Records of a Peacocks win at the Met Coaches Community Stadium are non-existent in recent times, but they finally put that hoodoo to rest with a comfortable victory over the division’s bottom side. Boosted by a goal in the opening minutes, Town worked hard to maintain that advantage until the break before pulling away in the second half to secure a terrific 8th successive League win and 13th without defeat.
The Peacocks handed a debut to new loan striker Prince Henry from Bristol City in place of the unavailable Dan Sullivan in an otherwise unchanged line-up to that which had beaten Salisbury in midweek. And the visitors made an ideal start on a chilly and windy afternoon with a goal after three minutes. Joe Budd won the first corner of the game which was cleared as far as Ross Stearn 25 yards out and his strike dipped at the last moment to hit the crossbar, come down onto the back of Martyrs keeper Jaimie Cogman and rebound into the net.
The hosts posted their first effort when former Taunton man Lewis Powell turned to get in a shot which was routinely gathered by Will Buse, with the Peacocks’ keeper then jumping to clutch a Karnell Chambers’ lofted cross from the left side of the box before a great tackle by Ben Adelsbury prevented Chambers from breaking free. The early momentum remained with Merthyr who were enjoying plenty of possession, a shot from Matt Harris finding the midriff of Buse who was seeing more of the ball than his counterpart Cogman.
Spurred on by Stearn and the unflappable Lloyd James, the Peacocks finally started to make inroads at the opposite end. A good break through the middle from Budd saw him find Stearn whose shot unfortunately deflected off Budd as he continued his run, Cogman dived to turn aside Stearn’s free kick and then safely held a drive from the same player before Henry squared to Stearn who was again out of luck when his shot was blocked. As the half entered stoppage time, Merthyr appeals for handball were ignored after a Powell shot took a deflection for a Kieran Evans corner which was pushed away by Buse, and the hosts initially continued in the same vein when play resumed, Eliot Richards ballooning over the top and Keyon Reffell busting through to have a low shot held by Buse.
The introduction of Ollie Chamberlain for Toby Holmes five minutes into the second half ignited the visitors who came close to increasing their lead after a neat build-up, Joe Guest finding Stearn who laid off to Henry, but the young forward dragged his shot wide of the far post. Merthyr defender James Parry then had to take drastic action, clearing Stearn’s dangerous cross over his own bar before the Martyrs were given an opportunity when Taunton conceded a free kick just outside the box, only for Owen Evans to curl his effort over the bar.
It was the Peacocks who remained on top though as they struck the woodwork for the second time after 66 minutes, Chamberlain receiving a James pass to make ground and rifle a 25 yard strike off the crossbar, before they added a second goal two minutes later. A quick break ended with Chamberlain being upended by Luke Cummings and Stearn confidently sent Cogman the wrong way from the penalty spot before running to celebrate with the vocal travelling support.
The home side conjured up another response when Reffell’s cross reached Kieran Evans who screwed his shot wide of the target, but Town finally dulled the Merthyr fire with a third on 85 minutes which stemmed from a brilliant run by Zac Smith who jinked his way past four men cutting in from the left. His cross reached Budd beyond the far post, and he found Stearn in the middle who finally managed to engineer enough space to fire home off the opposite post for his eighth goal of the campaign.
Jay Foulston made a welcome return, coming off the bench with a minute to go, before the hosts had the last word when Reffell fired against the bar in stoppage time, the last piece of action. Things are not looking too promising for the Welsh club who are normally challenging at the other end of the table but for the Peacocks it was another victorious tick on their promotion roadmap as they consolidated 4th place.
Taunton: Will Buse, Joe Budd, Ben Adelsbury, Nick Grimes (captain), Jake Wannell, Lloyd James, Toby Holmes (Ollie Chamberlain 50), Joe Guest (Jay Foulston 89), Ross Stearn, Zac Smith, Prince Henry. Unused subs: Jared Lewington, Ioan Richards, Connor Sidley-Adams
Merthyr: Jaimie Cogman, Andy Davies (captain), James Parry, Luke Cummings, Ismail Yakubu (Owen Evans 45), Matt Harris, Kieran Evans, Eliot Richards(Josh Allen 74), Lewis Powell, Keyon Reffell, Karnell Chambers (Eli Phipps 70). Unused subs: Kerry Morgan, Curtis Jemmett-Hutson
Referee: George Enever (Gloucester)
Referee’s Assistant 1: Ian Butler (Tewkesbury)
Referee’s Assistant 2: Kieran Gill (Gloucester)
“We’re in a good place at the moment, we’re in a very good place with players coming back….” watch Rob Dray’s Match Reaction on Peacocks TV HERE
Match highlights can be seen on Peacocks TV HERE
Match photos from club photographer Darren Harris can be viewed HERE
Albert Goodman MOM
Ross Stearn receives the Taunton Town Man Of The Match award from Press Officer and Media Team member Andy Power