The Peacocks grabbed the minimal chances on offer to stretch their undefeated run in the Southern League to a dozen games as they recovered from trailing at the interval to see off the Whites after the break. Such a scoreline was hard to envisage at half time following arguably the poorest 45 minutes Town have displayed this season but eventually they found a way to win again and keep the promotion dream bubbling along very nicely.
With Gethyn Hill out until further notice with a fractured cheekbone, jaw and eye socket, Joe Budd was restored to the starting line-up which was the same that finished the weekend encounter with Kings Langley. Jared Lewington, Jay Foulston and Ross Staley were also absent, forcing Rob Dray to name three Bridgwater and Taunton College players to sit on the bench. And the home side made a decent start to the evening’s proceedings, Joe Guest just failing to get his head on Ross Stearn’s cross early on. As the game settled down though, play became concentrated in the gulf between the 18 yard boxes, with neither side able to muster a single opportunity.
That is until the 20th minute when Salisbury broke the stalemate with their first effort on goal, Charlie Davis floating a cross over to the far right edge of the box where Josh Wakefield met it cleanly on the volley and sent the ball over the head of Will Buse into the opposite corner. Wakefield got in another shot after a bout of head tennis, but this time Buse made a routine stop while a Calvin Brooks cross flew across the face of goal as the visitors became much the more incisive going forward. Whites’ keeper Patrick O’Flaherty’s only real contribution to the half came three minutes before the break when he punched clear Lloyd James’ free kick which fell for Nick Grimes whose header passed harmlessly wide of the post.
Salisbury concluded the half on top but failed to trouble Buse with some late forays, Sam Ashton directing wide from Antonio Diaz’s cross and Charlie Kennedy getting on the end of a Davis free kick but planting his header over the top. After such a tired and unimaginative opening period, surely things could only get better for Town when play resumed attacking the Travis Perkins End. And they did when they equalised with just three minutes of the second half played. Toby Holmes latched onto Dan Sullivan’s pass down the right, battled past defender Sam Roberts and squared across goal to Stearn who fired into the net at the far post.
Chances continued to remain rarer than a certain Taunton club official declining biscuits, James overhitting a free kick beyond the box while other passes had too much weight on them as conditions became noticeably windier. However one of the best opportunities of the night was not taken by Salisbury midway through the half, former Weymouth winger and recent signing Abdoulai Baggie crossing from the right to find Diaz at the far post who should have done better than head the wrong side of the post.
Ollie Chamberlain replaced Holmes with just over 15 minutes to go and his presence made a substantial difference as the Peacocks probed for a second goal which, given the complexion of the match thus far, the odds still seemed stacked against. Step forward Zac Smith. Playing as a stand-in left back, he collected Sullivan’s knockdown to venture infield from the left flank before drilling a shot inside O’Flaherty’s near post from 20 yards for a great finish after 78 minutes.
Salisbury offered one more threat, an apparent handball by Baggie not being penalised, allowing him to chip a pass into Ashton in the middle of the area but Budd got his leg in to block, and the danger was cleared. Extra gloss was then added to the result when Town won a penalty with two minutes to go, James being pushed to the ground by Kennedy and Stearn sending O’Flaherty the wrong way from the spot. Four minutes of stoppage time produced nothing of note as the Peacocks reinforced their play-off tenancy in a game short on quality but spot on resultwise.
Taunton: Will Buse, Joe Budd, Ben Adelsbury, Nick Grimes (captain), Jake Wannell, Lloyd James, Toby Holmes (Ollie Chamberlain 74), Dan Sullivan, Joe Guest, Ross Stearn (Acey Mead 90+2), Zac Smith. Unused subs: Mike Murphy, Lewis Smith, Ioan Richards
Salisbury: Patrick O’Flaherty, Calvin Brooks, Josh Sommerton, Charlie Davis, Sam Roberts (Lewys Twamley 84), Charlie Kennedy, Abdulai Baggie, Darren Mullings (captain), Sam Ashton, Josh Wakefield, Antonio Diaz. Unused subs: Woody Angell, Devon Arnold, Issiaga Kabba, Ollie Knowles
Referee: Andrew Hobbs (Radstock)
Referee’s Assistant 1: David Middleton (Watchet)
Referee’s Assistant 2: Richard Salvage (Cotford St Luke)
“To come back like that from 1-0 down against Salisbury is a fantastic result…” watch Rob Dray’s Match Reaction on Peacocks TV HERE
Match highlights can be seen on Peacocks TV HERE
Match photos from club photographers Colin Andrews can be viewed HERE with Ashley Harris to follow
Albert Goodman MOM
Zac Smith was named Taunton Town Man Of The Match, photo to follow