Two goals in each half secured safe passage for the Peacocks against the Western League side whilst adding another £9000 to the club’s coffers. Any worries of a cup upset were dispelled by another proficient display by Town against a team two levels lower in the non-league system but which had won all nine of their games this season.
Only one change was necessary from the previous weekend’s meeting with Chesham, Shane White switching to the right in place of the holidaying Pierce Mitchell and Nuno Felix slotting in on the left. Conditions were foul with constant rain falling throughout the 90 minutes, undoubtedly contributing to the first attendance below 500 at the Viridor Stadium this season, but apart from the wretched weather Town also had to contend with a confident Bitton side which had plenty of higher level experience and which snapped at their heels from the first whistle.
The lively Mario Mateus slipped over when well placed for the visitors early on but Town gradually found their feet. Shane White flicked a header over the bar from a Ryan Brett free kick while Matt Buse saw a shot held by Dan Worton who also diverted an Andrew Neal effort wide.
The Peacocks upped the ante another notch as the half progressed, Brett and Dan Sullivan having shots blocked and Neal heading just over. Ollie Chamberlain then fired into the side netting before lobbing Sullivan’s cross narrowly wide of the far post. The pressure finally told after 31 minutes when Sullivan was found in space on the right and his low cross was forced in by Neal from close range to hand Town the lead. A key second goal soon followed five minutes before half time, Sullivan dinking a ball into the box from the right side which somehow missed everyone to nestle in the far corner.
Attacking the Invest Southwest End for the second half, Town wasted no time in putting the tie out of Ton’s reach with the best goal of the afternoon after 50 minutes. A slick move saw Chamberlain win the ball in midfield, find Sullivan out wide who in turn fed White to cross for Buse to convert from inside the six yard box.
Three more goals nearly followed in quick succession. Firstly Sullivan was unfortunate not to add his second of the game when he made space to drill in a strike from the edge of the area but saw his effort hit the post and onto keeper Dan Worton before being cleared. Bitton threatened when Ben Bament was played through, rounded Lloyd Irish and looked odds-on to score before Nuno Felix came to the rescue with an excellent goalline clearance. The woodwork then saved Bitton for a second time in the space of three minutes after Brett threaded a pass through to Matt Wright whose angled drive struck the far post.
Despite their advantage the Peacocks remained hungry for more goals, with Sullivan teeing himself up for a shot which was held by Worton who also clutched a Ben Adelsbury free kick as it threatened to dip under the bar. However Bitton still continued to give a good account of themselves and enjoyed their best spell midway through the half. Irish safely held a free kick from Josh Egan but had to exert himself more to paw a hooked Ben Harris effort wide. Josh Nelmes then blocked Bament’s shot before Adelsbury’s fine tackle stopped Dan Hynes from pulling the trigger after he had darted into the box.
Sullivan unfortunately had to depart with just under 20 minutes left after sustaining a leg injury trying to keep the ball in play. His replacement Craig Veal soon had two opportunities to add to the tally, Wright’s pass putting him clear down the right but his chip shot went wide of the far post and then he miscued wide of the target from a decent position.
The final goal of the afternoon rounded things off with six minutes left on the clock. Brett’s corner from the right got a flick and Nelmes was on hand to head home from close in, racking up Town’s 15th goal from their last three matches. In stoppage time Chamberlain’s 20 yard strike was touched wide by Worton, the last significant action of a potentially awkward tie which the Peacocks negotiated with the utmost efficiency.
Match: Taunton Town v Bitton AFC
Date: September 22, 2018
Competition: Emirates FA Cup | 2nd Round Qualifying
Venue: Viridor Stadium
Kick Off: 3.00pm
Match Sponsor: Berry’s Coaches
Match Ball Sponsor: Viridor
Taunton: Lloyd Irish, Shane White, Nuno Felix, Ben Adelsbury (Brett Trowbridge 71), Josh Nelmes, Matt Buse, Ollie Chamberlain, Ryan Brett, Matt Wright (captain), Dan Sullivan (Craig Veal 73), Andrew Neal (Douglas Camilo 90). Unused subs: Matt Villis, Keith Emmerson
Bitton: Dan Worton, Dan Hynes, Toby Osman, Scott Brice (captain), Steve Jones (Dean Griffiths 59), Kane Ingram, Mario Mateus (Reeko Best 62), Ibrahima Diallo (Jordan Whittaker 77), Ben Bament, Josh Egan, Ben Harris. Unused subs: Sam Thier, Oliver Baxter
Referee: Iain Parsons (Salisbury)
Referee’s Assistant 1: James Welsh (Amesbury)
Referee’s Assistant 2: Robert Finn (Tidworth)