Some away days produce a real feel good vibe, and this game fits that category perfectly as the Peacocks stretched their unbeaten run in the National League South to seven matches on a baking hot afternoon in Kent. Two goals from Dylan Morgan before the break were reinforced by Nick McCootie in the second half to hand Town a first win on the road this season and their third in succession over the Angels.
With another 3G pitch to contend with, Lee Lucas was rested, and Callum Dolman came in, the only alteration from the thrilling encounter at Chippenham in midweek. The opening to the game proved nearly as hot as the 30 degrees plus temperature at the Longmead Stadium, Ibrahim Akanbi, Tariq Hinds and Ruben-Soares Junior all involved in the hosts’ opening attack which ended with Soares-Junior’s strike hitting the outside of the post. The visitors responded when Nick Grimes got on the end of Lloyd James’ free kick to head back across goal where Dolman saw his shot blocked but it wasn’t long before Town gained the initiative. Nat Jarvis set Morgan free down the right channel and he scorched into the box where Dave Sims-Burgess was waiting unmarked. However Morgan opted to apply the killer blow himself as he drilled a fine finish across Jonathan Henly into the far corner after seven minutes.
Grimes came mightily close to adding another soon after when he glanced James’ free kick narrowly wide as Town began playing with ever-increasing confidence, stroking the ball around pleasingly on the artificial surface. Chamberlain’s cross wouldn’t fall to a yellow shirt while Morgan cut in to send a shot straight at Henly. It wasn’t one way by any means though with Angels threatening when the dangerous Akanbi, a summer capture from Worthing, received a through ball but Dan Lavercombe blocked with his legs, the first of several important contributions from the Town keeper.
A teasing cross from Morgan, proving a real menace for the hosts, was inches away for Sims-Burgess to connect with and Morgan fired a free kick off the wall after Dolman had been felled just outside the box which led to a second goal after 26 minutes. Possession was retained following the free kick which culminated in Zac Smith showing well down the left and slipping a pass through to Morgan who showed ice cool composure in the heat to slot past the exposed Henly. However Town were never able to relax against a lively Angels attack which continued to ask questions as they delivered numerous balls into the box.
The Peacocks were denied what appeared a clear penalty when Sims-Burgess, played in by Morgan, was brought down by Jamie Fielding but with the defender already booked referee Byrne, who officiated well, decided otherwise. Angels then enjoyed a decent spell leading up to the interval without success. Akanbi moved inside to have a strike blocked, Grimes intercepted brilliantly to rob Jordan Greenidge as he looked to profit, and Joe Turner released Akanbi whose ball across goal deflected to Lavercombe. Greenidge saw a tame effort easily held by Lavercombe while four minutes of added time saw Akanbi power inside to shoot wide before Lavercombe made another fine stop in a one on one with Akanbi, pushing the striker’s attempt wide.
Angels carried on in the same vein after the break, Akanbi gaining ground to drag a shot wide and then Soares-Junior being denied by the woodwork again as he benefitted from a defender slipping over to post a first-time strike which clattered down onto the line off the bar and the ball was scrambled clear. Town rode the storm and were close to increasing their tally at the other end, Chamberlain winning the ball on the right and finding Sims-Burgess whose effort was blocked when another touch to the unmarked Morgan might have been the better option. Eyeing up his hat trick, Morgan went for glory from distance but blasted over the top before Jarvis found the midriff of Henly with a shot and then saw his header from Morgan’s cross kept out by a sprawling stop from the Angels custodian.
Soares-Junior drilled a shot narrowly over and Lavercombe safely gathered Turner’s effort but all too often the home side’s approach work was undone by either a Peacocks brick wall or poor finishing. They were made to pay after 68 minutes when Town scored a third. McCootie who had barely been on the field two minutes made an instant impact, hassling Kodi Lyons-Foster down the left side to win possession and glided inside to pick out the far corner of Henly’s net with casual efficiency. Things you love to see.
McCootie maintained his presence in Tonbridge’s face, engineering space for a shot from the edge of the box which Henly held before his cross just failed to get a touch from Sims-Burgess who then departed from the action to be replaced by Ross Stearn. Further openings materialized at both ends before the 90 minutes were up. Turner’s cross was only partially cleared, but Akanbi’s shot went the way of numerous others as it flew wide while Town looked capable of adding more, Smith cutting in to lay into the path of Morgan whose strike was blocked by Henly. A lovely counter from the visitors then saw Morgan play wide to Smith and from the cross Stearn was thwarted by a defender’s body getting in the way of his shot.
A late Angels flurry during five minutes of stoppage time was safely negotiated with little fuss to secure an impressive three points. The whole team deserve credit from back to front for a thoroughly polished display which keeps the Peacocks in 5th spot. Early days of course but an encouraging start! 🦚
Taunton: Dan Lavercombe, Nick Grimes (captain), Austen Booth, Ollie Chamberlain, Lloyd James, Nat Jarvis (Nick McCootie 65), Zac Smith, Cameron Evans, Callum Dolman (Joe Guest 52), Dave Sims-Burgess (Ross Stearn 77), Dylan Morgan. Unused subs: Marcus Day, Lloyd Irish
Tonbridge: Jonathan Henly, Jamie Fielding, Kodi Lyons-Foster, Ben Swift, Jordan Higgs, Ibrahim Akanbi, Ruben Soares-Junior, Joe Turner, Tariq Hinds, Jordan Greenidge (Hayden Velvick 79), Nathan Wood (Gianni Crichlow 60). Unused subs: Tom Parkinson, Noah Millis, Nathaniel Gibb
Referee: Abigail Byrne (Ely)
Referee’s Assistant 1: Jack Fagg (Canterbury)
Referee’s Assistant 2: Daniel Doyle (Gillingham)
” The timing of the goals was immaculate, defensively immaculate…….” watch Rob Dray’s Match Reaction on Peacocks TV HERE
“We’re looking stronger and stronger every week….” hear what Nat Jarvis and Nick McCootie had to say on Peacocks TV HERE
Match highlights courtesy of Tonbridge Angels FC can be seen HERE
Unfortunately no club photographer was able to attend the game
Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance MOM
Dylan Morgan receives the Taunton Town Man Of The Match award from Peacocks’ Team Coach driver Hayley Kerslake