Three quality goals were the perfect Christmas present for the Peacocks’ faithful as their side recorded their best National League result on the road to date. Despite the hosts having considerably more opportunities over the 90 minutes, Town rode the storm, with their defence and keeper Jack Bycroft along with some poor finishing from the hosts all contributing to a crucial victory in front of a Boxing Day crowd just shy of 1500.
The Town side showed two changes from the FA Trophy win at Slough, with Lee Lucas returning and Ross Stearn selected in place of Dave Sims-Burgess and the ill Lloyd James. After the visitors made the first incursion into enemy territory, Zac Smith seeing his cross caught by Terras’ custodian Zaki Oualah, the home side missed a decent chance on the five minute mark, Ahkeem Rose releasing Tom Bearwish and his centre from the right flank was spooned over the bar from ten yards by Luke Nippard.
Weymouth, five places and four points adrift of the Peacocks prior to kick-off but enjoying an upturn in recent form, continued their bright start when Rose burst into the box, the ball falling loose to Bradley Ash whose angled shot was blocked by the legs of Bycroft, however the flag was already raised for offside. The Peacocks created their first opening after 20 minutes when Jake Wannell chipped a ball in from the left to find Smith who controlled well but flashed his shot the wrong the side of the post into the side netting.
Bycroft denied Ash with another good stop after the Weymouth forward had latched onto a throw-in before the hosts were rocked after 26 minutes when the Peacocks grabbed the lead, Jay Foulston threading a lovely pass through to Smith who rolled a clinical finish past Oualah into the corner of the net. Despite their advantage, Town didn’t make it easy for themselves at times as they conceded possession too readily, one such occasion seeing Stearn lose the ball to Charlie Rowan who advanced to drag a tame shot wide. Ash was proving a handful for the Town rearguard and his curling effort from outside the box was creeping in until Bycroft dived to turn aside.
Into the last five minutes of the half and the Terras mounted a number of offensives on the Town goal, the final one of which would produce the equaliser. Tom Blair cut in to balloon a shot terribly wide while Rose teed up Ash for a strike which hit the side netting before they got even closer during stoppage time when that man Bycroft made a superb double save, firstly parrying a shot from distance from Blair and then sticking out a hand to foil Keelan O’Connell who had looked odds-on to net the rebound. Unfortunately, the Peacocks were undone in the fourth minute of added time, despite only three being signalled. Cameron Murray’s prod forward into the box deflected to Rose who fired beyond the reach of Bycroft for an equaliser which was deserved on the balance of play. However, the goalscorer unnecessarily then decided to goad the away support and received a yellow card for his antics.
Town were forced to make their first switch just three minutes into the second half when Joe Budd replaced Dan Ball before they regained the lead on 50 minutes, Lucas collecting a loose ball on the edge of the box to pick out the top corner with a peach of a strike, a great way to mark his first goal for the club on his 21st full appearance, which he duly celebrated with the Town fans behind the goal. Ollie Chamberlain’s cross then fell nicely for Joe Guest, but he couldn’t get a shot away before momentum began to switch the Terras’ way. After first half sub Harry Kyprianou’s angled shot had deflected over, the hosts were mightily close to drawing level again when Ash’s driven cross from a tight angle clattered off the underside of the bar, Town eventually managing to clear the danger.
Smith provided a brief respite with a curling strike over the bar at the other end before the woodwork came to the Peacocks’ rescue again, Blair’s cross from the left finding the unmarked Rose who planted his header against the bar while handball appeals from the home side after Rose’s close range attempt had been blocked were ignored. Nick McCootie took over from Stearn just past the hour as the visitors dug into counter continuing pressure from Weymouth. Despite the screw being turned though Town dealt with the threat effectively enough and when a sight of goal arose any attempt was wayward from the profligate home attack., Blair firing into no-man’s land and then crossing for O’Connell to direct a header wide.
As the final five minutes of normal time commenced, there was an unfestive incident between McCootie and Blair on the left touchline. After the melee had subsided, Rob Dray was sent from the bench after receiving his second yellow of the afternoon while McCootie picked up his first. The Peacocks had to navigate five minutes of stoppage time, with Weymouth still pushing forward. O’Connell made space to rifle an effort over and Rose’s volley was too high from Blair’s cross before a brilliant solo goal from McCootie put the nail in the Terras coffin. Five minutes of added time had been played when the Town striker received the ball just inside the opposition half. With thoughts of safety he embarked on a powerful diagonal run, leaving the Terras terrified as he reached the left side of their box. With no desire to go to the corner flag McCootie displayed deft footwork to engineer room and smash an unstoppable strike past Oualah who didn’t have an earthly.
Not the most straightforward of victories for the Peacocks against a Weymouth side who played good attacking football but lacked that end product. The same can’t be said for Town who generally took what opportunities came their way as they scored more than one goal away from home for the first time this season as they look to consolidate their National League status.
Taunton: Jack Bycroft, Jay Foulston, Nick Grimes (captain), Dan Ball (Joe Budd 48), Jake Wannell, Ollie Chamberlain, Nat Jarvis (Dylan Morgan 70), Joe Guest, Ross Stearn (Nick McCootie 61), Zac Smith, Lee Lucas. Unused subs: Ross Staley, Dave Sims-Burgess
Weymouth: Zaki Oualah, Luke Nippard (Josh Oyinsan 80), Xander McBurnie (captain), Nathan Carlyle, Ahkeem Rose, Tom Bearwish, Bradley Ash, Tom Blair, Charlie Rowan (Keelan O’Connell 42), Scott Rees (Harry Kyprianou 45), Cameron Murray. Unused sub: Matt Buse
Referee: Liam Corbett (Dudley)
Referee’s Assistant 1: Adam Wilson (Bristol)
Referee’s Assistant 2: Jake Woolley (Bristol)
“They’ve been absolutely fantastic today, absolutely superb, scored some great goals…..” with apologies for the sound quality, watch Rob Dray’s Match Reaction on Peacocks TV HERE
Match highlights courtesy of Weymouth FC can be seen HERE
Match photos from Club Photographer Debbie Gould can be viewed HERE
Mind In Somerset MOM
Lee Lucas receives the Taunton Town Man Of The Match award from Media Team member Dan Howell