Let’s start with the positive. Another point gained by the Peacocks towards the ‘safe’ tally of 50 and a result which still keeps them in 5th place. However it could have been a maximum haul had the hosts accepted a gilt-edged opportunity in the final minute of the game, but Nick McCootie’s penalty missed the target. Whether such a tepid game deserved a winner is another matter.
A calf complaint ruled out Cameron Evans while Nick Grimes was serving a one game suspension, resulting in Lloyd James stepping back in and a first start in six months for Jay Foulston (welcome back Jay!), the only two changes from the side which had been dumped out of the FA Cup in midweek. With thoughts of that cheerless evening still fresh in the memory, Town were looking to get back on track against the division’s current basement dwellers who had harvested just four points from their opening nine fixtures.
Early signs gave promise, Ross Stearn latching onto a downfield ball to lash an effort into the side netting from a tight angle, and Dylan Morgan finding Lee Lucas whose strike from the edge of the box was parried by Hawks’ keeper Ross Worner. Those two early attempts sandwiched an opening for the visitors when Joe Guest lost the ball on the right and James Roberts weaved his way past some static defending to offer himself a clear sight of goal, but thankfully keeper Dan Lavercombe stood firm to make the save.
This initial flurry soon died out with the game halted after 17 minutes when Yoan Zouma collided with Lavercombe challenging for Jack Jebb’s free kick from the right. Thankfully the Havant player was stable enough to walk off the pitch following five minutes of treatment. There was little to inspire for the rest of the first half as both sides looked unconvincing in the final third. The Hawks’ Muhammadu Faal did threaten with an incursion into the box, losing the ball before regaining to see his shot deflected for one of many Havant corners earned during the game. From another corner, the Peacocks broke through Ollie Chamberlain, but his cross was just too high for Morgan, then Morgan’s low delivery was knocked down by Chamberlain for Stearn to turn and try to find Nat Jarvis, but Worner was out to smother quickly. Foulston sent a free kick onto the roof of the net and Morgan fired well over the top as the hosts tried to prise the door open while Jebb’s corner evaded all until finding Brendan Willson who prodded wide at the far post as the half laboured to its end.
Havant began the second half much the brighter as they sought to improve on their meagre pickings in the season thus far. Jebb’s cross fell to Callum Kealy whose effort was blocked by Guest and Kai Innocent’s low centre was swept over the top from close range by Roberts. Town made their first switch with Marcus Day replacing Morgan as the Hampshire outfit continued on the front foot, Jake McCarthy’s cross being cleared into the pathway of Jebb whose blistering shot fizzed inches over the bar. Missing three recognized faces though, the Peacocks’ defence, ably marshalled by stand-in centre half and Man of the Match James, were doing a good job.
McCootie replaced Jarvis for the home side, but it was Havant again who pressured, Jacob Agyepong covering ground out to the right, then back inside before unleashing a strike over the angle of the woodwork. Town had been conspicuous by their absence in the opposition box until the match entered the final 20 minutes or so but with McCootie’s presence starting to take effect the hosts started to fashion some openings. Stearn’s cross deflected loose to Chamberlain whose momentary surprise caused him to rush his attempt and it sailed over the top before a lunge on Lucas from Ansu Janneh earnt the Peacocks a free kick and the Hawks’ man a yellow card. The set piece saw James deliver and Austen Booths’ diving header find the arms of Worner before getting his head on another free kick from Lucas with the same outcome.
New recruit Elliott Dugan replaced Stearn with eight minutes remaining with Town maintaining their intent but requiring a cutting edge. A Lucas corner came back out to him, and he moved inside to rifle a drive just wide of the far post while crosses from Zac Smith and Day were defended as the minutes ticked away. With two minutes to go they were presented with the golden ticket when Worner pushed over Dugan on the goal line as they challenged for the ball and referee Robertson-Tant had no second thoughts in pointing to the spot. With regular penalty take Stearn not available, the responsibility fell to McCootie who fired his effort wide of Worner’s right-hand post to the frustration of the home faithful.
Five minutes of stoppage time produced a second caution and a red for Janneh after a foul on Chamberlain although this was far too late to impact the destiny of the game. A ball into the middle saw McCootie get his foot on it but sending it over with the full time whistle soon following. The visitors will no doubt be happier with the point after recording their first clean sheet since mid-February while the Peacocks will contemplate one that got away.
Taunton: Dan Lavercombe, Jay Foulston, Austen Booth, Ollie Chamberlain, Lloyd James (captain), Nat Jarvis (Nick McCootie 61), Joe Guest, Ross Stearn (Elliott Dugan 82), Zac Smith, Dylan Morgan (Marcus Day 56), Lee Lucas. Unused sub: Lloyd Irish
Havant & Waterlooville: Ross Worner, Kai Innocent, Dylan Crowe, Jake McCarthy (captain), Callum Kealy (Roarie Deacon 74), Muhammadu Faal (Ansu Janneh 64), Brendan Willson, Jack Jebb, Jacob Agyepong, Yoan Zouma (Joe McNerny 22), James Roberts. Unused subs: Tom Mehew, Billy Stedman
Referee: Michael Robertson-Tant (Colchester)
Referee’s Assistant 1: Imran Khan (Camberley)
Referee’s Assistant 2: James Welsh (Salisbury)
” It feels like two points dropped today if I’m being honest……………..” 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
Lloyd James receives the Taunton Town Man Of The Match award from some members of the Peacocks’ stewarding team
Many thanks to our Matchday Mascots Ruishton Under 8’s