Town will look to get Tuesday night’s result out of their system when they host Salisbury in the Evo-Stik League tomorrow afternoon (13th August), kick-off 3.00pm. The Wiltshire newcomers progressed to the Evo-Stik League after securing the Wessex League title last season and have enjoyed a similar start to the Peacocks, winning their opener but then coming unstuck in midweek. Last Saturday they recorded a 1-0 victory over Evesham United but despite taking the lead were then defeated 4-2 at Winchester City on Wednesday evening. Town meanwhile will be aiming to bounce back after their lacklustre midweek outing against Barnstaple Town.
Salisbury, who are managed by former Birmingham, Leicester and Portsmouth striker Steve Claridge, are a reformed club, having emerged from the ashes of Conference side Salisbury City who were forced to fold due to debt in 2014. Town have crossed swords with the old version of Salisbury on a number of occasions over the years, the most recent being an FA Cup tie in 2003 which the Whites won 4-1 at the Raymond McEnhill Stadium. The scene is set though for a much closer game tomorrow at the Viridor Stadium, with a good crowd anticipated buoyed by the visitors’ sizeable travelling support. Owen Irish is back in the squad after returning from holiday but fellow centre half Matt Villis begins a suspension for his dismissal at Shortwood.
Town got off to a poor start in their home Evo-Stik League season when they lost 1-0 to Barnstaple Town yesterday evening (9th August). The Peacocks were a shadow of the side that won their opening game so convincingly at the weekend and very nearly found themselves trailing in the first minute, Ryan Turner getting to the ball just before Lloyd Irish but lobbing wide of the post. Town's best opening came via Adam Kelly's volley which was saved by Barum keeper Steve Oliver, however it was the visitors who again came close when Jack Jenkins' free kick found its way to the unmarked Niall Heeney at the far post but his effort was blocked. Although having more of the possession after the break, the Peacocks still laboured to create much, the best build-up of the night ending with Kelly firing just over. A Jordan Rogers shot from a narrow angle was headed off the line by Aaron Harper-Penman, with the game seemingly petering out to a stalemate. However a late spurt from Barnstaple saw Irish save from Scott Sharp and then moments later came the winner in the fifth minute of stoppage time. Sharp got free down the right and when his slanted ball across goal wasn't held, fellow sub Dave Pearse gratefully slotted home to cap off an extremely disappointing night at the Viridor Stadium. Match report can be viewed HERE follow while photos from club photographers Tim Norbury and Colin Andrews can be viewed HERE and HERE.
Reaction - manager Leigh Robinson commented:" A very disappointing and disjointed performance tonight, and the complete opposite to Saturday which has left us scratching our heads a bit. Losing the game was a bit of a kick in the teeth but I don't think we did enough to win it. Credit to Barnstaple though, they defended very well and we gifted them a goal with a catalogue of errors in the last minute which summed up the night really. This is a new team that like anyone will make mistakes and have to experience highs and lows to learn and grow. Hopefully tonight we got a stark reminder of what's required and can move on."
Following Saturday’s terrific opening day win at Shortwood United, the Peacocks now look forward to their first home Evo-Stik League game of the campaign against Barnstaple Town tomorrow evening (9th August), kick-off 7.45pm. The North Devon side, which includes former Town striker James Blake in their ranks, are appearing at Southern League level for the first time, having been promoted after finishing as runners-up in the Western League last season. They began their new experience with a 1-1 draw at home to Yate Town at the weekend. Town still have absentees for tomorrow’s encounter, with Owen Irish and Ryan Batley both on holiday and Christian Boateng away due to a bereavement but James Regan is added to the squad after missing the Shortwood fixture because of cricketing commitments. There is also the possibility of a new signing being involved against Barum but this is very much dependent upon paperwork being processed in time. Manager Leigh Robinson said:” It’ll be a tough test tomorrow as Barnstaple will have good momentum after two successive promotions and a decent start at the weekend. That said, we were excellent on Saturday and our players will have gained a lot of confidence from it so if we can channel that in the right way and the crowd get behind us, we’re well capable of picking up another result.”
Town got their Evo-Stik League season off to a successful start with an excellent 3-0 victory at Shortwood United yesterday afternoon (6th August). There was no doubting that the Peacocks thoroughly deserved maximum points following a strong overall display although it took them some time to get firing in the hot afternoon sun. Lloyd Irish made a brilliant tip over save from Nick Peare's drive but generally Town's defence coped well with the home attack. Taunton took the lead on 22 minutes when Callum Martindale's free kick was lofted overhead by Jordan Rogers at the near post and Matt Wright was on hand to power home a header. Shortwood keeper Rhys Lovett made a double block from Rogers and Adam Kelly to keep the score to 1-0 at the break but Town didn't dally in doubling their advantage two minutes into the second half. Irish's long goal kick was controlled by Rogers and Wright took the ball to slot into the left-hand corner of Lovett's net. Shortwood then enjoyed a spell of pressure but it was Town who sealed the points after 61 minutes when Jordan Rogers robbed Nick Hancock on the left and fired home convincingly from a narrow angle. Lovett felt the full force of Wright's volley to stop another goal before Town were reduced to ten men after 74 minutes when Matt Villis was red carded for kicking out. Irish held shots from Jake Lee and Peare as the hosts tried to salvage something but the Peacocks saw out the game without too much ado. Match report can be viewed HERE and photos from one of our club photographers Colin Andrews can be viewed HERE.
Reaction - manager Leigh Robinson remarked:" It was a really good team performance and a good way to kick things off. With five debutants, away at a tough venue and on a seriously hot afternoon, you'd take any sort of win but to score three and keep a clean sheet was extra pleasing. It's only the first game so absolutely no reason to get carried away but when this team hits top fitness and gels a bit more, we saw today that there is real potential there."
It’s now time to knuckle down and get serious for Town as they commence their Evo-Stik League campaign for 2016-17 with a visit to Shortwood United tomorrow afternoon (6th August), kick-off 3.00pm. A summer of comings and goings at the Viridor Stadium has left the Peacocks with a markedly changed squad for the trip to Gloucestershire, with a number of new faces set to make their debuts at Meadowbank, the hosts’ ground perched on the hill above Nailsworth. Striker Matt Wright, midfielders Adam Kelly and Matt Buse, centre half Ed Palmer and full back Callum Martindale are all in the travelling party along with defender Tom Stone from the Under 18 side who fills in after impressing in the friendly at Shepton Mallet on Monday. However Owen Irish and new signing Ryan Batley are both on holiday, James Regan is contracted to play cricket until the end of August and summer striker recruit Christian Boateng is missing due to a family bereavement.
Having reached the play-offs in the past two seasons, expectation may be high again of a similar achievement this time round or even better but Town’s 15th successive year in the South and West Division or its equivalent is shaping up to be one of the most difficult yet. Apart from consistent challengers such as Evesham United, North Leigh and Tiverton Town, other clubs including Mangotsfield United and Wimborne Town have strengthened whilst the division will also have a more local flavour with relegated Bideford and Paulton Rovers also staking their claim to a quick return to the Premier. The biggest threat though is being touted as coming from phoenix clubs Hereford and Salisbury who have both been promoted to the Southern League and have the infrastructure and fan base to continue their success this season. It will therefore take a massive effort from Town to emulate the feats of last term. Tomorrow’s opponents Shortwood can also be regarded as one of the leading pack of contenders after finishing in 7th last season and have achieved top 10 finishes in three of the four years they have been in the League. Honours were shared in 2015-16, with Shortwood winning at the Viridor and Town snatching a dramatic away victory well into stoppage time in April, the first occasion they had won there in four visits. Manager Leigh Robinson commented:” It’s a tricky opening fixture as Shortwood is always a tough place to win. Perennially they are a really committed and hard working side and will have the advantage of having most of their team from last season still there whereas we are introducing many new players and trying to get them to gel. However, the pitch is normally good there in early season so if we play to our maximum we’re confident of getting a result.”
Ryan Batley and Matt Buse who have trialled in several of Town's pre-season friendlies have now signed officially for the club. Batley (pictured left), a 24 year old left-sided defender, has impressed in five of the Peacocks' warm-up matches after recently moving to the West Country from Wales. He played at Aberystwyth Town last season, his third spell at the Welsh Premier League club, and has also represented Llanelli, Afan Lido and Haverfordwest County. Buse (pictured right) is a 19 year old midfielder who was on youth forms at Yeovil Town before going on to join Weymouth for 2015-16. He has also been a member of England’s Under 19 Futsal squad.
Manager Leigh Robinson remarked: “They have both impressed immensely whilst on trial and I have no doubt will be very good additions to our squad. Both are technically good players with fantastic attitudes which is exactly what we’re after. Unfortunately Ryan has a holiday booked for the first two weeks of the season which normally I would go mad about but to be fair to the lad he only moved to Devon from Wales late last year and had no idea he’d be playing for us but we look forward to having him available upon his return.” Goalkeeper Josh Dempsey has also signed Southern League forms as cover for Lloyd Irish who he stood in for at Shepton Mallet on Monday evening.
Meanwhile former Under 18 player Max Dyer is taking an extended break from the game. Robinson commented: “He is struggling mentally to get back to his normal level after his broken leg he suffered last season and felt this was affecting his game so is taking extra time off and will hopefully come back stronger at a later date.” Last season’s captain of the Under 18 team, Callum Mooney, has linked up with Western League side Shepton Mallet in order to build up his experience in senior men’s football whilst another former skipper of Town’s youth side Lewis Waldy has joined Street. The Taunton boss continued:” Lewis only returned last week from spending the summer in Ayia Napa and due to the fact he has missed the entire pre-season has chosen to get regular games at Street to regain his fitness which at this point we couldn’t offer him. Again we hope he’ll be back at some point. The perennial problem that we have is where do the players go when too old for the Under 18’s? As a manager I am always of the opinion that unless they are ready to walk into the first team which is very rare, they are better off getting games in the Western League and coming back when ready. That is far better for them than sitting on the bench for us.”
The Peacocks emerged 3-2 winners at Shepton Mallet in the last game of their pre-season schedule yesterday evening (1st August). Town made an ideal start, grabbing the lead inside two minutes via Josh Searle who lashed home a lay-off from Craig Veal. Adam Kelly made it 2-0 five minutes later, picking out the corner of Jamie Rothwell's net from a free kick, and Veal came close to a third before the Mallet responded on 14 minutes when Harry Ritchie lofted the ball over Josh Dempsey from the right side of the box. After Dempsey had denied Tyson Pollard with a great save, Jordan Rogers blocked a clearance to see the ball ricochet in for a 3-1 lead on 27 minutes before David Thorne fired home on 41 minutes to reduce the deficit. Action was more limited after the interval with few opportunities for either side to increase their goal tally. Match report can be viewed HERE.
Reaction - manager Leigh Robinson said:" It was a useful exercise on a fantastic pitch and set-up at Shepton Mallet and we thank them for accomodating us at short notice. You normally hope that in your final friendly you have more or less your strongest team out but we weren't able to do that tonight as we had to protect people for Saturday but it was a good opportunity to experiment and look at a few different things. It's been a tricky pre-season with the majority of players being forced to miss quite a few games so we're all glad it's over and can look forward to the start of the competitive matches."
Town play their final pre-season friendly when they travel to Shepton Mallet tomorrow evening (1st August), kick-off 7.30pm. The game was a late addition to the Peacocks’ schedule to give them a further run-out ahead of this Saturday’s opening Evo-Stik League fixture at Shortwood United. However it will be somewhat of a mixed Town team that journey to the West Shepton Playing Fields, with Ed Palmer, Callum Martindale and Matt Wright all unavailable due to work whilst Owen Irish is away on honeymoon and Matt Villis who has been carrying an injury will not be risked before the weekend. Defender Charlie Hitchings returns to the side after missing the Bodmin game and former Yate keeper Josh Dempsey will deputise between the sticks for Lloyd Irish who is rested. Shepton Mallet finished 10th in the Western League Premier Division last season and are managed by former Yate Town boss Rob Cousins. Casting a quick eye through the record books it would appear that the two sides have not crossed paths in any form since the Peacocks won 3-0 in a home friendly in August 1993.
We are pleased to announce that long-standing club sponsor Somerset County Sports have won the top prize in our annual Main Sponsor Draw. The cricket equipment specialists were first out the hat in the draw held during the interval of Friday evening’s game against Bodmin Town at the Viridor Stadium and will now have their logo emblazoned on the front of the Peacocks’ home shirts for the 2016-17 season. Second out the hat to have their name on the back of the first team home shirts was PrideShine Valeting whilst another loyal sponsor Sun Scaffolding was rewarded with the third prize of sponsoring the front of the first team away shirt. The club would like to thank all the entrants to this year’s draw and congratulate the seven winners who are as follows:
1st prize, name on front of first team home shirt: Somerset County Sports
2nd prize, name on back of first team home shirt: PrideShine Valeting
3rd prize, name on front of first team away shirt: Sun Scaffolding
4th prize, name on back of first team away shirt: Invest South West
5th prize, name on front of youth team shirt: Soccerbox
6th prize, name on back of youth team shirt: Carlsberg
7th prize, free board rental or one free match & ball sponsorship: Wyvern Blinds
The club will again be running its popular mascot offer this coming season which invites local youth league teams to act as mascots for a game of their choice at the Viridor Stadium. The package includes walking out with the Town team at kick-off and playing a short game on the pitch during the half time interval. For full details of the offer and how to apply please click HERE.