On this corresponding weekend ten years ago, the Peacocks had surrendered their lead to slump to a 2-1 defeat at bottom side Guildford City in the Southern League South & West Division before a crowd of 81. An awful performance, as I well remember. Fast forward to 2023 and drink in the progress, this fully merited victory over the full-timers from East Sussex lifting Taunton Town to the summit of the National League South for the first time in their history. It may not be for long but savour it while it lasts! 😎
The two most recent home results had led to major disappointment for varying reasons, so the home faithful were due a performance and they got one. Skipper Nick Grimes returned after suspension while Cameron Evans also resumed duties following a calf strain while Ollie Chamberlain was rested after suffering an aggravated hamstring during the draw with Havant & Waterlooville while Joe Guest dropped to the bench. After Town keeper Dan Lavercombe had saved well from Zak Emmerson’s early shot although the referee had already blown for an infringement, the Peacocks responded with their first corner. The delivery from Lee Lucas evaded everyone and when Grimes returned the ball into the mix Dylan Morgan saw his shot blocked.
Town began to settle into a pleasing tempo, a promising move seeing Lucas find Ross Stearn whose effort struck an opponent and Stearn again being upended for a free kick which Lucas deposited into the food village from the left side. Eastbourne keeper Ben Dudzinski nearly gifted Town the lead on 20 minutes after Jay Foulston picked out Stearn on the left and his first-time strike slipped through the grasp of the Borough custodian and was heading over the line until Dudzinski recovered to scoop the ball away.
An Eastbourne break saw their most potent performer Shiloh Remy threaten when he cut in from the right but could only find the arms of Lavercombe with his shot while Archie Procter fired a strike over the stand roof which encapsulated the sum total of Borough’s raids on the home goal as they played second fiddle to a Town team proving they are fully adept at adopting a passing game on the deck. Stearn continued his irritation of the Borough backline by firstly having a shot blocked and then being caught by an opposition leg in the box. No penalty said referee Parsons.
Town’s positive football should have been rewarded with the opening goal eight minutes before the break, Foulston finding Morgan out on the left and he skipped past his man and teed up Stearn to pick his spot from ten yards, however his effort missed the target and Eastbourne breathed again. But not for long. Lloyd James’ free kick was recycled after being punched clear, Lucas returning the ball in from the right for Nat Jarvis whose header was parried by Dudzinski and Evans was on hand to steer the rebound into the net to give the hosts the advantage after 42 minutes.
The Peacocks were good value for their lead at the break but could have found themselves pegged back within two minutes of the second half commencing, losing possession for Emmerson to advance into the box, Remy to cross to Alfie Bridgman at the back post and his lay back was met by half time substitute Imran Uche whose drive was turned onto the bar by an excellent diving save from Lavercombe. That near miss was soon forgotten when Town doubled their lead after 55 minutes. A free kick was swung in from the left by Lucas, Evans just failed to get his head on it allowing Dudzinski to parry away, and Stearn was on to it in a flash, turning to find enough room to drive his finish across the Borough keeper into the net.
The visitors were down but not out as they sought to find a way back and with improved finishing might have had a chance. Fresh off the bench, Decarrey Sheriff delivered a cross to the far post where Emmerson would have hoped to do better than steer his header wide before the unmarked Emmerson connected with Jack Paxman’s free kick but again failed to hit the target. Since adding a second, Town’s forward impetus had lessened although one opportunity got away when a long ball reached Stearn and after getting past one man he opted to shoot rather than pass to the better-placed Lucas and the attempt was blocked at the expense of a corner.
Dave Sims-Burgess replaced Stearn with just under twenty to go and the new introduction was soon involved in a move which culminated in Morgan scampering into the box and laying back for Jarvis whose goal bound effort hit a defender while Borough sensed an opening after Sheriff received Fletcher Holman’s lay-off but snatched his shot well wide.
Marcus Day and Guest took over from Zac Smith and Foulston for the Peacocks as the contest entered the final ten minutes, with Eastbourne still searching for the right key. Town struggled to clear a long punt forward into the box, finding Emmerson whose angled strike was pushed aside by Lavercombe who was finally beaten five minutes into stoppage time when a left-wing cross was neatly headed in by Sheriff to scupper the clean sheet, one of only two blemishes on an otherwise encouraging afternoon. The other disappointment was the crowd of 670 which must improve if the Peacocks want to sustain their challenge. Wakey wakey Taunton!
Taunton: Dan Lavercombe, Jay Foulston (Joe Guest 83), Nick Grimes (captain), Austen Booth, Lloyd James, Nat Jarvis, Ross Stearn (Dave Sims-Burgess 73), Zac Smith (Marcus Day 78), Cameron Evans, Dylan Morgan, Lee Lucas. Unused subs: Elliott Dugan, Steve Phillips
Eastbourne: Ben Dudzinski, Archie Procter (Fletcher Holman 70), Dan Quick, Alex Finney (captain), Shiloh Remy, Jack Paxman, Yaser Kasim (Imran Uche 45), Alfie Bridgman (Decarrey Sheriff 57), Zak Emmerson, Billy Vigar, Olumide Olarewaju. Unused subs: Freddie Carter, Finlay Holter
Referee: Gary Parsons (Lymington)
Referee’s Assistant 1: George Lynch (Chippenham)
Referee’s Assistant 2: Paul Barber (Bournemouth)
” We were really good today, I still think there’s more to come from us…….” watch Rob Dray’s Match Reaction on Peacocks TV HERE
Match highlights on Peacocks TV can be seen HERE
Match photos from Club Photographer Debbie Gould can be viewed HERE
Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance MOM
Lee Lucas receives the Taunton Town Man Of The Match award from Peacocks’ supporters Richard Smith and James Blackmore