The aftertaste of two successive Evo-Stik League defeats was blasted away as the Peacocks brushed aside their fellow play-off hopefuls at the Viridor Stadium. Mangotsfield arrived sitting in sixth position but apart from a spell after the break were comprehensively outgunned especially in a one-sided first half in which Town played their best football for a number of weeks.
With Jordan Rogers partnering Craig Veal up front, Ben Palmer reverting to left wing-back in place of Ross Staley who adopted a more offensive role and Shane White filling one of the centre half berths in the absence of suspended Owen Irish and not fully fit Matt Villis, there was a really effective balance to the Town team. However it was the visitors who had the opening attempt of the afternoon, Lloyd Irish diving to turn a Lewis Hogg drive around the post.
It didn’t take Town long though to find their feet although not always literally as lengthy bouts of rain began to make the pitch increasingly slippery. Staley’s effort from Ben Palmer’s deflected pass was blocked by a Field defender and Veal glanced a drifted Pierce Mitchell cross wide before Staley came close again, flicking the wrong side of the post from another Mitchell centre and then narrowly failing to connect with a driven ball in from Rogers. Ed Palmer’s near post header then hit bodies on the line as the hosts got ever nearer.
Town finally made a deserved breakthrough after 24 minutes to the delight of the 549 crowd, the second highest for a League fixture at the Viridor Stadium this season. Staley whipped in a free kick from the left side and Hogg’s attempted header clear only succeeded in finding the net to bring up 50 home league goals for 2016-17. The advantage was doubled just a minute later when Peacocks’ Man of the Match Mitchell saw his volley kept out by former Bristol City and Rovers keeper Steve Phillips, but from the ensuing Staley corner Ed Palmer glanced on at the near post and Mitchell forced it over the line.
Staley rifled a free kick just over before Mangotsfield briefly menaced when Conor McCormack’s run presented Liam Monelle with a shooting chance which Irish caught comfortably enough. Two further strikes just before the break then put Town out of reach. Skipper Brett Trowbridge found Rogers out wide on the left and his low driven cross was met first time by Ben Palmer’s bullet which scorched into the net on 42 minutes. After Mitchell’s 25 yard drive was touched over by Phillips and the following corner cleared for another, Staley’s delivery was headed in by Hogg on the near post for his second own goal of the afternoon a minute before the interval.
The rain persisted as play resumed, former Town man Dale Evans dipping a free kick just over for the visitors after he had been felled on the edge of the area. Town though continued to threaten and added their fifth goal ten minutes in when Staley juggled the ball past his man down the left and his cross was prodded home by Ollie Chamberlain, his last contribution as he was then replaced by Matt Buse. The game then quietened for a while as Town eased down a gear and Mangotsfield at last showed some intent. Lewis Powell who scored 23 goals for the Peacocks last term saw a shot blocked before he reduced the arrears on 69 minutes, stretching to head in Hogg’s volley from a Matt Groves corner.
The goal spurred Mangotsfield to their most productive period of the game. A break ended with Powell laying the ball across to George Lloyd who drove into the side netting. Irish then parried a shot from the visitors’ other Lewis Powell and pouched a low drive from goalscorer Powell after a good turn in the box, those two efforts sandwiching a left footed strike from Lloyd which clattered off the crossbar.
The danger passed though and the Peacocks rounded off a highly successful afternoon with a sixth one minute from time. Staley weaved in from the right to lay square to Ben Palmer and his strike towards the far post was planted home by Craig Duff, leaving Town to celebrate another League double and a play-off spot all but guaranteed.
By Andy Power
Taunton: Lloyd Irish, Pierce Mitchell, Ben Palmer, Alex Hoyle, Ed Palmer, Shane White (Josh Searle 84), Ollie Chamberlain (Matt Buse 56), Brett Trowbridge (captain), Jordan Rogers, Craig Veal (Craig Duff 72), Ross Staley. Unused subs: Matt Wright, Matt Villis
Mangotsfield: Steve Phillips, Ben Withey, Tom Warren, Conor McCormack, Scott Brice (captain), Lewis Hogg, Mitch Tippins (Lewis Powell 45), Dale Evans (Joe Hillard 59), Liam Monelle (George Lloyd 65), Lewis Powell, Matt Groves. Unused subs: Ryan Batten, Tom Fry
Referee: Stephen Fearnley (Bristol)
Assistants: Mark Loughlin (Yate), Kevin Slade (Bristol)
Match Sponsor: Ivan Russ and Family
Match Ball Sponsor: Steve Sawyer and Paul Harper
Mascots: Staplegrove FC Under 8’s