Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.
Not sure where exactly following 90 minutes of high drama which made up the Peacocks’ highest octane game yet in the National League South and probably for many a season. After going two goals behind, the visitors bossed the majority of the game once the hosts had seen a man dismissed, pulling a goal back before seeing the Bluebirds seemingly clinch the points with a late screamer. However, Town conjured up a grandstand finish in which they drew level to claim a point and make it six games unbeaten.
Showing two changes from the weekend win over Dartford, Dylan Morgan and Dave Sims-Burgess replacing Callum Dolman and Ross Stearn, the visitors had to be alert from the kick-off with Chippenham pressing down the slope before the Peacocks got into their stride, Sims-Burgess chancing his arm from 30 yards with a high lob which dropped wide and keeper Will Henry snaffling Ollie Chamberlain’s cross as Nat Jarvis looked to pounce. Lee Lucas then chested down a clearance to fire over from 12 yards before the home side threatened when Alex Bray drilled a low ball across the face of goal with no-one able to thankfully apply a touch. However the relief was short-lived as Chippenham made the breakthrough with a fortuitous goal on eight minutes. Taunton cleared a Luke Spokes’ corner, the ball falling to Nat Williams and his strike from distance took a major deflection off a defender to beat the dive of the wrong-footed Dan Lavercombe in the Town goal.
The lucky opener proved an early catalyst for the energised hosts who tore into their visitors down the hill. The Town defence had to survive some sticky moments as they struggled to clear their lines at times, two successive corners keeping the heat on which cooled when Lavercombe eventually claimed the ball after it ricocheted off a Chippenham player. Further generous defending then paved the way for the hosts to double their lead after 19 minutes. Owen Windsor dissected two men down the right before racing into the box and seeing his strike from out wide destined for the far corner until Chamberlian, in trying to block, only succeeded in depositing the ball into the roof of his own net.
The Peacocks had an immediate opportunity to hit back when Lloyd James found Morgan and his neat pass put Jarvis through, but Henry got down well to make the save and gather. A Zac Smith cross was then well defended before Bluebirds’ left back Freddie Grant departed the action early. Already warned for taking too long over throw-ins, referee Mackey’s patience ran out and a booking ensued, followed seconds later by another yellow and an obligatory red for a high challenge on Chamberlain, and Chippenham were a man short after 28 minutes.
The switch was flicked. The remainder of the half saw Town dominate and carve out a number of openings without finding the net. Austen Booth sent a header straight at Henry from a James free kick, Morgan turned his man and had his angled effort pushed wide by Henry and a corner caused havoc in the home box as shots were blocked. Booth then planted a header over from a Lucas cross and Cameron Evans did the same from a Smith cross while Morgan, who was proving a handful for the Bluebirds, jinked his way forward and was brought down just outside the box. Lucas fired the resultant free kick well over the bar before Jarvis headed over from Booth’s cross to end a frenetic and captivating first 45 minutes. And that was just for starters.
The visitors were out early to commence the main course of the second half and their eagerness was soon rewarded. After Sims-Burgess had seen his header fielded by Henry and Morgan drove over from 20 yards, Town finally reduced the arrears six minutes in when Booth’s cross from the right flicked on from a challenge and Jarvis steered home a header for his first goal of the campaign. Since the dismissal of Grant, Chippenham had barely got into the final third but that changed immediately after Taunton’s score, Williams’ ball down the left finding Spokes in acres of space and he found Jake Evans who shot wide.
Journeys upfield remained infrequent from the home side as they defended superbly against continual Peacocks’ pressure. The Bluebirds liking to play out from the back though nearly backfired when they lost possession, but Sims-Burgess’ low cross came to nothing. Henry clutched Booth’s low strike before Chippenham countered with two corners of their own, instigated by a run from former Peacock Spokes. Are you still with me?
Nick McCootie replaced Jarvis just past the hour as Town kept the foot on the pedal. Sims-Burgess looped a header onto the roof of the net from a James corner although frustratingly too many of the visitors’ set pieces failed to really hit the home side where it mattered. After a lengthy stoppage following the decision by the referee that someone needed to be removed from behind the goal for reasons not fully authenticated, Town made a double switch with Stearn and Dolman taking over from Nick Grimes and Lucas.
The overwhelming share of possession remained with Town but try as they might an elusive equalizer was not forthcoming. A James corner saw frantic efforts to deliver a telling shot, but Chippenham survived, Stearn’s overhead kick wouldn’t fall to a teammate, Sims-Burgess’ low cross from the right was pouched by Henry and then Stearn turned onto a James pass to volley high over the top.
The ratio of chances to goals became worse when Evans fired wide before Chippenham decided it was time for dessert. Windsor broke away from another Town attack to find Spokes in the middle and he gave Lavercombe no chance with a superb effort into the top corner with five minutes left on the clock. The home crowd erupted while the Peacocks fans were momentarily shellshocked. Stearn soon restored the appetite, the ball breaking in the box to Dolman whose touch was collected by Stearn, and he showed excellent composure to get clear around Henry and slot into the unguarded net three minutes from time.
Game over or was there something left on the menu during seven nervy minutes of stoppage time? Both sides went at it. Town first with Dolman having his effort saved low down by Henry, then the hosts who broke, only to see Lavercombe make the save from Bluebird unknown. Five minutes played of added time and of course the Peacock fans wanted the after dinner mint. And boy did they get it. Evans delivered a cross from the left side, McCootie controlled into the path of Chamberlain who blasted a blinding first-time strike past the helpless Henry from the edge of the box. Mint.
Once the ecstatic celebrations had calmed (to a degree) there was even time for Chippenham to nearly snatch a fairytale winner, a final break allowing Windsor a clear shot at goal. Lavercombe though saved his best to last as he pulled off a fine save. What a game and on another night the Peacocks could have won it at a canter. However, credit to Chippenham who dug in valiantly as Town secured their third successive draw on the road.
Taunton: Dan Lavercombe, Nick Grimes (captain) (Ross Stearn 75), Austen Booth, Ollie Chamberlain, Lloyd James, Nat Jarvis (Nick McCootie 63), Zac Smith, Cameron Evans, Dave Sims-Burgess, Dylan Morgan, Lee Lucas (Callum Dolman 75). Unused subs: Rabby Tabu Minzamba, Marcus Day
Chippenham: Will Henry, Eddie Jones, Freddie Grant, Aaron Amadi-Holloway (Luke Haines 64), Jake Evans, Matt McClure (captain) (Craig Fasanmade 58) (Marcel Lewis 72), Alex Bray, Owen Windsor, Mal Nicholls, Luke Spokes, Nat Williams. Unused subs: Leighton Tuodolo, Will King
Referee: Oliver Mackey (Leicester)
Referee’s Assistant 1: Daniel Spyer (Calne)
Referee’s Assistant 2: Mitchell Terry (Swindon)
” With the amount of territory and possession we had over 70 minutes and chances we should have won it…….” watch Rob Dray’s Match Reaction on Peacocks TV HERE
” We created some good chances and on another day we would have won…….” hear what Ollie Chamberlain and Cameron Evans had to say on Peacocks TV HERE
Match highlights can be seen courtesy of Chippenham Town FC HERE
Match photos from Club Photographer Debbie Gould can be viewed HERE
Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance MOM
Austen Booth receives the Taunton Town Man Of The Match award from Jon Reed from Peacocks Radio