The Peacocks return to Evo-Stik League duty when they travel to Barnstaple Town tomorrow evening (29th November), kick-off 7.45pm. Cup action has dominated Town’s agenda over recent weeks but now they can fully focus on accumulating league points and climbing the table starting with the trip to North Devon. Barum will be seeking the double, having sneaked a 1-0 win deep into injury time at the Viridor Stadium in Town’s first home game of the season back in August. That fixture was Barnstaple’s first away game in their debut Southern League campaign which sees them currently sitting in 19th spot, one place below Town who have fallen way behind with their schedule due to their cup commitments. Town’s last league outing at Salisbury didn’t go to plan but with Barnstaple having lost their last three games, the Peacocks will hope to get back on track at Mill Road tomorrow. Town will have a new face in the squad after signing Ben Palmer (pictured) from neighbours Bridgwater Town. Ben, aged 24, can operate on the left of defence or midfield and is the son of former Peacocks reserve goalkeeper John. He played local football at Bishops Lydeard before joining Bridgwater last season. Manager Leigh Robinson said:” We’re pleased to have Ben on board. We were impressed with him earlier in the season and he ticks all the boxes really. A local, young, hungry lad with plenty of scope to improve further plus we need strengthening on the left after Callum’s departure and ongoing issues with Ryan’s work commitments.” Ben’s namesake Ed misses the match, his final absence due to the course he is attending, while Pierce Mitchell is not fit to return and Craig Duff picked up a tight hamstring at Chelmsford on Saturday so also misses out. Matt Wright and Adam Kelly however both return to the squad after serving their one match suspensions.
Town's interest in FA competitions is finally over for 2016-17 after they lost 1-0 at Chelmsford City in the FA Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round yesterday afternoon (26th November). Playing their 15th cup tie of the season, it was a valiant effort by the Peacocks who looked all set to bring the National League South side back to the Viridor Stadium for a midweek replay until the hosts poached the winner one minute from time. The first half saw limited openings in front of goal at either end as Town matched the Essex side. Ross Staley had Town's best chance when he connected with an Ed Palmer free kick but Clarets keeper Ross Fitzsimons tipped wide while Lloyd Irish was rarely called upon apart from coming quickly off his line to block Elliott Buchanan. Chelmsford began to assert themselves more after the break but chances remained few. Shane White's strike was held by Fitzsimons at his near post whilst Town's defence repelled any threat from the home side, some timely challenges preventing potential damage. Lloyd Irish foiled Shaun Jeffers as the minutes ticked away but in the 89th minutes Town's hopes of earning a second crack were shattered when a long throw from the left by Chris Bush fell amongst a crowd of players and Anthony Church reacted to rifle the ball into the roof of the net and take his side into the First Round Proper. The Peacocks meanwhile can reflect on a breathtaking season in the FA knockouts before resuming their Evo-Stik League campaign at Barnstaple Town on Tuesday. Match report can be viewed HERE and match photos from club photographer Tim Norbury can be viewed HERE. Match photos from Martin Bamforth can be viewed HERE.
Reaction - manager Leigh Robinson remarked:" We're obviously disappointed to lose to such a late goal after fighting so hard to earn a replay which we probably would have merited but I can't fault the players today or throughout our two cup runs as they have given absolutely everything. It was a scrappy game played on one of the smallest pitches we have ever come across which meant chances for both sides were rare as space was very limited. Chelmsford are unbeaten in their league at home this season and play the home pitch very well whilst we struggled to create clear cut opportunities. On reflection though we have played four ties against National League South sides and only conceded two goals which is a hell of an effort but we must now take this much pride in our league defending, something we've struggled with so far this season."
Following various discussions, we can announce that the structure of youth and development football is changing at the club. In a meeting with our Under 18 players and their parents yesterday evening (24th November), the situation of the Club's membership of the Somerset Floodlight Youth League and the Executive Board's recommendation for us to withdraw from the competition was discussed. Subsequently we have tendered our resignation from the League and our youth side will be incorporated into a Development Squad which the club believe is a better long term option to develop players rather than be age restricted to under 18's. We are delighted to announce that our former player and manager Paul West has accepted the invitation to become Development Coach and will be supported by the first team football management and other staff. A full news release will be issued in due course.
Town face another long trip when they travel to Chelmsford City in the 3rd Qualifying Round of the Buildbase FA Trophy tomorrow (26th November), kick-off 3.00pm. Eleven days after their expedition to Barrow, the Peacocks tackle a 430 mile round trip to Essex looking to cause another upset against a National League outfit. During their epic FA Cup run, Town disposed of two of Chelmsford’s league colleagues in the shape of Hampton & Richmond Borough and Hemel Hempstead Town and will hope to make it a hat trick of victories at the Melbourne Community Stadium tomorrow. However the magnitude of the task is evident, with seventh placed City being undefeated in the league at home this season and boasting an average home crowd of 918, the second highest in the division. Recent form in the National League has been rather sedate, with four draws and a defeat from their last five fixtures although they found their shooting boots in midweek when they won 7-1 at Barking in the Essex Senior Cup. The Peacocks have crossed paths with Chelmsford previously - in 1973 Town lost 4-0 in an FA Trophy replay following a 1-1 draw at the Viridor Stadium whilst the two were also rivals in the Southern League Division One South for two seasons from 1977 to 1979. Town did not lose to the Clarets in their four league meetings, winning and drawing the home fixtures while triumphing in both the away games at their former New Writtle Street Ground which they vacated in 1997.
If Town are to win through tomorrow and add another £4,000 to their FA prize pot, they will have to do it the hard way. Matt Wright picked up his fifth booking of the season at Salisbury last Saturday and is therefore suspended for one game along with Adam Kelly whose one match ban is carried over to tomorrow after the Wimborne game on Tuesday was postponed. Pierce Mitchell is not yet fit to return following his hamstring injury whilst Ryan Batley is unavailable due to work commitments. Manager Leigh Robinson is well aware of the job facing his team. “It’s a tough challenge tomorrow”, he remarked, “but cup football has been our forte this year. To get into the First Round Proper of both the FA Cup and FA Trophy in the same season would be a phenomenal achievement. We’re a bit understrength but have good replacements to come in and crucially will be looking for a far better defensive display than last Saturday.” Town have not reached the 1st Round Proper of the FA Trophy since January 1982 when they ousted Mangotsfield United, Saltash United and Frome Town to earn a tie with Hendon who triumphed comfortably. In 2004 when the Qualifying stages were not active, Town also progressed through three rounds to reach the 3rd Round before bowing out at Worthing.
The Peacocks lost their first match to the weather this season when the game with Wimborne Town scheduled for this evening (22nd November) was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch. An 11.30am inspection this morning of the Viridor Stadium pitch, the bottom corner of which resembled a lake yesterday, revealed areas of standing water and with rain continuing to fall there was no option other than to call the match off. A rescheduled date for the fixture will be announced shortly. Meanwhile the rearranged game at Bishops Cleeve on 10th January will have to be rescheduled again due to Cleeve’s involvement in the Southern League Cup that week.
Town will hope to get Saturday’s reversal at Salisbury out of their system when they host Wimborne Town in the Evo-Stik League tomorrow evening (22nd November), kick-off 7.45pm. Whether the match goes ahead though will depend on a pitch inspection planned for 11.30am tomorrow morning after prolonged heavy rain left the Viridor Stadium pitch under water today. Should the game survive the weather, the Peacocks will be looking to avenge the 2-1 defeat they suffered at the Cuthbury in August. Since then the Dorset club have experienced a mixed bag of results to lie in mid-table, their indifferent home form in contrast to their away record which has seen them suffer only one league defeat which came at Evesham United in August. Pierce Mitchell remains on the injured list but may possibly be back in the fold for Saturday’s FA Trophy trip to Chelmsford City while Ed Palmer is away on a course and Adam Kelly is suspended for one game after accumulating five bookings this season. Left back Callum Martindale has left the club and is likely to sign for Peninsula League side Bodmin Town. Manager Leigh Robinson commented:” Due to working in Salcombe, Callum was struggling with the travelling. We thank him for his efforts in his time at the club and wish him well in the future.”
The Peacocks returned to Evo-Stik League action with a thoroughly disappointing 5-2 defeat at Salisbury yesterday afternoon (19th November). The damage was done in a disastrous first half with Town 4-0 down at the break as a result of defensive lapses and despite having ample chances themselves. Ed Palmer had an early header cleared off the line before Justin Bennett headed in Lewis Benson's cross on 14 minutes to put the hosts 1-0 up. Benson took advantage of an error to slide the ball home on 26 minutes and when Bennett converted a Tommy Wright pass twelve minutes before half time Town were left with a mountain to climb. Ollie Chamberlain and Craig Duff both had opportunities to get on the scoresheet but it was Benson who did that again, his shot in first half stoppage time rolling over the line after Lloyd Irish was unable to hold. Palmer had a long range shot saved before Jordan Rogers reduced the deficit with a penalty 17 minutes from time and then blasted home a 30 yard strike to make it 4-2 on 87 minutes. Bennett rounded off the scoring from Wright's pass five minutes into stoppage time to claim his hat trick on a day when Town fell well below the standards they had set in recent weeks. Match report can be viewed HERE and match photos from club photographer Colin Andrews can be viewed HERE.
Reaction - manager Leigh Robinson said:" A strange game to sum up as we had a decent amount of possession, an equal number of chances to Salisbury if not more but ended up gifting them ridiculous goals in the first half through individual errors. Perhaps today was a good day to play us, I'm sure it will be a very minor blip and a reminder of the levels we need to be at. These players have put loads into the last few weeks and maybe today caught up with us a little bit but we'll be fine."
Town resume their Evo-Stik League campaign after a fortnight of cup commitments when they travel to Salisbury tomorrow (19th November), kick-off 3.00pm. It will be the first visit to the Raymond McEnhill Stadium since September 2003 when Town lost an FA Cup tie 4-1 to Salisbury City, the predecessors of tomorrow’s opponents who folded due to financial problems in 2014. The fixture provides the Peacocks with their first opportunity for a league double this season following the 3-1 victory over the Wiltshire side back in August at the Viridor Stadium. Consequently Steve Claridge’s team will undoubtedly be focused on redressing the balance tomorrow especially after suffering their first home league defeat of the season last weekend to Tiverton Town. The Whites currently lie in ninth spot, mainly as a result of their solid home form backed by the second best average attendance in the South and West Division. It therefore promises to be a tough challenge for Town who sit in 15th place but have a minimum of four games in hand on all sides above them, giving them the potential to climb to the outskirts of the play-off zone. Craig Duff and Alex Hoyle are added to the squad that travelled to Barrow in midweek but Pierce Mitchell remains on the injured list while Ross Staley is unavailable. Manager Leigh Robinson commented:” It’s one of the stand-out fixtures of the league season and everyone is looking forward to it. We expended a lot of physical and mental energy at Barrow so we’ll be freshening up the side to compensate for this, much like we’ll be doing for the next three months no doubt with wall to wall matches.”
Following the club's success in the Emirates FA Cup and Buildbase FA Trophy, we have received a number of requests regarding the purchase of pro rata Season Tickets. With 15 home League games still to play, we are launching Part Season Tickets which can be purchased now and used from next week's game against Wimborne Town on Tuesday 22nd November. The prices are £96 for an Adult ticket, £72 for Concessions and £36 for Juniors (14 to 18 years). These tickets represent a 20% saving on League admissions for the rest of the season. Children under 14 years still gain free entry to League games. To purchase a Part Season Ticket please download the application form HERE.
After 88 days, nine games and 16 goals, the Peacocks outstanding Emirates FA Cup run is finally over after they lost 2-1 at Barrow in a 1st Round Proper replay yesterday evening (15th November). Town’s furthest ever midweek trip saw a brave effort on the night against the Bluebirds, three levels above them and unbeaten in 17 games since August. However both sides went into the break on level terms, the opening half presenting a limited number of opportunities, with Barrow coming the nearest via headers from Nick Anderton and Richard Bennett. The deadlock was broken three minutes into the second half when a poor clearance fell to Jordan Williams who cut inside and fired a terrific strike over Lloyd Irish into the far corner to hand Barrow the lead. Town withstood further pressure, Irish diverting another Williams’ shot just over, before they levelled on 73 minutes. Ed Palmer was pushed by Alex-Ray Harvey on the edge of the box and he got up to drill a fantastic free kick past the wall and England C goalkeeper Joel Dixon (as pictured) to the euphoria of the travelling support on the terraces. Town’s joy was short-lived though as Barrow retook the lead only two minutes later when Ryan Yates clipped a cross in from the right and Owen Irish got a touch off his leg to put the ball in his own net. The Peacocks were put under the cosh as Barrow pressed to make the game safe, substitute Ross Hannah having an effort disallowed for offside plus a number of other attempts either saved or miss the target. Despite several raids Town were unable to carve out another real chance as the Cumbrians won through to face a 2nd Round Proper tie at Bristol Rovers on Sunday 4th December. Match report can be viewed HERE and photos of the match and preceding build-up from club photographer Colin Andrews can be viewed HERE and HERE. Highlights from the game can be viewed on Barrow AFC's YouTube channel HERE.
Reaction - manager Leigh Robinson commented:” Obviously we’re all disappointed that this magnificent journey and experience has come to an end. Honestly though, I wouldn’t change it for being 15 points clear at the top of our league as this cup run does miles more for the club than promotion ever could. We have given it everything again tonight and matched a really strong side on their own turf. Unfortunately for us we made a couple of defensive errors in the second half at key times (three minutes into the second half and soon after our equaliser) whilst the Barrow lads barely made a mistake across both matches. I’m really proud of the players though and what they have achieved. This long road trip and overnight stay has enhanced the team spirit and togetherness and hopefully we can take this into the next few months as we face a daunting fixture pile-up.”