Hot on the heels of their most impressive home win in the National League this season, the Peacocks secured their best result on the road to date with a conclusive victory on the East Sussex coast. Any half time predictions for the final score would probably not have come up with such a margin, with the hosts enjoying the best of the first half but being denied by Town keeper Jack Bycroft. The second half was a different affair as the visitors benefitted from a controversial penalty award to grab the lead and go on to add two more goals to round off a thoroughly professional performance.
With such a demanding schedule of fixtures ahead, the Peacocks line-up was again rotated from the Havant game. Nick McCootie and Lee Lucas dropped to the bench to allow Lloyd James and Nat Jarvis to take over while Ollie Chamberlain was rested due to a sore hamstring and was replaced by debutant Cameron Evans in the right wing-back role. Borough, sitting just outside the play-offs in 8th spot at kick-off, made a bright start attacking down the left flank. Leone Gravata moved inside to see his shot blocked while Gravata’s cross found AFC Wimbledon loanee Alfie Bendle who blazed over the top. The Peacocks only had one incursion of note in the opening quarter, Dave Sims-Burgess embarking on a good run from halfway but over running the ball for a goal kick.
The first real opening came just before the quarter hour for the hosts, Shiloh Remy playing in Luke Pearce whose angled strike from the right side of the box was parried away by Bycroft, beginning an afternoon of defiance from the Town keeper against anything Eastbourne could throw at him. Opposite number Lee Worgan then had his first real touch of the ball when he safely held a whipped cross in from Evans before the Borough keeper was called into action as the Peacocks posted their first effort at goal. After some skills from Sims-Burgess on the left, a clearance was threaded forwards by James to find Ross Stearn on the edge of the box and his shot was palmed away.
Although both sides were finding their way into the final third, Eastbourne were looking the likelier side to break the deadlock as the half progressed which saw the Peacocks tweak their formation to try and counter. A sustained spell of pressure on the Town goal ended with Kai Innocent’s strike deflecting narrowly over the bar whereas opportunities were more limited for Town, Stearn firing a free kick over and their first corner on the half hour being held by Worgan. The home side were quick to close down the Peacocks when they gained possession while offensively they continued to ask questions. A neat 1-2 between Gravata and Remy saw the former tee up Pearce eight yards out but Bycroft pushed the shot away. However his best save came in first half stoppage time when a deep corner from Bendle was met by Mitch Dickenson running in at the back post, only for Bycroft to produce a terrific block from the close range header.
Borough continued on the front foot after the interval, an early break seeing Remy find Charlie Walker whose 18 yard shot fizzed just wide of the far post. However the outlook suddenly changed three minutes in. Sims-Burgess won the ball and found Stearn on the right and when his attempted cross struck Innocent, the referee deemed it handball and awarded a penalty. After the appeals had died down, Stearn calmly stepped up to send Worgan the wrong way from the spot five minutes in.
The home side quickly went about trying to right the perceived apparent wrong. Remy’s shot glanced off a Town body to earn another corner while another effort from James Hammond deflected to Bycroft. Dylan Morgan replaced Evans near the hour mark before Eastbourne caught Town on the break, Walker latching onto a long ball and rifling narrowly past the upright. Innocent and Gravata linked up well again down the left, Bycroft acrobatically palming away Gravata’s swerving strike although nothing would have counted due to a raised flag for offside. Another well-constructed move down the right started by Crystal Palace loan defender Ryan Bartley then ended with Remy sliding the ball wide of the far post.
The Peacocks showed the hosts how it should be done after 72 minutes. After Jay Foulston’s corner had been punched clear, James’ shot diverted out to Morgan on the left and after he had controlled, he made space to lance a wonderful effort into the far corner past the rooted Worgan from the edge of the area. Things you love to see 😍
The second Peacocks’ goal visibly deflated the hosts, with the visitors pepping themselves up after McCootie replaced Jarvis for the final 15 minutes and the Town sub soon made his presence felt. Zac Smith who had another fine game in yellow fed Sims-Burgess down the right and his low centre was dummied by McCootie to reach Stearn who fired into the bottom corner from 12 yards for a 3-0 lead after 78 minutes. The Town No 13 though knows that he should have been travelling home with the match ball but somehow he missed a straightforward chance for his hat trick three minutes later. Sims-Burgess’ ball over the top saw McCootie outmuscle Jack Burchell and find the unmarked Stearn in the middle. However he ballooned his attempt over the top.
New loan signing Ollie Tomlinson took over from Grimes as Town comfortably saw out the rest of the game. To their credit Eastbourne continued to create openings but were unable to beat the Town defence or that man Bycroft who again pulled off an excellent block to deny Pearce who had swiveled onto Gravata’s cross from close range. Jaden Perez drifted a shot wide and Bendle drilled another strike just over before the whistle brought the contest to an end.
A very satisfactory afternoon for the Peacocks on their first ever visit to Priory Lane, the result lifting them up two places to 16th and a second successive clean sheet against top ten opposition meaning only 19 goals conceded in 22 League outings.
Taunton: Jack Bycroft, Jay Foulston, Nick Grimes (captain) (Ollie Tomlinson 81), Dan Ball, Lloyd James, Nat Jarvis (Nick McCootie 72), Joe Guest, Ross Stearn, Zac Smith, Cameron Evans (Dylan Morgan 57), Dave Sims-Burgess. Unused subs: Ollie Chamberlain, Lee Lucas
Eastbourne: Lee Worgan, Jack Burchell, Kai Innocent (Norman Wabo 77), Mitch Dickenson, Ryan Bartley, James Hammond (Jaden Perez 75), Charlie Walker (captain), Alfie Bendle, Shiloh Remy, Luke Pearce, Leone Gravata. Unused subs: Fletcher Holman, Fin Holter, Callum Pollitt
Referee: Robert Claussen (Rayleigh)
Referee’s Assistant 1: David Ellis (Brighton)
Referee’s Assistant 2: Nick Blogg (Horsham)
” I thought I was pleased on Tuesday night but I’m really pleased tonight!…..” watch Rob Dray’s Match Reaction on Peacocks TV HERE
Match highlights can be seen courtesy of Eastbourne Borough HERE
Mind In Somerset MOM
Ross Stearn receives the Taunton Town Man Of The Match award from Club Safety Officer Roger Conway