The Peacocks made it an incredible 28 successive Evo-Stik League games unbeaten with a 1-0 victory at Bideford yesterday afternoon (2nd April). Despite the narrow scoreline, Town were good value for the win and could have ended up with more goals against the Robins who are still vying for a play-off spot. Great work by the Bideford groundstaff in the morning saw the game get the go-ahead, with Town well in control in the first half but unable to make the breakthrough. A header from Nuno Felix hit the crossbar early on while Dan Sullivan on several occasions and Shane White both came close while Lloyd Irish made the one save from Ryan Turner at the other end. Turner missed the hosts' best opportunity after the break when shooting wide of the target when through but the Peacocks again enjoyed much the better of it, with Pierce Mitchell's shot turned wide and Sullivan and Ollie Chamberlain both having chances. The deadlock was finally broken after 70 minutes when Chamberlain's header from Sullivan's cross was saved but not held by Bideford keeper Steve Oliver and Matt Wright tucked in the loose ball. Town threatened to add more to their tally as they saw out the rest of the game relatively comfortably. With Salisbury losing at Wimborne, Town's win puts them 17 points clear at the top as they close in on securing the title. Match highlights on Peacocks TV can be seen HERE and match report can be viewed HERE. Unfortunately neither of our club photographers were able to attend the game.
Reaction - manager Leigh Robinson remarked:" In the heavy conditions it was a great win. I thought we looked thoroughly well organised, a threat going forward and were in control of the game throughout. We've been sloppy defensively recently giving away some bad goals so a clean sheet today was particularly pleasing. With results elsewhere going our way the picture becomes very clear now in terms of the results we need and hopefully we can achieve this as soon as possible. Great to see so many fans at an away day making loads of noise during the game and in the bar and we hope to give them something else to celebrate soon."
There is no time to bask in the success of Saturday as the Peacocks prepare to travel to Bideford for their next Evo-Stik League game tomorrow (2nd April), kick-off 3.00pm. Yesterday’s win over Kidlington finally guaranteed promotion for Town to the Southern Premier for the first time in their history but with one mission accomplished, sights are now firmly set on securing the title. Second placed Salisbury are now the only side that can prevent the Peacocks from scooping the top honour, with eleven points required from their final seven fixtures to ensure the championship comes to the Viridor Stadium. Town currently hold a 14 point advantage over Salisbury who have a game in hand, with both sides facing difficult games tomorrow against play-off chasing teams. While the Wiltshire club travel to Wimborne, Town make the trip to North Devon hoping to go one better than the 1-1 draw between the sides in February when they were unable to build on Dan Sullivan’s first half goal. Since that meeting, the Robins have had some up and down results, their last three fixtures being against rival sides near the top which has seen a home draw with Salisbury followed by two defeats on the road at Bristol Manor Farm and most recently at Evesham on Good Friday. However with two games in hand they are still one of a host of clubs in the running for a play-off place so will need no incentive to try and end Town’s unbeaten record on the road tomorrow.
Town will be missing Craig Veal for tomorrow’s match as he is on holiday while Matt Buse is doubtful due to the knee injury he suffered against Kidlington but the rest of the squad are all fit for selection. Coach Rob Dray commented:” After Saturday’s great day for the club, we are firmly back in the mindset of winning games. There was no night out, we will hopefully keep that on the back burner! Bideford are always a difficult test, especially at the Sports Ground, so again even if it’s clichéd, we know that we need to be at our best. The mood and attitude as expected are excellent and the desire to finish the job we started in August is high”.
There are no problems with the Bideford pitch at present but with rain forecast overnight into tomorrow morning there will be a precautionary pitch inspection by 11am.
A piece of history was created at the Viridor Stadium yesterday afternoon (31st March) when the Peacocks recorded a 3-2 Evo-Stik League victory over a useful Kidlington side. With Wimborne losing 4-1 at Bristol Manor Farm, Town's win confirmed promotion to the Southern Premier and the next level for the first time ever. It was a close run thing though with Town falling behind twice before battling back to get the job done in the final ten minutes. Despite the wet weather of yesterday, sterling work from the grounds team ensured the match went ahead but it wasn't the start Town wanted after they found themselves trailing after six minutes when Declan Benjamin's cross ran loose for Lewis Gabbidon to drive home a deflected shot past Lloyd Irish. The Peacocks keeper was then forced into action as the visitors threatened to add to their tally while Greens keeper Mark Warrell also produced an outstanding save to tip over Dan Sullivan's header at the other end while Craig Veal had a goal disallowed just before the break as half time saw the leaders trailing. Good work by Sullivan two minutes into the second half paved the way for the equaliser, robbing Eddie Odhiambo on the right and crossing for Matt Wright to convert at the far post. Kidlington then stunned the home crowd by retaking the lead after 57 minutes when Mark Bell's corner was nodded on to James Organ whose header flew into the far corner before Town upped their game for a rousing finale. Ollie Chamberlain drove home the equaliser from the edge of the box nine minutes from time and the Peacock fans were in raptures when a corner from Nuno Felix found Wright whose effort was touched home by Veal five minutes later to ensure the Peacocks will be playing at Step 3 next season. Match report can be viewed HERE and match highlights on Peacocks TV can be seen HERE while photos from club photographers Tim Norbury and Colin Andrews can be viewed HERE and HERE.
Reaction - manager Leigh Robinson remarked:" Another topsy turvy game but of course we're delighted to have secured promotion on our own patch. For us as a dressing room of course the title comes first but for the people who run the club it's all about promotion and the title would be a bonus so I'm pleased that we've been able to reward their hard work over the years and even today in getting the pitch playable. It was nice to have a celebration moment with the fans but minds must now turn to hopefully having a bigger party in a few weeks if we can secure the title and finish the season as champions."
Reaction - matchwinner Craig Veal said:" Buzzing for the boys after a tough couple of games. The never-say-die attitude and togetherness really shone through on Saturday. Being 2-1 down with ten minutes to go, the lads really pulled together and our efforts thoroughly deserved the three points that have seen us promoted. The fans were absolutely fantastic again, as they are week in, week out, and helped us get over the line! The only thing left to do is secure the title and go up as champions. The Peacocks are flying! Up The Town!"
It could be an historic day at the Viridor Stadium tomorrow afternoon (31st March) when Town host Kidlington in the Evo-Stik League, kick-off 3.00pm. With Bideford losing 3-0 at Evesham United in the only West Division game played today, the Peacocks know that victory over the Oxfordshire side combined with Wimborne failing to win at fellow play-off rivals Bristol Manor Farm will guarantee promotion to the Southern Premier for the first time in the club’s history. Of more immediate concern for Town though is guaranteeing that the game will beat the weather as constant rain today has left areas of the Viridor Stadium pitch waterlogged. Although the forecast indicates the rain easing off, a precautionary pitch inspection has been planned for tomorrow morning but every effort will be made to ensure the game goes ahead, especially as the visitors have midweek commitments right up until the end of the season. Until recently the Greens were in with a shout of a play-off spot but three successive defeats including two to lowly Bishops Cleeve and Slimbridge appear to have scuppered those hopes. However they have shown their capabilities by winning convincingly at both AFC Totton and Bideford in the past couple of months so Town know they can afford no complacency as they seek to extend their unbeaten league run to 27 games. The two sides fought out a 2-2 draw at Yarnton Road in the return fixture back in September after two goals from Matt Wright appeared to have won the game for Town until the hosts equalised in the final minute.
The Peacocks will be boosted by the return of three players for tomorrow. Keith Emmerson (holiday) and Pierce Mitchell (injury) have both missed the last two matches while midfielder Ryan Brett had to cry off from Tuesday’s meeting with Wimborne due to a gastric bug. However there is an injury doubt over Ben Adelsbury for tomorrow’s game. Manager Leigh Robinson commented:” It could potentially be a good weekend as I am told there is a chance we can clinch promotion if we win and other results go our way. It’s difficult to know what to expect from Kidlington tomorrow as they were very useful against us earlier in the season but seem to have had some differing results of late. As always we’ll approach this game the same as any other and hope that we can get the job done.”
A reminder that all Armed Forces personnel can enjoy admission to the game tomorrow for only £1 subject to ID being displayed at the turnstile.
The Peacocks accumulated another point towards promotion with a 3-3 Evo-Stik League draw against Wimborne Town at the Viridor Stadium yesterday evening (27th March). It was so nearly all three though with the visitors grabbing their equaliser with virtually the last kick of the game as Town made it 26 league games unbeaten. Wimborne opened the scoring after 19 minutes when Lloyd Irish was adjudged to have caught Toby Holmes and the same player netted the resultant penalty. Craig Veal swivelled onto a cross from the right to fire home the leveller after 25 minutes and then added his second just three minutes later when he drilled home Ollie Chamberlain's centre. Holmes made it 2-2 five minutes before the break, receiving the ball from Luke Burbidge to turn and squeeze home a shot off the far post. Wimborne were reduced to ten men midway through the second half when Scott Arnold was sent off following a late challenge on Dan Sullivan, with both sides having chances to go ahead. It looked as though Sullivan had won it for the Peacocks in the 90th minute when he curled his effort into the corner from Les Afful's cross but sloppy play saw a free kick conceded on the edge of the box and Billy Maybury found the net via the post five minutes into stoppage time. Match highlights on Peacocks TV can be seen HERE and match photos from club photographers Tim Norbury and Colin Andrews can be viewed HERE and HERE, while match report can be read HERE.
Reaction - manager Leigh Robinson commented:" It was a hell of a game between two good sides and probably a draw was a fair result. With Ryan Brett pulling out with illness in the afternoon we were forced into playing a different system which was pretty unnatural to us but on the whole I thought we coped pretty well. Both teams were good going forwards in an open game with plenty of chances and both will feel aggrieved at decisions going against them with their red card and our disallowed goal. Of course you are always disappointed to concede from the last kick of the game but we didn't do a good job of looking after the ball in the dying moments and sometimes you have to give the opposition credit for a great free kick. Overall in the circumstances a point is a decent enough result for us, keeps the unbeaten run going and takes us a point closer to promotion so we'll take that and move on."
It’s nine Evo-Stik League games to go for the title-chasing Peacocks starting with the visit of Wimborne Town to the Viridor Stadium tomorrow evening (27th March), kick-off 7.45pm. Saturday’s win over Larkhall propelled Town thirteen points clear at the summit and they know another three points tomorrow will constitute another big step towards promotion. However it promises to be a difficult examination of their 25 game unbeaten run against the West Division’s form team who are undefeated in eight games including six wins, a run which has lifted them up to third place and in prime position for a play-off berth at least. The Magpies have won their last three matches in which striker Toby Holmes has netted seven goals including hat tricks in the last two games so Town will have to be on their guard. Despite the season having just over a month to run, it will be the first meeting between the sides, with the fixture at the Viridor Stadium being postponed on five previous occasions due to a waterlogged pitch and cup commitments for both teams which took priority.
Town name an unchanged squad from the weekend with the addition of loanee Joel Randall who is now fit after previously suffering an injury training with his parent club Exeter City. Pierce Mitchell who was not risked against Larkhall remains a doubt while Keith Emmerson is on holiday.
The Peacocks have truly gone worldwide with the acquisition of Senegalese player Alpha Oumar Sow who we welcome to the club. The 34 year old striker moved to the area at the end of last year and once clearance had been received from the FA he signed forms for Town and has been on the bench for the last two Evo-Stik League games, making his debut on Saturday when he came on for the final few minutes against Larkhall. His most recent club was Union Sportive Ait Melloul in Morocco but he has also played for another Moroccan side KAC Kenitra as well as teams in other countries including ASC Diaraf Dakar in Senegal and US Senart Moissy in France. Alpha has also represented Senegal at international level, playing in the African Nations Championship in 2009. Manager Leigh Robinson remarked: “He’s played a seriously good level of football in Africa and despite currently being a long way off fitness, we’ve seen glimpses of what he can do in training. He’s good to have around the place, is working hard at his fitness and hopefully will get a chance to show what he can do before the end of the season.”
Craig Veal and Dan Sullivan both scored twice to help the Peacocks to a 5-2 Evo-Stik League victory over Larkhall Athletic at the Viridor Stadium yesterday afternoon (24th March). An entertaining game played in a good spirit saw Town record a terrific 25th successive league outing without defeat but the final scoreline does not tell the full story of the afternoon with the visitors looking the more threatening side for the first hour. Town made an ideal start with a goal after two minutes, Veal speeding down the right to pick out Sullivan in the middle who tucked home into the corner. Several half chances came and went before the Larks drew level seven minutes before the interval, John Elliott surging through an absent Town defence to lash home past Lloyd Irish. Greg Peel missed two good chances for the visitors when play resumed before Sullivan turned the game round on 63 minutes, turning just outside the box to rifle a superb strike into the top corner of Shaun Semmens' net. Les Afful then missed a sitter when shooting straight at Semmens from close range but made amends soon after on 74 minutes when he wriggled across the area and steered home into the far corner. Larkhall reduced the arrears after 78 minutes when Mike Baker bulleted a header past Irish from Mason Winter's free kick but Town hit back a minute later when Veal controlled and converted a cross from Sullivan to restore the two goal margin. Veal's pace carried him past a defender and Semmens to slot home number five two minutes from time and there was still time for Alex Lambert to hit the post at the other end before the game concluded. With results elsewhere, the Peacocks' win extends their lead at the top of the table to 13 points, meaning they now only need another eight points from their remaining nine fixtures to guarantee promotion. Match report can be viewed HERE and match highlights on Peacocks TV can be seen HERE while match photos from club photographers Tim Norbury and Colin Andrews can be viewed HERE and HERE.
Reaction - manager Leigh Robinson commented:" It was a really open and entertaining game which we didn't expect but fair play to Larkhall for coming to attack and making it a good spectacle. We were a bit under par in the first half but changed gear in the second half and scored some nice goals. I thought offensively Matt, Dan and Vealy were fantastic today and a goal from Les always goes down really well on the terraces. A good day's work with our lead at the top growing by two points and hopefully we can capitalise on that further this week."
Reaction - skipper and Peacocks Man of the Match Matt Wright said:" A great 5-2 win in a game where we started well, if anything too well, going 1-0 up inside a couple of minutes. We were guilty of becoming a bit complacent and gave them a route back into the game. Credit to all the boys though, we kept digging away and got our rewards in the second half with four more goals. Sully and Vealey fully deserved their goals and what goals they were! The scoreline may have flattered us a little bit but the three points were made that much sweeter when finding out the results elsewhere. Fans as always, were fantastic. The game extended our unbeaten run to 25 games. That's some effort from everyone involved. We're taking one game at a time with a tough Tuesday night game against Wimborne who are flying at the moment. Hopefully see you all there. Up the Peacocks!!!"
The Peacocks play their first Evo-Stik League home game in over a month when they entertain Larkhall Athletic tomorrow afternoon (24th March), kick-off 3.00pm. There has been no football at the Viridor Stadium since Town shared the spoils with Bideford on 20th February which was followed by a run of three away games interspersed with various postponements. After further draws at North Leigh and Salisbury, Town picked up maximum points at Barnstaple on Tuesday to elevate themselves eleven points clear at the top and stretch their unbeaten league run to 24 matches, the best in recent times after beating the 23 game mark set by Russell Musker’s side in the 1999-2000 season. However they still have some way to go to emulate the Peacocks side of 1974-75 which remained undefeated in the Western League until their penultimate match, a run of 38 games.
The Larks currently lie in 14th spot and have experienced mixed fortunes in recent games, bouncing back to win at Paulton on Tuesday following successive defeats to Yate and Bishops Cleeve. Town will be chasing the double over their opponents tomorrow after winning the earlier encounter 3-2 at Plain Ham in December whilst the sides also met back in August in the Preliminary Round of the FA Cup with the Peacocks prevailing 3-0 at the Viridor Stadium courtesy of goals from Matt Wright, Pierce Mitchell and Ben Adelsbury. Mitchell is an injury doubt for tomorrow’s game while Keith Emmerson is away for the next two matches due to a pre-booked holiday before he joined the club. Josh Nelmes returns to the squad after missing midweek due to illness. Manager Leigh Robinson said:” It’s been a good week so far and hopefully we can make it an excellent week with a win tomorrow. It seems so long since we’ve played at home so the players will certainly be keen to get out there and put a performance on in front of what we hope will be a good crowd.”
A goal in each half was sufficient to guide the Peacocks to a 2-0 Evo-Stik League victory at Barnstaple Town yesterday evening (20th March). The win puts Town 11 points clear at the top of the table and signified a remarkable 24 successive league matches without defeat, surpassing the run of 23 games in the 1999-2000 season. It was a case of job done in a game which was fairly drab for much of the evening. Town pressure paid off when Craig Veal gave the Peacocks the lead after 14 minutes when he volleyed home Dan Sullivan's cross and the points were sealed in the 62nd minute after Ben Adelsbury's header was turned into his own net by Barum defender Sam Haynes. Match report can be viewed HERE and match highlights on Peacocks TV can be seen HERE while match photos from club photographer Colin Andrews can be viewed HERE.
Reaction - manager Leigh Robinson remarked:" Not a pretty game of football on a very difficult surface but another dogged performance and important three points for us. We had to be patient as running with the ball or putting any sort of passing together was extremely difficult but the players stuck to the task, restricted Barnstaple to very few chances and took our moments when they came along. Special mention for Lloyd, 200 games in itself is a great achievement but 200 consecutive games is incredible and he's been a massive part of our success over the last few years. Also brilliant to have beaten the club unbeaten record which stood for 18 years, another testament to the determination of these players."