Town secured a valuable point and their first away from home in the National League as they shared the spoils on their first ever visit to the Hertfordshire club. Overall it was a game of few scoring opportunities, with neither side able to get the better of the opposition defence which led to a somewhat dull affair at times but that won’t matter a jot to the Peacocks who survived one real dangerous moment when a free kick from the Saints found the net but was ruled out for an infringement.
With strikers Nick McCootie absent with a leg complaint and Dave Sims-Burgess due to the arrival of his new baby, the Peacocks gave Harry Warwick his first start of the campaign, accompanying Nat Jarvis up front. And it was the visitors who made the brighter start to the game on a lovely late summer’s afternoon in the leafy surrounds of Clarence Park. Warwick won an early corner after five minutes and when the ball was recycled in by Lloyd James, Jake Wannell got a touch to force Saints keeper Michael Johnson into a diving save. However it was academic as the flag was already up for offside.
A promising burst from Ollie Chamberlain was then halted by Callum Adebiyi’s handball but the free kick came to nothing before Town lost Joe Guest after he fell awkwardly on his ankle challenging Liam Sole, Joe Budd coming on to replace. The home side began to edge into the game as the half progressed, but the contest remained uneventful with both defences on top. Devante Stanley’s ball flashed across goal with no-one around to apply a touch and as the hosts continued to pressurize, a corner was headed clear as far as Kyran Wiltshire who skewed wide from the edge of the box.
Town responded, with Jarvis winning a corner which Dan Ball got his head on but could not direct on target while a through ball from Lee Lucas just failed to find Jarvis as the Peacocks enjoyed plenty of possession without creating a real chance. Chamberlain’s low cross was then prodded wide at the near post by Jarvis as Johnson challenged before Wiltshire went into the book for a foul on Chamberlain. A slip-up then gave the Saints an opening just before the break. Stanley seized on some dithering to release Joe Neal whose angled shot was pushed wide by Jack Bycroft as the Town keeper was called into action for the first time and luckily for the Peacocks the loose ball was drilled over the bar by Zane Banton. The half petered out with a case of what might have been, Warwick breaking but his ball found no-one and then Moore’s cross at the other end going high and out.
The second half initially continued in the same vein. Good work from Chamberlain on the right gave Jarvis an opening but his shot was blocked before James and Jay Foulston linked up well on the opposite flank, a pass inside from James teeing up the Town left back for a strike which Johnson parried and the Saints defence cleared. The home side then thought they had broken the deadlock just past the hour. Shaun Jeffers was tripped by Wannell as he powered across the edge of the area, leading to a free kick in a central position. Jeffers stroked home the set piece beyond Bycroft into the corner, but celebrations were curtailed when referee Walchester ruled the goal out for an infringement by Chez Isaac who ran within an allowed distance of the Town wall. Or so I’m told…
The Peacocks then had a real chance of their own, Chamberlain drifting a cross into the far post where Foulston, with the goal beckoning, volleyed over 😕 Ross Stearn replaced Lucas with just over 20 minutes remaining as the home side began to boss the final stages of the game. Sub Chris Paul cut the ball back from the right, which was met by Jeffers, however his effort proved a safe hold for Bycroft, Banton then found space on the left to fire in a shot which found the side netting and Neal released Jeffers on the right, but his cross went harmlessly to Bycroft.
The Peacocks briefly threatened when Chamberlain’s cross in proved elusive for both Jarvis and Foulston to connect with before the final switch was made when Dylan Morgan replaced Warwick, leaving Jarvis to plough a lone furrow up top. This left Town to dig in for the latter stages. Stanley caught out Chamberlain to cross from the right, the ball falling to Banton who would have hoped to do better than fire wide. Crosses from Neal and Moore were dealt with by the Town rearguard in which skipper Nick Grimes barely put a foot wrong, deservedly winning him the Man of the Match accolade. Stearn’s cross at the other end was then cut out, allowing the pacy Neal to break upfield, with Wannell clearing the danger for another corner.
Four minutes of stoppage time were navigated to confirm the point which Town deserved for their efforts. The first five fixtures have proved the Peacocks can compete at this level, with only three goals conceded being a notable achievement. The lack of goals with just two on the board highlights the need to take chances when they arise but the foundations are there and when the attacking knife is sharpened things will look even better.
Taunton: Jack Bycroft, Jay Foulston, Nick Grimes (captain), Dan Ball, Jake Wannell, Ollie Chamberlain, Lloyd James, Nat Jarvis, Joe Guest (Joe Budd 14), Harry Warwick (Dylan Morgan 78), Lee Lucas (Ross Stearn 68). Unused sub: Zac Smith
St Albans: Michael Johnson, Devante Stanley, Kyran Wiltshire, Callum Adebiyi, Michael Clark, Chez Isaac (Huw Dawson 84), Shaun Jeffers (captain), Liam Sole (Chris Paul 68), Zane Banton, Tafari Moore, Joe Neal. Unused subs: Munashe Sundire, Joy Mukena, Loris Marcimain
Referee: Callum Walchester (Lowestoft)
Referee’s Assistant 1: Lewis Mansfield-King (Malvern)
Referee’s Assistant 2: Jeffrey Aldous (Shefford)
“We were in it again, we competed really really well….” watch Rob Dray’s Match Reaction on Peacocks TV HERE
Match highlights courtesy of St Albans City FC can be seen HERE
Mind In Somerset MOM
Nick Grimes receives the Taunton Town Man Of The Match award from Kit Manager Karl Lindsay