Despite no lack of effort or spirit, a drastically changed Peacocks side went down to a conclusive defeat in the second leg of the League Cup Final on their first ever visit to Garden Walk. Although very welcoming off the pitch, the Crows gave no such benevolence on it as they outgunned a youthful Town team in all departments.
With the League campaign the top priority, Head of Football Rob Dray made a wholesale swap-out of personnel, with only five first team squad players making the 400 mile round trip to Hertfordshire and with 9 of the 11 starters at Gosport absent. And Royston took advantage of that as they went on the attack from the start, looking to extend their 2-0 lead from the first leg a week earlier. The pacy Brooklyn Ilunga was released down the left and from his cross Brandon Adams bundled past the post while Daniel Brathwaite drove wide from a cleared cross and Adams hooked a flick-on over the bar.
Royston keeper Dimitrios Kyriatzis safely caught a deep Michael Murphy free kick into the box to warm his hands for the first real time and from his kick downfield Ilunga glanced the ball forward to Adams who lobbed over Connor Sidley-Adams and the bar. Another corner was returned into the middle for Brathwaite whose volley went narrowly over the top and Devonte Aransibia’s shot was held by Sidley-Adams as the home side dominated although there was some brief respite after Jared Lewington had been fouled, with skipper for the night Ross Staley’s free kick hitting the wall.
The Crows pressure finally paid off after 24 minutes with the opening goal, Carl Mensah’s long ball being headed down by Matt Bateman for Adams to fire in a shot from 10 yards which Sidley-Adams could only help into the net. Ilunga then turned to shoot wide of the post before any flickering Town hopes were virtually extinguished three minutes before the break when Ronnie Henry crossed from the right and it was all too easy for Bateman to steer his header past the exposed Sidley-Adams.
It was more of the same after the break as Royston remained untroubled as they probed in search of more reward. Ilunga’s shot was deflected while a Staley free kick into the box came to nothing at the other end but with such a healthy lead the hosts could afford to cruise and pick off opportunities when they arose. And one did after 66 minutes to hand them a 3-0 lead on the night. A free kick from the left was cleared as far as Spyros Mentis who curled the ball back into the middle and Brathwaite laid it back for Aransibia to lash home.
Bateman’s strike then hit the top of the bar before ironic cheers from the travelling support came when Harry Warwick’s soft effort was gathered by Kyriatzis. Royston added further gloss to the scoreline after 78 minutes when James Brighton’s corner was cleared back to him, and the recycled ball fell loose to Aransibia who could hardly miss as he gleefully rifled into the net.
The Peacocks’ best chance to gain some respectability came when Kyriatzis was penalised for picking up a backpass, however Lewington drilled the free kick wide before the hosts scored a fifth on 83 minutes, Tom Newman netting with a 30 yard free kick which Sidley-Adams appeared to dive too early for. That was job done for the ecstatic Crows, although the visitors did find the net in stoppage time although it was only the side netting that a Lewis Smith cross hit. There was no disputing the deserved winners on the night and over the two legs as the Crows celebrated capturing the cup for the first time while the Peacocks contemplated bigger challenges looming in the next few weeks.
Taunton: Connor Sidley-Adams, Joe Budd, Brad Pfupa, Lewis Smith, Jake Dennis (Sully McKenna 68), Harry Warwick, Acey Mead, Michael Murphy, Ross Staley (captain), Jared Lewington, Ioan Richards. Unused sub: Matt Villis
Royston: Dimitrios Kyriatzis, Ronnie Henry (Tom Newman 74), Carl Mensah, Spyros Mentis, Daniel Brathwaite (Adam Murray 68), James Brighton, Ed Asafu-Adjaye (Dan Newton 62), Brooklyn Ilunga, Devonte Aransibia, Matt Bateman, Brandon Adams. Unused subs: Joe Welch, Isa Rotimi
Referee: Jack Bloxham (St Albans)
Referee’s Assistant 1: Thomas Cartwright (Stevenage)
Referee’s Assistant 2: Thomas Frost (Harpenden)
” I’m really proud of those young lads tonight….” watch Rob Dray’s Match Reaction on Peacocks TV HERE
Match highlights can be seen on Peacocks TV HERE
Albert Goodman MOM
Lewis Smith receives the Taunton Town Man Of The Match award from former club Safety Officer Roger Conway