The Peacocks added another mightily impressive result to their portfolio in their debut National League season as they completed the double over the Kent promotion challengers. In a game which ebbed and flowed with both sides having periods of being on top, it was Town who notched the all-important goal through Cameron Evans four minutes from time to ensure a happy westward journey home.
The Town side showed two changes from the Easter Monday clash with Slough, striker Nat Jarvis returning after suspension and Joe Guest now fit to start following illness. Playing their 22nd game in 11 weeks and their fourth in the space of ten days, the Peacocks showed no signs of weariness despite their late arrival after a delayed coach journey as they took the game to their hosts from the start. A Jarvis knockdown from Lloyd James’ forward ball fell to Dylan Morgan whose shot deflected wide off Connor Essam for the opening corner of the contest and it wasn’t long before Town won a further one which was cleared as far as Morgan who had another go, this time seeing his blistering effort blocked.
A third corner inside the opening eight minutes so nearly provided the visitors with some reward for their early positivity, James finding Ollie Chamberlain inside and he made ground across the edge of the box to drive a splendid strike off the upright from 20 yards. Jarvis netted the rebound, but an offside flag cancelled it out. Dartford then hit the woodwork themselves as they finally began to find their feet against the lively Peacocks, a corner being recycled by Luke Allen from the left and Max Statham delivering a header onto the far post.
After such a busy start to proceedings, the contest then settled down into a more measured affair with opportunities becoming rare. Town keeper Jack Bycroft showed a safe pair of hands to hold Statham’s cross before Bobby Dunn’s reckless challenge on Chamberlain in front of the dugouts incited a melee between the sides. When peace was restored, the only fallout was Dunn escaping with a yellow.
Some nice play down the left gave Chamberlain an opening but his effort was blocked while Dartford’s Marvin Herschel embarked on a silky run, evading several challenges before the danger was snuffed out as chances were hard to come by. The ball then deflected fortuitously to Allen on the right side of the area and his curling effort looked to be going in until Bycroft’s fingertips intervened to touch the shot onto the bar. Another offside flag however was aloft to curtail what might have been. Stalemate at the break then with Town’s defence ably coping with the probing of a home side looking to reinforce second spot ahead of the impending play-offs.
Zac Smith replaced Chamberlain when the action resumed for the second half but it was the Darts who began the better. Bycroft fielded crosses from Luke Coulson and Herschel before he gathered a snapshot from Herschel. Coulson’s free kick was glanced wide by Statham but despite having more of the possession in the third quarter of the game, the hosts were unable to unduly trouble an organized Peacocks side. As the match entered the final twenty minutes, the complexion altered again with Town bossing themselves back into contention. Smith’s cross sailed narrowly over onto the roof of the net and a break from Dave Sims-Burgess set up Evans for a cross which unfortunately failed to pick out a yellow shirt while Smith reached the byeline but again his cross was cleared.
Nick McCootie replaced Jarvis with around 15 minutes remaining as Town continued to press. A corner was so close to falling for Jake Wannell and a James pass found Morgan whose low strike was held by Ben Dudzinski at the second attempt before Ross Stearn came on for Sims-Burgess with six minutes to play. And it was Stearn who earned the corner which culminated in the Peacocks’ winner. After James’ delivery had been cleared, Guest returned the ball out wide and James first-time cross with the outside of his boot fell loose to Evans and he needed no second invitation to fire home past Dudzinksi into the bottom corner for his second goal in three games to the delight of Town’s travelling fans.
There were few concerns for Town for the remainder of the game including four minutes of stoppage time. A Jernade Meade break down the left ended with a cross into the side netting but that was about as good as it got for the home side whilst the frustrations of Darts’ manager Alan Dowson saw him sent from the dug-out as the Peacocks racked up their eighth league win on the road this season with an accomplished display throughout the side.
Taunton: Jack Bycroft, Nick Grimes (captain), Dan Ball, Jake Wannell, Ollie Chamberlain (Zac Smith 45), Lloyd James, Nat Jarvis (Nick McCootie 74), Joe Guest, Cameron Evans, Dave Sims-Burgess (Ross Stearn 84), Dylan Morgan
Dartford: Ben Dudzinski, Jordan Wynter (Keiran Murtagh 56), Connor Essam, Tom Bonner, Luke Coulson, Luke Allen, Bobby Dunn (Richard Chin 45), Maxwell Statham, Harvey Bradbury, Marvin Herschel (Jack Smith 80), Jernade Meade. Unused subs: Pierre Fonkeu, Malachi Napa
Referee: Harry Wager (Tunbridge Wells)
Referee’s Assistant 1: Harrison Blair (Woking)
Referee’s Assistant 2: Stephen Hawkes (Aldershot)
“You run out of things to say about this group, magnificent….” watch Rob Dray’s Match Reaction on Peacocks TV HERE
Match Highlights courtesy of Dartford FC can be seen HERE
Match Photos from Club Photographer Debbie Gould can be viewed HERE
Mind In Somerset MOM
Nick Grimes receives the Taunton Town Man Of The Match award from the Somerset County Gazette’s Lewis Wiseman