The Peacocks failed to claim maximum points at the Cygnet Health Care Stadium for only the third time this season when the leaders from West London returned home with a point. The result keeps both sides well in the hunt for the title although Town can consider themselves unfortunate on the balance of play not to have claimed victory after fighting back to draw level before the interval and then going on to have the better of the second half.
With centre half Jake Wannell unfortunately ruled out due to a hamstring injury and with three other key players missing for various reasons, the Peacocks made a slow start as the visitors bossed the early exchanges culminating in them taking the lead after just six minutes when Omar Rowe slipped the ball through to Francis Amartey and the United striker tucked his finish past Will Buse for his 20th League goal of the season. Town responded with their first chance, a Lloyd James pass being tapped on by Ross Stearn to Toby Holmes whose lunging shot from the left was turned wide by Hayes keeper Ravan Constable. The ensuing corner from James found the head of Joe Guest but his header was safely gathered.
The hosts had to be constantly alert to the menace of the Hayes front runners and with a gusty wind affecting things, Town struggled to get the ball out of their territory at times during the first half which did nothing to reduce the pressure. Rowe sliced a shot wide after one attack but despite the Hayes threat, the Peacocks were seeing ample ball at the other end as they carved out several openings. Jared Lewington put Holmes away on the right, but his strike was over the bar, then Joe Budd burst through to find Stearn whose scuffed shot proved a routine stop for Constable.
Another Lewington effort was deflected for a corner from which Town so very nearly equalised just past the half hour, Jay Foulston’s delivery reaching Nick Grimes at the far post and his header was blocked on the line, with successive follow-up attempts from Stearn and Holmes also meeting a wall of United players before the referee blew to stop proceedings for treatment to a Hayes player. Ben Frempah became the first player into the notebook for a foul on Holmes, presenting a free kick opportunity for the hosts which Stearn fired against the wall and with half time imminent it appeared as though the visitors would hold the advantage. Step forward Toby Holmes. A hoist down the left from Zac Smith should have been Frempah’s to shield back to Constable who had advanced to the edge of the box, but Holmes nipped in to push the ball past them and slide home the leveller into an unguarded net. Elementary.
There was still time for Lewington to test Constable with a fierce strike which the Hayes keeper did well to clutch at his near post as Town ended the half with a flourish and they kept up the momentum when the second half began, an angled shot from Holmes going over the bar and then Lewington getting the better of Frempah but seeing his effort deflect for a corner. Two moments which would have potentially swung the game the Peacocks’ way then went against them. After playing a 1-2 with Holmes, Stearn was clearly pushed over inside the box as he shaped to shoot but referee Barber decided otherwise, then a cross from the right was cleared as far as Guest whose blistering shot from 18 yards was fingertipped onto the bar by Constable and over.
Amartey made space to fire well over at the other end, but Hayes knew they were in a real battle as Town kept right in their faces. James’ cross from the right was fumbled by Constable under pressure from Lewington but the Peacocks striker was unable to force home the loose ball as Constable recovered and managed to smother. Stearn was then brought down and this time something was awarded. However, the free kick from Ben Adelsbury deflected to Constable.
Hayes, who used all three substitutions in contrast to Town, began to up their game in the final quarter, but Buse was rarely troubled. Guest made an uncharacteristic slip when he miscontrolled a Moses Emmanuel cross, giving Amos Nasha a shooting chance which he fired high and wide while a free kick from a dangerous position after Emmanuel was fouled was curled just wide by Josh Payne. Rowe’s shot from the edge of the area then took a slight deflection off Emmanuel and skimmed the outside of Buse’s right-hand post before another pacy break saw Emmanuel tee up Kadell Daniel who rifled a strike narrowly wide of the target.
The last ten minutes saw both sides look to land the killer punch. Adelsbury scuffed a shot wide following a James free kick while Buse held a shot from Payne at the opposite end. Holmes had a glimmer on the right side of the box, but Frempah got in a good block while late corners saw Lewington and Adelsbury both head over. Despite the niggling feeling that the Peacocks could well have come out on top, the result keeps them well in contention for a play-off place at least and given the reduced options at their disposal it was a creditable point against very good opposition.
Taunton: Will Buse, Joe Budd, Jay Foulston, Ben Adelsbury, Nick Grimes (captain), Lloyd James, Toby Holmes, Joe Guest, Ross Stearn, Zac Smith, Jared Lewington. Unused subs: Gethyn Hill, Acey Mead, Ross Staley, Ioan Richards, Connor Sidley-Adams
Hayes & Yeading: Ravan Constable, Cole Brown, Jack Williams (Jordan Norville-Williams 81), Josh Payne, Keano Robinson (captain), Ben Frempah, Amos Nasha (Hassan Jalloh 89), Omar Rowe, Moses Emmanuel, Francis Amartey, Shayon Harrison (Kadell Daniel 62). Unused subs: Jack Connors, Jack Smith
Referee: Paul Barber (Bournemouth)
Referee’s Assistant 1: Jonathan Veale (Exeter)
Referee’s Assistant 2: Graeme Martin (Exeter)
“I thought for large periods we dominated the game, we dominated possession, we dominated chances…” watch Rob Dray’s Match Reaction on Peacocks TV HERE
Match highlights can be seen on Peacocks TV HERE
Albert Goodman MOM
Joe Budd receives the Taunton Town Man Of The Match award from media team member Jake Crump