An equaliser from the visitors deep in the bowels of stoppage time deprived the Peacocks of victory in their first ever meeting with City for a League fixture. In another game of limited chances, Town had taken the lead in the early stages of the second half and were experiencing no undue concerns until a last-gasp leveller scraped a draw for the Romans. Deserved probably on the complexion of the match but whether it should still have been going ahead at that point is a bone of contention.
Former Bath stalwart Dan Ball returned to the Peacocks’ back line after missing the Chelmsford game while another ex-Roman Ross Stearn made his first League start of the campaign as the hosts went in search of their third home win in the National League South. It was City though who began better, posting the opening effort inside the first minute when Rex Mannings got on the end of a flick to volley into the hands of Jack Bycroft from the edge of the box. It should be noted at this point that any reference to Bath players has been confirmed with their match report due to their shirt numbers barely being readable 🔭
Town responded after 12 minutes when Nick McCootie outmuscled his man on the left and squared the ball across the box to find Joe Budd on the opposite side, however the opportunity went begging with a wayward shot over the stand. Joe Guest then won a corner which was punched clear by City keeper Joe Wright, with Jay Foulston’s cross being whipped in and seemingly getting a touch off a City head but referee Scriven decided otherwise.
As the rain frequency increased, goalmouth action did the reverse, with City showing more cohesion in their build-up but getting no change out of the Peacocks’ rearguard. Former Truro and St Mirren striker Cody Cooke sliced a shot well wide while the same player got on the end of Dan Hayfield’s cross, his header being routinely palmed over the bar by Bycroft. That was after 25 minutes, with the remainder of the half producing no chances whatsoever, with defences on top and not for the first time this season.
Town emerged on the front foot and a lovely early pass inside from Ollie Chamberlain to Budd was not rewarded with a cross to suit. Foulston’s ball in from the other side then forced Wright to get down low to push away but there was no-one to take advantage. Budd saw another shot blocked before he gave the home side the lead after 53 minutes. Guest collected the ball outside the box to find Budd out wide and his cross from the right looped over Wright to pick out the far corner.
Another attack moments later saw Chamberlain move inside to fire goalwards, but his effort was blocked by a defensive header before Bycroft made a great save as Bath looked for a quick reply, Mannings laying off to Cook who made space for a strike from range which the Town keeper clawed away as it sniffed out the net. Goalscorer Budd was replaced by Zac Smith on the hour as Town continued to manage the game effectively but with the nagging doubt that one goal was not going to be enough. A half-chance came and went when Chamberlain beat his man on the right and cut the ball back for Stearn to scoop over the top while the Peacocks were forced to defend a number of free kicks awarded at the other end. Luke Spokes sent one straight to Bycroft before another free kick from the left was cleared as far as Spokes who saw his 25 yard effort safely held by the Taunton keeper.
Nat Jarvis and Lee Lucas took over from McCootie and Stearn during the final 20 minutes or so of normal time which saw no great alarms for the Peacocks. A 20 yard shot from Foulston travelled wide but other than that neither keeper was troubled as Town continued to nullify any Bath threat.
Six minutes of stoppage time were announced, Lucas firing over during the first minute of this period but as the seconds ticked by the home fans contemplated that perhaps one goal was going to be sufficient. Treatment for Jake Wannell saw even more time added on and it was in this twilight zone of 90+8 that City snatched their equaliser. Substitute Elliott Frear’s cross found Cook whose header was superbly cleared off the line and onto the underside of the bar by Foulston before being lumped for a corner. City appeals that the ball had crossed the line were soon forgotten when Frear delivered to the near post for Alex Fletcher to glance a firm header over Bycroft into the far corner, sparking wild celebrations from the Bath contingent on and off the pitch.
The final whistle sounded seconds later. Bath celebrated as though they had won the League title while the kick in the teeth left Town to reflect on what might and what should have been. It ultimately transpired that one goal wasn’t enough and the frustrating reality of Wright barely having a save to make tells its own story.
Taunton: Jack Bycroft, Joe Budd (Zac Smith 60), Jay Foulston, Nick Grimes (captain), Dan Ball, Jake Wannell, Ollie Chamberlain, Lloyd James, Nick McCootie (Nat Jarvis 71), Joe Guest, Ross Stearn (Lee Lucas 80). Unused subs: Ross Staley, Dave Sims-Burgess
Bath: Joe Wright, Jordan Dyer, Jack Batten, Kieran Parselle (captain), Alex Fletcher, Dan Hayfield, Cody Cooke, Tom Smith (Elliott Frear 65), Luke Spokes, Rex Mannings (Scott Wilson 57), James Morton (Chris Lines 71). Unused sub: Ryan Clarke
Referee: Craig Scriven (Highbridge)
Referee’s Assistant 1: Devon Campbell (Plymouth)
Referee’s Assistant 2: Steven Swan (Truro)
” I feel a little bit robbed, they’re absolutely gutted in there……….” watch Rob Dray’s Match Reaction on Peacocks TV HERE
Match highlights can be seen on Peacocks TV HERE
Mind In Somerset MOM
Lloyd James was named Taunton Town Man Of The Match, photo to follow