The Peacocks conceded the League double to the West London side in the space of three weeks after having to play more than half the game a man short. With the sides on level pegging, an end to end affair changed tack minutes before the break when Nat Jarvis received a contentious straight red card and from then on it became an uphill battle for the visitors as Town ended their long week on the road with a bad taste in the mouth.
There were two changes from the weekend visit to Braintree, with Jake Wannell returning in place of Dan Ball at the back while Dave Sims-Burgess replaced Dylan Morgan, and after two away wins on the bounce hopes among the travelling contingent were to make it a hat trick. It was soon apparent though that this game would be a different animal to the two that had gone before. The Beavers came out in hungry mood, winning two corners in the opening minutes, the second of which from Connor Kurran-Browne found a Hampton man free who headed narrowly over.
Town’s first opening came when a long goal kick from Jack Bycroft was latched on to by Sims-Burgess who might have hoped to hit the target but volleyed over before a home attack ended with Shane Dunne skewing a shot well wide. With the Peacocks seemingly having weathered the early Borough storm, they made another opening when Sims-Burgess won the ball in the box to set up Lloyd James who fired an effort over the top. However a moment of good fortune saw the hosts make the breakthrough after 12 minutes, Alfy Whittingham’s low strike deflecting nicely to Ruaridh Donaldson who drilled home past the exposed Bycroft from close range.
Luis Fernandez, who had notched a brace in his side’s win at the Cygnet then sent a header back across and wide from Donaldson’s cross before Sims-Burgess won Town their first corner which produced the equaliser on 17 minutes. James’ delivery from the left fell into the crowded mix, handball appeals from Borough being dismissed and Jake Wannell seized the opportunity to slot the ball over the line. The goal gave the Peacocks’ centre half the scent of Beaver blood as he went on the lookout for a second, advancing forward to beat one man, then another before seeing his shot turned wide by home keeper Alan Julian. It was then the turn of his opposite number Bycroft who tipped over a 30 yard drive from Hampton skipper Jake Gray as play swung one way, then the other in a high-intensity clash, only blemished by the officials’ tendency to award the home side free kicks at the slightest hint of contact whilst giving Town nothing, the tally of 12-0 in favour of Borough in the first half reinforcing that opinion. As for the two-handed push on Jarvis inside the box……
The Town wall did its job seven minutes before the break when Borough won a free kick in a dangerous position before Lee Lucas fed Wannell who saw his lovely low strike destined for the bottom corner until Julian pulled off an excellent last-ditch tip around the post. Wannell’s drive into the box fell to Ollie Chamberlain who couldn’t get a shot away but with the half time whistle imminent the complexion of the game changed when Jarvis and Donaldson tangled, the Hampton left back went down and referee Claussen did not hesitate in brandishing a red. Having not seen the incident no comment will be made but the description of what happened does certainly not warrant the punishment that followed, especially if the match official did not see things first hand.
First half stoppage time, of which there was only one minute, did see Jordan Thomas’ goal disallowed for offside following Sam Deadfield’s free kick as Town retired to regroup for a tough second half ahead. Despite their numerical drawback the Peacocks made a decent start to proceedings after the break and following a couple of corners, James’ return delivery into the box was headed narrowly wide by Sims-Burgess who soon gave way to Nick McCootie. In contrast to the first period though, the pace of the second 45 had slowed down markedly with the home side content to adopt a more patient approach as they looked to press home their extra man advantage. This they did after 64 minutes when a corner from Gray was allowed to find its way across goal to reach Donaldson at the far post whose header found the net for a 2-1 lead.
Chamberlain’s one-two with Lucas saw him brought down but no penalty, hardly surprising with the trend of decisions, while Julian clutched a Lucas cross after a cleared corner as Town endeavoured to get back on level terms. Ross Stearn replaced Joe Guest but minutes later the hosts effectively sealed the points when the Peacocks lost possession on halfway and Hampton broke, Whittingham racing down the left to fire home off the underside of the bar on 74 minutes.
Zac Smith couldn’t get enough curl on his effort to find the target and McCootie received a miscued clearance from Julian who recovered to hold the shot while for the Beavers Fernandez spooned an attempt over the bar and Dunne curled a strike too high as four minutes of stoppage time passed by without any hint of a miraculous recovery from the Peacocks. Whether they would have earned something from the game with a full complement for the whole game is open to debate but despite this setback, six points from nine after three long journeys is not to be sniffed at as they enter a crucial final month of the campaign.
Taunton: Jack Bycroft, Nick Grimes (captain), Jake Wannell, Ollie Chamberlain, Lloyd James, Nat Jarvis, Joe Guest (Ross Stearn 72), Zac Smith, Cameron Evans, Dave Sims-Burgess (Nick McCootie 58), Lee Lucas. Unused subs: Dan Ball, Dylan Morgan
Hampton & Richmond: Alan Julian, Ruaridh Donaldson, Dean Inman, Luis Fernandez, Alfy Whittingham, Jake Gray (captain), Connor Kurran-Browne, Dan Wishart, Sam Deadfield (Jaden Crowhurst 87), Shane Dunne, Jordan Thomas. Unused subs: Jaheim Whyte, Daniel Rowe, Endurance Johnson, Tommy Davis
Referee: Robert Claussen (Rayleigh)
Referee’s Assistant 1: Rudin Preca (London)
Referee’s Assistant 2: Ross Murphy (London)
“There can’t be any negatives at this stage of the season, we know what we need to do, it’s totally in our hands…….” watch Rob Dray’s Match Reaction on Peacocks TV HERE
Match highlights courtesy of Hampton & Richmond can be seen HERE
Match photos from Club Photographer Debbie Gould can be viewed HERE
Mind In Somerset MOM
Zac Smith receives the Taunton Town Man Of The Match award from Press Officer Andy Power