After a month which began with the Peacocks chalking up a convincing victory in East Sussex, February concluded in disheartening fashion with defeat to the same opposition. Even more disappointing than a fourth loss in five National League South games was the way in which Town badly lost their way after the break as Borough overturned an interval deficit to secure victory and prevent a hat trick of successive defeats to sides fighting to stay out of the relegation zone.
The Peacocks welcomed back Ollie Chamberlain and Dan Ball to the starting line-up after recovering fully from knocks, with Joe Guest dropping to the bench and Lee Lucas serving a one game suspension. With Town fans keen to erase the memory of Saturday’s soporific slog against Dover, they must have been pleasantly surprised with the start the men in claret and blue made. The game was barely two minutes old when Nick McCootie dispossessed Jack Burchell on the left before moving inside to fire just wide of the far post while Dylan Morgan’s driven shot from the right was safely held by Eastbourne keeper Lee Worgan.
McCootie was involved in much of the early play although the Borough bench were baying for a red after his challenge for the ball saw him catch Worgan. It looked a 50/50 affair from where I was stood but hey ho, referee Eddie split the difference and gave a yellow. The Town No 10 had a more positive impact on 13 minutes when he was involved in the build-up for the Peacocks’ goal, gliding in from the left past the opposition and laying the ball across for Chamberlain to rifle home first time past the helpless Worgan from ten yards.
A stray pass from Leone Gravata could have had a worse outcome for the visitors when it fell to Morgan who burst forward shaping to shoot but Gravata did well to recover and make a saving tackle. Borough were not really posing too much of a problem for the hosts at this point. Southampton loan striker Luke Pearce latched onto a Mitch Dickenson pass but his effort from a narrow angle proved bread and butter for home keeper Lloyd Irish, deputising for another Saints loanee Jack Bycroft while the first corner of the game on 23 minutes saw a Brad Barry header easily held.
Town threatened just before the half hour when Lloyd James curled in a free kick from the right which Nick Grimes steered into the side netting at the back post before tempers flared again after Pearce’s ugly-looking challenge on Jay Foulston produced a yellow when by the reaction of the Town team a red was certainly on the menu. Very little else to report on up to the interval, the visitors enjoying some possession around the box without creating an opportunity while the Peacocks, although not looking world beaters, certainly had more about them at both ends of the pitch than their previous outing at the Cygnet.
Then it all went wrong. Just three minutes into the second half and Eastbourne had drawn level with it has to be said a goal from nowhere. Pearce received the ball on the right and moved inside across the edge of the box to bend a strike beyond Irish into the bottom corner, stunning the 510 crowd, Town’s lowest League gate of the campaign. The visitors had certainly come out of the traps with more positivity and had another attack cleared before the Peacocks were close to regaining the lead with one of their only two real chances in the half. Morgan’s cross from the left was headed back across goal by Zac Smith and fell to Foulston. A brave defensive block though saw his close range shot kept out.
Borough regained the initiative as they started to impose themselves on the game. Shiloh Remy’s pass inside found skipper Charlie Walker who forced Irish to punch over his shot from 18 yards, leading to two corners in quick succession. Jay Beckford then volleyed high over the top from a decent position before Eastbourne scored again on 65 minutes. And what a scruffy goal to give away. Burchell swung a free kick forward and the Town defence got in an unseemly tangle, allowing Pearce to react and stab the ball into the far corner.
Unfortunately, the Peacocks could offer little in response. Smith’s cross sailed straight out as too many attacking forays broke down with a poor pass or the wrong option while the visitors defended every set piece or cross competently. Ross Stearn replaced Ball, quickly followed by Cam Evans taking over from Morgan as the home side tried to inject some fresh impetus into their efforts but without success. It took until the 75th minute for Town to win their first corner of the game which saw Dave Sims-Burgess’ header loop harmlessly wide. Chamberlain’s square pass to Foulston then gave the left-back an opening but he couldn’t keep his shot down and over the top it went.
The second half had become a puncture for the Peacocks as the energy seemed to have drained away over the course of the 45 minutes. A real huff and puff. Someone though found a foot pump five minutes from time for one last burst which nearly salvaged a point, Foulston’s corner being met by the head of Jake Wannell, only for his header from six yards to crash off the underside of the bar. Wannell then blasted high and wide after Grimes had nodded down a James delivery. Four minutes of stoppage time proved inconsequential as Eastbourne celebrated payback for their home reverse.
For the Peacocks though it was another grim night. Not since September 2014 when Town lost to Bashley and Didcot Town has the rarity of two home League defeats on the bounce been witnessed at the Cygnet. There are still enough games in hand to cement mid-table respectability but the Peacocks can be under no illusions that they must start winning some of them pretty quickly.
Taunton: Lloyd Irish, Jay Foulston, Nick Grimes (captain), Dan Ball (Ross Stearn 69), Jake Wannell, Ollie Chamberlain, Lloyd James, Nick McCootie, Zac Smith, Dave Sims-Burgess, Dylan Morgan (Cameron Evans 74). Unused subs: Nat Jarvis, Joe Guest
Eastbourne: Lee Worgan, Jack Burchell, Kai Innocent, Brad Barry, Mitch Dickenson (Jay Beckford 33), Charlie Walker (captain) (Norman Wabo 90+2), Alfie Bendle, Shiloh Remy, Luke Pearce, Leone Gravata, Miquel Scarlett. Unused subs: Florin Kastrati, Callum Pollitt, Fin Holter
Referee: Phillip Eddie (Plymouth)
Referee’s Assistant 1: Mark King (Saltash)
Referee’s Assistant 2: Thomas Anstice-Mitchell (Plymouth)
” Two very very poor goals to concede, not good enough………” watch Rob Dray’s Match Reaction on Peacocks TV HERE
Match Highlights on Peacocks TV can be seen HERE
Match photos from Club Photographers Ashley Harris can be viewed HERE
Mind In Somerset MOM
Nick McCootie receives the Taunton Town Man Of The Match award from Match Sponsors the Dalling family