Whether Ben Adelsbury’s brilliant last minute goal to decide this Somerset derby will be the difference between the Southern Premier South title or a place in the play-offs remains to be seen but there can be no doubting the importance of this victory which straps the Peacocks well and truly in the driver’s seat for destination National League South. Yet again the home side somehow overcame the odds and an impressive Weston outfit who had battled back from a two goal deficit to keep their own promotion hopes alive, but who were ultimately undone by Town’s uncanny ability to engineer a way to win football games, even more remarkable given the current lack of strength in depth in the squad.
It was back to normal for the Town team, with all absentees from the midweek League Cup Final 2nd leg at Royston returning, along with centre half Jake Wannell for his first game in nearly four weeks following injury. Boosted by a large travelling support, the second highest crowd of the season at the Cygnet Health Care Stadium saw the visitors enjoy much of the early possession, Dayle Grubb’s effort from the left deflecting to Will Buse in the home goal and then another shot from Lloyd Humphries going the same way, but it was the Peacocks who drew first blood after 11 minutes. Jay Foulston’s corner was scooped clear by Seagulls’ keeper Max Harris and Adelsbury returned the ball in from the left for Gethyn Hill to direct a downward header goalwards which Harris could only help into the roof of the net.
The Seagulls, beaten only once in the last 18 League fixtures, looked to hit straight back and came mightily close when Scott Laird’s drive from the left side of the box crashed against the far upright on 14 minutes. A Grubb corner was then palmed away, the ball falling to Josh Thomas who volleyed over at the back post. For all of Weston’s possession and neat passing game, the hosts were always there though and went on to double their lead after 28 minutes. Hill, who has been in excellent shape since his return from a face operation, had earlier showed lovely skill to outwit two Weston men to present a shooting opportunity which was unfortunately scuffed wide. However his contribution was far more telling when he edged past Nick McCootie on the left flank and his cross flicked off Joe Guest and fell for Joe Budd who brought the ball down and rifled home his first goal in Peacock colours from 10 yards.
It was back to the opposite end for the remainder of the half as the visitors attempted to haul themselves back into contention. Grubb’s free kick deflected off the wall for a corner, Laird had a shot blocked in another attack while a stooping header from Humphries was hacked clear by Nick Grimes. The Peacocks were then disrupted by another injury-induced change in a season of injury-induced changes, Wannell going off with a sore hamstring to be replaced by Ioan Richards. And Weston took advantage of the temporary resettlement when they reduced the deficit on 42 minutes. McCootie squeezed a pass out to Grubb on the left corner of the six yard box and when Buse blocked his effort, the ball fell kindly for Jordan Bastin who fired home into an empty net.
Buse deflected Laird’s cross onto his near post while the Town keeper safely clutched a strike from Humphries as the visitors ended the first 45 minutes on top but trailing. The Peacocks had the first sniff when play resumed, Grimes getting on the end of a Lloyd James free kick to see his header parried by Harris before a wonderful strike from Kieran Harris brought the sides level five minutes in, the Weston full back breaking down the right from inside his own half and rifling a bullet into the far corner of Buse’s net from just outside the box.
Town had to show their defensive capabilities as Weston turned up the pressure. A Bastin corner led to all hands to the pump to get clear and Humphries benefitted from a block off his own shot to get to the byeline and drive a cross into the hands of Buse who then had to hold a Marlon Jackson shot. The momentum of the match was firmly in Weston’s favour, but Town began to turn the tide in the final quarter. Hill headed a Grimes’ free kick wide while another set piece from James was nodded over by Richards. A deep Grimes free kick then fell loose for Jared Lewington to hook towards goal but the industrious Guest, who deservedly won the Man of the Match award, was unable to steer his header on target. It could have gone either way in the last ten minutes, Weston sub Sonny Cox breaking through to find Grubb whose shot was blocked while Hill’s ball across goal at the other end couldn’t pick out a claret shirt.
There have been many magic moments in the dying embers of the game at the Cygnet and now there was another one to add to the storybook. One minute left and Lewington was fouled 25 yards out. Adelsbury, Foulston and James all stood poised to strike before the centre half took centre stage and curled home a fantastic free kick past the forlorn dive of Harris as the stadium erupted.
Six minutes of stoppage time followed with the Peacocks able to see off any potential late threat from the visitors who will feel a point was the least they deserved after landing far more scoring punches. Yet it was Town who delivered the knockout blow as they go a point clear at the top of the table and with five more games to make history.
Taunton: Will Buse, Joe Budd, Jay Foulston, Ben Adelsbury, Nick Grimes (captain), Jake Wannell (Ioan Richards 41), Lloyd James, Toby Holmes (Jared Lewington 59), Joe Guest, Gethyn Hill, Zac Smith. Unused subs: Lewis Smith, Harry Warwick, Acey Mead
Weston: Max Harris, Kieran Thomas (captain), Scott Laird (Jay Murray 90+1), James Dodd, Jason Pope, Josh Thomas, Nick McCootie, Lloyd Humphries, Marlon Jackson (Sonny Cox 77), Dayle Grubb, Jordan Bastin (Elis Watts 81). Unused subs: Sam Avery, Luke Purnell
Referee: Samuel Read (Swindon)
Referee’s Assistant 1: Brandon Hawkins (Exeter)
Referee’s Assistant 2: Liam Chick (Totnes)
” You run out of superlatives to say about these boys because they just keep going……” watch Rob Dray’s Match Reaction on Peacocks TV HERE
Match highlights can be seen on Peacocks TV HERE
Albert Goodman MOM
Joe Guest receives the Taunton Town Man Of The Match award from young Peacock supporters Logan and Ella Smith along with Club Mascot Wordsworth