A fourth successive National League South match without finding the net proved the Peacocks’ downfall as they succumbed to a last minute winner in Hertfordshire. At least in their three previous games there had been opportunities created but the 90 minutes at Vauxhall Road generated meagre pickings with little to enthuse the travelling faithful from a forgettable contest.
Three changes were implemented from the midweek county cup game including a first start for Malachi Linton since August following a lengthy spell out injured and overall the Yeovil loanee did well as he returns to match fitness. The first opening came the hosts’ way when Tarrelle Whittaker’s centre found Daniel Powell who shot into the side netting at the far post, but it was an uneventful start with neither side asking too many questions. A Lloyd James clearance cannoned off a body to release Joe Re whose cross was blocked for a corner which produced a forward header easily claimed by Town keeper Dan Lavercombe before the visitors won their first corner on 17 minutes which came to nothing.
The Tudors threatened following a break from Re who found Daniel Powell and his low delivery across goal was just too far ahead for Whittaker to make contact before the Peacocks enjoyed a briefly promising spell just past the half hour. Their most fluent move of the half involving Lee Lucas, Zac Smith and Linton unfortunately ended with an offside flag before a Hemel defender failed to deal with a Lucas ball forward, allowing Linton a glimpse at goal from close range but home keeper Craig King smothered at his post at the expense of a corner. The resultant routine was played short and back to Jay Foulston whose curling cross from the right smacked off the far post and with the hosts not managing to clear the danger, Smith delivered from the opposite side to find Austen Booth at the back post who planted his header the wrong side of the upright.
Hemel responded with a couple of half chances of their own, Powell getting goalside and seeing his effort touched over by Lavercombe whilst Kyle Ajayi drilled a 25 yard strike over before Foulston met Booth’s cross on the run to fire above the target to conclude an underwhelming opening period. Sadly the second half saw even fewer glimmers from the visitors as the Tudors began to engineer the clearer openings. An early corner culminated in Whittaker’s shot deflecting off a white shirt and finally reaching the clutches of Lavercombe off the shoulder of Powell before Lucas posted one of only two real Town attempts at goal in the half when he rifled a shot over the bar after it had fallen loose to him following Foulston’s blocked effort.
Linton made way for Nat Jarvis while Hemel’s proficiency in front of goal was again found wanting when a Josh Williams corner was headed back across by Ajayi to reach skipper Josh Hill who volleyed over although chances were not exactly plentiful at either end. Nick McCootie replaced Ross Stearn midway through the half and the Town substitute worked hard to try and turn the tide in his side’s favour. After Hill had put another half chance over the bar when a Williams free kick had deflected to him, the one clear opportunity for the Peacocks came with nine minutes left, Foulston breaking through the middle to feed Smith who had King to beat. However, the Hemel keeper blocked with his leg and the chance had gone.
Two consecutive corners for the hosts with five minutes remaining gave Hemel further hope, the second seeing a header reaching Chris Smith to prod over but when the same player blazed high, and Jarvis skewed a wayward effort wide from McCootie’s knockdown that seemed to rubberstamp the goalless draw. Unfortunately the final minute saw the home side get the ball in the box, an initial shot was blocked by Foulston, with the loose ball being driven into the roof of the net by Montel McKenzie to grab the points for the Tudors. Dylan Morgan took over from Cameron Evans during five minutes of stoppage time, but nothing was forthcoming from Town who had faded in the dying autumn sun. Not much else to say for a disappointing performance from the Peacocks who should have had enough in their armoury to get some reward but whose lack of creativity and one lapse of concentration proved their undoing.
Taunton: Dan Lavercombe, Jay Foulston, Nick Grimes (captain), Austen Booth, Ollie Chamberlain, Lloyd James, Ross Stearn (Nick McCootie 66), Zac Smith, Cameron Evans (Dylan Morgan 90+2), Malachi Linton (Nat Jarvis 56), Lee Lucas. Unused subs: Dan Ball, Joe Guest
Hemel Hempstead: Craig King, Josh Williams, Kyle Ajayi, Josh Hill (captain), George Williams, Alfie Matthews (Montel McKenzie 79), Tarrelle Whittaker (Joe Iaciofano 71), Joe Re (Bayley Brown 66), Chris Smith, Tyrelle Newton, Daniel Powell. Unused subs: Reece Grant, Arjanit Krasniqi
Referee: Dean Skipper (Rainham)
Referee’s Assistant 1: Abdul Kadir (Northampton)
Referee’s Assistant 2: Jeffrey Aldous (Shefford)
” One little switch-off, that’s all it takes in this league, very very fine lines ……” watch Rob Dray’s Match Reaction on Peacocks TV HERE
Match highlights can be seen courtesy of Hemel Hempstead Town FC HERE
Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance MOM
Austen Booth receives the Taunton Town Man Of The Match award from Peacocks’ analyst Jordan Barrow