progressed.
The goal sparked a few disagreemnts amongts a few of the players and, for the next few minutes, a game that had seen many full bloodied tackles threatened to boil over.
The goal sparked Langley into action and they started to push Westside back a little more. Just past the hour mark Lewis-Thomas fizzed an effort just wide of Hunt's right-hand post, but aside from that they struggled to trouble a well-organised yellows defence.
Then, as we entered the last minute of normal time, a loose ball on the edge of the home penalty area wa slatched onto by Tevon Webster who drove it back, low past Cowler's left hand to seal the points. 0-2
FT Langley 0 Westside 2. A deserved three points for Westside who worked hard all game to earn their victory. I haven't seen Langley play this season but, as they are currently top, I can only assume that they just struggled to get going in this game. Maybe the credit lies with Westside who defended stoutly when required and didn't give Langley time to play in any areas of the pitch.
Langley remain top of the league by four points but can now be caught by Deportivo Galicia and Sandhurst Town, shoudl they win their games in hand. Westside climb to ninth only four points shy of a play-off spot and still with at least two games in hand of teams above them. At the weekend Langley travel to 19th placed Penn & Tylers Green whilst Westside visit 18th placed Bagshot. Both Penn and Bagshot will be fighting hard to pull away from the drop zone so neither game will be easy. Apologies to Langley. That's twice I have seen them play, twice they have lost, and I am yet to see them score.
Langley: Cowler, Komey, Nwokebuife, Pascoe, Fletcher(c), Dennis, Bolovan, Gyawu-Kyem, Nicolaou, Lewis-Thomas. Subs: Celestine, Newton, Rajkovic, Morgan, Okenla
Westside: Hunt, Fenlon(c), Lever, Folorunsu, El Azouan, Curran, McDonnell, Heravi, Nunes, Sanchez, Pinder. Subs: Hammond, Jackson, Kirsten, Webster, Foord
Ground Number: 342