Dave Sims-Burgess scored his first goal of the campaign to extend the Peacocks’ unbeaten run in the National League South to five games. Whilst the contest did not hit the enthralling heights of the previous Wordsworth Drive experience against St Albans, the points were equally as welcome against another side who had featured in last season’s Play-Offs but who could find no way past a resolute Town defence.
The hosts showed two changes from the team that had battled to a draw at Maidstone, Ross Stearn coming back in along with Lee Lucas who had been rested for the 3G surface, with Dylan Morgan and Marcus Day dropping to the bench. And what a pleasant change for the teams to emerge in late summer sun after the mediocre weather offerings of recent weeks. In fact the term ‘mediocre’ could be applied to the fare on offer for the first 45 minutes in which both sides cancelled each other out. The Darts had much of the early ball, posting several deliveries into the box which Town dealt with accordingly while Peacocks’ keeper Dan Lavercombe caught a Luke Coulson cross under impending pressure from Moussa Diarra before the hosts found their feet, good work from Ollie Chamberlain down the right providing Cameron Evans with the chance to win Town’s opening corner and then Austen Booth’s swerving cross-shot being held by Darts’ keeper Mitchell Beeney on his line.
Half an hour in and both sides were still finding fluency hard to come by as defences nullified respective threats. Great defending by Evans prevented Harvey Bradbury from profiting while home attacks were proving frustrating, a break seeing Lucas find Chamberlain whose effort was blocked and Lloyd James floating a free kick in which was bread and butter for Beeney. Dartford weren’t doing any better, Tyrell Miller-Rodney sending a cross straight out while a hoist into the box from Joash Nembhard found the arms of Lavercombe.
The Peacocks conjured up the best opportunity of the half eight minutes before the break when Callum Dolman, making an impressive home debut, found space on the left to lay a pass into the path of Lloyd James who opted to place his shot and as a result the effort lacked punch and was easily harvested by Beeney. Another opening reared its head when a Lucas cross was knocked down and fell for Nat Jarvis, but he screwed his shot wide of goal before Dartford responded with half time approaching. Despite the assistant signalling a goal kick, the referee awarded a corner from which Luke Coulson’s delivery got a flick from Paul Rooney to reach the volley of Maxwell Statham at the far post and Chamberlain had to clear away off the line before an off-balance header from Bradbury which flew wide brought the half to an end.
Initially the second half gave little indication of an improvement in the action in either box. Town captain Nick Grimes picked up the first yellow of the afternoon when pulling Rooney to the ground before Sims-Burgess appeared off the bench to replace Stearn. The Taunton striker was soon involved, an excellent pass from Dolman finding him and his short ball to James produced a cross which Jarvis got his head on but was unable to direct on target.
A stray Evans pass located Bradbury who advanced to fire goalwards and Lavercombe made the save before the Town shotstopper did well at his near post, strong hands denying Miller-Rodney’s effort from a tight angle. Chamberlain’s whipped cross was pouched by Beeney as the game began to relax and open up which led to the only goal of the afternoon on 63 minutes. An Evans’ pass out wide pinpointed Chamberlain beyond the right-hand post and his connection across goal was perfect for Sims-Burgess to nod over the line from five yards.
Nick McCootie replaced Jarvis moments later as the hosts looked to build on their lead. A James cross was laid back by Sims-Burgess into the path of Chamberlain whose strike whistled narrowly wide and a flowing move down the right unfortunately concluded with Booth delivering a cross straight out. A James corner then reached Dolman whose prod at goal was tipped over by Beeney for another corner, with Town, pepped up by their two substitutions, really keeping their foot on the pedal.
However Dartford wrestled back the momentum for the final stages as they sought to avoid their second defeat of the season. Lavercombe got down well to claim the ball ahead of Charlie Sheringham and two superb defensive headers from Grimes snuffed out dangerous crosses from Baris Altintop and sub Archie Woods who livened things up for the visitors when he came on. From the corner which resulted, Rooney connected with a header which Lavercombe palmed over the top, the closest in reality that the Darts came to restoring parity. Whilst the Peacocks’ backline were efficiently managing any attempts from Dartford to claw their way back, McCootie was keeping the opposition occupied at the opposite end, penalty appeals dismissed after he had gone down in the box under attention from Moussa Diarra and then having a shot blocked as he moved in from the right.
Four minutes of stoppage time saw Town run down the clock and when a late Coulson free kick was cleared that was that. Time will tell whether Wordsworth Drive is regaining its fortress-like mentality but with four wins from four there it’s a great start and with the crowd well up on the previous week, and a solid victory over a side touted to be among the front-runners, it proved a great start to September! 😃
Taunton: Dan Lavercombe, Nick Grimes (captain), Austen Booth, Ollie Chamberlain, Lloyd James, Nat Jarvis (Nick McCootie 64), Ross Stearn (Dave Sims-Burgess 53), Zac Smith, Cameron Evans, Callum Dolman, Lee Lucas. Unused subs: Rabby Tabu Minzamba, Marcus Day, Dylan Morgan
Dartford: Mitchell Beeney, Jordan Wynter, Tyrell Miller-Rodney (Charlie Sheringham 64), Baris Altintop, Luke Coulson, Paul Rooney, Maxwell Statham, James Goulding (Archie Woods 75), Joash Nembhard, Harvey Bradbury, Moussa Diarra (George Whitefield 88). Unused subs: Ollie Box, Tom Wray
Referee: Callum Fisk (Stratford-upon-Avon)
Referee’s Assistant 1: Colin Hubbard (Wimborne)
Referee’s Assistant 2: Matthew Jackson (Nuneaton)
“I thought we had a few more gears to go today if I’m being honest, at times we looked a little bit sluggish…….” watch Rob Dray’s Match Reaction on Peacocks TV HERE
Match highlights can be seen on Peacocks TV HERE
Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance MOM
Cameron Evans receives the Taunton Town Man Of The Match award from Match Sponsor Paul Elliot Smith – Graphic Design
Many thanks to our Matchday Mascots Ruishton Under 7’s