Andrew ‘Rocky’ Neal bagged another hat trick as the Peacocks romped to a comprehensive win against a young Cheltenham side. The Robins opted to send a much more inexperienced side than envisaged and had it not been for the woodwork and their keeper Freddie Lapworth the scoreline would have been far more severe.
Lloyd Irish enjoyed an extremely quiet evening but was actually the first keeper called into action when saving a shot from Toby Lawrence. From then on though it was virtually one way traffic towards the Cheltenham goal. Shane White headed just wide before Lapworth parried Neal’s shot, saved the follow-up from Josh Grant who set up Matt Wright, but his effort was cleared off the line.
Wright dived to place a header off the post from Neal’s cross, but it was only a matter of time before a goal arrived which came on 11 minutes. Again Cheltenham managed to scramble clear but only as far as Ed Palmer whose 15 yard drive was turned in by Neal from close range.
Ben Adelsbury then struck the post with a free kick before Lapworth saved Neal’s shot and denied Jamie Short’s strike with his legs, with Grant’s shot from the rebound being blocked and Pierce Mitchell firing the loose ball over the angle.
The second goal came after 26 minutes and it was a beauty. Ollie Chamberlain’s headed clearance found Wright who released Neal down the right flank and spotting Lapworth off his line he curled a sublime finish into the net from 30 yards. Wright headed narrowly over as half time approached with the visitors only looking they might threaten when Town’s defence slipped into sloppy mode.
The onslaught continued after the break as the Peacocks attacked the Innovation By Design End. A ricochet soon put Wright through on goal but Lapworth kept him out, then Neal’s ball into the six yard box was just missed by the incoming Wright.
Jamie Price, making his first appearance since rejoining over the summer, rose to head in Shane White’s corner from close range after 57 minutes to extend the lead and after Wright had nodded over and Dan Sullivan had been denied by the Robins’ overworked keeper, a fourth soon followed six minutes later, Short’s stinging shot too hot for Lapworth to hold and Neal was on hand to tuck home for his hat trick.
Good work by Short on the left earnt him the fifth goal of the game after 80 minutes, feeding Lewis Hall and when the ball was cut back Short fired in from the edge of the box, Lapworth only being able to help it on its way. Chamberlain’s great ball then gave lively sub Noah Coppin an opportunity but Lapworth again came to the rescue.
A rare Cheltenham foray led to Charlie Stanton curling a cross against the far post before the Peacocks added two more to the tally. Short burst forward to find Sullivan inside and he rolled the ball into the corner with five minutes left and after Palmer’s header had been turned wide, the referee played advantage following a poor challenge on Jack Rice, Sullivan squaring for Coppin to guide over the line. There was still time for Chamberlain to try his luck from outside the box, his drive being turned aside by Lapworth who would have been glad to hear the final whistle.
Match: Taunton Town v Cheltenham Town
Date: July 19, 2019
Venue: Cygnet Health Care Stadium
Kick Off: 7.45pm
Taunton: Lloyd Irish, Pierce Mitchell (Luke Manley 67), Shane White, Ben Adelsbury (Lewis Hall 45), Ed Palmer, Jamie Price, Ollie Chamberlain, Jamie Short, Matt Wright (captain) (Jack Rice 62), Josh Grant (Dan Sullivan 45), Andrew Neal (Noah Coppin 74). Unused sub: James Sleeman-Keen
Cheltenham: Freddie Lapworth, Toby Lawrence, Jeff Putz, Isaac Lawrence, Kian Bedford, Tom Chamberlain (captain) (Jeremy Idowu 73), Charlie Stanton, Aaron Evans-Herriot, Harvey Skurek (Billy Romais 77), Dan Stevens, Liam Atwell
Referee: Rick Hulme (Radstock)
Referee’s Assistant 1: Brian Lee (Taunton)
Referee’s Assistant 2: Jordan Lee (Taunton)