The Cygnet Health Care Stadium erupted seven minutes into stoppage time when Ross Stearn netted a late late winner to secure the Peacocks’ 14th win in 15 Southern League games. Such an outcome had appeared increasingly unlikely as a frustrating contest progressed, with Town turning in an uninspiring display against their relegation-threatened visitors but not for the first time in this thrilling season the hosts discovered a way to secure the points and reinforce the best home record in the Premier South.
There was only one change from the weekend win at Salisbury, with Joe Budd coming in and Toby Holmes dropping to the bench, but given the Peacock’s superb recent run, the crowd was on the disappointing side, dipping below 500 for the first time this season for a midweek game. The home side enjoyed all the early efforts at goal, with Ben Adelsbury’s header from a Jay Foulston free kick being clutched by Martyrs keeper Jaimie Cogman and Nick Grimes glancing a header wide of the far post from a Lloyd James free kick. Foulston then rifled wide, and Cogman won a race for the ball with Budd before Merthyr’s initial attempt arrived midway through the half, Matt Harris shooting well wide.
Although not all guns blazing, the Peacocks made the breakthrough after 24 minutes when Grimes’ ball forward was chested down by Jared Lewington just inside the box and he turned to fire home inside Cogman’s left-hand post. The Martyrs began to belie their lowly position with some tidy football, Keyon Reffell making a strong run which ended with a strike deflecting safely to Matt Buse. The Peacocks’ keeper could do nothing though on 34 minutes when the visitors drew level. Kieran Evans made ground rather too easily down the left, beating two men to cross to Eliot Richards and the former Bristol Rovers and Hereford man found the net with a well-taken volley.
The first half fizzled out with no further notes necessary in the notebook before Town re-emerged and made a brisk start to the second half. Zac Smith found space to win an early corner while Lewington’s chipped ball into the middle was met by Stearn’s acrobatic volley which deflected for another corner. Despite pressing though opportunities were not forthcoming and after Holmes had replaced Smith, the worrying sight of Jake Wannell pulling up with a muscle spasm did nothing to lift spirits. The centre half was subbed by Ross Staley moments later but with half an hour to go there was no cause to worry. Or so we thought.
Evans blasted a long range shot wide for Merthyr and Richards effort went the same way while Cogman was forced into action, tipping Lewington’s header wide after James had returned the ball into the mix following a clearance. Cogman failed to grasp Foulston’s free kick from the right and then a James corner was nodded back in by Adelsbury, but Holmes was unable to direct a header on target. Lewington then directed a header into the turf to present a routine stop for Cogman as the home attacks continued in the same vein before a golden chance was missed ten minutes from time. Foulston’s free kick from the right was punched by Cogman to Grimes six yards out, however the Town skipper volleyed over the bar with the net begging to be hit.
Foulston who was deservedly named the Peacocks’ Man of the Match then weaved this way and that before firing in a strike which Cogman parried, Lewington latching onto the rebound but lifting it over the top. As the seconds ticked by, the realization of dropped points became ever clearer and with five minutes of stoppage time being extended further due to time wasting and ‘treatment’ for the Merthyr keeper, 97 minutes were on the clock when Town broke Welsh hearts. James’ corner from the left was fumbled by Cogman and Stearn was there to hook the ball over the line for his 11th and most important goal of the season to date.
Had Elijah Phipps managed to add more drama by equalizing for the visitors with the last kick of the game instead of shooting wide then grumbles about the amount of added time would have been somewhat less evident. As it was the Peacocks had engineered another vital win where they were well below par and in so doing leapfrogged Farnborough into third place. The table is looking good but there’s a long way to go 😬
Taunton: Will Buse, Joe Budd, Jay Foulston, Ben Adelsbury, Nick Grimes (captain), Jake Wannell (Ross Staley 63), Lloyd James, Joe Guest, Ross Stearn, Zac Smith (Toby Holmes 58), Jared Lewington. Unused subs: Jamie Short, Ioan Richards, Connor Sidley-Adams
Merthyr: Jaimie Cogman, Adam Davies (captain), Owen Evans, Joe Woodiwiss, Luke Cummings, Matt Harris (Jack Evans 61), Kieran Evans (Frazer Thomas 81), Alex John, Keyon Reffell, Eliot Richards (Eli Phipps 89), Curtis Jemmett-Hutson. Unused sub: Ellis Hibbert
Referee: Graham Pearce (Melksham)
Referee’s Assistant 1: David Middleton (Watchet)
Referee’s Assistant 2: Jack Bromham (Glastonbury)
“We were nowhere near our best tonight but at the same time we’ve ground out another win….” watch Rob Dray’s Match Reaction on Peacocks TV HERE
Match highlights can be seen on Peacocks TV HERE
Albert Goodman MOM
Jay Foulston receives the Taunton Town Man Of the Match award from Matchnight Mascots Tone Youth Wasps Under 12’s and their Head Coach Phil Parsons, along with Club Mascot Wordsworth