The Peacocks did themselves proud when they earned a 2-2 draw with Barrow in the 1st Round Proper of the FA Cup yesterday afternoon (6th November). A sell-out crowd of 2,297 at the Viridor Stadium saw Town take the lead twice, only to be pegged back by the National League high flyers who sit 77 places above them in the non-league system. Jordan Rogers received Shane White's pass to force Barrow keeper Joel Dixon to tip his shot round the post and from the resultant Ryan Batley corner Matt Wright was on hand to head in from close range (as pictured) to put Town ahead on 14 minutes. Wright came close to doubling the lead soon after with a vicious volley from Ollie Chamberlain's ball before the visitors drew level on 35 minutes, Byron Harrison stroking home a penalty after Batley was adjudged to have pushed down Moussa Diarra. Town hit back immediately to regain the lead when Matt Villis prodded in following another Batley corner from the right but the Bluebirds equalised again a minute before the break when Liam Hughes got his head on a corner from six yards and the ball entered the net via Richard Bennett from virtually on the line. A melee followed which resulted in Hughes receiving a straight red card. Both sides had opportunities to win it in the second half, Craig Veal's attempt being blocked from close range and White's chipped cross rebounding off the far post whilst Diarra's strike was narrowly over at the other end. However it finished all square, meaning Town will be involved in the 2nd Round Proper draw tomorrow evening for the first time in their history whilst contemplating a 600 mile round trip to Cumbria for the replay on Tuesday 15th November. Match report can be viewed HERE and match photos from club photographers Tim Norbury and Colin Andrews can be viewed HERE, HERE and HERE.
Reaction - manager Leigh Robinson said:" It was a really good performance on a wonderful occasion for the club. I was delighted with how the players showed no nerves and went toe to toe with a National League side. In the dressing room after there was a mixture of pride that we'd put on a good performance mixed with a bit of disappointment as we could have nicked it although that in itself is a sign of how well we played. Naturally the replay will be tough logistically as well as a football challenge but we've won two away replays already this season so we won't be fazed by it as it's something to enjoy. Excellent for the club to be involved in the second round draw."
The wait is nearly over….Taunton Town FC will take to the Viridor Stadium pitch in less than 24 hours to meet National League high flyers Barrow in the Emirates FA Cup 1st Round Proper. Such has been the interest in the eagerly anticipated tie tomorrow (6th November), kick-off 2.00pm, that a sell-out crowd of 2,300 is almost guaranteed, and with both sides in a rich vein of form the game has the potential to be a real treat. Town’s task ahead of them though should not be underestimated - the Bluebirds are unbeaten in 15 games and have only lost twice this season, their last defeat coming way back in August at Dover Athletic. Since then their results have seen them climb to 5th place in the National League and with full time status behind them they will undoubtedly be odds-on favourites to progress tomorrow. However the Peacocks, on an undefeated run themselves of seven matches, have torn up the rule book during their superb FA Cup run of 2016-17, and the confidence gained from having knocked out three clubs already from higher divisions will stand them in good stead for the Barrow showdown where the sum of £18,000 is up for grabs for the winners.
Tomorrow is only the second occasion that the Peacocks have appeared at this stage of the competition, the only other time being in 1981-82. That campaign featured victories over Saltash United, Bridgwater Town, Liskeard Athletic and Addlestone and Weybridge to earn a home tie with Swindon Town in the First Round Proper although the game was subsequently switched to the County Ground. Town fans hoped an upset was on the cards when Kevin Hains gave us an early lead but the Third Division side fought back to win 2-1. We are delighted to say that Kevin, along with at least seven other members of that Peacocks’ side from 35 years ago, will be present at the Viridor Stadium tomorrow and will be presented to the fans on the pitch before kick-off. As for the current Town squad, apart from the cup-tied trio of Alex Hoyle, Craig Duff and Ross Staley, everyone is available to be involved in probably the biggest game of their career. Team captain Brett Trowbridge reflected the mood in the players’ camp, remarking: “What a day Sunday is going to be for everyone involved with Taunton Town FC!!! The lads, management and I are absolutely buzzing for the game. We cannot wait to get out there on the pitch in front of the massive crowd that will mainly all be Taunton fans. It will make a huge difference having that support behind us driving the team on and I thank all the fans in advance for that. We will give it our all as players and hope we do the club and town proud once again...Up the Peacocks!!”
Manager Leigh Robinson similarly can’t wait for the big event and hopes that the large home crowd will really spur his team on. “I think we're at the point now where everyone is just dying for the game to start”, he said. “The build-up has been magnificent but there comes a time when you just need to get on with the job in hand. We've prepared well, got a fully fit squad and a really good spirit right now so we couldn’t be in better shape. Obviously we know the huge challenge ahead of us as Barrow are three leagues above, full time and heftily backed financially but we have shown in the last two rounds that we are a match for anyone on our day. The key for us will be dealing with the occasion I think, as footballing wise we have enough to cope provided that we perform to our maximum on the day. Whilst it will be a sell out and a larger crowd than seen for many years at Taunton, we need everyone to get behind us as there will be a lot of people attending who haven't been to the Viridor before or in quite a while, so hopefully our loyal supporters can get them going and create a great atmosphere.”
Chairman Kevin Sturmey views tomorrow’s FA Cup tie as a fitting reward for the hard work put in by everyone at the club both on and off the pitch. He commented:” I am really looking forward to Sunday and whatever the result it has to be a day to be enjoyed. It has been a manic two and a half weeks and I have been surviving on a few hours’ sleep or falling asleep on the sofa - not sure if that's my age or just sheer exhaustion! I never thought we would make this after all the setbacks we have experienced since we took over the running of the club in 2010. Each season I have watched other teams from Step 4 get their moment of glory and now it has been our turn. It has been a fantastic journey so far, the players and management have been absolutely superb but I don't want it to end and would love us to make history on Sunday and reach the 2nd round proper for the first time.“
Tomorrow’s tie will be the first time in their history that Town have hosted a First Round Proper game which has involved a great deal of work in preparation and attracted much media interest. The chairman continued:” There are too many people to mention but I just want to thank everyone who has helped in any way. It's great to have people offering to help us prepare for possibly the biggest day in the club’s history. We have worked so hard to provide everything we feel will make the day enjoyable for everyone, young or old, male or female and if something doesn't quite go to plan it's not through a lack of planning. The media attention has been incredible, it's akin to going from a Sunday League team to Man United and for someone who has the perfect face for radio the TV appearances have been great fun and not once have I had to put on make-up! Seriously I want to thank everyone who has stuck by us through all the ups and downs and Sunday is for all of you who have helped contribute to the success in the last few seasons. Ramp up the noise again tomorrow and who knows what we can achieve with our 12th man!”
There is an information sheet available for tomorrow’s game which can be viewed HERE. A limited number of tickets will go on sale later today (Saturday) which have been returned unsold from the Barrow allocation. The ticket office will be open from 4.30pm until 6.00pm, please see the What’s On section on the home page for further information.
Town have already had to negotiate seven games to reach the First Round Proper since their campaign began back on 20th August. Manager Leigh Robinson gave the website his reflections on each round so far:
TIVERTON TOWN - It was a good win in the circumstances. There was quite a stigma around the game with so many of our players having moved to Tiverton recently but we put that to the back of our minds and got a win in the replay. We were disappointed not to win the home game and were easily second favourites for the replay as we had I think three players out from the first game but we turned in a great performance and deservedly won on the night.
CINDERFORD TOWN - I think this was a good fixture for us because although Cinderford were in the league above, we knew they'd had a bad start to the season and were still coming together a bit as a team. From memory, it should have been a more comfortable win than it actually was, the referee turning down the most blatant penalty ever seen with ten minutes to go and us 1-0 up but he then gave a much softer penalty in injury time and Jordan sealed it from the spot.
SLIMBRIDGE - A very similar game to Cinderford in a way, although we were favourites and had to deal with the pressure. It was a close game but we just had the more cutting edge on the day. I remember Ryan Batley's goal to make it 2-0 being a huge relief.
HAMPTON & RICHMOND BOROUGH - We were written off numerous times before this game as Hampton were riding high in the National League South, blasting teams away in the first 25 minutes of games and had an array of talent going forward, summed up by the fact that one of their players has now signed for Portsmouth. Naturally we had to ride our luck a bit and Lloyd on the day was fantastic. It was a day where we had to take our chances and we did just that from two of our few opportunities, Jordan with a good finish in the first half and then a cool penalty after Ollie had cleverly drawn a foul in the box from a rare attack.
HEMEL HEMPSTEAD - It was a big occasion and attracted a near 1300 crowd which made everything feel different to normal. The occasion weighed heavy on the players on the day, particularly in the first half, and we didn't really perform at all. Still, we defended well on the day and set up a replay. On the Tuesday night I think we surprised Hemel with some fresh legs, increased energy and a more positive performance. After a great start when we created a few good chances, we won a penalty which Jordan converted. From here on in it was pretty much one way traffic and Hemel admittedly created a lot of chances but incredibly kept missing the target. We had chances to make it 2-0 on the counter attack as they left everyone forward at times and despite some very weary bodies at the end, we were able to sneak through with Ed Palmer and Owen Irish particularly fantastic in defence.
Town have added further to their squad with the signing of Craig Duff from Tiverton Town. The 27 year old attacking midfielder (pictured) made his debut for the Peacocks during the second half of Tuesday’s Evo-Stik League game at home to Slimbridge after recently parting company with Tiverton who he signed for over the summer. His early career was spent with Bovey Tracey and Falmouth Town until he joined Weymouth in 2012. Since then he has gone on to play for Bideford and Truro City in recent seasons, and scored twice against Town when playing for the Cornish club in last season’s FA Cup.
Town fans were left scratching their heads as to how their side had failed to secure a convincing victory following the 0-0 Evo-Stik League draw with Slimbridge at the Viridor Stadium yesterday evening (1st November). The Peacocks contrived to miss a glut of scoring opportunities which started early on when Matt Wright's header skimmed the post. Adam Kelly's free kick also found the post, with a succession of chances following for the rest of the half, predominantly for Wright and Kelly who were denied by Swans' keeper Adrian Kowalski and both also saw another effort each hit the woodwork. Unbelievably the bad luck continued when Wright rifled a shot against the upright with the second half less than a minute old which maintained the trend for the rest of the game as Town battered away but somehow the Slimbridge goal again led a charmed life. The best opportunity came on 63 minutes when Kelly was brought down but Kowalski saved Shane White's penalty. The visiting keeper also earnt his corn by denying Ollie Chamberlain and Craig Duff amongst others while Pierce Mitchell's cross found the crossbar as Slimbridge survived to scrape a point. Match report can be viewed HERE and match photos from club photographers Tim Norbury and Colin Andrews can be viewed HERE and HERE.
Reaction - manager Leigh Robinson said:" I think we are all still wondering exactly how we didn't win the game. We hit the woodwork at least six times, missed a penalty and their keeper had the game of his life. Ironically we probably created more chances than Saturday and last Tuesday when we scored five in both games but tonight it just wouldn't go in. We're obviously frustrated as we did enough to win that game ten times over but not too disappointed as we're still in good shape as a team, creating numerous chances and days like this happen in every season to most teams."
Town hit the road for the 2nd Round Qualifying of the FA Trophy following the draw made yesterday (31st October). They will visit league rivals Bishops Cleeve on Saturday 12th November, bringing to an end the Peacocks' amazing run of home draws in FA competitions which stretches to 14 ties over the past two seasons. In fact their last away draw in the FA Trophy was in 2013-14 when they lost at Swindon Supermarine, the side they conquered at the weekend. With the next FA Trophy round on the 12th November, this means Town's Evo-Stik league fixture at home to Larkhall Athletic will have to be rescheduled. Several other league games which have been postponed due to Town's cup involvement have now been rearranged. Paulton Rovers come to the Viridor Stadium on Tuesday 6th December with the trip to AFC Totton now planned for a week later on Tuesday 13th December. The away game at Bishops Cleeve which has been shifted from this coming weekend due to Town's FA Cup meeting with Barrow will now take place on Tuesday 10th January.
Town return briefly to Evo-Stik League duty when they host Slimbridge tomorrow evening (1st November), kick-off 7.45pm. League fixtures have become somewhat rarer for the Peacocks recently following their exploits in cup competitions which have accounted for six of the last eight matches played. The two league games Town have fulfilled have both resulted in comfortable victories and they will be keen to continue accumulating points to ascend the table tomorrow against their Gloucestershire visitors who have already travelled to the Viridor Stadium this season in the FA Cup, with Town winning through 2-0 thanks to goals from Matt Wright and Ryan Batley. The Swans made an impressive start to the campaign, actually being undefeated until their FA Cup exit, but have since struggled for form and have lost seven of their last eight league outings to rest in 17th place. Team changes will be necessary with Owen Irish suspended for one game after receiving five bookings this season and Ed Palmer away on a course. Striker Jordan Rogers has served his one game suspension but will not be risked ahead of Sunday’s FA Cup tie with Barrow after he was substituted at Yate last week due to a knee twinge. Matt Villis returns to the squad after missing the last three games because of injury whilst Town are set to include two new signings tomorrow night including wide midfielder Ross Staley (pictured) who has joined the Peacocks from league leaders Hereford. The 22 year old came up through the Bristol Rovers youth academy before going on to play for Yate Town, Gloucester City and Shortwood United until linking up with Hereford in January 2016. It is also hoped another new face will be involved subject to paperwork being processed in time. Manager Leigh Robinson commented:” It’s a tricky fixture tomorrow as Slimbridge gave us a real test in the FA Cup earlier this season. I guess people will be expecting us to rest numerous players tomorrow with Sunday in mind but we can’t really do that with three big players already unavailable. We’ll need to call on the strength of the squad again and hopefully a few will put their hand up and give me a sleepless night on Saturday over selection for Barrow.”
It was 35 years ago that the Peacocks reached the 1st Round Proper of the FA Cup for the first time in their history and we want the side that wore the claret and blue that day against Swindon Town at the County Ground to be present this Sunday when the current Town side take on Barrow at the Viridor Stadium. Club legend and record appearance holder Tony Payne is trying to organise the reunion of the 12 players present and to date has been in contact with several of the side. If anyone knows the whereabouts of any player from the team listed right or manager Frank McMahon, can they please contact Tony on (01823) 286042 or 07929 619695. Up The Peacocks!
The Peacocks kept up their fantastic form in cup competitions this season when they beat Swindon Supermarine 5-0 in the Buildbase FA Trophy 1st Qualifying Round at the Viridor Stadium yesterday afternoon (29th October). In truth the visitors got away lightly with the scoreline following a terrific Town performance which saw them 3-0 ahead at half time before adding two more after the break to seal a superb victory and add another £2,700 to their FA prize pot this season. Callum Martindale and Craig Veal had already spurned chances before Town took the lead on 16 minutes when Brett Trowbridge played in Veal who steadied himself to fire past Connor Johns. Veal, Ollie Chamberlain and Shane White all came close before Town increased their advantage on 39 minutes when Pierce Mitchell unleashed a stunning left foot volley into the top corner. Chamberlain then fed Veal to run on and steer the ball home a minute before the interval to put Town totally in command. Supermarine had their best spell in the early part of the second half without unduly troubling Lloyd Irish before Chamberlain made it 4-0 after 62 minutes, shooting past Johns after an Ed Palmer free kick had been headed down. A great run from Palmer then set up Veal to round Johns and fire home (as pictured) to secure his hat trick with nine minutes remaining while Chamberlain and Josh Searle nearly added further misery for Marine who were glad to hear the final whistle. Match report can be viewed HERE and match photos from club photographers Tim Norbury and Colin Andrews can be viewed HERE and HERE.
Reaction - manager Leigh Robinson enthused:" As close to perfection as it gets today I thought. Probably our best performance in my time as manager and simply incredibly enjoyable to watch. We created loads of chances, passed it well, had good movement and had terrific cutting edge all afternoon. Overall it's been a great week with three wins, 13 goals scored and some prize money in the bank. A good confidence boost before the big game next weekend."
There’s more cup action for Town tomorrow afternoon (29th October) when they entertain Swindon Supermarine in the 1st Round Qualifying of the Buildbase FA Trophy, kick-off 3.00pm. The Peacocks’ sensational run to the 1st Round Proper of the Emirates FA Cup has understandably taken all the headlines but the FA Trophy can prove another valuable source of income and provide the potential for a meeting with one of non-league’s bigger guns in the later stages. Tomorrow’s encounter at the Viridor Stadium with league rivals Supermarine will be another difficult game for Town who have already met the Swindon side this season, going down to a narrow 2-1 defeat at the Webbswood Stadium last month. Marine are again amongst the leading pack in the South and West Division, sitting in 5th place and having scored five goals in each of their two most recent away fixtures although they did go down 3-0 at home to Hereford on Tuesday evening. However, with £2700 on offer for tomorrow’s winners, Town who are unbeaten in their last five matches can approach the tie with confidence on the back of their recent performances. Town will not be at full strength though, with Jordan Rogers suspended for one game after accumulating five bookings this season whilst Ryan Batley is unavailable due to work commitments and both Matt Villis and James Regan are attending weddings. Ed Palmer is back in the squad after missing the trip to Yate due to being away on a course.