A hat trick from Ross Stearn saw the Peacocks add another wonderful win to their National League South CV after overturning a two goal deficit to come out on top against the in-form side from Sussex. Four days after a tired display had seen them rolled over by now relegated Hungerford, the threadbare Town team discovered extra reserves of energy and determination to see off a Rebels side which had won their previous four League outings.
With skipper Nick Grimes injured and Nick McCootie suspended, the Peacocks team were only able to name two substitutes and were dealt another blow when keeper Jack Bycroft was withdrawn before kick-off due to a muscle complaint, meaning Lloyd Irish was drafted in for only his fifth League appearance of the season. The early exchanges saw Town win the opening corner of the game after five minutes although it was the visitors who were seeing more of the ball which culminated in the opening goal after 11 minutes. Ibrahim Akanbi threaded a pass through to Rebels’ leading goalscorer Ollie Pearce and as he tried to glide past Irish, he went to ground. Referee Skipper deemed contact had been made and Pearce got to his feet to convert the penalty.
Buoyed by this early breakthrough, another attack nearly paid dividends when Joel Colbran fed Reece Myles-Meekums who darted in from the right to force Irish to parry his strike with a low diving save, Cameron Evans then blocking the follow-up from Davide Rodari. After Worthing scorer Pearce had to retire, his side continued to boss the majority of possession although chances were generally absent at either end during the middle section of the half, Joe Guest volleying high and wide for the Peacocks from a cleared corner from Lloyd James whilst a Rodari header from a Kane Wills corner failed to find the target for the visitors.
An eventful final five minutes of the half saw the game spring to life. Town posted their first meaningful effort when a ball over the top saw Stearn flick it over a defender and try his luck from the right, the shot ending in Male’s midriff. However, the writing appeared to be on the wall for the hosts when Worthing added a second goal three minutes before the interval. Liam Vincent’s ball down the left reached the powerful Akanbi who cut inside his man to curl a composed finish beyond Irish into the far corner. With the 45 played the Peacocks hauled themselves back into contention with the second penalty award of the match. A glorious pass from Lee Lucas, making a welcome return to the Town midfield following suspension, released Stearn who was uprooted by Male as he tried to round him. Stearn sent the Rebels’ keeper the wrong way from the spot and Town were back in it. Three minutes of added time also had something to report, a long ball reaching Stearn down the left and he engineered space to drill a strike narrowly over from ten yards.
Stearn was in the thick of it again when play resumed for the second half, collecting a loose pass to launch a hopeful effort from over 40 yards which landed over the target. Two further penalty appeals then had differing outcomes. Akanbi fed Suk-Jae Lee who went down as he tried to go past Irish = no penalty and a yellow for simulation. Moments later a Lucas free kick was played short to Evans and his cross from the byeline was handled by Joel Colbran at the far post = affirmative. Stearn remained ice cool to again send Male the wrong way as he steered home into the opposite corner to bring the teams level.
The Rebels, conscious that a win for them would guarantee a play-off spot, were now in a real battle as the home side began playing with increased confidence. Jake Wannell stretched to get on the end of a Lucas free kick at the far post, but his effort was wide although a flag was already raised, before the Worthing defence hesitated from a James free kick which found Wannell again getting ahead at the back stick, only to see Male manage to tip his volley wide to keep the scores level. A long curling ball from Dan Ball then reached Dave Sims-Burgess who nipped in front of the defender to lob an attempt which dropped wide of the far post as momentum swung to the hosts.
Ollie Chamberlain replaced Dylan Morgan with just under 20 minutes left and at that stage it was still anyone’s game. Rodari and Lee both glanced headers comfortably wide and Irish confidently claimed a Vincent cross as Worthing probed forward but Town were getting into the better positions to kill the game. Wannell was denied by Aarran Racine’s block on the line, but another flag would have chalked it out regardless while Sims-Burgess sent a header narrowly wide of the far post. Good work by Evans then gave Lucas a shooting opportunity which Male safely held.
With full time played it looked as though both sides would have to settle for an honourable point apiece. Peacocks’ Man of the Match Stearn though was having none of it. A brilliant defence-splitting pass from Lucas put Stearn clear and he sidestepped Male and held off the challenge of Joe Rye to roll home into the empty net to the roar of the home faithful whilst becoming the first Taunton player to notch a National League hat trick ⚽. One final raid into the box was snuffed out by the Town defence during five minutes of stoppage time to secure a fantastic victory. Despite defeat Worthing still remain in prime position to claim a play-off place but this game was all about the Peacocks, short on numbers and fuel in the tank after their recent arduous programme but more than made up for with spirit and belief 🦚
Taunton: Lloyd Irish, Dan Ball, Jake Wannell, Lloyd James (captain), Joe Guest, Ross Stearn, Zac Smith, Cameron Evans, Dave Sims-Burgess, Dylan Morgan (Ollie Chamberlain 71), Lee Lucas. Unused sub:Nat Jarvis
Worthing: Harrison Male, Joe Rye, Liam Vincent, Joel Colbran, Aarran Racine, Jack Paxman, Davide Rodari (Danny Barker 73), Ollie Pearce (Suk-Jae Lee 18) (Mo Dabre 90+1), Kane Wills, Reece Myles-Meekums, Ibrahim Akanbi. Unused subs: James Beresford, Dan Bowry
Referee: Dean Skipper (Rainham)
Referee’s Assistant 1: Paul Barber (Bournemouth)
Referee’s Assistant 2: Adam Wilson (Bristol)
“You look at the performances this year and some of the wins we’ve had and that’s up there with it……..” watch Rob Dray’s Match Reaction on Peacocks TV HERE
Match Highlights can be seen on Peacocks TV HERE
Match Photos from Club Photographer Debbie Gould can be viewed HERE
Mind In Somerset MOM
Ross Stearn receives the Taunton Town Man Of The Match award from Zara Dopson and Buster Lawrence representing Match Sponsors NCE Ltd