The wait is over!
The Peacocks will begin their 16th season in the Evo-Stik Southern League tomorrow (12th August) when they travel to Cirencester Town, kick-off 3.00pm. The league has seen a number of different sponsors since Town rejoined in 2002 but one thing has remained constant and that is Taunton’s occupancy of the same division, making them the current longest serving members of what is now the Evo-Stik League South, West. The desire to finally break through into the Premier will therefore be stronger than ever this season, especially after missing out in the Play-Offs for the past three years.
Tomorrow’s opponents Cirencester were relegated from the Premier after finishing in 22nd place last season, bringing to an end their three year tenure at that level after winning the South and West Division title in 2014. Manager Charlie Griffin has secured the services of a number of familiar Southern League performers in an attempt to bounce straight back. A new 3G artificial pitch has also been laid at the Corinium Stadium over the summer, meaning the Peacocks will be the first team to play on it competitively. The last meeting between the sides came in Cirencester’s title-winning season when Owen Irish scored a late goal in March 2014 to secure a 1-0 win at the Viridor but six months earlier the Peacocks had gone down 3-1 in Gloucestershire.
Pre-season has been mixed for the Peacocks who have won two and lost four of their seven friendlies but results count for nothing during this period when getting match fit and gelling in new players are far more important requisites. Town have seven new faces on board for 2017-18 and all bar one will be involved in the game tomorrow. Striker Lewis Powell has rejoined from Mangotsfield United while Ben Adelsbury, Les Afful, Ryan Brett and Arran Pugh have all signed from Truro City. Joe Charles has joined as he makes his way back into the game following an injury he suffered whilst with Exeter City and centre half Chris McGrath is another familiar face who has returned for a second spell at the Viridor Stadium. McGrath however will miss the opener due to injury which also keeps Ben Palmer out the squad. Owen Irish and Ollie Chamberlain may also need fitness tests after having niggles during pre-season.
Manager Leigh Robinson said:” The start of a new season and everyone is raring to go. Quite often there comes a point in pre-season when everyone just wants the real games to start and personally I’m pleased to be at that point. It will be a tough opening game tomorrow against a side which has come down from the division above and eager to impress especially on their new 3G surface but we’d much rather be facing that challenge now than in February for example when Ciren will be fully used to the surface. I don’t think either team therefore will have an advantage on the artificial pitch but certainly there will be two good teams going head to head.”