In the third of our catch-ups ahead of the new season, tauntontown.com spoke to Lloyd Irish.
Since goalkeeper Lloyd Irish made his debut for the Peacocks back in 2008, he has gone on to play more than 200 games for the club in two spells. Season 2016-17 was certainly one to remember for the popular keeper, sharing in the success of the team but also memorable on a personal level after he won the Players’ Player of the Year award for the second time in a row plus coming out on top of the terrace poll to win Supporters’ Player of the Year. To cap it all, Irish was ever-present between the sticks for the second successive season, an achievement which gives him great satisfaction. He remarked:” It's something I'm very proud of. I've not actually missed a game since I came back to Taunton in November 2014 so it's probably 150 games I'd say so I'd love to keep that going for as long as possible. It can be hard to get motivated for fixtures such as Bideford away in the League Cup last season but the fact that the youth lads are there to try and impress means it's not fair to just not show interest. I enjoy the Somerset Cup because it means a lot to the supporters and it's a good chance to win some silverware.”
With new faces on board at the Viridor Stadium, Irish is optimistic about the new campaign. “The squad this season is even stronger than last”, he said, “all of the new lads have strengthened the squad and added something to the dressing room. We had a team bonding day recently and they'll all fit in nicely here. We all like a laugh and so do they and the fact that they already know some of the squad from Truro is great.”
The Peacocks’ FA Cup success last year coupled with the disappointment in the play-offs drives Irish’s ambitions for the upcoming season. He revealed:” I guess my personal hopes will be the same as for the team really as we all play for one reason and that's to be successful, you can't be successful without the other 15 lads but ultimately we have to get promoted this year. The club is going in the right direction behind the scenes and so it's time for us to step up and do it on the pitch. We have been unlucky the past few seasons but with the league structure this season and the squad we have, anything but promotion is a definite fail. It would be incredible to repeat our FA Cup journey though, that's something I'll remember for the rest of my life and it was great to give the supporters those memories too. I'd like to also wish Matt Wright good luck in his first season as captain. From what I've seen in pre-season I know he will do a great job!”
What about his long term plans? “I'd love to finish my career at Taunton Town,” Lloyd remarked, “ I still have 10 years left if I can keep myself in good shape and make sure I'm still enjoying it then there's no reason it's not possible. I'm very lucky to have such a great goalkeeper coach in Paul Edwards and training is always fun. Eddie’s now a good friend of mine too. As a club there is no reason why we can't fly through the leagues, but it's one step at a time. Let's start with promotion this year, and go from there. We're very fortunate to have such loyal supporters and they also deserve this. It would be great to keep the attendances rising too."
Another viewpoint will be coming soon.
The Peacocks suffered their third pre-season defeat with a 2-1 reverse at Bridgwater Town yesterday evening (1st August). Both sides had sights of goal in the early stages but it was the hosts who made a breakthrough after 16 minutes, defensive sloppiness enabling Mark Armstrong to get free in the box and Syd Camper was on the end of his cross to convert from close range. Town were soon back on terms four minutes later through Ben Adelsbury who curled home a great free kick from the edge of the area (as pictured), leaving the game all square at the break. The deciding goal came five minutes into the second half after Lloyd Irish had upended Camper in the box and Callum Ham steered home the penalty. Hardly any chances of note were created at either end for the rest of the game which became increasingly ill-tempered. The Peacocks now have two friendlies left in which to get their act together starting with Friday's game against Bristol City. Match report can be viewed HERE and match photos from club photographer Colin Andrews can be viewed HERE.
Reaction - manager Leigh Robinson commented:" We picked this game as we wanted to play a match in less than ideal conditions and as far removed from a nice comfy home game as possible and that's what we got. I thought we struggled badly on the pitch which made passing or running with the ball really tricky but we're going to come across that during the season so whilst we need to improve in such conditions, it was useful to get that experience. I'm not concerned by the result as we would have done things a whole lot differently in terms of personnel and formation if it was a game we had to win and certainly wouldn't have got caught on the ball twice for the goals but it's pre-season and all part of learning before the real stuff starts."
Town continue their pre-season schedule with a visit to neighbours Bridgwater Town tomorrow evening (1st August), kick-off 7.45pm. The game will be the Peacocks’ fifth friendly of the summer and follows their 3-1 victory at Willand Rovers last Friday, their first win in pre-season. The Robins will begin life in the Western League this coming season after relegation from the Southern League and have already played seven warm-up games ahead of their opening fixture at home to Keynsham Town this weekend in the FA Cup. They have had a mixed bag of results in the friendlies, their most recent ending in a 2-1 defeat at Chard Town on Saturday.
The Peacocks will be strengthened by the return of several players who missed the Willand outing including centre half Owen Irish who has yet to feature in pre-season due to a broken toe. Lewis Powell, Matt Wright and Pierce Mitchell are also back in the squad. However Ben Palmer and Chris McGrath are both still out injured. Manager Leigh Robinson remarked:” We’re back up to a more normal complement of players tomorrow and going into the final three friendlies it’s the time where the fight for places starts to kick in. Many of the lads will feel much better after 90 minutes at Willand on Friday so we’re looking for quite a few to push on from here starting tomorrow night.”
The draw for the 1st Round of the BigFreeBet.com Challenge Cup (Southern League Cup) was released today and the Peacocks were handed a repeat of the tie they faced at the same stage last year with a trip to divisional rivals Bideford. The game is scheduled to take place on Tuesday 3rd October, kick-off 7.45pm.
In the second of our features ahead of the new season, tauntontown.com spoke to new signing Ryan Brett.
The capture of Ryan Brett amongst others over the summer reaffirmed the Peacocks’ intentions to make it fourth time lucky this season and finally secure promotion to the Premier Division after three successive setbacks in the play-offs. The left-sided defender/midfielder has accumulated a good deal of higher league experience at both Salisbury City where he helped them win promotion to the Conference National and at his most recent club Truro City. So far he’s liked what he’s seen at the Viridor Stadium. “’I feel like I’ve settled in really well at the club”, he commented. “The lads have been great as well as the management. It always helps when you know some of the lads really well too. There are no bad eggs in the group which will certainly help during the course of the season.”
Given his footballing CV, it might have been expected the 26 year old would have opted to join a club higher up the non-league system after leaving Truro but he has no doubts about his decision and believes his previous experience will come in useful in the months ahead, continuing:” I came to watch the FA Cup game against Barrow last season and was impressed with the whole set up, the pitch, the fans and the general feel about the place. It showed the potential the club has. I want to be part of that and that’s why I came to Taunton Town FC rather than take up offers from a slightly higher level. I do feel my experience from playing in the National League and gaining promotions from the Conference South & Southern League will help the side on certain occasions during the season, we want to be up there challenging. There will be stumbling blocks along the way, it’s a long season, but that’s where I hope my experience and the other experienced lads will show their true capabilities.”
With the new season less than a fortnight away, Brett is hopeful of a successful campaign for both the team and him, saying: “I have set myself personal targets for the season which I won’t say just yet as the main aim for me at the moment is to get a good pre-season under my belt, that’s my sole focus. My aim for the forthcoming season is for us to be right up there competing at the top end of the table come April next year. We’ll do this with hard work, patience, penetration and a great team spirit which is evident already. I can’t wait for the season to start, Up The Peacocks!!’’
Views from another one of Town’s squad will be coming soon.
Congratulations go to our Print and Design Partner Carly Press who won first prize in our annual Sponsors Draw held during the interval of last Tuesday’s friendly with Weymouth. The winning numbers were pulled out of the hat by Taunton Town Supporter of the Year Greg Galpin and the Chelston-based company were the first number drawn out, meaning they will have their logo on the front of the first team home shirt for 2017-18. Another existing club sponsor Invest Southwest was drawn out second and will have their logo on the back of the home shirt. The remaining prizes were won by Tolchard Drinks, Taunton Vale Healthcare and Coomber Security. We would like to congratulate all prize winners and gratefully thank all entrants to the draw, all of whom will receive a transferable season ticket for the upcoming season.
Town got off the mark in their pre-season friendlies with a 3-1 win at Willand Rovers yesterday evening (28th July). It proved a good workout for the Peacocks who saw Lloyd Irish pull off two good saves to keep the scoreline blank until the visitors went ahead on 27 minutes when Ben Adelsbury curled home a fine free kick after Ollie Chamberlain had been brought down. Town doubled their lead three minutes into the second half when Arran Pugh's header from a Shane White corner was cleared off the line and Les Afful lifted the ball home from close range. Irish made a superb double save to thwart James Blake and Bradley Ausden before the Peacocks added number three on 54 minutes through Ross Staley who stretched to head in Adelsbury's cross from the right. Willand pulled one back on 76 minutes when Luke Mortimer got on the end of a cross to score which proved the final goal of the night. Match report can be viewed HERE. Neither of our club photographers were able to attend the game but some photos are available on supporter Martin Bamforth's site HERE.
Reaction - manager Leigh Robinson said:" It was a good exercise last night and good to get 90 minutes into people with so many bodies missing. We played some nice football and passed it much better than Tuesday night which was pleasing. I thought we gave it away far too often in the final 15 minutes and made it a bit too open but in fairness that was probably a bit of tiredness with only three subs to make. Good for Les to get off the mark with a well-deserved goal and I also thought Craig Duff was very good. Big thanks to Willand for hosting us, always a nice place to go and a club full of good people."
The Peacocks play their first away friendly of pre-season when they make the short trip to Willand Rovers tomorrow evening (28th July), kick-off 7.30pm. After a draw and two defeats from their opening three friendlies at the Viridor Stadium, tomorrow will give Town further match practice ahead of the new campaign which starts in a little over a fortnight on Saturday 12th August. The Western League Premier Division side have so far beaten Plymouth Argyle U18’s and AEK Boco at Silver Street but lost 4-2 to Elmore in their most recent friendly on Monday evening.
Town take a depleted squad into Devon, with Lewis Powell and Matt Wright both away on holiday and Owen Irish, Chris McGrath and Ben Palmer all out injured. Assistant manager Michael Meaker is also away while centre half Matt Villis will also only be used in an emergency after three hard games in the past nine days. Manager Leigh Robinson remarked:” With so many players unavailable, we can’t look upon tomorrow as a pointer towards the season, more so a fitness exercise and the chance for people to play 90 minutes which doesn’t always happen in pre-season with juggling personnel around. With a bit of luck we’ll be back to full strength next week and start working towards a starting eleven for the beginning of the season.”
The Peacocks went down to a 1-0 defeat to Weymouth at the Viridor Stadium in their latest pre-season friendly yesterday evening (25th July). Town had the best of the opening quarter which had little in the way of chances before the visitors began to assert themselves, Lloyd Irish saving from Harry Baker and Charlie Davis to keep the scoreline blank. However the Town keeper was beaten four minutes from the interval when Davis drove home from just inside the box to give the Terras the lead. Ben Adelsbury was sent off for dissent on 57 minutes and Town's ten men never really threatened to get back on terms. Indeed Irish made further fine saves from Aaron Rodriguez and Baker to keep the score down as Town now prepare for their first away friendly at Willand Rovers on Friday evening. Match report can be viewed 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 strange night in many ways. The first half was very closely matched with few chances for either team. At the start of the second half we raised the tempo and looked more of a threat but then the red card made the last half an hour a bit of a non-event for both teams. No problem with the decision, if Ben has sworn at the referee then he has to go but I think everyone in the ground, including the Weymouth lads, would have preferred it if a bit of common sense had prevailed and we just had to substitute him and kept it 11 v 11. We lacked a bit of quality on the ball tonight particularly in the final third but I'm not overly concerned about it at this stage as people are still finding their feet and we've played three good sides in the last seven days."
The Viridor Stadium hosts its third pre-season friendly tomorrow evening (25th July) when the Peacocks take on Weymouth, kick-off 7.45pm. Town have so far drawn with Bristol Rovers and lost to Exeter City in their warm-up schedule and will face another challenging game against their Southern Premier visitors who finished last season in 10th spot.
The Peacocks’ squad for the game will be missing Lewis Powell who is on holiday and the still injured Owen Irish while Ben Palmer is doubtful with an ankle injury. Arran Pugh though returns after being unavailable for the Exeter game because of work and Chris McGrath who also missed the same match is fit to play. Manager Leigh Robinson commented: “We’re hoping for another good run out tomorrow, hopefully in front of another decent pre-season crowd. Weymouth will of course be strong and have signed a number of young pros in the close season so unquestionably it will be a good test for us. We were happy with the first week in terms of fitness and attitude so hopefully now the rust has shaken off a bit we can produce a bit more on the ball.”