It was a perfect start to 2022 for the Peacocks as they stretched their unbeaten run in the Southern League to seven games with victory over their Devon neighbours. The biggest crowd at the Cygnet Health Care Stadium since October 2018 when 1582 saw Town lose out to Billericay in an FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round replay witnessed a hard-fought derby success for the hosts who were comfortably ahead at the break before a dubious penalty gave Tiverton a lifeline. A third goal settled Town nerves though as they went on to secure the points despite not firing on all cylinders.
Jake Wannell returned to the Peacocks side following suspension, the only change from the team that had demolished Harrow in their most recent fixture, and things looked good for the hosts when they made a breakthrough after just five minutes. Tiverton had already posted two efforts of their own, firstly Dan Hayfield flashing a shot across goal after a push on Nick Grimes was not penalised, and then Hayfield’s cross from the byeline reaching Gary Warren whose overhead volley was safely caught by Will Buse. From there the ball was released downfield, finding Ollie Chamberlain who eased past Austen Booth to find Toby Holmes 12 yards out and he took a touch before driving home into the corner of Lewis Williams’ net.
Buoyed by this early advantage, Town kept busy as they looked for further pickings attacking the Travis Perkins End. Wannell’s header from a Jay Foulston free kick was clutched by Williams and then Lewington showed neat control to create a shooting opportunity, but his effort lacked punch to trouble the Tiverton keeper. Williams was tested though soon after when he stretched to tip over Lewington’s strike from the left-hand side after it took a deflection off Alfie Pond.
The visitors were displaying some tidy approach play but apart from a Louis Morison free kick which was held safely by Buse and Jordan Lam’s cross being cut out at the near post they were not hurting the Peacocks who doubled their lead after 21 minutes when Lewington pierced the Tivvy defence to cross from the right and Ross Stearn was on hand at the far post to control and blast home into the open net. A third very nearly followed just two minutes later when Foulston’s corner was met by Grimes’ close range header, the ball finding the underside of the bar and being scrambled clear, before Williams had to be quick off his line as both Holmes and Lewington threatened.
Tiverton did get the ball in the net just past the half hour, but the flag was already raised well before Lam finished over the line after Gary Warren had nodded down Craig Woodman’s free kick and although the Peacocks were slow to react to the second ball at times, their opponents could not capitalise, Morison ballooning an opportunity high and wide while Buse made a routine stop from Woodman’s free kick. Another break from Town as the interval approached was thwarted by a fine blocking tackle from Pond as Lewington shaped to connect with Holmes’ pass across goal before the complexion of the match altered two minutes into the second half when the Yellows benefitted from a suspect penalty decision, awarded after Ioan Richards and Lam had tangled chasing Pond’s long ball down the right. Morison fired home the spot kick to put his side back in it and when Hayfield made space to rifle in another shot which Buse saved the visitors’ tails were up.
However they soon went back down again when Town notched a third slightly against the run of play after 58 minutes, Stearn releasing Chamberlain who outpaced the defence to sprint from halfway and slant his finish across Williams into the far corner from 15 yards for a fine goal. Lewington sent a volley just wide from outside the box and a Grimes header found the side netting as Town looked to add to the scoresheet before Tiverton made a triple substitution including the introduction of former Peacocks Matt Wright and Owen Howe.
It took a fabulous save from Buse to stop Tiverton reducing the arrears on 71 minutes, Warren’s diagonal ball into the box being met by Hayfield’s volley which looked in until the Town keeper tipped over. The visitors went on to enjoy more of the possession as the contest entered the final stages but were far from clinical where it mattered. Wright sent a header over from Chukwuka Iseguan’s cross while another header from Warren failed to test Buse. The Peacocks made a double swap of their own with 15 to go before fans favourite Dan Sullivan came off the bench with nine minutes left for his first appearance since mid-November following injury. And it was nearly Sullivan who put the points beyond doubt just before the 90 minutes were up when he weaved his way across the area but couldn’t get his shot on target as it flew wide of the post.
Tiverton kept up the pressure without troubling Buse further, Hayfield launching a free kick into Hamilton Park and Iseguan blazing a strike over the angle, leaving the Peacocks to reflect on a solid win which lifts them up to sixth in the table with a jam-packed month of fixtures looming.
Taunton: Will Buse. Jay Foulston, Nick Grimes (captain), Jake Wannell, Ollie Chamberlain, Lloyd James, Toby Holmes (Dan Sullivan 81), Joe Guest, Ross Stearn (Zac Smith 77), Jared Lewington (Gethyn Hill 77), Ioan Richards. Unused subs: Joe Budd, Ross Staley
Tiverton: Lewis Williams, Kyle Egan, Craig Woodman (capta in) (Chukwuka Iseguan 64), Alfie Pond, Gary Warren, Austen Booth, Louis Morison (Owen Howe 64), Dan Hayfield, Jordan Lam, Olaf Koszela (Matt Wright 64), Joe Belsten. Unused subs: Andy Watkins, Theo Simpson
Referee: Samuel Fudge (Bristol)
Referee’s Assistant 1: David Middleton (Watchet)
Referee’s Assistant 2: George Gross (Wellington)
” Very pleased with the way we acquitted ourselves, very good value for the win….” watch Rob Dray’s Match Reaction on Peacocks TV HERE
Match highlights can be seen on Peacocks TV HERE
Albert Goodman MOM
Ollie Chamberlain receives the Taunton Town Man Of The Match award from Shane Leat of Match Sponsors Sun Scaffolding.